Saturday, June 24, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Are You Saving Family Photographs and Home Movies?

I'm still running behind, so I'm catching up on an older Saturday Night Genealogy Fun today.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  Almost all genealogists have family photographs and/or home movies of their ancestors, relatives, and friends handed down over the generations.

2.  What steps have you taken to obtain, save, and pass on those photographs or home movies to your family members?

3.  Write your own blog post, leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook.

I am the family genealogist, so I am the person who has ended up with most of the family photos.  I brought home two or three boxes of photos after cleaning out my maternal grandmother's apartment when she had a stroke and it was clear that she was not going to be able to live by herself anymore.  I have one or two boxes of photos from my maternal uncle, which he gave to me when I visited him and my aunt in the summer of 2022.  I even have photos given to me by a cousin's widower; I had visited them while my cousin was still alive, and after she passed away, her husband contacted me and asked if I wanted the photos from her side of the family (hell, yes!).

The exception is that my sister currently has custody of the photos that my father had in his possession when he passed away (and she got them from our stepbrother, but that is a long, complicated story).  I believe she also has our father's lifetime of automobile racing trophies, but they might still be with our stepbrother's widow.  (I said it was complicated.)

I don't know of any home movies that were made in the first place, much less that have survived.  My family seems to have stuck to photographs.

Before scanning became so easy and so ubiquitous, I had photo negatives made of a few photographs before giving the original physical photos to the family members pictured in them.  Then I had prints made from the photo negs.

I have done lots of scanning of the photos that I have and have shared a lot of those scans (although I don't think all) with family members.  I also share them by posting them on my blog, and this has helped get some of them identified.  I have given physical copies of photographs to people pictured in them or to close relatives of those individuals.  I have shared duplicate copies of some photos (made when the photos were first printed) with family members.  I always identify as many people in a photo as I can and try to include date and location when possible when sharing scans and giving physical photos.

I have put together photo books of different family lines and shared those books with family members.

I have also tried to find family members for photos that are of friends of my family but not my family members, to give them.  So far I haven't been successful with any of those searches.

My most successful photo return was when I was given several photos of my paternal grandfather with his second wife and my youngest aunt (my father's only younger half-sibling).  That took a few years, but I found my aunt (and her mother)!  And I scanned those photos before giving them to her.

My sister was having her niece scan the photos she has.  I received copies of some of them, maybe all that had been scanned.  The last time I checked, scanning was still ongoing.

I don't do any colorizing.  I really don't like it.  I think it's far too easy for people to forget that the color was added later, and then they'll think that's what the photos looked like originally.  I have done some enhancements myself to try to make some photos clearer, but that's generally all.

When I determined that one photo I had was of my great-great-grandparents, including the great-great-grandmother who died in 1908 and whose death started the family's chain migration to the United States, I had it professionally scanned and cleaned up, because I considered it such an important photo for the family.

I still need to work on archival storage for the photos I have.  I know they can deteriorate, and I don't want that to happen.


  1. Good job on what you have done so far. I don't like colorized photos either. I actually like black and white photos.

    1. Thank you! I do feel that I'm accomplishing something.

      I don't mind color photos per se. I like the black and white ones the way they are. I think part of the reason I don't want to colorize is because my father used to take black and whites, and he composed them in specific ways. He took his color photos differently. They're not interchangeable.

  2. You're welcome. I'm glad you found it helpful.


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