Now Lets You Automatically Colorize Historical Photos

Ancestry colorization

Ancestry, the largest for-profit genealogy website on the planet, has integrated an automatic colorization feature that it says lets users bring make black and white photos more lifelike. The company claims it can already capture, digitize and preserve family photos. But it now offers the option to colorize these photos with a brand new tool. This allows users to gain “a more vivid, real-life snapshot of ancestors and their lives.”

Ancestry colorization

Ancestry colorization

The feature comes by a partnership with archiving specialist company Photomyne, whose technology was integrated into the Ancestry app in March to allow users to take photos and attach them to a family tree on Ancestry’s website.

Photomyne develops apps that scan slides and photos using its Android and iOS apps. The company has also built a colorization tool that works on both photos and videos and has been updated over the last couple of years to improve its accuracy and consistency. This technology has been licensed by Ancestry for its app and website.

Ancestry colorization

“The popularity of image enhancement and sharing continues so we’ve invested in even more tools to make this easier for our community,” Crista Cowan, Corporate Genealogist at Ancestry, says. “Over the past two months, Ancestry members have uploaded nearly 70,000 new images — and with each image uploaded, our community has the opportunity to engage and uncover new discoveries and share with dozens of family members around the world.

Ancestry colorization

The new colorization feature is available in Ancestry’s app and is also usable on the company’s website.

Colorization’s Mixed Reception

Some historians have expressed displeasure at the practice of colorization. In 2020, some prominent historians spoke out against it and called for it to stop.

“It is a nonsense,” Luke McKernan, the lead curator of news and moving images at the British Library, said. It does not make us more connected to the past, but it makes the difference between the present and the future. Colorization does not allow for immediate action; instead, it makes .”


These historians argue that adding color takes away from the original intent of the capture.

The problem with colorization, Mark-Fitzgerald stated at that time. “People tend to think of photographs as an uncomplicated window into the past. That’s not how photographs should be viewed,” he said.

These statements against the practice have not slowed down the popularity of colorization, however. Not only is it being integrated into more modern tools like Ancestry’s app and website, but colorized footage uploaded to YouTube as well as examples of high-end colorization of photos continues to be incredibly popular.