Preserving Family History in a Digital Age

I often read comments from other researchers who lament that in the future, our ancestors won’t have the same access to genealogy-related data because everything is digital: photos are posted to Instagram or Facebook, details of an individual’s life might be on Twitter, etc. While it’s true the we don’t leave the same paper trail that some ancestors may have left, there is still a trail, and it’s accessible to a savvy researcher.

When my brother died nearly 5 years ago, one of the things I wanted to do was memorialize him on Findagrave. A kind volunteer had already added a memorial and he transferred it to me so I could manage the information, photo order, etc. That was a great start, but I wanted to preserve some of my brother’s digital footprint.

He was a regular Facebook user who posted lots of photos. I decided I wanted to have copies of all of them, and viewing each one to save to my computer would have been incredibly tedious.

Instead, I used a Chrome extension to quickly export all of his photos from his public album to a folder on my computer. Simply install the extension and then select it to begin an export of available content. You can use this pretty much anywhere there are photos on social media, including Twitter and Pinterest. It does not need to be your account, just images that are publicly available.

I was able to save 5+ years of my brother’s photos in less than 10 minutes.  If his profile ever goes away, I still have the photos and this slice of his life is preserved.

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