How to Find Family Photos When Your Family Has None

Photos enhance our family history, but what do you do when you don’t have any in your possession? Is it possible to find more pictures of your family?


Lisa Lisson, who has been a frequent guest contributor on the Family History Fanatics YouTube Channel (click HERE, HERE, and HERE), shared her favorite tips for finding old family photos when you don’t have any or when your family didn’t actually save any of them.


Watch this video on YouTube.


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Ask your family for old family photos


No eye rolls, please!


Don’t only ask immediate family because we assume you’ve already asked your mother, your parents, your grandparents, for family photos.


But have you gone deeper into that family tree?


Have you looked at your second cousins or third cousins? Ask what they might have.

You may have to actually do a little research to find those distant cousins, but ask them if they have family photos. They may have a completely different set or they may have copies of what your family just didn’t save.


In short, get off of your direct family line.


Side Topic: How Do You Get Distant Cousins to Share?


Sometimes people don’t want to give up those family photos. But with today’s technology, you can have the photos digitized and you can save them digitally.


I suggested using Legacy Box or Photos, Movies & More to digitize your distant cousin’s collection and splitting the cost, but Lisa has a more practical approach.


She takes a digital photograph with my phone. She says, “maybe it’s not the best image, but at least I’ve got it.”


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Seek Out Church Directories for Family Photographs


A church directory is very similar to a yearbook, okay, that you might find and it’s from a school our high school or university.


Oftentimes, churches are a fabulous resource because they usually put in photographs of each of the church members or the families a church family. Lisa spoke of an experience where an elderly aunt pulled out a 20-page church directory from the Juniper Springs Baptist Church in Sanford, North Carolina containing a photograph of her great-great-great-grandparents.


If you come across a name of a church, then contact that church or the family members. and ask for a church directory. If the church no longer exists, check with the historical societies or the local library for church directories.


Think outside the box of where you might find those. (Speaking of thinking outside the box, Lisa has a whole series of “Outside The Box” Genealogy Tips on her blog. Start with this post.)


Look at Orphaned Photo Sites


Orphaned photo websites online, such as DeadFred.com or Ancient Faces, are where other researchers have unidentified photographs in their collections and they post on these websites in hopes of discovering who the unlabeled individuals are.


It’s a long shot, but long shots actually work in genealogy.


Where have you found photos when your family didn’t save them?


It’s your turn, what resources have you used to find family photos when your relatives didn’t save them (or they won’t share)?


More About Lisa Lisson


These tips from Lisa Lisson are fantastic. To learn more about Lisa, visit her blog, “Are You My Cousin?” or join her Facebook Group, called “Are You My Cousin?

Again, she has also appeared in these videos on our YouTube Channel, so go check them out!



Watch this video on YouTube.



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