Creating and uploading Digital Images and Documents to FamilySearch Memories
and taking full advantage of FamilySearch Memories

also check out this pdf with screen shots

also check out this page

[copy of an email of  5/7/2019]

For today's email I felt the need to divide it into two sections - to focus on two different "audiences".  

My subject:   Digital Preservation of family Documents like Photos, charts, stories, letters, certificates, newspaper articles and even audio files etc.




If you are new to the digitization and preservation of family documents and how to upload such items to a web application like FamilySearch or Ancestry you may wish to watch these videos.

It really is not that hard if you have a scanner or camera enabled device.  Its often just a matter of taking the time to "get started" and being curious enough to just try new things


In all my learning related to genealogical research and processing of genealgical material - few things have given me more "bang for the  buck" than learning how to use a scanner and to edit scanned images. I can’t recommend enough how valuable it can be to sit down with someone who can mentor you on how to use a scanner.


For anyone of you who consider yourselves newbies to on line genealogy and digitization of genealogical material here are some great sites

If you are not a newbie you may consider skipping this section which talks about Family search and how  one can upload family material in digital format to the online Family search system.



FREE Family Search Account:

Even if you don't plan on using Familysearch long term - I still recommend creating a FREE account - just to give yourself some exposure to the many options and opportunities. 

Here you can create a free account.  No charges - no strings attached.






I recently re-established contact with a researcher I had known for I think 30 years or so.  He had spent many decades researching a given surname - simlar to what I had done for the Yancey family.


He had told me how he was uploading to Family Search Memories around 15,000 files  (photos, documents, scanned images etc.,).    This really sounds like a mammoth amount of work to upload. . . and it is. . .

But for someone who has spent decades collecting family information - - 15,000 items is not really so much out of the norm.  And if you do it right -   15,000 items can be uploaded to FamilySearch probably quicker than you might think.   This researcher was reaching their mature years and wanted to ensure that no matter what happened to them at any point in time – that their research and collection of information was preserved in a manner and with an application  that would ensure continued access to these items – even long after they are gone.  (contrary to some systems which may shut down your account if the monthly bill doesn’t get paid).   Note FamilySearch is totally free – and they will retain your files – even after one’s passing).  




For those interested in being able to methodically, efficiently and smartly - upload and preserve digital memorabilia in Familysearch - when your collection of items is very large (picking some arbitrary number - an amount larger than 100 items) - what follows are some tips that may not be totally apparent to the beginner FamilySearch user- but have become quite apparent to me over time as I have uploaded thousands of items over many months.

I figured I would share some of my lessons learned and suggestions.


Note what follows kind of assumes you are someone who already has a large collection of  data files  (including jpg image files, pdf document files and more ) and that you have some basic understanding of uploading such files on line -  and you have some basic understanding of using FamilySearch.


 Some thoughts:


Before you start work on some large scale upload project to Familysearch - put some real thought into how your files are named, sorted and organized on your computer or storage device. 


Realize that a methodology that works fine for uploading 10-20 photos for a small group of family members - may not work efficiently when you start working with hundreds or thousands of photos  that apply to many hundreds or thousands of people in the system.

Also realize that small simple details in your process that seem no "biggy" for small numbers of uploads - may all of a sudden make the difference in what could be days, months, or years if you are uploading thousands of items. . . 


Putting some thought in how you can work "smart" and/or "think out of the box" instead of just working "hard"  can really make a world of difference - .  For example:   Finding ways to do things "in batch" versus just one by one.   Thinking about an assembly line approach versus  going from start to finish on one item at a time.  Or thinking and playing with ways of getting other people involved in the project other than just you.


One item that may not be readily apparent to the beginner is the real value of FamilySearch "ALBUMS".  Just like how creating various sub folders on your hard drive can really help you organize and group and sort out items - so can uploading your items to Familysearch in logical smaller groups (within FamilySearch) known as "albums".  I have felt the need to create over 50 different FamilySearch gallery albums to help me work more efficiently and smartly with my large collection.  For example I have a set of over 300 Bible record images/files that I have grouped together tp be able to handle similarly.  I also have a folder with over 1,000 newspaper articles that have their own unique needs.  I have also been able to group together items that were given to me by a given researcher  to keep such items separate from other material.   I STRONGLY recommend  playing around with the use of "albums" and assigning different items to different albums (folders).  Also realize a single item - can be assigned and exist to multiple albums - while still only be stored in the system "once".   Also realize that you can take batch actions against all the items in a given album in one fell swoop (as an example - all the items in my "Lillian Bogardus" album/folder (a deceased researcher who shared with me thousands of items)  - all the items I could link ("tag") to Lillian's record in Familyseach - all in one batch step.  Also it is critical to understand that with large numbers of uploaded items - you are almost always better off - uploading batches of items to a given folder  - EVEN before you link such items to a person in the familysearch family tree.  Using FamilySearch albums and doing uploads in large batches can really make a world of difference in how long your project takes.


Which brings us to the next subject of "batch uploading".   I have noted – though never seen it documented anywhere – that if you batch upload multiple files to a Family Search ALBUM – you can upload many more files and do it much quicker – then if you upload files directly to a person record in Family Tree.

I have actually been able to batch load like 200 items (at a time) to an album and have it complete in a minute or two.   I even had sporadic success with much bigger numbers (it depends on file size of course).  

So it’s not out of this world to be able to batch upload thousands of files in a few days – though the tedious work of linking them to individual people can take much longer.


So just to give you some example of things I have uploaded to family search to album folders - -  Over the years I have inherited a ton of material from various long time researchers (many now deceased) . Resulting in tens of thousands of pages of material I had accumulated.  Most of this I had batch scanned on a high speed office copier to pdf files.   For many of these deceased researchers I was able to create a Family Search Album – where I could batch load a large number of pdf/jpg files to a specific album.   Then very quickly I was able to LINK these files to the “person record” of this deceased researcher in Family Tree so that anyone looking up the person in Family Search would see digital copies of all the files for such person and be able to quickly and easily leverage their research.  Another project has involved Bible records – where I have uploaded hundreds of Bible records to an album in Family Search.  In the same way that I group my data file son my storage device – I can often mirror that folder structure using the album feature of Family Search. And using it  - be able to upload large amounts of files – without initially being forced to link them to any given person in FamilySearch at the offset.


Beside the speed of uploading to Family Search Albums – another great feature that may not be apparent to new users – is that even if I alone upload a large number of files to an album that I have created.  I am still able to share the url link to this album folder with other Family Search users – and have them help me out in the tedious process of linking/tagging these items to specific people in the Familytree.   I don’t have to do all the work!!!!  The process of item tagging I can share with an unlimited number of people who I can share the album address with.  This is a wonderful way to share the labor of love.


Also of interest is that a given file can exist in multiple albums (without the file being duplicated).  Albums can be maintained just like any folder structure  - as the work evolves over time.



I totally realize that many of you are discouraged or dis-enchanted by the “collaborative approach” of FamilySearch family tree - -especially those who are used to maintaining their own database where they have total control.   I totally empathize with this! And the collaborative approach for maintaining an extensive family tree in FamilySearch – may definitely not be any specific person’s “cup of tea”.

Personally I think many serious researchers would be best off – having their data in their own controlled environment using a program like FTM or Rots magic etc.   and so I totally understand people who are very hesitant to upload the data they are used to having total control over – and then see it overlaid by some other user in Familysearch.   I GET THAT frustration. 

HOWEVER – even if you are someone who wishes to use a program like FTM and keep their data as pure as it can be – and totally under their domain – even they could benefit from uploading certain items to FamilySearch.   I think one of the best ways to preserve digital files long term – even after a person is six feet under  - -  -is to ensure their information is stored in multiple places – both paper and digital and especially places that will not delete it – once you don’t pay the bills – or once you are dead.  


Familysearch will retain digital file upload – for an indefinite period of time.   And they don’t charge you a cent. And as far as digital uploads – such uploads would stay intact – and not be modifiable by others – other than people potentially making a link/tag between the item and the person it was in relation to.


        How many of you have wondered what would become of your files once you are dead?


        Or have you wondered what will become of the room full of papers of Aunt Linda.


        Or – what will happen if I don’t have money to pay my account where I have uploaded hundreds of files.


        Or what will happen to my account when I am no longer around?


        What will become of the many boxes in the attic or closet that you’ve treasured all these years
if something happens to you – or something happens to your home?


        Have you ever asked yourself – where you could store a digital copy of your files on line – and do it without cost – and not necessarily having to wait until all the thousands of items were grouped, labeled, and named?  And not necessarily have to link them “up front” to any specific deceased ancestor? And if you did find such a place – wouldn’t it in effect allow for you to create a “backup” copy of your data?







These are all serious things to consider

And FamilySearch may not be the answer to everything – and surely we need to use common sense and common smarts and tact In uploading the right type of information and other information maybe not.



BUT whether you are a current Family Search  user or not

And whether you are turned off by the collaborative approach of Family Search Family Tree and use your own program

Either way I think there can be some real value – on opportunities that exist to upload and preserve your research and that of others.


Give it some thought

And let me know what you think are some great opportunities for family record preservation – and maybe areas where you don’t think it should be used .

There’s no black and white – right and wrong answer.



BUT I really think way too many people – throw the baby out with the wash – when Familysearch could do so much for them as to data preservation – if they would just give it a chance and not be so quick to negate the idea.




Some example of FamilySearch Uploads – uploaded to FamilySearch Albums

Click the link under each item


Research of Barbara Vaughn – deceased Yancey researcher – including a copy of her book

A compilation of Biographies


over 500 items from a deceased Yancey researcher – Lillian Yancey Bogardus


a compilation of over 100 Family Bibles



Hopefully you get your documents preserved before they end up like this: