Genealogy activity - Step 2 of 3 in the "My Family! My Story!" series

Provided by the Victoria Genealogical Society (VGS), Victoria, BC, Canada


You’ve probably heard it said: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This is especially true when it comes to family history. Adding photos of your ancestors and the people, places and things associated with them will bring your research to life!

"1-2-3-Go!" started with Talk to Your Family First, and as a result of those conversations, you should already have some photos to illustrate your family history.

Here are six examples of old photos, courtesy of the Royal BC Museum, BC Archives:

Family Group, Victoria 1906

Boys Football Team, Victoria 1904 
1. Family Group Victoria 1906 2. Boys’ Football Team Victoria 1904

Class outside schoolhouse, Colwood BC about 1911

Victoria high school girls grass hocky team, about 1901 
3. Class outside schoolhouse, Colwood, abt. 1911 4. Victoria High School Girls’ Grass Hockey Team abt. 1901
Victoria firefighters, about 1863 Victoria car showroom with Capital Cleaners van outside, 1949 
5. Victoria Firefighters abt. 1863 6. Victoria Car Showroom with
Capital Cleaners van outside, 1949



Your own family photos, both old and new.



Using some of your favourites, create a “Then and Now” poster of family photos, either in hard copy directly onto poster board or in digital format, then printed and mounted on poster board. Try to include at least four different sets of “Then and Now” photos. See the examples below for some ideas.

Give your poster a title and include your name and the date you created it.

Include captions to Identify as many of the people and places in the photos as possible and the approximate date the picture was taken.

Display your poster! You may want to laminate or frame it. Your family is sure to enjoy seeing those wonderful family photos that are often tucked away in boxes or albums and seldom viewed.


  1. Choose a family group photo from the 1900’s and one from the present day. Some of the same people (grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles or cousins) may even be in both photographs! Wedding photos and class photos, especially, are often passed down from generation to generation.
  2. Perhaps you have a photo of one of your parents or grandparents on a sports team. Display it beside a photo of you on your present day team.
  3. Do you have photos of the homes where your parents or grandparents lived when they were young? Choose a photo of an old family home and display it next to a photo of where your family lives now.
  4. Modes of transportation have changed a lot over the years. Your family photos may illustrate some of these changes, from horse-drawn wagons to vintage automobiles to the latest family car!
  5. Photos of soldier ancestors in uniform are often passed down in families. You may have photos of two or three generations of the family in uniform.
  6. Look for photos that show the occupations of family members, then and now.

If you’re lucky you’ll have photos of several different eras in the history of your family and you may be able to extend this poster to include three, four or even more generations “Then and Now”! Or make more than one poster! Have fun!



Your family history starts in the past but comes right up to the present day. When you look for photos to illustrate your family history, remember to include photos of yourself, your siblings and your parents as well as the places and things that are special to you today.



If you enjoyed making your “Then and Now” poster, consider making copies of your work as gifts, or make personalized posters featuring individual family members. Use your imagination and your creations may become family heirlooms in their own right!

Congratulations!  You are now ready to enjoy the next genealogy activity in this My Family! My Story! series - My Own Story.


Download a printer friendly version of this Family Photos activity sheet in PDF format.