Discussion Inspired by my post and some of the comments referencing this other discussion on whether Photo Requests should be allowed here in this forum and if they are how do we keep them on topic and also realizing they may stay unanswered for a very long extended period of time.

I am having trouble seeing how this forum and its format would be appropriate for these but I think it is at least something to flush out and I am open to it if others agree and could see some value.

My initial thoughts, if they are to be for this forum, are the following to keep the requests on-topic to Genealogy:

  1. Photo Request must be for a Image containing or possibly containing the individual, place, or vessel.
  2. The request should be clear that it serves a genealogical purpose and not just a picture of place.
  3. The request should not (or should it?) state the name of a possibly living individual, but can reference them via relationship (i.e. Grandfather) unless it is accompanied by a newspaper or other public article referencing the event or photo.
  4. The request should contain a specific timeframe, general location, context.
  5. Photos requested must be at least 25 years old (~1989 prior) which is approximately one generation and not be a famous person request unless directly related.
  6. Photos of places that do not contain individual that are canidate relatives must be relevant to genealogical events (i.e. Ships, Hospitals, Churches); *?Photos of places worked unless owned or lived in by the family out of scope of discussion?

I have some real examples (not listed below) I could use based on the guidelines we flush out but here is some examples for starters.

Bad Example:

I am looking for a photo of my dad in High School from 1995.

Bad Example:

I am looking for a photo of Johnny Appleseed from 1938 in Nashville, TN.

OK Example:

I am looking for a photo of the Red River High School football team from 1973 in Grand Forks, North Dakota which I believe my father played on.

OK Example:

I am looking for photos from the event, in particular the winners, of the 1938 Sterling, IL Midget Car Racing series (With attached articles mentioning them) which my great grandfather and my grandfather's brother participated.


2 Answers 2


This is essentially the same question as Can I post cousin-bait on this site?, only in different clothing.

There's a big difference between someone posting a request for a photograph of their however-many-times great-grandpa who served in WWI, and someone saying that their great-grandpa served with such-and-such unit during WWI, and they're looking for more information about the people he served with, including photos.

The ideal Q/A for me serves as a case study which other people can use to get clues about how to work their own problems.

Contrast that with the typical genealogy message board which has loads of queries like:

Looking for information re: husband born approx 1800 married 24 Nov 1825 (per LDS film) in place to wife (born approx 1808). Children daughter1 (1826), daughter2 (1828), daughter3 (1829), daughter4 (1832) christened at that-parish Church, place Any further guidance/input would be appreciated. Thanks!

I've copied this from an Ancestry message board but removed all the names and places.

Some discussions follow where people talk about the family and they suggest some other records. Threads like these which are tightly focused on one family, but ask questions which are far too broad ("I want anything I can find!") are a waste of bandwidth for anyone who is not associated with that family. Most of the time they only talk about that one family or surname, and there is no discussion of resources for that area which would help other people working in the same locality.

So rather than say "do my homework for me and find this photo", think about how to write an answerable question which will help you find the resource you are looking for.

In PolyGeo's answer, he said:

My thinking on this subject centres around finding photos of individuals rather than where they lived, worked, prayed, etc, so my preference would be to see the scope of this question restricted to that particular class of photos initially.

I assumed that we were talking about finding photos of people, not places. But doing more research about an individual's 'cluster' or FAN club (FAN = Friends, Associates, Neighbors) might give you clues about where to find photos. Any question here is better if we can see you have already made some research effort. Keep that in mind while pondering your question.

Another thing to consider: if the consensus is that that there is not enough genealogical interest in this kind of question, we could still hold workshop / brainstorming sessions in the Conference Room (in chat).

  • I agree that we shouldn't be doing their homework for them, and the question should be answerable. That is why I didn't post a specific question and looked for a more general resource, based on your comment I got the sense you might be for these types of questions in this forum, but what I get from this response is you are not. Can you clarify your opinion statement?
    – CRSouser
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 15:34
  • There's a difference between asking "does anyone have X photo?" and "how can I find photos about X?" Note that your previous question asked how to find places to request a photo rather than making a photo request here.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 17:27

I'll try and flesh out my answer via some edits to it, but I think I will start by saying that I do not think our focussed Q&A format is designed for Photo Requests, any more than it is designed for Lookup Requests. However, that statement is mainly about terminology.

What I think the community here can do here is to help askers with their search to find photos that they are seeking. I am a potential asker of such questions, perhaps 5-10 of them over the next few years, and I think the type of question we should frown upon is of the bare questions like:

  • Does anyone have a photo of X who lived in Y from ... to ...?

Personally, I am unlikely to seek photos relating to any individuals born in the past 100 years and so some of the edge cases you describe will not be applicable to me.

The type of questions related to finding photos for someone born more than a 100 years ago that I would like to see be considered on topic here are those that include:

  1. Description of the individual for who the photo is being sought that includes their name, BMD details, timeline of what is known of where they lived, any details known of their social network like occupation, church, lodge, sporting clubs, etc.
  2. Some words describing the genealogical or family history connection that the individual has to the asker
  3. Some evidence that some effort has already been put into trying to find the photo

I have a 2nd great grandfather for whom I have been wanting to try and find a photo for some time so I think I will try to post a question about him sooner rather than later so that we have at least one concrete example to frame this Q&A around. Perhaps we already have some but my quick search did not reveal any.

My thinking on this subject centres around finding photos of individuals rather than photos of where they lived, worked, prayed, etc, so my preference would be to see the scope of this question restricted to that particular class of photos initially.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .