One of the many prized possessions for genealogists, in addition to record sources, is to find photographs of their ancestors. To add a face, features, clothing and time period to their knowledge of that ancestor brings them so much closer. This author had this personal experience over and over again as her my mother was the last of nine children and she never knew her mother’s mother, additionally, on her father’s side she never knew his parents and so their pictures have helped her to bridge that major gap in her life.
One summer the author was prompted to contact her oldest living relatives and visit them to see if they would share their family pictures. She scanned many photographs that no one in her family had ever seen or knew existed and so this turned out to be a major blessing in her collection of ancestral pictures. To add a small caveat to this scene, most of those relatives have now passed on and no one seems to know where those photographs are today.
Over time, her relations learned that she collects ancestral photographs and often receives one or more in the mail or by email when she least expects it. This author has built a Flickr page with many of them and shares them online with all family members, she has also allowed some to be added to a cousin’s family tree on Ancestry and has received many a wonderful comment and a note of thanks for sharing such a great artifact of an ancestor while building a new relationship with an unknown relative.
While emails are a great resource, placing them online is a much better way to circulate them for one never knows when a relation is looking for just that one photograph. Also by placing them online, this author has discovered that younger generations often locate them and ask about their ancestors. This opens the door to creating an interest in another generation and provides an opportunity to build another relationship with a new cousin; both are a great value return for simply posting ancestral pictures online in one of the many programs available online to do so.
Currently there are a number of locations to place one’s photos online and then in turn share with just family, family and friends, or with the public. According to Top Ten Reviews, the following online services are the best for 2012.
At this point in time, this author is using Flickr.com and satisfied. Most of the online genealogical programs allow you to add sources and pictures with links and so this site provides the ability to post the link with that individual on the family tree. If someone else clicks on the link it would take them to the location of that item, either a document of a picture within the Flickr account and be able to view it themselves. If there is a connection to the viewer, they can in turn contact the owner of the document or photograph and again learn of a new relationship and perhaps gain additional unexpected genealogical information.
In closing, emailing photos may be the way many individuals exchange photos still today, however, the thought of losing emails combined with being able to share information easily online is the reason this author has chosen to try this method until something better comes along in the future knowing that at the same time, she is also preserving this photographs for generations to come.