The website AncientFaces is a free website dedicated to sharing biographies and photos of your ancestors or of historical events and the people who made those events history. This is a collaborative/crowdsourcing website where you can choose to add to existing biographies or upload your own photos of your family. They’ve been around for 20 years but I must confess I didn’t realize this website existed until the last few months. According to their About AncientFaces tab, they have over 1 million images and 200 million biographies which is definitely well worth checking out!
Starting an account is free on their site. You can choose to subscribe to emails detailing new features or comments made on your posts. Their landing page tells you “Everyone deserves to be remembered” and shows you photos that have been recently uploaded or topics of interest or families that have new information. When you find a topic or picture that you like, you can click on the heart and add it to your favorites. You can unclick on the heart and they are removed.
Don’t be fooled by what seems like only a handful of names in the biography section. If you were searching for the last name “Popplewell”, for example, in the “Search Biographies” section on the home page, you would click on a name ending in P that is closest to your surname. In my case, I clicked on Bonnie Pinson. This brought up a list of names from Pinson to Purchase but I don’t see the name Popplewell in this list. I clicked on a name close to Popplewell – Joseph Poppolardo – and I see a list of names from A. Popplewell to Zoe Popplewell. Scanning this list, I can click on the name of someone who interests me, read what has been written about them already, and add more information or a picture if I choose. (Clicking on someone will automatically add them to your favorites. If you do not want them added, just unclick the heart on their profile picture.)
Of course, you can always find people by using the search function at the top of the screen. If you use the search bar, you can choose to look for a person or a photo. Just typing in a last name will bring you to a family page that will let you know how many bios and pictures of people with that last name exist. If you see someone who might be an ancestor, you can click on that specific person. (I wouldn’t recommend that route if you’re looking for the last name “Smith” but it works well on unusual surnames.)
If you are adding regional research to your genealogy hunt, you can look for pictures of the area in which you are searching. For instance, I can search for “Jefferson County Colorado” and choose “photos” to see what pictures of this area have been uploaded by members. Currently, 9 photos appear when I do that search and each one is of a family or person. The pictures may not be specific to the place you are researching, but for them to appear in the search, there is a mention of the area in the photo description, such as the birthplace of the ancestor in the photo. When I choose “Denver Colorado” and “photos”, many more images appear, including a great photo of the highway from Denver to Idaho Springs in 1941, years before it was I-70.
If I look at the bottom of the page, I see that this photo is in an album titled “The 1940s”. Clicking on that link, I find more links to photos about Christmas, Life in the 40s, and the Holocaust.
Take some time and have a look at this site. Keep in mind that your bios can be edited by others as this site is collaborative and your photos will be available for everyone with a free account to view. I would advise not putting information about living people on this site. Take a look, though. Who knows? Maybe some distant cousin has that picture of your great-great-grandfather you didn’t know existed!
Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay