For many of us, the older we get, the more we think about our mortality and final resting place. Take a break from those morbid thoughts: Think about someone else's mortality and final resting place.
Death has been a lifelong interest for Jim Tipton, operator of Find A Grave, based in Salt Lake City. His Web site has a database of more than 35 million grave records. "We have hundreds of thousands of registered contributors sending information daily," Tipton says. (Click here to connect to his Web site.)
Search by name or location to find grave sites of famous people. For example, Suffolk County is the final resting place of Gary Cooper, Jack Dempsey and Harry Chapin. Nassau has President Theodore Roosevelt at Sagamore Hill.
Many entries include bios, pictures or photos of the engraved headstones and monuments. They range from the intense (Jonathan Swift's monument tells travelers he is in a place "where savage indignation can no longer tear his heart") to the whimsical (Mel Blanc's headstone echoes the famous words he spoke as Porky Pig, "That's All Folks").
When Tipton started the Web site 15 years ago, it was focused on famous people, and that is still its primary appeal. But registered users can upload cemetery information and bios of their loved ones.
Registered users who upload information of their deceased loved ones but don't live near the grave site can use the "request a photo" feature also.
"There are tens of thousands of photo volunteers who will take a picture of the grave, all for free," Tipton says.
There is no charge for the photo service, and registering with the site also is free.
Tipton says the appeal for him of visiting grave sites is historical, not morbid. "That final spot on Earth of a legendary person you would never be able to meet in life, this is where they are," Tipton says. "That's pretty neat."