A Tip for Researching Family History and Organizing Family Photos

3 girls Missouri early 20th century
3 girls in Missouri, Wikimedia Commons

You come across a family photo that was tucked away in a photo album and wonder who’s in the picture. More questions surface and you decide to research your family history.

What you learn about relatives from previous generations will help you weave a story of who you are and connect the past to the present and the future. Knowing your history will serve to connect your children, grandchildren—and their children.


A Family Research Tip

Those forms for the Census Bureau that are requested to be completed periodically seem annoying, but the ones filled out in past years can actually help you get started in learning about your ancestors and what their lives were like.

Visit Census.gov and go to the Genealogy page where “census records include detailed information that can help make connections across generations.”

There are links to several different resources that include using maps in genealogy, in addition to links to the National Archives and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Genealogy Services.

Try regional or local historical societies, too. Look one up for your state, county or city.

Niche sites and organizations can be helpful like the Preservationdirectory.com. The links are at the end of this post.


Using Professional Researchers

If you run into obstacles and can’t make headway in your own research then professional researchers can help you in a couple of ways:


Let’s say you’ve dug into files online or hard copy files at a library, but now you’re hitting blanks and can’t find stories about family members. You may only need a brief consult with an experienced researcher who can guide you in where to look next for important records.

In-depth research

Online searches uncover lots of data and information, but sifting through it and making sense of it can be time consuming and, ultimately, costly. Old newspaper records may be tough to recover, and if you’re dealing with families immigrating from places like Eastern Europe or Latin America in the early 20th century or earlier then you might language barriers and scarcity of information.

Professional researchers who work with you for a select period of time can give you the pieces to your family’s puzzle that you’re seeking.

Chart of family history
Researching family history, Kathy Storie

Now bring the pieces together

Your family photos through the years are important pieces of telling your family’s story while official records, newspaper accounts, and high school yearbooks from previous generations are other pieces.

Bring them together in digital photo albums where the stories are labeled, the pictures are kept, and notes are made. You can give access to close family members, friends, or the general public.

Old media like VHS tapes, 8mm home movies, slide shows and other media can be converted to digital files and stored online.

The service I offer to families guarantees storage for a lifetime plus 100 years.


Benefit of family research and photo organizing

The process can bring loved ones together. Kathy Storie is a friend who’s been working with her 86-year-old father, Bert, to organize and store photos from his childhood.

woman and man sitting at laptop
Kathy and her father Bert, organizing photos and re-kindling relationships; photo by Kathy Storie

The process has brought them together and connected Bert’s early years to his children and grandchildren. Read the blog post here.


Gift giving

Your family photos are some of the most precious memories you’ll ever have. A house may be an asset that’s worth more money, but family photos are priceless.

You can turn them into gifts, photo books, and more.

Photo books
Family pictures are lasting treasures

Kathy Storie’s father, Bert, turned his photos into books for his brother and will give them as Christmas gifts for his children.



I’m here to help

Office Hours with Melody Event
Melody Whitehead, Safeguard Your Memories

Researching family is a deeply personal endeavor so I’ll be glad to show you the resources I make available as a photo coach.

I’m here to help.

Contact me to set up a time when we can chat.

Also, look on my Events page for tips on organizing and turning photos into gifts.

I’m glad you took your time to read.




Helpful Links for Family Research

U.S. Census Bureau Genealogy Page

Preservation Directory.com 

U.S. Library of Congress 



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