Are you making it easy for cousins and fellow genealogists to find your family photos in an Ancestry online photo gallery? Genealogy bloggers often use “cousin bait” to catch relatives searching the internet for family names, but did you know that Ancestry Public Member Trees can help catch cousins too?
What is “cousin bait” and how does it work? As early as 2010, genealogy bloggers were excited about posting online family trees, photos, and biographical sketches on their family history blogs as a way to connect with other genealogists researching the same names. Often, these newfound cousins turned out to have photos, stories, and answers to big brick wall questions.
But, you don’t have to be a blogger to take advantage of fishing for cousins in the big genealogy pond on Ancestry. All you need is a Public Family Tree and your own digitized photos or documents ready to attach to your ancestors.
Preparing Cousin Bait
- Select photos from your own collection; if you aren’t sure about copyright, check The Legal Genealogist’s article Copyright and the Old Family Photo.
- Scan your photo at 300 dpi for print quality, or 72 dpi for internet only.
- Add a watermark to the photo using your photo editing software by adding a text box with your name and email address in a contrasting font color. This identification will stay with the photo if it is copied to other trees — not a bad thing if you want to find cousins.
- Use a simple file name beginning with the name, date, and event. Keep it short and avoid special characters. Use a dash or underscore instead of a space, and begin dates with the year. For file naming ideas, see The Family Curator’s Tips for E-A-S-Y Digital File-naming to Organize Digital Files.
- Upload images to your public family tree Gallery with the Add > Upload Media feature. For image title, use the person’s name followed by the year and event. This puts your ancestor in front, where cousins are most likely to see it while skimming file names. Add other details to give your image more search options. Remember, date, place, and description are all searchable fields that can help you connect with relatives. See this Ancestry support article on Uploading Media for screenshots and more photos
- Keep track of which files you’ve uploaded by placing a copy or file alias inside a folder marked “Ancestry Uploads” or keep a list in a word processing document or spreadsheet.
Setting out cousin bait is as simple as uploading media to an individual in your Ancestry Public Family Tree, but the best cousin bait takes advantage of file names and descriptions to make them more searchable.
To Find Posted Images:
Select Public Member Trees from the Search menu and choose the Related Data Collection: Public Member Photos & Scanned Documents. You’ll get the best results when you use fewer search terms. Start with the surname, or surname and first initial to find photos or files that include the name you are looking for.