Sometimes people die without designating who their box of stuff should go to after they’re gone, or don’t think there is anyone to leave it to. If the dying man is the sole survivor of a direct line family line,  he might not even realize that there are distant cousins, who share a common ancestor. Another person may not have a picture of her ancestor,  because there were 6 kids and their descendants, and they had a bunch of kids, so surviving pictures may be scattered among 100 descendents from the same ancestor.

  ( My theory is that daughters and oldest siblings tend to have more family documents, photographs and papers… or maybe I just think that because I fall into this category.)

Perhaps the box gets lost in a move, or left behind, or sold in a storage unit auction. Maybe the dying relative didn’t really care about an old box of photos. GASP!  Maybe your ancestor was estranged from family, moved far away, or chose to leave an abusive situation behind and memories that went with it.  Those ancestors might not have preserved much, as a result. Whatever the reason, there may be pictures of people who could be related to you out there. After a basic search engine query, reach out to potential relatives. While searching for a family association for my paternal line, I found a Facebook group, and requested to join.  After posting a a picture of my DIY Repurposed Family Tree,  Cousin Carolyn, who was a descendant of a common ancestor, message me. She hadn’t seen some of the pictures I used. I was able to email digital versions of my family photos to her.  She introduced me, via email,  to Cousin Bob, who shared a ton of digital pictures, and stories with me.  As an added bonus, Bob and Carolyn were able to help me identify  the people in this no name group picture from 1905. I knew my great-grandfather was on the far left, but wasn’t sure about the rest of the people. I could totally rock a hat like my ancestors.  Right?

Helpful Hints-

  • If there aren’t any Facebook groups for your last name, why not start one?
  • family search is FREE. Once you create an account, you can search for ancestors.  If you’re lucky, maybe a distant cousin, who had all the pictures, has attached photos, so you can finally see someone you’re related to that you physically resemble. Don’t forget to add any pictures you have and attach them to your tree. Your distant cousin Charlie might be looking for them. We all need some good genealogical Karma.


Genealogy Jen

Tomorrow, I’ll share a surprising* place to Find Photographs of Your Ancestors Online.

* Does not imply warranty of your shock, awe and amazement 🙂

Click for Part 2 Finding Photos of your Ancestor Online



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