Three Tips for the Family Historian

Sitting prominently in the family room of my grandparents’ house lies one of the best libraries I’ve ever seen. The books on the shelves aren’t the best literary works of famous authors, but rather the work of our family historian – my Grandpa Joe. With more than200 albums (and counting), his passion for recording and displaying family history in photo albums is something I’ve slowly adapted to and eventually inherited.

The role of the family historian is not easy – in fact, you’ll find many family members depend on you to capture the pivotal moments and celebrations, as well as life’s everyday routines. But what’s history without information? They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what good is an old photograph without the facts? Whether you’ve just started taking your role as the family historian seriously, or have been doing a great job at capturing your family’s memories, here are three tips that will benefit your family’s library for generations to come.

1. Always be prepared. I’ve got into the habit of carrying my camera in my purse and I’m glad I’ve stuck to it. I still love my SLR, but I enjoy having a point-and-shoot with me at all times because it allows me to capture those spontaneous moments.

2. Take notes. Whether you’re traveling, attending a birthday party or documenting an accomplishment, it’s always a good idea to jot down a few details: “Who? What? Where? When? Why?” When the time comes to compile all the photos in an album or photo book, you’ll be able to include those small details as captions for your photos. Fast forward ten years from now – you’ll be able to recall the name of the restaurant from your weekend getaway, or little Timmy’s best friend when he was six years old.

3. Get the family involved. Technology has made sharing photos so easy and cost effective , and with Shutterfly Share sites you can connect with all of your family members even though you’re miles apart. For example, on my family share site I included a blog, a calendar with all the upcoming family functions, photo albums and digital copies of my completed photo books. Family members can select their favorite photos and/or photo books and order their own copies.


  1. says

    My aunt and my father were our family’s historian. My father passed away when I was nine and his photos were all of me from birth to the age of 9. Those photographs are like gold to me. That instilled in me the passion of photographing my children. I understand how mind blowing it is to look back and see yourself growing and changing as a child. I hear stories of my friends saying their parents never took pictures. How sad. My aunt passed way two years ago and everyone wanted her photo albums. Pictures grow in value over the years, make that investment for your loved ones.

  2. shannonr says

    I loved all your pointers, I have been wanting to pick up a little point and shoot camera that I can just throw in my coat pocket to always be prepared, so many moments happen when you least expect it to. Your tips on taking notes is also great, sometimes those notes are really what makes the picture. Thanks for a very informative article :)

  3. Joey says

    Thanks for the tips and article. Great photos above, also. I love taking photos of our family, capturing that moment that we will look back on and say ‘wow, i remember when we did this or that’. I love jotting things down too. My grandma (my dads mom) had a ton of pictures which he thought got lost in one of her moves. We found that box in my parents closet and what a joy it was to see my grandma as a young woman and my dad and his brothers growing up. i wish I had photos of my mom and her siblings when they were young. I only have a few. I love looking back at photos when i was younger or even my nieces and nephews now. Its amazing how fast they grow.
    Great article, Clarissa!

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