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The Find A Grave leopard hasn’t changed …

Ancestry, what are you waiting for?

It’s long past time to impose a permanent humane solution to the long-term, persistent, growing problem at Find A Grave: that people utterly unassociated with a recently-deceased person race the grieving family to be the first to create a memorial.

And, yes, it’s happened again to the family of one of our genealogical colleagues, and The Legal Genealogist has nothing to offer to comfort that family.

The genealogist’s cousin lost her husband after a terrible long illness. The morning the obituary appeared in the newspaper, she asked her cousin to create a Find A Grave entry that contained everything the family wanted — and nothing the family did not want.

Too late, of course.

Some stranger had already swooped in, scarfed up the information and created a memorial.

The cousin feels violated, the genealogist feels outraged, and Find A Grave … well, Find A Grave continues to do nothing. And its corporate owner, Ancestry, sits by and lets nothing continue to be done.

There was a brief moment, last fall, when it seemed as though perhaps the Find A Grave leopard might be willing to change its spots. It came after this blog and others had repeatedly highlighted the issue and called for a moratorium on allowing non-family members to post memorials to the site to give the families of the recently deceased time to come to terms with their loss and create their own memorial before an utter stranger is allowed to add a recent death to the website.1

Find A Grave leopard

In late October, 2019, a post in Find A Grave’s News & Announcements seemed to suggest that maybe — just maybe — Find A Grave was beginning to understand that it has a problem here. In the post, Memorials for the Recently Deceased, the site noted that the problem was “unusual”2 but conceded that it “can make a challenging time more difficult” when strangers post memorials for the recently deceased.3

It asked for reader input, but despite overwhelming support for the idea of a moratorium, the site closed comments on the post within just a few days — and then did nothing at all.

No, the leopard hasn’t changed its spots.

It’s pretty clear that particular leopard isn’t going to change its spots on its own.

Somebody has to step in and get it done.

Ancestry, what are you waiting for?

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “About those spots…,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 6 Feb 2020).


  1. See e.g. Amy Johnson Crow, “How FindAGrave Could – and Should – Be Made Better,”, posted 21 Oct 2016 ( : accessed 6 Feb 2020), and Judy G. Russell, “A modest proposal,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 5 Aug 2019 ( : accessed 6 Feb 2020).
  2. Snort. The objective evidence shows it’s anything but unusual…
  3. Memorials for the Recently Deceased,” News & Announcements, Find A Grave ( : accessed 6 Feb 2020).
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