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3 ways to bring your family tree to life.

It’s been so interesting during lockdown to find many clients who are interested in not just digitising their old paper photos but also using them to enrich their family tree for their enjoyment and for future generations.

The extensive paper-based research that can be done on genealogy websites and with the help and support of Family History Societies and genealogy researchers allows complex clues to be investigated to eventually establish the ancestry and back story of any family.

However it’s worth thinking about what we leave behind for future generations to enjoy. The family tree which has details of births, deaths, relationships, census information, military records and immigration carries and stirs up interest but doesn’t grab the emotional headlines.

In the few tips below take some ideas as to how that family tree could be enhanced to bring stories to life and make sure that you and your descendants can enjoy all of the information and stories you have painstakingly gathered.

  • Not surprisingly, reLOVE Photos are huge believers that "pictures paint 1000 words". We strongly advocate that you take advantage of the old paper photos you have, to digitise these before they are lost or faded beyond use and use these to enrich any story. Consider, by way of example, any of the images in the gallery above. Each conveys a story and give identity to the characters involved in a way that official document

Add photos of individuals, family groups and life events to your family tree.
  • Use the photos, the documentation and memories you have to write down the stories you know. Some will have been passed down through the generations, often elaborated or reshaped as they journeyed through time. The exercise of curating and scanning your photos is an excellent catalyst to that story writing and the photos themselves will often act as the trigger encouraging older family members to recall the past so that it can be documented before it is lost. Don't forget to include your stories and photos in the family tree so that everyone can enjoy them.

Use photos as a trigger to bring forth memories and the digital images as an excellent format to pepper through your stories to entertain and aid understanding
  • Photos add clues to the research. Dust off the old paper photos and make sure that you look at the back of the photo, there are often great information on the back of the photo (handwritten notes or printed processing dates) and the photos themselves give huge amounts of valuable information. Who else was in the photo? What are the relative ages? Where was it taken and why? Can you find otherwise missing links between family members just through photos - why not - they are often the clearest view of the past we have.

Study the front and the back of every photo, what clues can it provide to your research?

For the last 20 or so years we have enjoyed more and more digital photos and videos through the simplicity of digital cameras initially to the present prevalence of smart phones. These have established an important part of family histories. More than just preserving names and dates in the way documents do, they offer a intrusive view of our ancestors’ lives and personalities.

Family history research takes effort, adding the introduction of photos and videos to our family stories adds to that time and effort. But one thing we can be sure about, if we leave the old paper photos in dusty boxes in attic, they are sure to be forgotten, damaged, thrown out or faded beyond use. Moving these to digital gives you the best opportunity to stop the inevitability of time and to preserve the photos in the best possible state so that you can curate them and introduce them into your family history over time.

Crucially, what do you want to leave as the legacy of your research to future generations. How do you make sure that they have access to and understand the family history over the last century - the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s were captured on film and every family has somewhere a dusty box of photos or two taht deserves so much more love. We'd love to help this be preserved for decades to come by turning the paper photos digital.

If you have a few of these dusty boxes filled with paper photos, this process can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, reLOVE Photos can make quick work of digitising all your photos so that they will be there ready for you to organise, enjoy, document and share in your own time.

Family History Societies can help your research - for details of the Family History Societies that we partner with please see\familyhistory


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