Organize and Label Your Photo Collection

What is the number one task to do in genealogy? It’s not tracing your family tree back to Adam & Eve. It’s not proving your lineage to a Revolutionary War ancestor. It involves your photos and whether they’ll be tossed into the trash.

In 2012, my mother passed away. She lived in Texas and I lived in Iowa. I had 2 days to sift through her belongings and take what I could on a plane back to Hawkeye country. As a genealogist, I went to the papers and photo collection first. Guess what I found? Mom had kept a three foot high set of photo albums. Once I looked at the photos, I discovered only 30% were labeled. What was I to do?

Mom’s passing closed out the death dates of my ancestors on my pedigree chart. Meaning, no one on my pedigree chart was still living. My father was an only child, so I had no aunts or uncles on his side. I have a few distant cousins, but when I say distant, I really mean… didn’t really interact each other at all, even though they lived in the same small town! On my mother’s side, her sisters were so far apart in age and distance, that they would not be able to tell me stories about my parents after they moved to Texas from Ohio.

In short, unless a photo was labeled or I recognized as a Brown or Geiszler family member, I was completely out of luck. As a mother of five, I couldn’t justify transporting useless photos that distance. I cried as I tossed thousands of photos into a trash bag. Mom had saved these for so many years, but she had not preserved them.

Don’t let this heartache happen to your family members.

In this video, I review my heartache and then offer you some tips on how to organize and identify your photos. Don’t do any other genealogy project until your physical photo collection is in tip top shape. If you don’t, your family members will have my painful situation.

Check out this video at

In the video, I mention my favorite pens to use on the back of your photos. Here’s a direct link to those archival quality¬†pens. Purchase Zig Millenial Pens at Amazon. (I don’t receive any compensation for your purchasing these pens. They are just my favorite!)

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

2 thoughts on “Organize and Label Your Photo Collection

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Are you utilizing the best online genealogy research tools?
Sign up for our newsletter and receive our free guide
10 Online Genealogy Resource You Have to Try.

We take your privacy seriously! See our privacy policy click here.