Ok, photos are a big part of genealogy, at least with me they are.

I love to look at old family photos and see who looks like who; what characteristics have followed from one generation to the next. Do I look like my Mom or my Dad or my Great-Great Uncle Joe?

I love finding old photos, you know the ones with the creases in them, that they were loving handle, passed down from generation to generation.

What do I hate?

Unnamed photos – no dates – no names – no locations. They can drive me crazy. I have a lot of photos like that.

This is a photo I got from my Mom – from Finland, two young soliders. Now they are probably part of my family – but which part? Both or just one? Did they survive the war? Which war?


and then there is another photo, probably from Sweden. A beautiful, little girl that I will never have a name for.

So, one thing that you should always do. NAME YOUR PHOTOS!!!!!

Write the day, year, place and who is in there. Is it a party to celebrate an anniversary or birthday or just family get together.

My next post will be on how unnamed photos can sometimes help you to identify someone.

Politeness goes a long way

Yes, talking about politeness on a genealogy blog may seem weird but it does go a long way in your research and even when you are doing cemetery photography.

When you are doing research, never assume that what is on the net is yours for the taking — someone probably spent many hours researching the information that they have put there. Contact the person, it could be a distant family member. And one thing that you should always do is put in the credit for the information — don’t just let everyone think that you found out that Great-Uncle Jeffery was a bigamous or something else. Give Credit where Credit is due.


You are on findagrave and you find that someone entered your GGG-Grandfather and his family. Think first – do you really need to have total control of the memorial? Findagrave has virtual cemeteries that you can create for any branch of your family.

When I find a distant relative, I will put them in a Virtual cemetery. If I have information or links for the person, I send a Suggest a Correction and make sure that I put in “Thank you for listing this distant relative”. If there is no headstone, I will request one for the memorial.

One thing I would never do is do a Photo Request and ask for them to look for other family members or to do research. Findagrave is a grave registration site, not a genealogy site. Yes, I know it is good for a source for genealogy but people are not on there to do your research.

And when someone does the photo request by either photographing the headstone or letting you know that there is not a headstone — thank them. It helps to know that you are appreciated when you have gone out and searched a cemetery to find the plot.

Which leads me to

Cemeteries and Photography

Ok, when you go to a Cemetery, there are a lot of things that you should not do:

  • Do not clean the stone with anything but water and a soft brush
  • Do not throw out anything on the headstone, move it if it is in the way of the shot, but put it back
  • Do not disturb a funeral — try to go to a different location in the cemetery til it is over
  • If there are people visiting to a plot close by, do not disturb them
  • If you are going there with requests, don’t bring in 10 and expect the staff to be able to look them all up at the same time. Make arrangements to drop the list off, say a week in advance.
  • Make friends with the staff — they can truly help you if you need it
  • I guess the main thing is if you are polite, say please and thank you, it will go a long way in getting along with not only other genealogists, cemetery staff and people in general.

    And in the spirit of this post:

    Thank you all for reading.

    Military Records

    are always an interesting thing to have for family members.

    I started out trying to find out about Grandmother’s two brothers who both died in WWI and then went on to find out about other G-Uncles, cousins and distant relatives who joined the Military.

    There are many different places to get Military records, but one of the first places that I found to get something about my family in Canada was at at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial

    In Ottawa, there are books that list the people that died in the Service of Canada in WWI, WWII, the Korean War and peacekeeping missions. Each day, the different books are opened to the page that lists the people that passed away.

    From this site, you can order a copy of the page that the person is listed on as well as find information that others have added to the page which is a wonderful page to have in your Genealogy Pages.

    An example is my Great Uncle Charles Duncan Compton – his page is Virtual Memorial, from there you can click on the link that shows his page. I have ordered a copy and have it as part of my records. I was also able to have them update the page because when he joined, he listed his birthdate at 21 Dec 1897 on his Accession Papers but after getting his birth records, he was actually born on 21 Dec 1899 so he was only 16 years old when he signed up and he was dead 2 years later – so sad. And also, people have sent and there are added other papers, pictures, etc about the person. It was from here that I got to see what my G-Uncles looked like.

    You can get copies of the Accession Papers from the Canadian Government for free, but if you want to know more, you can order copies of the Military Records for the person.

    I ordered the records for one G-Uncle and learned more about him than a Great-Niece should know. Let’s just say the records have a much more detailed medical records than the Accession papers do. I also learned that he also lost his stripes at one point for serving beer to his troupes but I think if I was in the middle of a battle field, and we had a little break, I would have wanted a drink.

    I find that Military records bring out more about the family than anything else. You have to wonder what was going through the head of a young man, who at the age of 16 would sign up, probably knowing he could die as well as an older G-Uncle signed up at the age of 35?

    I have a strange, great sense of pride to know that I came from these people that risked their lives to make this world a better place.

    A very good update for Research

    The BC Archives, which has Birth, Marriage and Death archives has totally updated their site.

    In the pasr, when looking for a Death registration, you had to go to the site, then write down the information, then go to the library to see the death registation and hopefully it was the right person and, it had the burial location. A little hard to do if you didn’t live in BC and close to a Library that had the the mircofilm.

    But now, they are scanning the records and uploading them to their new search site:

    Basic Search

    Such a great help to Genealogist everywhere.

    Memories of a Grandma

    Memories are an important part of genealogy – stories or memories of yours or family members. It is always wonderful to have them. Try and interview family members about their memories, especially the older members of your family.

    My Memory for today is my Grandma – Edit Amanda Snabb — she was my Mother’s Mom. In 1929, Edit left her home and family in Björköby, Finland and travelled to London and then arrived in Montreal, Quebec on September 21, 1929. I don’t know if she travelled straight to BC, but from what I have heard, she was originally going to go to the USA but she had health problems and they would not let her in. I think she choose Vancouver because her sisters were in California and Vancouver was the closest she could get to them.

    Imagine, being only 22 years old and leaving behind your family, friends and life to go to another country where there is no one. She was a brave women in my eyes.

    From what my Mom told he, she lived in a Boarding House that was mostly people from Sweden or Finland areas. It was there that she met a grumpy, but charming Swede named Gustav Backman and October 30, 1930, they married.

    Edit went on to have 4 children – Vera, Nancie (my Mom), Alf (her only son) and Ingrid. Sadly, only my Mom and Auntie Vera are still alive today.

    My Grandma died in May 1965 – I was just over 5 1/2 yrs old. I don’t have many memories of her, except 1 major one that if I close my eyes, I can still see her:

    It was Christmas, and they had come over from Christmas dinner – we are all showing her our presents, trying to get her to understand about them. My Grandma didn’t speak English all that well and she was ill at the time. Well, I had an Avon Humpty Dumpty Bubble Bath that I had just gotten and you knocked over Humpty and the egg top part would break into 3 pieces. Well, I did the little poem, knocked him off the edge of the couch and he “broke”. All I remember after that is her giving me a hug because she thought he was broken for good. There is a little bit of this on old movie film my Dad had converted to VHS. And you know, some days when things are bad, I close my eyes and think of that time and I can feel her arms around me.

    My Grandma:

    Paper, paper and more paper . ..

    I always wanted a library in my apartment and I think that by the time that Nancie moves on, her bedroom would become my library filled with research information.

    These are my binders for cemeteries: one is for Mountain View — it holds all of the plot maps for this 106 acre cemetery; the next one currently has all the other cemeteries which when I go to and get plot maps and I keep just in case there is a that has the the plot number then I don’t have to bother the office. And the last binder is burial indexes that I have ordered and kept in hopes of one day finding the time to add to findagrave.

    And then comes the many, many binders of my Genealogy — birth, marriage, death, military, newspaper, photos, etc. There are also family trees sent to me in paper copies — one is 500 pages long. While I have most of these on backup cds and flashdrives, there are things that came as a paper copy. I need some more binders to take the ones that are not in binders yet and still need to fill the photo albums as well.

    And this doesn’t include the framed pictures on the walls.

    So, just remember that cemetery documenting and genealogy need lots of room for the paper.

    Shout out to all the helpful

    Cemetery Staff out there.

    I have been doing genealogy research and taking photos for others for just over 5 years now and I have to say that we in the Lower Mainland have the best cemetery staff around.

    Now, 2 of the Cemeteries are run by a large corporation – Dignity Corporation out of the USA. There are people that say about how bad they are, that they will not help with plot locations, etc but this is in the US. I have never had any problems with them. If I have more than 2 or 3, I will drop off a list and come back a day or so later, and they have everything ready for me. Some have given me their email address, so I can email a list to them.

    I have one worker that is trying to locate a family member that we can’t find where he or his Mom are buried.

    In others, I have had a worker help me find someone when I can’t find them no matter how hard I have looked. They tell me to watch out for the “Attack crows”; not to come in the evenings when they have been having problems with vandals; helped me uncover headstones.

    The people in the offices have always been polite. There are these ladies at Oceanview (in Burnaby) that always want to know about who I am looking for; we talk about different people buried within the cemetery. If I haven’t been in for awhile, when I walk in they ask how have I been.

    But sadly, within this time frame, I have also been told that if I come to 1 cemetery that I will be arrested for trespassing because it is, according to this man, against the Privacy Act of BC for me to take a photo of a headstone for a family member. So, I can’t help the person. And just so people know, I have talken to Managers at a couple of different places, and they say they have never heard of this before. And most cemeteries are now trying to get all their burial indexes on line for people to look up family/friends in the cemeteries. And you have to realize that if one of the most secretive societies – The Masonic Cemetery has now listed their index on line – just the burial dates, but still very helpful

    But as I said, 99.9% of the people I have come in contact with are so friendly, interested in what & why I am doing this, helpful and don’t look at me like I am some weirdo in the cemetery.

    So to all the Cemetery Workers out there — A BIG THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR HELP — IT IS SO APPRECIATED.

    Sources or credit for

    your research.

    One important thing for genealogy or findagrave or photos is best to give credit to the site or person or agency that you get the information from. It not only helps to prove or disprove a family story, but it is also proof to have if someone questions what you have or confirms what you have is correct.

    Some of my genealogy pages have more than 1 source attached to them.

    An example is if I have gotten some information from ancestry, but then also get more information from a government site that confirms that birth/death date of the person and gotten further information or confirmation from family about a person.

    Take my GG Aunt Annie. I had some information for from family papers; also from ancestry; the Manitoba Archives and a direct decendant of hers. When you look at her page – Annie Dicks Thompson. — scroll to the bottom you will see all the people/sites that have helped to add to her page. I find more sources make for a more complete story/picture of the person.

    And that is why I hadn’t added the picture of Walter Frederick Dicks that I had mentioned previously, as I was waiting for the proper source/credit to give for the photo. It is always polite to give credit where credit is due.

    That is why I don’t just take the headstone photos on findagrave but link to the memorial to give credit to the person that took the photo even if I created the memorial.

    So, remember to always give credit to the person or site that gives you more information to expand the leaves on your family tree.