Category Archives: Photos & Documents

It’s a Mystery

Do you have any mystery photos? People you can’t identify? We all seem to have those mystery photos in our genealogy collection. And we long to know who is staring back at us.

I found two FREE websites that may help you on your quest to solve those mysteries. The first one is Dead Fred at I suggest starting by reading the FAQS which answers many of the questions about posting photos and searching for photos. You do not have to register to search. When you submit a photo you will be automatically registered. It may take a few days or more before your photo shows up because the site is run completely by volunteers.  There are over 18,000 surnames listed and 116,000 records to search. That’s a lot of photos! And I had a success!

Catherine Poff

Catherine Poff

I found a picture of my 4th great grandmother, Catherine Dellinger Poff. She was born 1790 in Pennsylvania and died 1866 in Ohio. She married George Poff in 1809. And this is what she looks like.

The second website I discovered is Identify A Photo at At this site Vickie and David Ortez actually work to identify the submitted photos. Then they share their success stories on their blog. Vickie says “Reuniting photos with families is such a rewarding experience.”

When you create an account instructions on how to submit photos is emailed to you. When a photo is submitted keywords are added to it such as a state or country, surname, or where a photo was discovered such as “antique shop”. So you will want to do your searching with several different types of keywords. The photos are categorized in albums such as location, surname, military, recently added, and identified. There is a search guide to help you out.

Happy Photo Hunting! Let me know if you make any discoveries and your success story can be posted here.



Scanning Tips

Elder & Sister Riley, missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Monroe, WI will be sharing in our second part presentation on Sunday, August 24 at the Johnson Public Library in Darlington, WI at 1:30 pm. In the first presentation they helped us to get started building our family tree on FamilySearch. The second presentation will include how to upload your photos and documents into your family tree and how to source your family tree. There will be plenty of time for some hands on work with FamilySearch. In preparation you will want to have some photos and documents ready on your laptop or a USB drive.

We, as genealogists, are well-known paper-lovers. All I have to do is take a look at all the notebooks in my genealogy cabinet! But paper can be damaged from water, fire or age. Making digital copies of our precious photos and documents can help protect them for the long haul. It also makes them easy to share with your newly discovered cousins.

Professional archives recommend using a flatbed scanner with scanning resolution of 600 dpi for most family photographs. The TIFF format is best for quality retention but is a large file. I like using the TIFF format for photos that I plan to touch up or restore. But for uploading to your family tree the jpg format is the most used.

Step by Step Scanning

  1. Prepare your Scanner
    • Clean the glass scanning bed with a dry or slightly damp microfiber cloth.
  2. Prepare your photo
    • Use a soft brush to dust your photo if necessary.
    • Use clean hands or wear white cotton gloves
    • Handle the photos by the edges
    • Place the photo in the upper corner (usually indicated by an arrow), right side down.
  3. Turn on the scanner and start the software – Make your selections. With different scanner models you will find these selections in different places. I have an Epson and have to choose “Professional Mode” before I find these selections.
    • Reflective
    • Photo
    • 24-bit color
    • 600 dpi
    • Original Size
  4. If you wish, you can open the File Saving window now and change the Prefix and Number to start a new project. But this window will open after you select scan and the changes can be made at that time. This is also where you choose you file type: jpg or TIFF.
  5. Preview your scan by clicking the Preview button. A Preview window appears. If your photograph is not selected by a dotted line (marquee), click the Marquee Tool. A dotted selection line should appear around the image. If necessary, adjust the marquee to fit your image by grabbing a corner or side and dragging to include the entire photo.
  6. When you are satisfied with the selection, press Scan. The image will be scanned and saved to the destination folder with the filename we set earlier. Depending on the speed of your scanner, this may take several seconds.

Have some pictures scanned and ready to be uploaded to FamilySearch on Sunday, August 24 at the Johnson Library. Hope to see you there!