18 December 2010 by Published in: Family History Tags:, , 3 comments

Modern technology has made great strides for those taking cataloguing family history seriously. However, I do not like the word cataloguing because it could remind people of tedious and monotonous work. Call it what you will but it can be fun too.

One of the areas of family history most neglected is the family photo album! Eh? Yes. If this is difficult to believe, check it out. Where are most of the pictures stored, the precious mementos that detail so much of one’s physical progress? Not usually in an album but more likely in a box or boxes stached away behind others, hidden from view.

Regardless of where the photographs are located, just check to see who you know on the pictures and how many faces you no longer identify with certainty. So you know all of them still? Fine, but will your child, grandchild or greatgrandchild twenty or thirty years from now? Will they cart along boxes of mementos with every move?

I hope you get the point.

Here are a few suggestions for getting started:

1) Categorize all the photographs into groups: must keep, may want to keep and do not want to keep.

2) Categorize the photographs by subject, date and occasion.

3) Create a numering system best answering your needs.

4) Number the photographs but do not mark them on the front. Consider making photo copies of all the pictures on sheets for marking and number the originals on the back. If in albums number the albums, the pages and the pictures.

5) Use a Word file to describe the who, what and where of each photograph.

6) Invite family members to review your descriptions for clarification, additions or simply corrections.

7) Once completed, add the computer file name for easy reference to each page and clip all the pages inside the album, the box, envelope or file folder.

8) Create a back up of your Word file and update it when upgrading your computer and or your Word program.

You now have all the basic ingredients for a family history book. In fact, the pages may trump the information vast numbers of families have available in theirs!

If you have a family member with writing skills, the pictures and the captions will be all they need for the next step, an expanded document or history.

Just think of it, you already laid the foundation and, presumably, had all the fun doing it.


  1. Mon 20th Dec 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Great post! I really need to do this with our family photos as well!

  2. Sun 26th Dec 2010 at 7:55 am

    You have a great blog here! I love the content!

  3. Carla Cravens
    Wed 20th Jun 2012 at 12:19 am

    Great idea. I have scanned old photos on to CD’s and put them in a fire proof safe. I plan to give the paper photos, to other family members, ie. don’t need them anymore and it cleared up about 3 shelves so I can put other items there : )

    Anyone know any history of the Bruinekool family that came over from Netherlands to Iowa in 1857? I have researched a lot, but families have scattered.


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