top of page
  • Writer's pictureDevon Noel Lee

How to Search Memories FamilySearch For Unexpected Discoveries

How to Search Photos on FamilySearch

Did you know that you can search the FamilySearch Memories Gallery for photos, documents, and artifacts that might be related to your ancestors? Or pictures that might provide social context for the times that your ancestor lived?

You can!

While preparing an earlier video, I discovered that you could search FamilySearch photos for images other users shared and find super cool details.

Why Search FamilySearch Memories for Photos Others Posted?

Often we see photos posted by others when we look at ancestor profiles. But, what if an image isn't attached to our ancestors but is relevant to their history?

Suppose you have relatives that served in a military unit. You might find photos of your ancestor in a group photo. You might see pictures of their ship, battlefield, emblems, and so much more.

Additionally, you could do social history research. For example, perhaps you want to study more about World War II.

Using the search by topic option, you will see entries for draft registration cards, service certificates, Japan, veteran, and more.

If you click "World War II photo," you'll see several topics. You'll see stories, photos, and audio clippings. All these memories connect in some way to World War Two.

Maybe these memories don't necessarily name your ancestor, but you can get a sense of what happened during that era.

There are so many reasons why searching the photos others have posted that aren't tagged to your ancestor can help your research. And, all you have to do is use the Find option in the FamilySearch Memories Gallery.

How to Search Photos Others Posted on FamilySearch


  • Click Memories

  • Click Gallery

Then you will see all the pictures that you've uploaded. But have you ever

considered what the "Find" tab does?

  • Click on the " "Find" tab.

Other users have uploaded many of these photos. The photos often have information to help us know more about our ancestors, historical places, and events.

If the uploaded photos include titles, descriptions, dates, and tags, we get to search them!

Then, enter a search term in the search field on the Find Page.

Then choose either:

  • search text

  • search topic tag.

Are you enjoying this blog post, check out the Family History Fanatics Resource page for free guides to help continue your genealogy journey.

FamilySearch Memories: Search By Text

Some search terms you can use include:

  • Names of vehicles: HMS Defense, USS Midway, Apache Helicopter, Model T, Ford Mustang

  • Events: Aggie Bonfire, 1956 Olympics, D Day

  • Military Units: Company K 133rd, Sea Bees, 1st Cavalry Division

  • Recipes: Cheesecake, Golash, Quiche Lorraine

  • Associations: Job's Daughters, Shriners, Masonic Lodges, Sororities

You may see many results when you enter such searchers, including pictures, stories, and memorabilia.

How to Link a Memory to Your Ancestor

If you discover a photo or story related to your ancestor, you can click into the memory. Find the "People" information box.

You may or may not see the names of people already identified in the photo. Regardless, click on the image to tag your ancestor (even if they do not appear in the picture.)

A box will prompt you to type in a name to answer the question, "Who is in this memory?"

Type in your ancestor's name.

  • If you've previously added memories to this ancestor, you'll see an option to select their profile.

  • If you haven't added memories to their profile before, you'll see the option to "Add New." Select that option.

    • With this second option, you will need to click the button that says Attach to Family Tree and then find the person in your family tree before you can press the select button.

Once you've selected the applicable FamilySearch profile, that memory will appear in your ancestor's gallery.

Why are some "People Tags" not showing?

If a person in the photo is living, you will not see them tagged in the Person Box. However, if the person is still living but you added them to your private space, you will see them tagged in the photo.

In this video, I briefly walk you through the steps for searching FamilySearch Memories for photos posted by others that relate to your ancestors.

Can you link photos of objects to your profile?

Yes, you can!

In the video above, I saw a drawing of the prison section of the HMS Defense. If your ancestor was kept in the brig or was a sailor who watched the prisoners, you can like that image to your ancestor's profile.

Why are the results not what I had in mind?

Not every photo when you use the "Search text" option will relate to what you had in mind. For instance, when I typed in Aggie Bonfire, only one memory was really relevant. After that, however, I saw photos for people named Aggie and for bonfires in general.

If this happens to you, use the "Search by Topic Tag" option to be more specific.

However, you might have to add additional search terms. For instance, when searching for Company K, 133rd, I had entries for units in locations other than Ohio.

Therefore, I added Company K, 133rd, Ohio, and I had better luck.

Search FamilySearch Memories By Topic Tags

The other way to search is to "Search by topics."

The person who uploaded the photo tagged the pictures.

Try the following topic tags:

  • Gravestone (and variations)

  • Names of Cemeteries (i.e., Greenlawn)

  • Events: WWI, WWII, Pearl Harbor Attack

  • Occupations: cowboy, railroad, doctor

You can add multiple tags to a search, such as:

  • Gravestones

  • Smith Family

However, not all combinations produce the results you want. Users have to add multiple tags for your query to work.

FamilySearch: Searching Memories for Your Family History
Remember these tips by Sharing to Pinterest

Can I Add More Details to A Memory Shared By Someone Else?

If you did not upload a photo, you may not edit the description, dates, and tags. You can only tag your ancestor in the picture. Or you can add comments.

In the comments, you can ask for clarification of the photos. For example, "can you tell me more? Is this 1972? Is it 1962? Please help me understand because I think my ancestor might be in there."

Or you might also share something about a person in the photo, such as,

"My aunt's in the third row. Thanks for sharing."

I hope you'll start using the Find Tab in the FamilySearch Memories section of the website (or using the FamilySearch Memories app). May you find something unexpectedly wonderful.

Additional FamilySearch Tips and Techniques

Note: To leave a comment, you will be asked to sign in with your Facebook or Google Account. This action will help reduce spam comments on our site. I hope you'll understand.

bottom of page