New York State Funeral Directors Association

Some people believe their old, vintage family photographs are priceless. Others have no regard for them.

If you’re among those who treasure your black-and-white family heirlooms, how can you be sure you’ll be able to pass them down to future generations?

If you have a mobile phone with a camera, digitizing your family photographs can help them live on into the future.


Your treasure trove of historic family photos represents some of the last evidence of your ancestry.

They are the faces that endured a harder life, in many cases, that led up to the one you’re living.

Ensuring those faces are seen into the future is an act of memorialization, so I don’t feel shy about duplicating them.

There’s a good chance a family member – maybe a great-grandchild or distant cousin – may want to look back and see what their kin looked like.

Placing these pictures on your social media sites is one option.

Smart phones make fantastic digital reproductions if you don’t have a scanner, so start placing them on the kitchen table and photograph your photographs.

Consider creating a family photos album on Facebook. That could last for decades, supposing Facebook lasts that long. Willard And Rebecca Munger

If you go this route, be sure to pick a trustworthy Legacy Contact – it’s under Manage Account in Settings.

Your Legacy Contact will be able to update your photo and pin a tribute post to your profile as well as download what you’ve uploaded to the site, among other things.

Once the photos are on Facebook, consider the other Facebook accounts out there – such as local history pages.

Many of them allow friends to share posts on the page – so sharing your photographs there will add another layer of survival for them.

Just be sure to caption the photos accurately.

You can consider adding your family photos to Ancient Faces website, too.

This website is dedicated to vintage photos and they’ve been gathering them from people for 20 years now.

The site is about creating “a picture of our shared past through the collaborative effort of our online community.”

The website explains it got started in 1999 to make sure that future generations would be able to “add a ‘face’ to the statistical data about their ancestors.”

“Images of family members, often unknown or thought to be lost, could be placed online so that distant relatives and old family friends could share their heirlooms, easily.

But there were no websites available then that performed this service,” the website states.

I plan to start uploading my vintage family photos to this site. It’ll be another place where those in the future can look to if they want to reconnect with their family history.

There’s another good reason to take advantage of this free website. You might find more relatives: Users are able to place biographies and even family histories on the website and update them, and it’s fully searchable, too.


There are resources available to help you organize your digital media.

One great tip from the National Archives and Records Administration, as far as making sure the items you’ve digitized don’t get lost.

Back up your files with a “3-2-1 Rule” as NARA suggests:

“Three copies, stored on two different media, and one copy located off-site."

You can learn more advice about digitizing records on the National Archives’ website, CLICK HERE to visit.

You can get some valuable tips for organizing your family history materials – and a comprehensive booklet on steps to take, from the Pictures and Stories website. CLICK HERE to visit the site.

If you don’t like the look of the photos of your old family photos, consider the app Google Photos offers that makes digitizing your old photos easier: PhotoScan. It’s free, too.

The app takes multiple scans of the same image and stitches them together – removing glare and the distortion that happens when old photos start to curl. CLICK HERE to learn more about the Google PhotoScan app.

Maintaining and preserving family memories is a challenging task.

But if you take advantage of the help that’s available, memorializing your family and its history can be a rewarding project.

EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association