Before last Saturday, Anna Zack's online usage basically consisted of her genealogical research at ancestry.com and sending emails. But this past weekend, the 65-year-old Blue Springs woman attended an event at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence for one reason: She wanted to save some photographs on her family tree.

Before last Saturday, Anna Zack didn’t care too much for the Internet.

Her online usage basically consisted of her genealogical research at ancestry.com and sending emails. But this past weekend, the 65-year-old Blue Springs woman attended an event at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence for one reason: She wanted to save some photographs on her family tree.

That’s where a year-old website called 1000memories and its brand-new mobile application, Shoebox, came into play. Shoebox allows people to take albums, scrapbooks and, of course, photo-filled shoe boxes out of the closet, and scan them online so they can be organized and shared with family and friends.

Saturday’s event at the Genealogy Center, which drew more than 40 participants, was the first community event of its kind across the United States aiming to promote ShoeBox, which went live several weeks ago.

The mission of 1000memories, which is now in use in more than 100 countries, is to digitize, preserve and share all of the old photographs in existence that have yet to make it online, said Michael Katchen, the site’s director of business development. Midwest Genealogy Center was a natural fit for the first Shoebox event because of its world-renowned status in genealogical research, Katchen said.

Janice Schultz, branch manager at the Genealogy Center, said she was excited when she learned of 1000memories and Shoebox.  Especially since both are completely free.

The Shoebox application makes an iPhone into “a social photo scanner,” Katchen said, allowing people to tag the names of those in the photographs. In its first two weeks, Shoebox was downloaded 200,000 times. An Android application also is in the works, Katchen said.

Many of the photographs that the website and the application aim to preserve are often tucked away in shoe boxes, hidden in closets, unable for the world to see, Katchen said.

“These things aren’t online like our Facebook photos are today,” he said. “Our focus is on the past and really trying to be the past tense of the Internet.”

The social networking service Facebook is now in its seventh year, but everything before that photo-wise isn’t online yet, Katchen said, “so we’re trying to create a place for that.”

Prior to the event, Zack had no idea how to use a scanner – but she knows now.

As a member of the Jackson County Historical Society who has done genealogical research since she was a teenager, Zack was able to scan 25 photos on Saturday, including pictures of herself as a child, her parents and her great-great grandfather.

“I am hoping that others will connect in there and try to save some of their pictures that may help me,” Zack said of how 1000memories and Shoebox may aid in her genealogical research. “It’s an excellent networking tool. People aren’t willing to let you borrow a picture – they’re afraid they won’t get it back. But this way, you can share a picture. You can make a copy for yourself.”

Once photographs are digitized, Schultz said, they still should be kept and preserved. Despite the website’s and the application’s mission, Katchen recognizes that nothing can replace holding a photograph in your hands.

“I think the really cool thing that the Internet does and that 1000memories does is it makes it sharable,” Katchen said. “The unfortunate part about analog photos and hard copies is we don’t share them; they sit in the closet.”