Searching for Lost Stories Together

Victoria MacGregor

Inside every genealogist is a storyteller waiting to be set free

When I first embarked on my family tree journey two years ago, I began with a faded Xeroxed copy of some extensive research done in the 1980s by a cousin, twice removed.

With the family tree in hand, I dug around online for my ancestors. A name kept popping up, Myrna. It was her family name that was familiar to me, I’d seen it before. I reached out to Myrna, (as I do…) knocking on virtual doors, and low and behold we share 3x great grandparents. 

Connecting the dots and finding context

A traditional family tree is, in its purest form, names, and dates on a page. But peoples’ lives are filled with anecdotes, circumstance, and experiences. Lives lived.

There’s something in photographs 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. 

I crowdsource for stories. Using a variety of tools, mainly Ponga and Permanent. I’ve invited everyone in my family to join me. 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 siblings, first cousins, nieces, and nephews, I experienced pure unadulterated joy. Their comments, remembrances and reconnections have been beyond amazing.

Then… I remembered Myrna.

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

I’d uploaded an image of that faded Xeroxed family tree to Permanent.org and placed a link to it in a Ponga comment box.  That dot-matrix printout is what ignited the story for Myrna, not a photograph.

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

The journey is about the story

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

Whether it’s creating a family tree or a digital photo album, using the combination of Permanent.org and Ponga  works perfectly. 

I’m growing the family story with my family, one story at a time.


Victoria grew up in Montreal, Canada. Following high school, she studied Fine Arts.  She then became a small business owner for fifteen years, while raising two children. During this period, Victoria followed an interest in the Internet sensation taking several courses on HTML and got involved in a successful start—up company.

Victoria migrated to Australia in the early 2000s. Working in business administration, mostly at the upper management levels, and studying SEO, receiving a certificate in SEO & Marketing, and further expanded her natural abilities in this area.

Storytelling and writing have always been a passion of Victoria’s. She’s completed numerous writing courses, and had several articles published in a variety of Australian blogs, magazines, and newspapers. Short stories, travel, and family history being her go to topics.  She is currently working on her memoir.

Reach out to Victoria:

Instagram: @victoriaspress

Twitter: victoriaspress1

Website: https://www.victoriaspress.com

Email: victoria@victoriaspress.com

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