Can’t get there? Send a camera!


With the summer months comes a flurry of activity in the genealogical realm, just like most other elements of society. Find-a-Grave requests are coming in by the boatload, and family history buffs everywhere are planning visits to hometowns, historical sites and cemeteries.

But what if you just can’t manage an actual trip to see the original family homestead or ancestor’s gravesite?

Send a camera, instead!

Whether it’s time, distance, funds or transportation that keeps you from visiting a familial landmark in person, chances are you can swing the price of a disposable camera, postage and a small fee in return for some second-hand photos of a place that holds a significant place in your family tree.

An enterprising blogger, it seems, did just that – and then passed the idea on via his blog for the rest of us to follow suit. Unable to visit his ancestor’s home in a far-away state, this undaunted soul contacted a realtor in the ancestor’s community and asked if anyone in the office would be willing to take a disposable camera (supplied with return-postage envelope) and snap a photo or two of the home and then send the camera back.

It wasn’t hard to find a willing photographer, who took not only pictures of the house itself, but also surrounding homes, neighborhood and community landmarks. Being a realtor, the photographer was also able to provide some local literature and information on the community now – all for a mere $25 and a hearty and heartfelt “thank you” from the far-away family.

Who would’ve thought?

There are creative ways to accomplish what you cannot do in person via another willing volunteer – especially, I would venture – in the world of family history where people share and help one another on a regular basis. So if getting there is not possible, ask someone who is already there if they can help you see it anyway.

“It never hurts to ask” applies in genealogy too.


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