What if you have the missing piece to someone else's family puzzle?
A while back, I was having lunch with a friend from our local genealogical society. This friend comes from one of those fortunate families with a rich heritage, complete with photos of generations past. In fact, there are so many pictures that, in her current de-cluttering mission, she is hard pressed to decide what to do with them all.
Her conclusion: share the wealth. Since my friend certainly does not have a monopoly on her ancestors, she plans on putting the pictures "out there" where others can help themselves. After all, her great-grandfather, for instance, is certainly relative to other distant cousins, as well.
The first step toward her goal is the tedious process of scanning all the photographs. Then comes the task of organizing the saved files on her computer for future accessibility. All that is prelude to deciding where to place the photos so others may easily find them and add them to their own family records.
Some plans are elegantly streamlined, and my friend's idea was just that. Her strategy, once the photos are scanned, is to upload the digital file to the appropriate profile page on her Ancestry.com public tree. From that step, it is self-serve for anyone who wishes to save the same file to their own tree. My friend will provide what information she can to identify each photo, but from that point on, it is simply "free to good home."
The beauty of such a plan is that, once digitized, a photo can be in a million places all at once. No need to decide which one person to gift the picture to—let alone find a way to deliver it to the intended recipient. As many people as want that picture can have their own copy—without preventing anyone else from doing the same.
For someone like me—a family historian who, despite inheriting photos for someone else's long-gone family, has next to no pictures of her own familial roots—it would be a blessing to discover a picture of, say, a great-great grandmother. I'm sure there are many others who would feel just the same. On the other hand, when I think of the photos I do have, it makes me realize I may have more than I thought—enough to at least share and, hopefully, make someone else's day, as well.