If you want to start a MyCanvas project, one of the biggest stopping points is probably finding the necessary photos! This might not be so hard if you’re only looking for your immediate family, but if you want to branch out your family tree, it could be a challenge. There are plenty of ways to find your photos, however! Read on for our tips on finding family photos in unexpected places!
Are you lucky enough to have photos of your ancestors? If you have access to a relative who has original or scanned photos, this is probably your best source. Otherwise, ask around–it could be another relative you might not think of has all of those photos!
This is a great way to verify who is who in a photo as well. Talking with someone who knows those faces can give you the most accurate information to document your newly-found family photos.
Your most powerful tool may be the one you use every day! Searching on Google may get you access to dozens of genealogical sites and historical societies, as well as small, individual sites from other genealogists or cousins you never knew you had. Type your relative’s name and other information (like locations, other names, and/or terms like “genealogy”) into your search bar. You can search this under Images or under the main search tab.
If you need a photo of someone who lived within the past century or so, try searching for obituaries if you’re coming up dry. A lot of families add a photo of their deceased loved one, and that gets you an image right away. If not, obituaries can often lead you to yearbooks, which gives you another place to look for an elusive photo.
Got an Ancestry account? Search your ancestor’s name or check out the hints. Then, narrow your search down by Pictures or Stories, Memories & Histories (found on the left hand side). These personal additions to Ancestry’s database can lead you right to a desired photo of your relative.
FamilySearch places all of your photos, stories, and audio in one place: the Memories Gallery. Once you start building your family tree on FamilySearch and attaching relatives, you can find their memories uploaded by other users.
If you don’t see photos right away, you may try checking under Documents. It’s possible on FamilySearch to swap photos to documents and vice versa, so the information you’re looking for may be there!
Still don’t see what you need? Try these other sites:
DeadFred: Search using a surname, free to use. If you’ve got photos, upload yours to help others find their relations as well!
The Library of Congress: While we might think of this database being used for famous Americans, there are actually quite a few of ordinary people! The earlier 20th century saw plenty of government initiatives to document everyday life. You may find someone you’re looking for among these images.
We hope that these tips help you find the photos you’re looking for! How have you found your family photos in the past? We’d love to hear from you!