When we launched our new Photos and Stories tools as part of the enhanced experience on FamilySearch, we figured it would become a popular feature. As much as we loved the new functionality, I am not sure how many of us expected the positive reaction we have received: in the nearly eight weeks since the enhanced website launched, we have had more than 320,000 photos uploaded by nearly 40,000 users. And based on feedback, users are enjoying the experience immensely. Here are just a few examples of what some of you have said:
“Yea Aunt Pam!! Keep posting!”
“How exciting. I found a picture I’ve never seen of my great-great-great-grandfather!”
“I had not read this account from my grandmother. As I read this, I could hear her voice and see her face. She has been gone many years and I did not have a chance to be with her very often. I always thought she seemed sad. Now I understand how loss can color the rest of your life. I am grateful she has been reunited with her dear husband and her children once again.”
“My sister, her husband, and I are going through old family letters together. This is a wonderful sharing experience between our family. We hope anyone who is interested will benefit from our work and that there will be many more letters to come.”
FamilySearch Photos tools are helping our users make impactful connections with their ancestors, and they share that magic with their family members, regardless of geographical distance.
I have felt this same magic as I have shared family photos with our new tools. You would think that in my position as the CEO of FamilySearch I would have a family full of genealogy buffs. But not so! For years, I have worked near tirelessly to get my own family involved in family history with limited success—until now, thanks to photos and stories.
A real breakthrough happened when I uploaded a photo of my mother as a young girl at a wedding (fourth from the left in the photo above) to FamilySearch and sent my family the link. Worked like a charm. Even my grandkids were drawn in—kids can’t not click on a link, right? I encourage you to give this a try to see if you don’t get the same reaction. Interesting side note about my mother’s photo: all nine of those pictured are sisters and they grew up in a house with a single bathroom!
For some of my family members, seeing my mother’s photo brought memories flooding back, and for others it put a face to the name they had heard so many times. In every case she became more than just a name; she became very real and tangible part of the family.
We hope you take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to gather, share, and preserve your cherished family stories and photos. It is our honor to help, and we will ensure that your precious memories are kept safe and easily accessible for the ages—so our future family yet unknown can be as touched by them as you and today’s generation are.
Dennis Brimhall, FamilySearch CEO