Ancestorville: An Online Community for Finding Old Family Photos

Ancestorville.com is a website that was established around 2000 by the self-proclaimed mayor, Debra Clifford, as an online resource or “town” to search through a database of old family photos and other memorabilia.

 About Ancestorville

Ancestorville.com currently has about 1200-1400 images with more going online every day. A person can search by surname or product interest. As you type in the search box, suggested results will appear to help guide you.

“Go Find Your Family”

Debra’s photograph inventory includes over 10,000 images waiting to be scanned and prepared to be listed online. When she posts photographs to the website, she will look at them at a spiritual level and tell them to “go find your family”.

People do not have to prove that a photograph or item specifically belongs to their family. There are a variety of people who purchase items from her website.

  • Genealogists
  • Historians with interests in specific geographic areas or subject topics
  • Collectors who may be following specific photographers or images containing certain subjects of interest.

History of Ancestorville

Debra, from an early age, had a profound interest in history, specifically the 19th century and the Civil War era. She had a great interest in seeing many historical sites. As her parents were antique dealers who also had interests in history, they traveled to many of the places she was interested in seeing and learning about.

With those travels, her interests grew and she found herself drawn to the photographs she’d come across. It would hurt her to have to leave some of her findings at flea markets and such.

It was those experiences that pushed her to follow her passion of buying photographs, historical documents and family memorabilia, such as family bibles, with the intent of returning them to the family.

The Process

When Debra is traveling either for business or pleasure; she does have criteria for the photographs and items that she purchases for the website. Photographs must have legible information (names, locations, photographer info) to help with research of the picture.

She will conduct basic research on the photograph that will be included with the listing once it is posted online. This helps Google crawl her site so it can be returned in search results (SEO). Conducting research also gives her an idea of how many people are looking for the subject of the photograph.

Once the photograph is posted on the website, she estimates that it takes about 10 days for it to appear in a Google search result.

Once a user finds an image they want to purchase, they can either purchase the original that will be shipped to them or a scan would be delivered as a downloadable image file.

Fantastic Family Finds

  1. A person found a photograph of their Reverend grandad (Reverend Deach) who was born around 1840. She was able to present it to her father (age 99) who had never met his father.
  2. A daughter recently got her mother interested in genealogy after the death of her father. The mother was depressed at the loss of her husband and needed something to lift her spirits. With the new genealogy hobby, they came across a family bible from about the 1850s on Ancestorville that included a family tree that had been updated until 1950. Her mother had been included in the family tree. It made her feel special and loved to know that whoever owned that family bible was aware of her and made sure she was included.

Advice for Photograph Searchers

Debra’s advice for people looking for old photographs of their family is pretty simple.

  1. Search Google at least once a month. She estimates it takes about 10 days for Google to crawl new content loaded on her site. Be sure to use parenthesis!
  2. Utilize sites like Ebay, Ebay Around the World and eBay UK. eBay has search tools that allow you to set search parameters and alert you when items matching that criteria are listed.
  3. Keep looking! The Internet is constantly changed, every hour, every minute. She owns over 10,000 photographs waiting to be scanned and listed on her website which is a task she works on every day.

About Debra Clifford

Debra recently moved from Massachusetts to live in Devon, UK with her spouse. Her passion for collecting photograph and family memorabilia such as family bibles and other historical documents continues.

When she isn’t running Ancestorville, she is an antique dealer, specifically dealing in antique paper. She also plays guitar, banjo and mandolin in two bands called Lonesome Sisters and The Farwells.

Have you taken a look at what Ancestorville has to offer? Bookmark this website as a new search method in your toolkit to find photographs of your family on her website. And remember; keep going back as things are added daily!

Find Ancestorville on FB and join her community!