The Secret to Finding Old Family Photos

Show Notes: Discover more than 100,000 old family photos on Dead Fred. Founder Joe Bott explains how to find photos of your relatives on this free website.

Dead Fred old photos

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Show Notes

Would you like to find more old family photos? One of the secrets is to search places where other distant relatives (and even people not related to you) are uploading old photos – hundreds of thousands of photos!

That place is DeadFred.com.

In this video, Dead Fred founder Joe Bott explains how to find photos of your relatives on his free website. Joe will also provide some of the back story on how he ended up devoting his life to helping families find their photos, and how in the world he decided on this most unusual name for his website!

Downloadable ad-free Show Notes handout for Premium Members

Interview with Joe Bott, Founder of DeadFred

From Joe: “I’m sitting down here in my little niche, scanning photos and putting them on my website so people can find them. That’s what I do for retirement now. I post photos, put them on the internet and wait for somebody to come knock on my door and say, “Hey, I know who that is! That’s my great, great whatever!” It’s happened already about 3000 times since I’ve started. Actually 3,157 times, just to be specific.”

What Does the DeadFred Website do?

“You take your photographs taken before 1965, and the people in the photographs have passed on. You can put them on there. It’s free to use. There are instructions on how to post your photos. Where it says Post Your Photos, click on that and just go ahead and do it.

When you post your first photo, you’ll receive a password in your email. You use that to manage your postings.

You can post as many photos as you’d like. Now, I might take a day or two to get it up on the website because I check every photo that comes in to make sure there’s nothing untoward. Because they do pop up every once in a while.”

After you post the photo, other DeadFred users will search the website, and that’s how old family photos can get reunited with descendants.

It’s also useful if you want to learn more about a photo. When you post your photo, include additional comments and questions. When you’re logged in you can post a sticky note.

Why was the website named DeadFred?

“People often ask me why it is called DeadFred, and that gives me the opportunity to tell them that Dead Fred is a photo.”

The photo Joe is referring to is of Frederick the Great, who died in Germany. “The young man had cancer of the throat and died. My great great grandfather was living during that time in Germany, so that’s sort of the genealogy connection to it.”

DeadFred website name

The reason behind the name DeadFred

Joe and his family were sitting around a table trying to figure out what to call the website. He had purchased the photo of Frederick the Great on ebay and it came in the mail. “We opened it up and one of my sons, I have four boys, one of them said, ‘Well, we’ll just call it that, Fred.’ Everybody seems to like it. That’s the story.

“That photo of Fred is on my website…Just scroll down on the right-hand side and you’ll see him.”

Has Joe always been fascinated with old photos?

“Not always. In fact, I didn’t know I was fascinated with photographs until 1965 while I was in the Navy. I was in Newport Rhode Island, and I was walking down the street and it started to pour, I mean really pour, and I didn’t want to get my suit wet, my sailor outfit. So, I ran into this antique store. I hadn’t looked like I was going to buy something, but I found something. I found this photo album, and it just totally amazed me. And it most likely said, “buy me!” and I had to. I didn’t have a lot of money back then. I don’t have a lot of money now, but I didn’t have a lot of money back then either. And I bought it for $18. Now $18 in ’65 was a lot of money, especially for a sailor that has just joined the Navy. So, I bought it. And that was my first album. I have it sitting up here on my cabinet. But that’s how it started. I just said, wow, look at this. I couldn’t get my eyes off it!”

Reuniting Photos with Families: A Success Story from Joe

“When I was working. I was driving up to Iowa. And I stopped in store at the antique store. I found some photos in a box – a whole family – and I bought it. I worked out a deal. I learned how to do that over the years. I got a good deal on it. I went home and I scanned the photos. They were from Saskatchewan, Canada.

I got a phone call, or I actually got an email. I eventually got a phone call from a woman from South Saskatchewan who says “that’s my whole family. My grandparents, their aunts and uncles, the cousins, the whole shebang!” And apparently, now this is in the 1980s, late ‘80s, early ‘90s, and those pictures were taken 100 years before. The family left Saskatchewan and they moved to Iowa and farmed there until they all died out. There wasn’t anybody to take the photographs. So, there were the boxes, so I bought them, and I put them up on the website. Somebody from Saskatchewan said they knew who they were. And they sure did. Then I sent them home. That was an exciting moment for me right there.

Now there’s a lot of stories like that. There are stories where people cry when they find their photographs. There are cases when somebody is dying, and there’s a picture of a wife or a mother and their family wants to show them a picture before they die. So, there’s a lot of stories to be told. I could write a book about people that have found photographs. I sent out a couple every week now. Matter of fact, I just sent one of a baby, which was great. The baby has died now, got old and died at the age of 88, and I sent it out to his grandson. Yeah. My mind’s getting older, so I can’t remember as much as I would like to as far as names and places. But these kinds of things, they stick in your head.”

How to Post Photos on DeadFred

The first step in submitting a photo to DeadFred is to make sure it meets the guidelines. Currently, they accept photos that are earlier than 1965 and that, for privacy reasons, the people in the photo are deceased. Make sure to identify the photo in some way. This could mean including a country, date, state, etc.  

Scan your photo in JPG format. Per the website, for best results, scan at 150 dpi resolution or higher and save at 72 dpi.

On the home page, under the Tools column on the right-side, click Post Photos in the menu. Under Step One, read the directions, check the box for the Terms of Service, and click the Choose File button to locate the photo file on your computer. Then click on the “Upload Image” button.

Your photo will receive a unique record number. Follow the prompts on the page, type in the identification information in the proper fields, and then submit.

You can expect your photos to appear on the DeadFred website typically within 3-5 days of being uploaded.

4 Ways to Search for Photos at Dead Fred

Every photograph on DeadFred website is unique, as is the information associated with the photo. That’s why there are 5 ways to search for them. Here’s how:

1 Surname Search

There are two options for searching Dead Fred for photos by surname. Option 1: Quick Search Field and Option 2: Linked first letter of the surname.

2 Detailed Search

On the home page, click the link for the Detailed Search. This will take you to a form that you can complete. The more information you can enter into the Detailed Search form, the better your chances of finding a match.

3 Search by Photographers

Of important note on the Detailed Search form is the Photographer field. Many old photos, particularly cabinet cards from the late 19th and early 20th centuries include the stamp of the photographer. Sometimes you’ll find a tremendous amount of detail about the photographer on the backside too. Use this information to conduct a photographer search.

Searching by a photographer is a great way to find other photos potentially related to your family’s history. Take a look at the photos you already have for the family you want to search for and make note of the photographers. Then, conduct a search by entering the surname of the photographer in the Photographer field. This will retrieve all photos listing that photographer’s name.

4 Keyword Search

Many DeadFred users include surnames that are related or associated with the photograph in the Comments field if they are not certain of the subject’s identity. You can take advantage of this in your search by using the Keyword search field on the home page of the website. For example, search on the word baby and you’ll get all the photos where that word is mentioned in the Comments.

DeadFred search tips

Keyword Search results for baby

Accessing DeadFred Photos

When you click a photo on the search results page, it will take you to that photo hosted on the Dead Fred website. Notice that the page URL ends in .jpg indicating this is the image file itself. You can right-click on the image for usage options.  

Resources

Downloadable ad-free Show Notes handout for Premium Members

 

Google Maps Street View Delivers a Taste of Time Travel

Google Maps Street View was given an edge today over Google Earth’s street view when Google launched a “time travel” upgrade. The ability to time travel is high on most family historians list, and Street View imagery for Google Maps desktop provides a taste of that prize.

According to Google’s blog post today they have “gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world.”Google Maps Street View of GettysburgHere’s an example of viewing Gettysburg with the new feature. In many cases, there’s nothing earth shattering to see. But in some locations which have undergone substantial change in that short time period (such as viewing the reconstruction after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Japan) the results are riveting.

Don’t worry if you don’t see Google Maps Street View Historical Imagery feature yet. When you have millions of users it can take a while to roll out upgrades.

Members Have Been Time Traveling for a While Now
If you’re a Genealogy Gems Premium Member then chances are you made a bee-line for the Time Travel with Google Earth premium video as soon as you joined. In that video we explore some incredibly powerful ways to travel back through our ancestor’s lives and times. And while I still think that those techniques deliver more relevant results for genealogists, this new Street View time travel in Google Maps is exciting in its own way. It offers a glimpse into the future.

Consider this: Google has been amassing incredible amounts of data over its short life including satellite and street view imagery. 7 years in and they can now begin to offer this collection of older imagery in a meaningful way. Imagine what historical street view imagery will look like in 10, 25, or 50 years from now!

After Looking Back in Time, I Offer This Prediction for the Future
While this feature has just rolled out in Google Maps, and is not yet available in our beloved Google Earth, I predict this omission will not last long. You may have already noticed that as you zoom in closer to street level in Google Earth a small clock icon appears at the bottom of the screen indicating historical satellite imagery is available. Next to the icon a date now appears indicating the earliest available imagery. Click the Historical Imagery icon in Google Earth’s toolbar and a time slider indicating the years available will appear.

Historical imagery Google Earth

For most areas of the world this spans about as long as satellite imagery has been around. But in some key areas, such as London and parts of Europe, the slider goes back to the World War II era. Black and white aerial imagery of war torn areas are plainly visible. (If you have World War II veterans in your family tree, this is a feature you’ll want to explore.) It can only be a matter of time before this same Historical Imagery comes to Google Earth’s Street View.Burkett Family in San Francisco Google Earth for GenealogyMore Ways to Explore and Time Travel Now
If you are intrigued by the idea of using this technology to simulate your own genealogical time travel experience, watch my free video called Google Earth for Genealogy. You’ll travel along with me as I uncover the secrets of a photograph taken just over one hundred years ago, pinpoint the location today, and then travel back in time to further explore my ancestor’s neighborhood. From there, the sky is the limit with Google Earth and Google Maps!

 
Further Reading:

Scandinavian Genealogy Records – New & Updated Record Collections

Scandinavian genealogy records for this week pique the interest of researchers all over the world. Large collections of records for Sweden and Finland are among the list of new and updated genealogical records. Other collections include records for London, Ireland, and the United States. Oh! One last thing. We’ve added a Google search strategy you won’t want to miss!

dig these new record collections

Sweden – Church Records

FamilySearch recently updated a collection of church records for Sweden titled “Sweden, Gävleborg Church Records, 1616-1908; index 1671-1860,” this week. The collection includes church records from the county of Gävleborg. These church records include clerical surveys; registers of birth, marriages, and deaths; move-in and move-out lists; confirmations; and church accounts.

The digital images span the years of 1616-1908, however the records that are searchable by index (at this time) only include the years between 1671 and 1860. When browsing through the digital images that have not been indexed, you will want to search by parish, then by record type, and lastly, the volume and year.

Finland – Church Records

MyHeritage has published an impressive collection of 33 million Finnish historical records! This collection of church census books and pre-confirmation books were kept by the Lutheran Church in Finland. The reason these records are so important is that the Lutheran Church was the state religion for hundreds of years. Because of that, the church records essentially cover the entire population of Finland.

Scandinavian Genealogy Record for FinlandIn rural areas, the church book records are organized by village, farm, and household. Within the cities these records were organized by quarter or street.

It is important for researchers to realize that Finland was part of Sweden until 1809. Church census records and pre-confirmation records were consequently written in Swedish until the mid-to-late 1800s. Don’t forget – FamilySearch wiki will give you a language cheat-sheet so you can get help with translating!

United Kingdom – London – Post Office Directories

London Post Office Directories 1842, 1851 and 1861, a browse only database at this time, is now available at Findmypast. You can browse over 1.5 million records from three London Post Office Directories. These directories include lists of traders, bankers, people employed by the crown, lawyers, and other officials. Though not indexed, they list names alphabetically by surname. You may be able to find your ancestor’s occupation, business address, or even their home address!

United Kingdom – Westminster

This collection from Westminster, Poor Law and Parish Administration includes over 1.7 million records. The parish administration was over several commissions and these records include bastardy papers, admissions, examinations, pauper records, valuations, and work house records.

Because there are so many different types of records in this collection, the amount of genealogically valued data will vary. Transcripts and digital images of the original documents are provided and can be searched by name, year, place, and record type.

Ireland – General Register Office Records

Irish Genealogy.ie has just released millions of personal records online for free! Births, marriages, and deaths are from the General Register Office. The expanded database includes the Birth Records Indexes from 1864 to 1914, the Marriage Records Indexes from 1845 (1864 for Roman Catholic Marriages) to 1939, and the Death Records Indexes from 1864 to 1964. To search these records, click here. You will find them under the Civil Records menu heading.

United States – New York City, Philadelphia, & Washington D.C. Newspapers

18th-century newspapers from three early capitals of the U.S. are new on the Chronicling America website. Browse through these digital newspapers for information about your ancestors. Nearly 15,000 pages have been added from The Gazette of the United States  (New York, N.Y. and Philadelphia, Pa., 1789-1801), the National Gazette (Philadelphia, Pa., 1791-1793), and the National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C. 1800-1809). For even more information on how to boost your genealogy success using newspapers, check out Lisa’s book, “How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers,” in a digital e-book or traditional book form.

More Gems on Scandinavian Genealogy Records

Our Genealogy Google Guru Lisa Louise Cooke has a few more ideas for gaining access to more records and information about your Scandinavian ancestors. Here’s what Lisa says:

“You’ve probably already tried searching with Google to find more on your ancestors. But have you searched in Swedish, Finnish, or Norwegian? Start by going to Google Translate and entering your search query in English.

Scandianvian Genealogy Records and translation

Google Translate will detect that you have typed in English. You’ll need to select the desired language from the drop-down menu in the box on the right. Above, I’ve selected Swedish. Google Translate has now translated my query. Highlight and copy the translated text.

Next, go to the Swedish version of Google, which you’ll find at https://www.google.se/. Paste the translation in the search box. I’ve changed “Otter” back to the actual name of the town “Otterstad,” because I didn’t need that to be translated! Here are my search results:

Scandianvian Records and Research

Notice, each webpage search result has a link you can click to “Translate this page.” Click it and you’ll go to that page, but it will appear in English!

I’m thrilled to see my husband’s great-great-grandfather’s name in this bottom result. I’m off to work on this family…have fun with Google Translate and the Scandinavian Googles!”  – Lisa

Isn’t thGoogle Drive and other tipsat an awesome search strategy?! This is exactly the kind of outside-the-box thinking Lisa is known for which she covers more in-depth in her book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox Second Edition. In fact, there’s an entire chapter in the book about how to use Google Translate in exciting, innovative ways for genealogy.

Here are the links Lisa sent me for the various Scandinavian Googles:

And finally, here’s more on Scandinavian research from our website:

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