Online Photograph Searches

Shaking Your Family Tree - a genealogy family research blog!I love old family photographs. I love peering into the lives of my ancestors from years ago. I love looking into their eyes, viewing their faces, and gazing at their clothes, surroundings, and expressions. I absolutely love it! There is nothing more rewarding to me than finding a picture and presenting it to my family. Pictures are wordless, but somehow, they speak volumes!

A question I am frequently asked is how and where I find the photographs online that I present to my family. There is not a simple “go here” answer. There is a lot of investigation, digging, and cross referencing involved. It takes time, patience, and perseverance. In the end, though, it is worth it!

Yesterday I did a photo search online. I had no intention set of “who” I was going to find. I went to one of my favorite websites and started searching, (more on this website coming soon). While I was searching I found a picture of my great grandmother’s cousin. I was absolutely thrilled when I found it. It wasn’t a quick and easy search, but the reward reached far beyond the time I spent investigating.

My great grandmother (Sarah Margaret Goodman) was born in 1894. The photograph I located is her mother’s brother’s son. Sounds confusing, doesn’t it? Well, the important thing to remember is that I found the photograph and the resemblance is amazing.

I would like to share with you the steps I took in my research last night. These steps may help guide you along your search for your distant relative’s photographs as well.

  1. The first step I took was to visit the Find A Grave website. This is one of my favorite places to search and it is completely free! If you locate a family member usually there is information on other family members. Many individuals post photographs, cemetary information, other family member information, parents, children, and so much more – some even include biographies on their family members. The time spent peeking at this website is worth every minute. A blog post on the Find A Grave website is coming soon!
  2. I started researching with my paternal great grandmother’s maiden name. I am familiar with her family (father, mother, grandparents, etc). As I stated before, it is important to start searching with a family member with an “odd” name. Trying to find John Smith will be extremely difficult, however, if John Smith has a father named “Pleasant Isaiah Smith” that may be an easier route to take.
  3. Once I began looking through the Goodman family in a region I knew my family was from, I found family cemeteries. This was both interesting and fun for me – I started clicking away and found my great grandmother’s cousin. However, not only did I find him, but I found other family as well. His was the only picture I found, but the family resemblance is amazing!

How do you search for family photographs online?


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