Tag Archives: index photos

Indexing Digital Photo Collections with ResearchTies

Clarence and Bruce Gardner

Genealogists gather documents of all kinds, including photographs. Sometimes the photos are documentation for life events (like photos of grave markers), but the largest portion of our photos are typically pictures of people we love. These photos need to be preserved. One of the most significant challenges in organizing photos is to figure out how to file them so that each image can be easily retrieved in the future. The difficulty of indexing and organizing photos is no different than that of filing our genealogical documents. Once you realize how similar these issues are, you understand that a tool like ResearchTies is the perfect solution for both.

Indexing photos with ResearchTies provides organization, preservation, and instant retrieval—the same capacity applied to your documents. Using this program to index photos also means that they will be accessible from your online account at any time. It will be possible to share photos with relatives while attending a reunion or visiting in their homes. You can also create a PDF research log of the photos with active links to share with family members electronically. Learn to use and enjoy the high quality features of ResearchTies that are not found in any other research logging method.

When conducting research, it’s relatively easy to determine a research goal, locate a repository, describe a source, and record the results. To index digital photos, transfer the same concepts to a photo collection. 

Add an Objective

  1. From the home page, click on “Add Information” or click the green add button in the blue toolbar.
  2. Select “Add Objective.”
  3. The goal or objective is to index a photo collection. Writing this objective in ResearchTies can be done using the objective type, “Search a record group.”
  4. The record type is “photo.” This selection will need to be added to your dropdown list. Click on the green add button in the (record type) field, enter “photo,” then click “Add Record Type.”
  5. The place and people to record in the objective will depend on how specific you want to be. If you want one objective to cover all photos, create a place for “world” and a surname “all.” Otherwise, it is possible to specify families or surnames in combination with specific places.
  6. Click “Save Objective.”
  7. Select “Add a Search to This Objective” and click “Continue.”

 photo objective

Next, add your Search

  1. The source is the photo itself. Click on the green add button in the “Source Title” field to add a new photo.
  2. The repository of the photo is the person’s home or the archive where the photo is located. If needed, add a new repository.
  3. To add a repository, click on the green add button in the “Repository” field.
  4. Enter the name of the archive or the place where the photo is located. (For example, “Home of James Gardner”) Add any desired location and contact information for the repository.
  5. Click “Add Repository” and the program will return to the “Add Search” template.
  6. Be sure the repository was recorded, then select “photo” as the record type.
  7. The author is the name of the photographer, if known.
  8. Give the photo a descriptive title.
  9. If the photo is from an archive or other official repository, be sure to record the additional citation and collection details. If this is a personal photo, the fields can be left blank.
  10. Comments about the photo can include the date the picture was taken, the event where it was taken, or any other relevant details. The comments field is word searchable, so it’s possible to create keywords to identify groups of photos and retrieve them through keyword searches. Two examples might be the name of a cemetery, or “1951 summer vacation.”
  11. When finished with the details of the photo, click “Add Source.”photo source
  12. After saving the new source, the title and author fields will autofill as if you had selected from the dropdown menu. When recording the details of the Search, use the jurisdiction field to indicate the place where the photo was taken. If needed, it’s possible to create a place named “unknown.”
  13. If the photo is of an individual, the scope of the photo would be that person. Click “Individual” and select the correct person from the dropdown. If the photo is of several members of a family, the family could be selected. Otherwise, select the most relevant surname for the group in the photo.
  14. The record type is “photo.”
  15. Click “Save Search.”
  16. Select “Add Result to this Search” and click “Continue.”

photo search

Finally, record the results of who is in the photo. Create a result for each person.

  1. The Result date is the date the photo was acquired.
  2. Select the first individual in the picture from the dropdown box.
  3. If there are names written on the photo, be sure to include the name as it was recorded on the picture.
  4. It’s likely that there won’t be any additional citation information, unless the image is from a formal archive collection.
  5. The comments field is the place to record information about each specific person in the photo. One example might be to include a person’s age. This comment field is also keyword searchable.
  6. To attach the digital file of the photo, click on “Add File.” Give a brief descriptive name for the photo in the “Description” field, then click on “Choose File” to attach the photo.
  7. If the photo is of more than one person, be sure to add a separate result for each person in the photo.


NOTE: The “Share Source” feature in ResearchTies currently shares image links with the “Source” area of FamilySearch Family Tree, not the “Memories” area. Until we are able to program the option to choose “Memories,” you’ll need to share photos with FamilySearch (if desired) while working in Family Tree.

photo resultsRetrieving the Photos

Once the photos are recorded in ResearchTies, retrieval is as easy as locating your research documents. From the home page, click on “Search Your Logs” (or the magnifying glass icon on the blue toolbar).

Finding by Objective:

To return a list of all objectives relevant to photo indexing, select “Photo” as the Record Type and click “Search.” Additional variables can be selected to narrow the list further, if multiple objectives have been written for photos.

Finding by Search:

Select “Searches” in the dropdown box to locate entries at the Search level. For example, if you entered the name of a cemetery in the Search comment box, this would be the form to use to conduct a keyword search on the name of the cemetery.

Including “Photo” as the Record Type, conduct a search by repository to return all photos from a particular archive or an individual’s collection.

A search for a Jurisdiction along with the Record Type “Photo” will return all photos relevant to that place.

Finding by Result:

A search for Results for a specific person and the Record Type “Photo” will return hits for all photos of that person, regardless of whether they are group or individual photos.

When using the search engine for any of the three options (objectives, searches, or results), combinations of search terms can be used to further narrow the results returned. For example, it is possible to search for photos of the Andrew Bruce Gardner family of Afton, Wyoming, in my personal collection. Learn how to enter and use the different search variables to index and instantly retrieve any or all of your family photos.

photo find