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Frances Moore and James Needham in the 1800s

Searching for Lost Stories Together

Connecting the dots and joining generations with Ponga.

There’s something in a photograph that inspires us to search for stories and context. Sometimes it’s not about what’s in the picture, and instead, about the clues it reveals. Those unseen stories are gold.

I’ve learned to crowdsource the hunt for these stories. Using Ponga pictures, I can invite everyone in my family to join me in the journey. As we share the details we find in pictures, clues lead from one story to the next. Connecting the dots with context and memories we soon reconnect as a family.

Having reached out to my tier-one and tier-two relatives, siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, I experienced pure unadulterated joy. Their comments, remembrances and reconnections have been beyond amazing. I invited my family to the storyboard albums I’d created, …

Then… I remembered Myrna.

The game was afoot!

Old woman sitting in a chair with a cane
Our 3x great grandmother

Inside every genealogist is a storyteller waiting to be set free

When I first embarked on my family tree journey over 18 months ago, I started with a free family tree collaboration site. All I had at the time was an old faded Xeroxed copy of research done back in the 1980s by a cousin, 2x removed.

As I poked around for my ancestors, a contributor’s name kept popping up, Myrna. Her family name was familiar to me, I’d seen it before on the Xeroxed copy of the research from the 1980s. I unabashedly reached out to Myrna, (as I do…) knocking on virtual doors…and low and behold Myrna and I share 3x great grandparents, we’re actually 3rd cousins.

When and how to reach out with an invitation

I suddenly realized that it would make sense to reach out again, to invite Myrna to my growing Ponga family story. Following the best practices that I knew worked, I went “a knocking” again.

Not only was Myrna at home, but she RSVP’d to my invitation pretty much straight away.

Though a decade or more senior to me, she needed no assistance or directions on what to do to access her guest invite. She just followed the instructions in my pre-invitation email to her. Before I knew it, she was my registered guest and was Ponga-commenting like a native Pongster. She was weaving stories that connect the dots on documents to pictures in her own collection.

I’d uploaded a jpg image of pages from that faded Xeroxed family tree from the 1980s. That was this dot-matrix printout that ignited the story for Myrna, not a photograph.

A family tree document and a photograph with text to tell a story
Myrna used the comment area to share a photo and story

She went one better, clever Myrna. As my personal guest, she isn’t able to upload images directly to the album I’ve shared with her, but she had no problems whatsoever understanding how to upload an image in the comment section. And what a story she shared.

A man a a woman posing for a portrait photograph in the 1850s.
Myrna’s 2 x great grandparents.

The journey is about the story

Since this interaction, Myrna has sent through this wonderful photograph of my 2x Great Grandfather’s sister and her husband. Myrna’s direct ancestors. Now, that photo is ready in my Ponga album for more storytelling magic to be written and shared.

A document, words, and dates on a page fill in the blanks with facts that set the story in the context of historical events. The Ponga pictures of my ancestors then take center stage as the leading characters in a narrative that connects me with history.

Learn More in articles, videos, and more in the Ponga Academy:

Be my guest, and do as Myrna did… explore and comment. Click on this link and we’ll get you an invitation too.

Disclosure: As you’ll have seen, I’m a big fan of Ponga and now an affiliate of the company. Through their program, I’ll receive a modest tip if you purchase through that link.



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Victoria's Press

Victoria's Press


Bringing families together with historical storytelling in photo filled digital presentations, safely, securely and away from the prying eyes of social media.