Keeping Old Family Photos

Joanna Goddard

Six-year-old Toby has always been fascinated by stories of our childhoods back in “the olden days,” and now that Anton is almost three, he loves to ask about how everyone in our family is related. (Recently, he hugged my mom’s leg and sighed reverently, “You’re Mommy’s mommy.”) So, with the help of Legacybox, we thought we’d surprise the boys on a recent movie night with a slideshow of family photos they’d never seen…

Old photos

First off, this is what our photos used to look like. They were crammed into old boxes, filled with Kodachrome slides, letters and random paperwork. Some were in my dad’s basement, others were in my mom’s basement, a few were with my siblings. No one looked at them, and there was no way to share them.


But then! Legacybox reached out to see if we wanted to mail them our photos and — poof — they would digitize them all. Our answer was a resounding yes! So, they sent us a crush-proof box, and I put our old photos into it. (You can also give them VHS tapes, Super 8 film, whatever you have.) They have an easy guide, and you send the box back, pre-paid. You also get a personal concierge, so you can talk to an expert any time.


A few weeks later, we got the box back, along with a DVD and thumb drive with all our digital photos. (I’m so excited to share these with my family this summer in England.)


We also got all our original prints back, too, of course.

Jo and Anton

One evening, we checked out the digitized snapshots on our TV, big and clear.


We made popcorn…

The boys

… and told the boys all about Mommy and Daddy when they were little. They were very impressed by the pick-up truck Daddy had as a teenager!

Joanna Goddard and Alex Williams

It was really moving to go through them all.


And the boys loved it. Here are a few of the newly digital shots…

Jean and Jeremy Goddard

My parents in the hospital with a newborn.

Jeremy Goddard

A not-very-comfortable baby carrier.

Jean Goddard

Hanging out with our mom and grandmother. (Look at the rope ties on the swings!)

Joanna Goddard

My giant head started early.

Joanna Goddard France

Dining al fresco.

Family photo

Not sure what’s going on with the chicken leg, haha. Ditto sombrero.

Joanna Goddard

Doing some counting.


With my grandfather in Cornwall.


The party scene in the Nutcracker. (I’m on the right.)

I would highly, highly recommend Legacybox. It was so easy! What a gift to have all our photos in one place and be able to share them with our whole family.

Bonus for all readers: The first 100 people to order using the code CUPOFJO will receive 40% off their Legacybox.

Thank you so much, Legacybox!

(Photos by Annabel Braithwaite of Belathée Photography for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Legacybox, which makes digitizing your family photos easy and quick. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that support Cup of Jo.)

  1. Linda says...

    I love reading your blog! Where did you live when you performed in the Nutcracker?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you! i lived in michigan — i went to a school in rochester. xoxo

  2. What a lovely idea, Joanna! And, I had no idea you danced ballet ;)

  3. Georgia says...

    If that’s a chicken’s leg I’d hate to encounter the rest of it!

    This is wonderful and it’s nice that someone is making it easier.

  4. When I was a kid I used to go through my parents slides and put on a show. It was so fun! Now, I’m finding the task of digitizing my dad’s huge slide collection for us to enjoy. I’ve been looking for a service that fits the bill – thanks! My Aunt also lives in St. Ives and loves it.

  5. I really want to do this! What a fab idea :-)

  6. I love this…perfect for a Mother or Father’s day gift. And it will keep on giving for generations to come.

  7. That is great.. I did something similar a few years ago.. I had all our VHS videos converted little clips to family members and it was such a great treat.. fond memories.

  8. i love the idea of this- really get to preserve some memories without spending a fortune. i always get very emotional when i look through old photos/watch old video clips, so i’m sure this will bring back some great memories


  9. Do you still dance? You have a good turnout in the Nutcracker photograph.

  10. Nina says...

    Wow. what a great service. And your skin looks amazing close up, when will you share how everything turned out? and holy canoli that first picture of you and your sister is like seeing Toby and Anton brushing their teeth! You always say your head is so big, I don’t see that! (stop putting yourself down, you’re beautiful!)

  11. Meggles says...

    That’s amazing. I truly thought the first photo was of Toby, not you. My youngest daughter is my mini-me. When I showed a picture of myself at age two to my husband, he thought it was our daughter. And it’s so special, because she (and my dad) and I have the same birthday!

  12. wkwr says...

    WOW Toby looks so much like you… and you look so much like your dad! Love the idea of creating a slideshow to share with (future) kids, friends, and family. xx

  13. Susana Silva says...

    Hi Joanna!

    What a nice suggestion and solution. It really must be a thrill for a family gathering!!!!
    Can’t wait for Legacybox to arrive in Europe.
    Congratulations on your legacybox.

    Xo, xo

  14. Lauren E. says...

    My grandmother recently passed away after suffering from dementia for years. When she finally died we had a small graveside service for her but decided against a funeral. The night after the service my parents and I along with my aunt and cousin sat around with wine and went through my grandmothers dozens of photo albums, told stories, cried. It was way more cathartic than any funeral could ever have been. We all wondered what to do with all those photos, afraid they’d get moldy in somebody’s basement. This Legacybox idea is a god send!!

  15. Tiffany says...

    My giant head started early – Seriously, I thought that picture was Anton!!! He is your other twin :)

    • Lucy says...

      Same! It is striking how much he resembles you. Adorable.

  16. Cynthia says...

    My photos are organized-just need to put them in albums. In recent years, ours are digital, saved on a couple of flash drives and our computers. I like the idea of the slide show. I remember the first time our girls saw our wedding album and they wanted to know why they weren’t in the pictures!

  17. Years ago, when living in Portland Oregon and making our plans to move to Argentina, we took boxes and boxes of slides to this photography place and they made movies for us. It was a great way to whittle down the number of boxes of photos that no one ever looked at anymore.
    I still enjoy getting out those photos and laughing at our hair, clothes and fondly remembering that day, that place, those people.
    I am from a long line of family photographers… in my boxes of photos are those of me as a baby, with my gorgeous uncle ( the cowboy) my aunts ( the beauties) and my mom ( the rebel) … now that they are all gone, having those photos means so much to me.

  18. Iz says...

    I would love to know if there’s a similar service available in the UK, I would definitely do this! Does anyone know of one?

  19. We have that Richard Scarry Counting book ! You have inspired me to get out old photos. I am going to give my sons boxes of photos for christmas and an album for them to collate. Something so lovely about looking at photos together.

  20. Oh my, those Parisian swings still exist and you still tye your child fast with a rope!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      So sweet!!!

  21. These are brilliant! What a great way to keep memories. I love the way your mum is dressed in the swing picture. Very on trend.

  22. Wendy says...

    Last month I sent our mini tapes from our camcorder. I’m giving them to my husband for Father’s Day. Our boys (10 & 12) love watching videos of when they were younger. I was very pleased with how easy it was to do and recommend it to everyone.

  23. Oh thank you for sharing this! I siblings and I have old shoe boxes filled with our grandparents’ beautiful old photos. I’ve been wanting to organize them and this is the perfect way. http://www.jeansandatea.com

  24. jen says...

    Loved this post. Your photo captions are hilarious!! I laughed so hard at the baby carrier photo and the one with the random chicken.

  25. Sara says...

    Have you ever written about your experiences growing up as a twin? I am in the middle of an IVF cycle, which is associated with higher rates of multiples. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it would be like to have twins or be a twin. I think there are probably a lot of positives, but maybe some negatives too. If you ever felt like writing about it, I would surely read!

    On a more relevant note, I love old pictures! Since my mom and grandfather passed away in recent years, my sisters and I have been going through a lot of old photographs. I even love the ones with people I don’t know in them! I will definitely look into Legacybox.

    • Hi Sara! I have beautiful twin girls my husband and I adopted. They are amazing and have given us so much joy. They are each other’s best friend and constant playmate. It’s such a joy watching them grow up and become their own little and unique person. It’s exhausting (and they have a lot of energy), but it’s the most amazing gift ever! You can follow our story at http://www.jeansandatea.com

    • Kelly says...

      Hi Sara! 24 years ago, my mother went through a round of IVF which produced my twin brother and myself! She says she just about had a panic attack when she found out she was pregnant with twins, haha. Of course, every family is different, and every sibling relationship is different, but here are some positives and negatives I have experienced:

      Positives: There is a great sense of security in never having to go through anything alone. Starting kindergarten, going through high school, parent’s divorce, applying for college, etc.; you always have a buddy to do it with you. You will always have a friend who understands you better than anyone. You will always have a built in support system. Joint birthday parties are the best.

      Negatives: There are some things that happen in high school and college which you would rather not have an immediate family member know about, haha. Sibling rivalry– how can you not compare yourself with someone who is your age and lives with you and does all the same stuff?

      Just a few thoughts! Good luck with your IVF cycle:)

    • Heidi says...

      Hi Sara,

      I have boy/girl twins. They are 5 years old now. It’s so nice to have twins. Yes it’s very busy when they are just born, but it does get easier when they get older. Like last night, they fell asleep in one bed. So cute! And they always look out for each other, while simultaneously also fighting like cats and dogs at times! And yes, sometimes I do lock myself into the bathroom for some peace and quiet (and they still pass me notes under the door :) but I wouldn’t change it in the world!

  26. We went in with my brothers in law and sisters in law and did the biggest LegacyBox for my in laws for Christmas last year (they are notoriously hard to buy for). They both cried they loved it so much. They have huge rubbermaid tubs full of old photos that my sister in law secretly went through, and pulled out all their family favorites, as well as old VHS tapes of family Christmases, reunions, etc. They said it was one of the best gifts they’d ever received.

  27. I would love to send my dad’s hundreds of Kodachrome slides. But I’m wondering – were you worried about sending tons of irreplaceable family memories through the mail? So many packages get lost!

    • I was wondering about this too! I’d be so anxious that it would either get lost in the mail or be somehow lost or damaged by someone else.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Good question! The box they give you is super hard, sturdy and crush-proof, and they use a special barcode to track the package throughout the trip so the photos stay very safe. Hope that helps! Xoxo

  28. Angela says...

    Laughing in solidarity at your big head comment! I have always had a big head too!

  29. Liz says...

    Your mom and grandma have the best tomboy style!

    • Alice Quin says...


  30. This is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing!

  31. Ellen says...

    toby = you and anton = alex. so funny how you each have a mini me!

  32. Julie says...

    I used to work for the company that produces the Legacybox (Southtree), and it is a really innovative group of people who are also committed to community giving, locally in Tennessee AND internationally. 10% of their profits every month go to help rebuild parts of Cambodia through Build a City. So to those of you ordering, you’re also contributing to global good! :)

  33. Anne says...

    your dad is the coolest!

  34. Great service!! Cant wait to try it out.

  35. Jeannie says...

    Aw, love this!!! Great photos; great idea!

  36. Lorraine says...

    This is great! Will definitely be signing up. And that giant head pic of you… Is Anton!

  37. Celia says...

    I’m in Polruan at the moment and I’ve spent all day looking at that view! We spent all our childhood holidays there as well so we have a million old pictures like that of my siblings and I awkwardly posing at various points around the harbour.

  38. Darcy says...

    My mom at a craft fair a year or 2 ago, found these books that ask you questions about your life, to share with your grandkids. As she was born in Italy, and came to NY when she was 8, she wanted to get all the stories written down for my and my brothers kids. She is coming to visit me in 2 days, and she is bringing the book! I can’t wait to go through it! I am sure I know most of the stories, but there may be a few things, that she has never told me/I’ve forgotten over the years!! I am ridiculously excited to see this book!

    I have mentioned to my Dad that now that he is retired, he needs to go through the boxes of pictures in his closet and send them off!! Maybe this will be the push to get him to do it! Ill let you know :-)

  39. So sweet. And I love how intently Toby and Anton :)

  40. This is so, so sweet! Wonderful idea.

  41. omg those baby carriers!!!

    I’m going home to see my parents this summer and am planning to go back through the old photo albums they have. My brother and I spent HOURS poring over them as kids!

  42. Were you naturally blonde?! Or am I confusing you for one of the children above?

  43. Stasha says...

    How about grandma on fleek with her rolled up jeans and black sweater? :):);)

  44. A random reflection: Your boys figuring out how people are related makes me think of my daughter- 2 years old- who currently disregards family relationships and just calls my sister “mama.” I love it. It reminds me of my time in Uganda, where there aren’t words for aunt, uncle or cousin. Everyone is a mama, dada, sister or brother. One big family. :)

  45. Nicky says...

    Love this! This would be a great surprise present for family members, or something to enjoy together for family reunions, or even a slideshow for a wedding/rehearsal dinner.

    When we were growing up, my parents used to send all their film rolls to a company that would send back negatives and prints, so you know they have gigantic boxes lying around the house.

  46. Sarah says...

    Your posts are always lovely, but this one felt especially so. Thank you for sharing your family memories!

  47. Kerri says...

    HAHAH at the baby carrier photo! So funny! This is a great idea :)

  48. Tara I says...

    this is wonderful:-) Code does not work sadly.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we’re checking this out right now, please stay tuned! xoxo

    • I just did it and it worked. Thanks!

  49. Amy says...

    The baby carriers photo! I can’t stop laughing.
    This so so sweet. Our girls also love figuring out the connections and relations in the family. Thanks for sharing this!

  50. Amy says...

    The photo of the baby hanging out awkwardly in the baby carrier is by far my favourite – I was laughing so hard!

    • Julie D says...

      Same here, it’s hilarious! It’s funny to think how complex those carriers are now!

  51. Jill says...

    What a great idea!

    Also, I’ve been reading your blog for years… how did I miss that you did ballet when you were younger?! Awesome!

    • I wondered that too!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i haven’t mentioned it in years, it feels like a lifetime ago! but i really, really loved it growing up. and i still post about it quite a bit :) http://cupofjo.com/tag/ballet/

      thank you! xoxo

  52. Natalie Brennan says...

    omg you ARE toby. or, i guess, toby IS you!

    • Nadine says...

      I absolutely thought I was looking at the wrong photo when you wrote that about yourself – wow. And does your dad ever get that he looks/looked like Dennis Quaid?

  53. Katie says...

    How very sweet. Just got mine. Thanks so much for the idea and for partnering with Joanna, Legacy Box!

  54. Katie says...

    I love looking at old photos. I also love seeing children’s things from the 60s/70s/80s– they provide me with a lot of relief that, no matter what I do, my kid will probably be okay :)

  55. When our kid was little, my mom made a little photo album for her and she would leave through it several times every night. Since we live on a different continent, it was essential in keeping our kid familiar with family faces seen only once a year.
    A few months ago, my parents died, within three weeks of each other. Each time, I gathered with my brothers and all their kids to go through photos for a slideshow at the funeral. It was a very healing experience. We laughed, we cried, we told stories. The younger ones got huge amusement out of the old photos.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so, so sweet.