At this moment, most if not all of my readers are practicing some form of “social distancing” because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. I hope you are all staying well and coping with the difficulties associated with this historic situation.

With today’s post, I have a suggestion that will hopefully lift your spirits and alleviate any boredom you might be experiencing. The suggestion comes courtesy of the MyHeritage genealogy website. Back in February (it seems so long ago!), MyHeritage introduced MyHeritage in Color™, a feature that automatically colorizes black and white photographs. As an introductory offer, users could upload and colorize up to ten photos. Once the limit was reached, a user would need a paid subscription to continue using the feature. I tried it out and was impressed with the results. However, I did not opt for the paid subscription.

A few days ago, I was surprised to receive this email message from MyHeritage.

Yes, they are offering “free and unlimited access” to this feature. I took them up on the offer and went through my collection and colorized about 200 photos. More importantly, if you have old photos stashed away, you might want to try it out yourself. It’s a good way to stay active if you’re stuck at home. This shows what a photo looks like before and after colorization.

Sylvester and Mary (Mereness) Casbon, with Sylvester’s descendants; about 1905,
Valparaiso, Indiana; author’s collection

The results are impressive. The process uses artificial intelligence (AI) to decide which colors to use and where to place them. The computer algorithms are very good, but not perfect. If you look carefully at the photo above, you’ll see that the right hand of the girl standing in the front row is still gray. The AI failed to identify it as a body part. You can see a more extreme version of this in this detail from a photograph of Amos and Carrie Casbon’s family.

Detail from photograph of Amos and Carrie (Aylesworth) Casbon’s family and home near Boone Grove, Indiana, about 1911; courtesy of Ron Casbon

The AI has missed two of the children altogether, making them look like clay sculptures.

On the other hand, some of the results are amazing. The AI seems particularly good at producing flesh tones, hair color, and vegetation. In most cases, it seems to do a good job with clothing as well. I would think that better quality scanned images are more likely to fare well, but I’ve had good results with poor quality originals.

Jesse John II and Elizabeth (Ryan) Casbon, Cocoa Beach, Florida; adapted from an iphone photo of the original; courtesy of John N. Casbon

You can also see that the MyHeritage logo gets added to the colorized image—a small price to pay, in my opinion.

Do you have old black and white family photos or snapshots? I encourage you to try this out. Visit, where you’ll need to sign up for a free account. You’ll need to scan your black and white photos to make digital copies so you can upload them to the web page. I suggest you use a scanning resolution of 300 dots per inch or better.

Here are some of the favorites from my collection.

Left: Sylvester and Mary (Mereness) Casbon, courtesy of Ilaine Church; Right: Reuben and Elizabeth (Neyland) Casben, courtesy of Phil Long
Lawrence Kate 3 boys and horse abt 1898-Colorized
Lawrence and Kate (Marquart) Casbon and family; seated on the horse, L to R, are Lynnet, Loring and Leslie; about 1898 near Hebron, Porter County, Indiana; courtesy of Don Casbon (Click on image to enlarge)
Left: James Casbon; Right: Amos and Carrie Belle (Aylesworth) Casbon; both courtesy of Ron Casbon
Left: Donald Glen Casbon (L) and Herbert Aylesworth (R) Casbon, undated; courtesy of Michael J. Casbon; Right: L to R—Herman, Harriet, and Floyd Casbon; courtesy of Claudia Vokoun
Lynnet Casbon and an unidentified man delivering a refrigerator in Valparaiso, Indiana, about 1940; courtesy of Dave Casbon
Margaret (Donovan) Casban (second from left), her daughter Nell (third from left), and others, hops picking in Sussex, England, early 1930s; courtesy of Alice Casban

6 thoughts on “Color!”

  1. I remember seeing the black-and-white versions of some of these photos. How interesting to see the colorized versions! I think the one of Donald and Herbert turned out the best.

  2. Thank you, Liz. I think my favorite of the bunch is Lawrence and Kate with the 3 boys on the horse. The Donald and Herbert photo turned out very well, but I think the original in B & W is a classic!

  3. What a terrific opportunity from this company! I enjoyed every picture. So blessed that you have such a strong interest in genealogy!

  4. Wow! Thank you for sharing this info. I like it. I must try. The photos that you had colored turned out well….Ilaine

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