Tyler Stahle | Jan 31, 2018

3 Apps to Help You Present Your Family History in a Visual Way

This is the first of a two-part series exploring apps that can help tell your family history in an engaging way.

It’s something that nearly every family historian has experienced: The dreaded eye-roll. The glazed over look that rushes across your relative’s face when you start talking about family history or your shared ancestors.

Helping others find joy in family history work is a challenge all of us face. While it is easy to say, “My relatives just don’t care about our family history,” that isn’t always true. Many relatives are inherently interested in knowing where they came from and what makes them unique; they just don’t know where to look. As the family historian, it’s your challenge to help spark the interest that lies dormant in them. As they taste of the excitement and inspiration that comes from learning one’s heritage, they’ll be more likely to continue engaging with family history.

“What if we could help them understand and see [family history] differently?” asked Lisa Louise Cooke, owner of Genealogy Gems, in her RootsTech 2017 presentation. “What if they could see their family history differently and, most importantly, feel differently about it?”

Because we live in a visual society with thousands of images and videos vying for our attention daily, Cooke said that capturing our relatives’ attention is the first step to drawing them into family history. She shared a number of helpful apps that are available to help you present family history in an engaging and visual way to your friends and relatives. We’ve compiled a list of her suggestions here.


Retype is a mobile app that adds stylish text, shadow, and multicolor layer fonts to your images. Retype is available for iOS in the App Store for $2.99.

“If you want to avoid glazed over looks from your non-genealogist relatives (particularly kids and grandkids), then you’ve got to start dishing up the family history in riveting ways,” said Cooke. “An image created with Retype will captivate them, and dare I say it, actually motivate them to share the image with their family and friends.”

You could use Retype to add enticing typography to your photos, including:

  • Quotes
  • Questions
  • Family recipe
  • Custom designed family logo

After adding the text to your image, share it to social media or send it out to your relatives via email. You might be surprised to see the responses that come back.

“It’s a cool way to take an old document and turn it into something sharable and meaningful,” said Cooke.


Remember photo booths that were popular in the 50s and 60s? While they may not be as prominent today, downloading the Pocketbooth app transforms your phone into a vintage photo booth and allows you to capture the same intimate images.

“Pocketbooth is a really fun app that you can put on your phone that simulates the old style photo booth,” said Cooke. “It’s as much about making memories right now as it is capturing and sharing the old history and memories as well. You are making your descendants’ family history right now, right? This is a really fun way to do it.”

Cooke noted that it’s a great app to have on hand during family events such as birthday parties, wedding showers, or family reunions.

“How could you take this technology and turn it and bring it into other parts of your life? How about at family reunions? … What if you had a phone just dedicated to setting up and doing Photobooth pictures together?” she asked. “You could do it at birthday parties [and] holidays.”

Pocketbooth is available for both iOS and Android for $0.99-$1.99.


Do you maintain a family history blog, YouTube channel, or website? If so, Flipboard might be a perfect companion app!

“Flipboard turns your family history blog posts, YouTube videos, and social media communications into a digital magazine–style format. You won’t actually be creating a magazine to sell on a magazine stand or Amazon. A Flipboard ‘magazine’ is made up of your favorite blog articles, videos, podcast episodes, etc. As you surf the web you can ‘flip’ (save) individual online items into the magazine that you create. It’s much like pinning web items on Pinterest.”

Add relevant content to your digital magazine, and invite your friends and family members to visit the page and interact with the content.

Flipboard is available for both iOS and Android for free.

What other mobile apps do you used to make family history engaging? Tweet us @RootsTechConf to join the conversation.

Tyler Stahle

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