3 Places to Share Family History Documents and Images Online

By Sunny Jane Morton
Antique family photos.

On the weekend of January 11-14, 2019 WikiTree and GeneaBloggersTRIBE will host a 72-hour image scanning marathon. You’re invited to join the fun—and start sharing all those family history discoveries that have been languishing in your files and albums. Here are details about the Scan-a-Thon—and suggestions for where to upload your digitized family history photos and documents whether you participate in the event or not.

Whether or not you participate in the Scan-a-Thon, hopefully it inspires you to want to share those great newspaper articles, photos, obituaries, military records and other items you’ve found in the course of your genealogy discoveries. Here are three kinds of places you can share them online:

1. Ancestral profiles on community trees.

Global or unified online trees are a wonderful place to share your family history finds with those who care most about them. Global trees such as WikiTree, the FamilySearch Family Tree and focus the efforts of researchers on single, shared profiles for their common ancestors. The emphasis is on collaboration and documentation.

Here’s an example. I participate in the FamilySearch Family Tree: the ancestor shown below has had 41 sources, several photos and two personal memories uploaded. While I still need to comb through and verify what’s submitted on global trees, I can still contribute to an overall body of knowledge about my ancestors.

Ancestor profile on FamilySearch
Ancestor profile on the FamilySearch Family Tree.

2. Digital archives.

Sometimes you can contribute your family history documents and images to digital archives, too. Look for digital archives that allow individual submissions, such as the International African American Center for Family History’s Digital Collections, which accepts submissions of marriage records, photos, obituaries, funeral programs, bible records and U.S. Colored Troops pension files. We blogged recently about Civil War Photo Sleuth, which accepts identified and unidentified Civil War-era images. Consider contributing images to existing memorials at Find A Grave, as I did for this memorial created by another user. Simply click on the Add Photos box, shown here outlined in red.

Ancestor profile on FindAGrave.
Digital memorial on Find A Grave.

You can also create memorial pages for military ancestors at Fold3 or upload a digital album to Flickr (here’s how). MyHeritage hosts a global photo archive to which anyone can upload.

3. Your own family website.

Those who want to share a more detailed family history story online—perhaps even with their tree data and stories—should consider hosting a family website. You can do this easily with a MyHeritage family website, which combines your tree, a family calendar and a place for family members to add comments, ask questions or share their own photos (tag them to add them to tree profiles). Your family history software may give you the option of creating web pages, too.

Take it to the next level by building your own stand-alone family website. Family Tree Magazine founder and writer David Fryxell prefers this option. In this article on building a family website, he says, “building a tree on someone else’s genealogy website is like renting an apartment instead of owning a house. If you’re like me, ultimately you want more control over your tree’s home environment.”

Building your own website isn’t tricky and it can be completely free when you take advantage of free blogging platforms. To do this most successfully, though, consider taking Family Tree University’s Build a Family Website home study course. It shows you how to get your own website up and running in less than a month, so you can share your family history stories, photos and tree data all together in the way you’d like to.

WikiTree Scan-a-Thon Details

“The goal of the Scan-a-Thon is to scan and upload photos and other items such as letters, postcards, funeral cards, and primary documents,” states a press release. “Like a marathon, this is a competition to see who can do the most, but most participants won’t be serious competitors. Most will be doing it for the sake of preserving family history.”

“To add to the fun and collaborative atmosphere, participants will be organized into teams by geography and genealogical interest….Live chats will be hosted every few hours during the three-day event for participants to cheer each other on. During every chat, a Scan-a-Thon t-shirt will be given away to a randomly-drawn participant who has registered in advance on WikiTree.”

“Volunteers can participate during the 72-hour period by scanning photos and documents in their collection and uploading them to the Internet.”

I reached out to Eowyn Langholf at WikiTree to confirm a couple of details. “Participants can upload [documents and photos] anywhere they choose; it does not have to be WikiTree,” she says.

Also, you can report your participation in a couple of ways. Share photos you have uploaded on social media with the tags #wikitree and #geneabloggerstribe to be entered to win a Scan-a-Thon t-shirt. Or email her directly at to tell her what you’re doing. “We’ll talk about those folks during our live hangouts throughout the Scan-a-Thon,” she says.

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New course: Make a Family History Book in Three Days

You can make a family history book in 3 days! In this workshop starting Apr. 19, you will learn how to make a 20-page photo book using a combination of photographs, documents, and text to tell their ancestors’ stories.