As DNA testing kits become more affordable, the number of unbelievable family history stories surrounding these tests is increasing.
This recent piece written by The New York Times covers a story on Bob Hutchinson who used a DNA test to finally get some answers into the family history his mother kept a secret throughout his life. The test uncovered that he was one-eighth sub-Saharan African—a fact his mother never shared with him. From there he uncovered cousins he didn’t know he had and was able to establish a connection with this newfound family.
There are countless other stories too—like Alice Collins Plebuch whose DNA test revealed a 100-year-old mystery (instead of the confirmation of her assumed Irish heritage) or Twitter user @MsClark_ who tweeted about the incredible search that led her to the discovery of her real father.
But as remarkable as these stories are, we couldn’t help but notice that something is missing in all of them: a lack of background information. Yes, DNA testing is a great way to get some answers into your family history but unless there’s information that sheds light on that history, the only thing you’re left with is the results of the test. This often leaves you with more questions than answers.
The importance of photos in family history
While there are several ways to uncover more about your roots, we cannot emphasize enough how important photos are to any genealogy project. This should be one of the first steps you take before jumping into the complicated root system that is your past. Why? Because every photo holds another piece of the puzzle. If an individual picture is worth 1,000 words, imagine how many stories you can discover through old print photos from your family’s past.
The process is not an easy one, but it’s worth it. We recommend taking the time to find your family’s old print photos, digitize them (ensuring their preservation for future generations) and try to identify the faces and locations in the pictures. We’ve had customers uncover incredible stories and insight into theirwhile sending us photos to scan.
Once your photos are digitized, be sure to upload them to sites like Ancestry.com. The benefit of sharing your photos on genealogy sites is that it starts to crowdsource information on your family tree. You never know what other information or stories someone else might share about your photos.
If you’re ready to get your next genealogy project, send us your print photos to scan and digitize today.
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