6 Easy Steps for Researching Your Family Tree and Bringing Older Photos to Life

Want to know about your family’s origins and how you came to be … you?

Research your family’s tree.

If the idea seems overwhelming, then let’s break it down into doable steps like getting prepared and asking questions.

Now, I know that you’re likely doing this because you’re curious.

But while you’re doing it for you, your findings can also be stored permanently using FOREVER® so you’re leaving a legacy for future generations, too, like my husband Gerald with a portrait of his great-great-great grandfather born in 1829.

This portrait is almost 200 years old and we’re storing it so our great-great grandchildren will be able to access it.

As a photo coach, family history research is one of five services I offer.

Let’s get started.

Step 1 Get prepared

You’re going on an adventure to collect information so get ready to take and collect notes. We live in the digital age, but you might also feel comfortable using a pen and a notebook to jot down questions, sources, and other ideas as they come to mind.

Pen and paper are handy because it’s convenient to use and jotting notes by hand is a different feel than jotting notes on your phone, laptop, or other digital device. You might be able to think more clearly if you’re unplugged.

You can sketch out a family tree on paper and not have to worry whether it’s perfect or not.

Create a folder on your computer titled “Family Research” and you’ll create sub-folders starting with you and other family members.

The starting point is easy to find. It’s you.

Step 2 You’re the starting point

You’re the beginning point to starting your family’s research. There’s a reason you’re interested so you want to know Why you’re doing this.

Is it to learn where you came from or if you had a famous or infamous ancestor? Are you interested in passing along the information for your children and grandchildren and other descendants?

Now, let’s dig into the What.

What do you know about your parent, grandparents and great-grandparents? Write the information you know and then move on to the next steps to fill in the blanks.

Step 3 Look for names, dates, places

Family research is learning who the people are in your life. What were their names, when did they live, and where did they live?

You can learn so much more and make them come alive by knowing their occupation, favorite vacation spots if any, and hobbies.

Once you write down what you know, the next step is uncovering more facts and anecdotes.

Step 4 Scour easily accessible resources

Living older relatives are excellent sources of anecdotal information. What do they remember about specific people, like how an aunt and uncle came to be married or live where they lived?

Let’s go a bit deeper.

What life lessons did they learn and what wisdom would they like to pass on to future generations?

Look through family Bibles, journals, and notes made on older family photos.

Step 5 Dig through harder-to-find records

Local historical societies in towns and counties will have old newspaper clippings and other important pieces of information for you to delve into. They may have specific records of family members and they’ll definitely have photos and other recollections of life in the time you’re researching.

Melody’s family tree created by FOREVER® researchers with their sources findings

Make sure you’re citing sources so you can go back and locate more information or leave the info for future generations.

Scroll to the end of this post for key links to free resources.

Step 6 Use professional researchers

Professional genealogists who know how to find old records and go back into earlier centuries are invaluable. I’m using researchers with FOREVER® to uncover tough-to-find records and we’ve gone back to the Civil War era.

FOREVER® researchers found this headstone of Melody’s maternal great-great-grandmother Sarah Brown.

The professional genealogists can consult with you to help you get started or do more in-depth research.

FOREVER® as a strategic research tool

FOREVER® is a strategic tool to use in researching your family history and storing older photos, home movies that are many decades old, VHS tapes, and handwritten letters.

On my homepage, you can book an appointment and I’ll share more of how FOREVER® works.


Preserve older printed photos by digitizing them with the convenience of FOREVER®. The team at FOREVER® is excellent when dealing with fragile files.

Restore photos

Older photos or even pictures taken recently may be worth keeping, except someone’s eyes are closed or a key part of the photo is blurry. Ask me and I’ll let you know how we can get your photos restored.

Click here to view before and after photos restored by FOREVER® including colorization.

Store permanently

FOREVER® is designed for permanent storage. Guaranteed. You can start with free storage to try FOREVER® and own your account. It’s your digital home.

Photo books and gifts

Turn your digital files into keepsake photo books and other gifts. Make books of special memories like special vacations and holidays and turn other everyday items into keepsakes.

Other options

FOREVER® is a user-friendly system, one digital home that has more options, including streaming videos and having collaborative albums to use with sports teams and groups from your church or synagogue.

Let’s Visit

Woman wearing glasses looking at computer monitor
Contact Melody for a photo consultation

My passion is helping families safeguard their many stories for generations to come. I’ve been a photo coach since 1995 and FOREVER® is the most complete memory-keeping system available.

How can I help you?

On my homepage, click Book a Session and schedule a time when we can visit. I want to hear about your photo situation, your goals, and together we create a simple step-by-step plan to achieving them.

I’ll show you how you can try FOREVER® for free with 2 GB of storage space.

I’m grateful for a career spanning a few decades helping families safeguard something that’s unique to them—their story told through many lifetimes of memories. I look forward to helping you.

Helpful Links

Ten Basic Steps to Researching Your Family Tree, Arizona State Library

Golden Rules of Genealogy (pdf), Frankfurt Library


 [MW3]Feel free to download any of one of the first few shown in album for in the blog.

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