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We held Scan-a-Thons in January 2019 and January 2020. Our mission: to scan and share all those old family photos and other items that had been piling up!


What is the Scan-a-Thon?

This is a 72-hour scanning marathon, to parallel our fun and successful annual Source-a-Thons and Spring Clean-a-Thons.

Our goal is to scan and upload photos and other items such as letters, postcards, funeral cards, and primary documents.

Like a marathon, this is a competition, but most participants won't be serious competitors. Most of us will be doing it for the sake of preserving our family history and enriching our ancestors' profiles.

We will be hosting live video chats throughout the weekend to cheer each other on. During every chat we will draw a random winner for a Scan-a-Thon t-shirt. Every participant who is online and uploading at the time of the drawing will be eligible.

All the details are below. But if it sounds cool already, register now and get your badge. You need to register in advance.


The party starts Friday morning, January 10, at 8 AM (ET) and runs until Monday, January 13, at 8 AM (ET). (Eastern Standard Time is GMT -5.) Genealogists from all over the world will be participating at the same time.

Click here to register now (coming soon). The registration cut-off is Wednesday, January 8th, at 11:59 pm, ET.


You need to register in advance. Simply post an answer here: register.

Just say "Sign me up!" or whatever and include a few words about your location or genealogical interests. If you're already part of a team from a previous challenge, mention that. Not all teams are available for the Scan-a-Thon so you may not end up on the same one.

A WikiTree Leader will award you the Scan-a-Thon participant badge and you will be assigned to a team.

Registration is free. Like everything on WikiTree. You do need to be a WikiTree member who has signed the Honor Code. If you're not already a member, login now. There are a few steps involved to being a Wiki Genealogist, but it's all just about verifying that you understand what WikiTree is about.

If you have any trouble or questions, contact Eowyn at


Everyone who participates in the Scan-a-Thon will be on a team.

Teams are just groups of people working together and encouraging each other. Many teams are having fun with this, cheering each other on, and otherwise helping each other.

Joining a Team

Any participant can join any existing team. All teams welcome any members who are interested.

Teams should have between 20 and 30 members. If your team is too large, ask some of your members to split off into a separate team.

Current teams are listed here. When you register you can state in your answer what team you'd like to join. Anyone not on a specific team when registration closes will be assigned to one before the Scan-a-Thon begins.

Regional Teams:

Non-Regional Teams:

Organizing a Team

Would you like to put together a team? Anyone can.

Teams can be organized around anything. It might be a genealogical research interest or a hobby. Or a team can be local. We have participants from all over the world. Coordinating with others from your area can be fun.

Feel free to choose a fun team name. Create a free-space page for your team. Then e-mail so she can add you to the list.

You're encouraged to recruit for your team. You might review the G2G posts where members have registered to see if anyone mentioned an interest or locality that might fit your team. You could reach out to project e-mail lists or even outside genealogical groups that fit the team's topic. Posting on Facebook would be great. (Tag it @WikiTree.) Any outreach you do will be helping raise awareness about the Scan-a-Thon so it's much appreciated. We do ask that you do not start recruitment posts in G2G separate from the main registration threads. That has led to a lot of confusion in the past. Lastly, please do not try to recruit by posting comments on profiles of members who weren't previously on your team.

Team leadership during the Scan-a-Thon

Teams have "cheer" posts in the G2G where your team members can encourage and cheer each other on.

You can also use those posts for your team members to be able to ask questions. You'll want to monitor it so you can answer them.

Some teams enjoy using Google Hangouts to communicate before, during and even after these events.

During our periodic video chats during the Scan-a-Thon we will be talking about how the teams are doing.


We'll be doing random drawings during our periodic video hangouts. Winners will receive a Scan-a-Thon t-shirt.


Participation means uploading original images to WikiTree person profiles or free-space profiles.

If you don't have boxes of unscanned photos laying around (like some of us do!) you can still participate. Examples of other items that can be scanned and uploaded:

  • Letters
  • Postcards
  • Ephemera
  • Funeral Cards
  • Primary Documents

If you don't have a scanner, there are apps like Genius Scan and JoyFlips that are free and function like a scanner. See Greg Slade's G2G post for more information.

Only upload images once

Images should only be uploaded once. If you have different resolutions of the same image, upload the higher-resolution version. However, note that images cannot be over 10MB. If there is more than one person in a photo, identify the additional people on the image edit page after uploading it.

For more info, see our our Photos FAQ.

Only original images

The challenge is limited to original images, i.e. images that you have scanned, photographed or otherwise obtained yourself. Images downloaded from other websites should not be counted.

This does mean that it will be harder to participate if you don't have photos and documents that need to be scanned. You might consider asking family members, contacting a local library or historical society, or coordinating with your team members to find other sources.

Only 10 images per profile

WikiTree isn't meant for storing large collections of family photos. If everyone scanned all their childhood photos and put them on WikiTree we couldn't remain a free website. Other websites are designed for photo storage. We are a genealogy website.

Therefore, we have made the rule that only the first 10 uploads to a profile count. That is, if you're uploading more than 10 photos of the same person, only the first 10 will count toward your Scan-a-Thon score.

Only Public and Open profiles

The only images that will count are those uploaded to Public and Open profiles. Private images will not be counted.

Always respect copyrights

See the Legal Genealogist's "Copyright and the old family photo."

Tracking progress

The following live stats are updated during the marathon. They may be up to five minutes old.

These stats show all image uploads. They do not account for the rules described above, e.g. that only the first 10 uploads to a single profile count, and only uploads to public profiles count.

Reports By User By Team By Team and User Update frequency
Simple User Team Team and User 5 min
By Day User by Day Team by Day Team and User by Day 1 hour
Total By Hour By Hour Team By Hour 1 hour

For the final, filtered totals, click here. These reports account for the rules on qualified uploads.


Every registered participant will get a Scan-a-Thon badge.

The 10 participants who upload the most original images over the 72-hour period will get a Scan-a-Thon Winner badge, as will all the participants of the winning team. There are no prizes for winning — just the badge, bragging rights, and the community's appreciation.

We are also planning a Profile Sticker that you can put on your profile after the race is over to show number of images uploaded and your final position.

This page was last modified 15:01, 20 January 2023. This page has been accessed 15,268 times.