Growing up, I was the kid who kept a scrapbook of every birthday card I ever received. My wall was covered in posters – mainly of eighties popstarts I admit, but also of animals, rainforests and inspirational quotes. When given a journal writing assignment in year 10, I collaged the cover with images and words that related to me. And later, I collected magazine pictures that represented the characters I created in my stories.
In the digital age, I google images of people and places, especially if it’s related to books, authors, or somewhere an ancestor once lived. And I’ve been known to leave 76 tabs open because I might look at one of them again in a few days.
Only I don’t really need to – because of Pinterest.
Pinterest is much the same as keeping a scrapbook, or rather multiple scrapbooks, only I can add and reorganise the images (and links to useful articles) without having to tear a physical page out or, as I’ve been known to do, throw out a half-filled scrapbook and start from scratch.
You can curate images and useful information you’ve found from within Pinterest itself or from across the world. You can even upload your own images from a file on your computer.
It’s especially wonderful for organising images related to family history research. While it’s unlikely, but not impossible, that you’ll find pictures of specific members of your family tree (unless a family member has uploaded them), Pinterest can be extremely useful when it comes to imagining a place at a particular time.
For those who are completely new to Pinterest, or who haven’t used it for family history, here’s what part of my Pinterest account looks like:
Note that you always have the option to add a new board (in the above image this is indicated by the blank board with the + sign in the centre of it).
To each board, you can attach ‘pins’, which are images you’ve found from within Pinterest, or from the wider web, or even those you’ve uploaded yourself. For example, my board, ‘Family History – Convicts’, includes the following pins:
Sections within Boards
A recent addition to Pinterest is the ability to divide boards into sections. I’ve created a board for images related to my Western Australian ancestry, but have then divided that into sections based on location, such as Perth, Fremantle and the Goldfields. Again, you can add new sections as you see fit (as clearly indicated in the image below).
Searching within Pinterest
If you are searching for images from within Pinterest, it’s as simple as finding a ‘pin’ and ‘pinning’ it to the relevant board and/or section:
- Find relevant pins through the ‘search’ bar at the top of the page.
- Click on an interesting or relevant image.
- Click the red ‘save’ button.
- Choose the board you wish to pin it to. If your board is divided into sections, then also select the appropriate one.
- You can also edit the caption if you wish to add your own description or response to the image.
You can search for pins (e.g. Macclesfield) or people (e.g. Melinda Tognini). Organisations such as State Library of Western Australia (SLWA) can be found by searching ‘people’.
Useful search terms for ‘people’ include the name of the town, city, county or country of interest plus phrases such as ‘historical society’, ‘family history’, ‘state library’, ‘national library’, and ‘national archives’, among others. Consider searching for any organisations you might know – or any individual family historians or bloggers you’ve come across.
One other tip: I always check any links I’m planning to pin in case I’m taken through to a page that’s trying to sell me something, doesn’t lead to where I think it should go, or has a link that simply no longer works. I’d prefer not to pin dodgy links, even if the image attached to it appears interesting.
Searching across the Web
Pinterest has a browser button that you can add to your preferred web browser. For easy instructions on how to do this, head to the relevant Pinterest information page, where you’ll find instructions on each browser. This browser button makes it super easy to pin any image you want to include on your digital pin up board.
Even if you don’t add the browser button, you can still easily pin images to your Pinterest boards:
- Go to your own Pinterest profile.
- Click the Add (+) button on the top right corner of the screen (to the right of your account name).
- From the drop down menu, click ‘save from site’.
- Copy the URL of the page where the image appears.
- You will be offered a selection of images from that webpage. Choose your preferred image.
- You will be offered an option of which boards to pin it on. Select the board and/or section to which you want it pinned.
Uploading Your Own Images
Perhaps you want a place to curate the images in your own collection, or those other family members have shared with you. This can be done on Pinterest, too.
Don’t want to share this with the whole world? You don’t have to. Any board can be kept private simply by opting for it to be ‘secret’. If you want a few family members to have access, you can invite them to be ‘collaborators’. They can then see the board, and add their own images.
To opt for a board to be secret and to invite collaborators, click on the pencil icon on a particular board, which will give you this pop up:
I hope that’s enough to get you started on the wonderful world of Pinterest for family history. Be warned, though: it can be highly addictive!
Over to You
Note down the name of 5 – 10 boards and/or sections you could create to help you to imagine the lives of your ancestors.
Start searching and pinning!
If you want any more detailed instructions, or have a specific question – please just ask.