Orphaned Photos & Researching Your Family History On eBay

Up in your attic, or tucked away in a cedar chest, you happen to find some very old, weathered photos. You think the people in them may be family – long-lost ancestors – and the setting (a homestead or town, for example) significant. You have no way to be certain, however. They are, in short, orphan photographs.

Along the same lines is rescued family memorabilia. Perhaps you have found photos of ancestral homes or beautiful but faded portraits at a flea market or antique store.

Internet auction sites, such as eBay, can be a wonderful place to find some old family memorabilia. Even if the items you find do not relate to your family specifically, they will still allow you to learn more about the time and where and/or how your ancestors lived.

Perhaps, however, you will be lucky enough to find items that do have ties to your ancestors – such as a map of a town founded by your family. Almost anything can be found on an internet auction site. You will need to know exactly howto conduct your search in order to maximize your results. Below are a few helpful tips.

Make use of the search engine. You’ll want to look for articles related to your surnames or for items from a specific place or time period, such as ‘smith 1882 seattle.’

  1. Make sure the box which allows you to search both the titles and descriptions is checked.
  1. The advanced search option will allow you to exclude certain names. This feature can be very useful when you’re searching for a common name
  1. Search for common misspellings of your surnames, place names and terms.
  1. Feel free to check eBay’s search tips for even more useful ideas on how to conduct a search.

Try the browse feature instead of a search. By browsing, you can explore specific categories of items – such as historical memorabilia, maps and atlases, vintage clothing, antique photos, and more. eBay even has an area that is specifically devoted to genealogy.

Before bidding on an item, check the seller’s feedback. You want to be sure they don’t have a history of complaints.

You never know what you’ll find on EBay!!!


Posted in Genealogy, How To..., Thoughts On Photo Restoration
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