I came across an old photograph in my mother’s album of old family photographs which depicted my great-grandfather, Valentin Brönner, and several of his fellow soldiers posed in a unusual manner. Considering the time frame that this occurred (1918) and the fact that Germany would shortly surrender, moral should have been low on the German side, yet it was good to see grown men, in the hardest of times, improvising for the camera lens in a comedic fashion.

Much to my chagrin, however, on the family photograph my mother had written in ink a big X on Valentin to let me know that was him… so I posted a digital image of the photograph to the Genealogist Photo Restoration Group on Facebook and asked if somebody could rid the photograph of it’s small imperfections and my mothers markings. The Genealogist Photo Restoration Group is made up of a group of people who have a talent and zeal for restoring photographs, and they volunteer their time and effort for free, restoring other people’s heirlooms. The quality of the restoration always varies, and while some volunteers are just beginning, others are extremely talented and capable. While I had never posted to the group before, I thought that the topic of this photograph would catch people’s attention – and it did! Within minutes people began commenting and sharing their changes to the photograph I had posted. About an hour later, Ketan, a person I had never met, and who lived across the world from me, took to not only cleaning up the photograph, but accurately coloring it… The resulting image floored me and a lot of the other group members for the clarity and professionalism he applied to the coloring.

I’ve included Ketan’s adaption of our family heirloom in this post. I’m still amazed to see the generosity of time complete strangers will donate to help others in their family research… and I’m always amazed at the amount of volunteer groups that have popped up on Facebook over the past couple of years. Whether you specialize, or are just beginning to blossom your talents, participating in these types of groups can help you give forward to the genealogy community online.

P.S. My great-grandfather is the one holding the pitchfork!