Scan so your grieving children can grieve

Please scan and label those photos
Scan and Label: It’s your responsibility

My dear mother passed away in December. Being the only one of her two children who is passionate about genealogy, the papers and photos came to me. Hallelujah!

Wait, all of those photos and papers came to me. AAAGGGHHH! That is a ginormous mountain of photos. Believe it or not, it’s also half the size it should be (but that’s another story).

I barely have enough room in my home for my kids’ things. Now I have the Geiszler/Brown photo albums. And I have to transport everything from Texas to Iowa? You’ve got to be kidding me.

Well… this patient and willing¬†genealogist¬†did just that. And as I scanned all of the old photographs, guess what. A large portion of them were not labeled. Really? Mom really tried. Having seen her label ‘so much’ and her work on the family history, I thought she would have had more labeled. Alas, it was not the case. So, now I have a lot of AWESOME photos of her friends and a variety of relatives… and no clue to who they are.

And as I scanned and scanned and scanned all of those photos, I cried and cried and cried. Yes, I miss my mother. That’s part of it. But, I cried because the burden of the family history is fully on my shoulders. And it’s a tough load to carry. And many times, I wonder if anyone will really care. But honestly, I cry because much of this could have (and possibly should have) been done by my mother. She knew how to work a scanner, manipulate photos, and tell me who these people were. But, she didn’t and now she’s gone.

As my family carted this mountain of treasures to our home, we stopped at my husband’s parent’s home. My husband is inspired by the new design of His mother and aunt are as well. THANK YOU, FamilySearch! It’s so easy now to add photos and label them. All we need is a huge army of people with the family photos to scan them (and crop them please). Upload them to and tag the people in them. And… if you would be so kind, leave a description of these photos.

My aunt and mother-in-law have joined the army. I wish FamilySearch’s photo upload had been around when mother was alive.

I pray earnestly for classes at churches, libraries, and archives around the world to show people how to scan photos if they do not know how. Have scan fests. Have scanning service projects. Something. Anything. Get the photos and documents out of the dust pile and preserve them. Please.

I wish my mother would have spent her free time in her final years of life preserving her memories. Scanning is certainly something she could have done and still watched her favorite television shows. But now, with the mountain staring me in the face, I’m so burdened and saddened. To all genealogists, share my story. Share my pain. Yes, there will be time to celebrate the wonderful finds. But I wrote this as an invitation for the ‘non-family historians’. I wrote this for grandparents and parents of all ages.

Please, please. Scan and label your family photos. If that is your only contribution to the work of family history. You are my hero.

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.

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.