Bring More Meaning to Spring Cleaning: How to Preserve Family Records and Photos, Heirlooms, and More
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In our spring cleaning projects we may uncover many family treasures, from old family records and photos to precious heirlooms to one of a kind handwritten letters, and more. Often, we look and remember fondly, carefully putting each treasured item back in its “spot” after a quick dusting off. 

There’s so much unexpected magic that comes from going through these boxes of documents and keepsakes hidden away in your home. Now imagine having the opportunity to protect those memories, and to share them with your friends and family. You can -- and it’s easy. 

Preserve your most treasured items by uploading images to your family tree on Ancestry®️. Attach them to your family tree to give them a digital and meaningful home so that future generations and more family from across the world can discover them and enjoy them too. 

Step one is to create an account on -- it’s free to create an account and all you need to begin building your family tree.


How to Upload Photos and Documents 

Most image and document files, such as PNG, JPG, Doc, DocX, PDF, TXT, etc., can be uploaded to Ancestry. Note, you only need to upload photos to your tree once - once uploaded you may attach the photo to any additional person included in the image or record. 

  1. From a family tree, click on a person. In the menu that appears, click Profile.
  2. From their profile page, click the Gallery tab. 
  3. From the gallery, click Add and select Upload Photos.
  4. On the Upload Photos page, click Choose files. You can also just drag a photo to the space on the page that says Drag or click here to upload.
  5. Select the photo on your computer and click Open or OK.
  6. Enter any information you want to include, including a person’s full name, age, date and location of photos and documents, and click Done.


How to Upload Records

  1. From a family tree, click on a person. In the menu that appears, click Profile.
  2. From their profile page, make sure the Facts tab is selected.
  3. In the Sources column, click +Add and select Add Source.
  4. In section 1, click the create a new source link.
  5. Enter any information you have. Leave anything you don't know blank.
  6. Click Save Source.
  7. In section 2, enter any information you have.
  8. In section 3, select the facts or events related to the source you're adding (if none, leave blank).
  9. Once you're finished, click Submit.
  10. To add an image of the source, in the Sources column, hover over the source you just created and click the View button that appears.
  11. In the menu that appears, select the Media tab on the left, then click +Add media to source.
  12. On the Upload Media page, click Choose files, select the file, and enter details about the record.
  13. Click Done to upload your record to Ancestry.


Additional Tips and Tricks:

  • Uploading images is very easy using the Ancestry mobile app. Most phones and tablets today can take good quality photos of physical images. Using the app allows you to take a photo directly from your device and add it to a family tree without needing to transfer any files. 
  • It is best to put letters and records with multiple pages into a PDF and upload them as a single, cohesive document.
  • The more information you add, the better! A good hint is to check the back of pictures and inside picture frames for any writing, and to talk to the oldest generations in your family, siblings and cousins to get all angles of each document. 
  • It’s OK to upload an image if you don’t have all the details! Simply make that image public and share it with your Ancestry community and chances are someone will be able to identify more detail. 


What Can I Upload Besides Photos?

  • Vital Records: These records often get passed down for generations and get filed away in a drawer or put in boxes in the back of a closet -- sometimes forgotten about. These records may include birth, marriage, confirmation, christening, burial, baptism, or death records you may have inherited from living or deceased family members. In addition, a family bible may also be considered a vital record if there are family members recorded within. These pages can be photographed and uploaded as an image.  
  • Military Records: Finding military records, like discharge papers, service papers, enlistment photos, documentation of medals earned, can also be super valuable because 80% of public military records for those who served from WWI to the Korean war were destroyed in a fire in 1973. However, some soldiers had copies of their own service records. So although many of these records don’t exist in public archives, many may be privately owned and hiding in a box or storage bin. 
  • Newspaper Clippings: Newspaper clippings can provide rich context on your family members’ lives. Finding and preserving these stories can add valuable context to your family history. These stories may not be digitized elsewhere or difficult to find otherwise. 
  • Letters: One of a kind handwritten letters can provide such rich details about your ancestors, their relationships with one another, and context about what their experience was like at that time in history. Those sweet love letters between great grandma and great grandpa from when he was away at war still sitting in a box in the basement? Honor their legacies by making these keepsakes discoverable for more family near and far.
  • Physical Heirlooms: Your great-aunt’s crystal bowl might be on display in your china cabinet, but why not share the item’s significance with your family? Documenting photos of things like tea sets, shaving kits, medals, textiles, books, etc. along with comments about what it is and who it was handed down to is a great way to honor their legacy.


As you tackle your spring cleaning projects this year, add more meaning to the age tradition and preserve your family keepsakes. Get started on your journey by creating a free Ancestry account and build your family tree at: