Thursday, May 14, 2020

Curating Faces for the Family Tree

Yesterday's post was about how personalizing family trees with photos of ancestors can be wonderful cousin bait.

Putting faces on the family tree also preserves those images for future generations to see.

It's a process of curation...and it puts a face to the name.

Which photo to post?

My goal is to have at least one clear face for each ancestor in my husband's direct line and my direct line. If possible, I want that main photo to be of the ancestor as an adult.

Above are the photos I posted on MyHeritage of my father-in-law, Edgar James Wood (1903-1986), and mother-in-law, Marian Jane McClure Wood (1909-1983).

I chose good, clear photos of my in-laws in their mid-50s, recognizable to anyone who might have known them even in their later years.

Obviously there will be no photos when I get back beyond the mid-1800s, but occasionally I have something else suitable (such as the woodcut portrait of my husband's great-great-granddaddy Benjamin McClure from an 1880s newspaper).

I promise, no images of flags or ships or DNA! Update: Dara asked why no DNA image, since it's a quick way to see who's a match when we look at our own family trees. IMHO, a DNA image isn't good cousin bait and often there are too many DNA images that come up in "hints." I'm posting photos of deceased ancestors, using them specifically as cousin bait.

Captioning on the photo

I cropped each photo to focus on the face. Then I put a caption on the image. As shown above, the captions are:

Edgar James Wood, courtesy Wood family

Marian Jane McClure Wood, courtesy Wood family

No matter where these photos get copied, and no matter how many years have passed since being posted for the first time, the faces will always be identified (along with the source).

Once I have the photos cropped and captioned, I can upload to all of my trees (Ancestry, Family Search, MyHeritage, and Find My Past).

Thanks to the pandemic, I have the time to systematically climb each family tree, adding a photo to key ancestors on multiple genealogy websites.


  1. Nice, Marian! May I ask, why no 'DNA' photo? I've found it really helpful to have a double-helix image on the profile of all my DNA matches - they're all living, so I expect no one else sees them. My pet peeve is a pic of someone else's coat of arms in the profile of my ancestors, just because they share a surname. They wouldn't post a picture of someone else's house.

  2. I absolutely agree about the "no DNA" images. And I agree with Dara about the coats of arms. I also dislike seeing flags, maps, the ever-popular silhouette of a "Revolutionary War Patriot," and the DAR logo stating "DAR approved." Ugh. Just because the patriot was approved doesn't mean the lineage is.

    Thanks for sharing these reminders! Please don't forget to add to this month's Genealogy Blog Party: Celebrating National Photography Month!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Elizabeth! I'm headed over to your Gen Blog Party today.