Tyler Stahle | Jul 10, 2017

7 Fantastic Storytelling Tools and Apps

This is the second of a two-part series exploring how to tell your family story in an effective, engaging way. Read part one.

Perhaps you’ve heard the popular saying “Everyone has a story.” While this is certainly true, the follow-up question should be, “But how many people are working to record their story?” With frantic lives full of work assignments, family responsibilities, community involvement, and dozens of other worthwhile activities, it can be difficult to find the time to record the stories of our life.

However, thanks to technology, there are hundreds of apps, websites, and digital tools that can help you preserve and tell your story in your own unique way. After all, these stories are what truly make family history come to life.

“Storytelling is an important aspect of family history,” said Lisa Alzo in her 2017 RootsTech presentation. “It preserves the past. It binds the generations together. And the apps and tools make it easier than ever to capture those memories and stories.”

If you’re looking for the most useful apps and websites to help you tell your story, consider starting with these seven.

StoryCorps

What began as a simple recording booth in New York’s Grand Central Terminal has become a platform and tool for people across United States to record and preserve the stories of their lives.

“They opened with a booth in Grand Central Station in New York where you would go and record your stories and interview,” said Alzo. “Now they’ve gone mobile, which is really great, because now you can records your stories anytime.”

The StoryCorps mobile app, which is available for both iOS and Android for free, is an easy-to-use tool that allows you to interview a loved one or family member at any time or in any place.

Simply download the app, find someone you’d like to interview, choose questions from the massive list provided (or use your own), find a quiet place to record, and then listen.

“We believe at StoryCorps that listening is an act of love,” said StoryCorps founder David Isay at RootsTech 2016.

Saving Memories Forever

Similar to StoryCorps, Saving Memories Forever is both a website and mobile app that can be used to record family stories from a smartphone. The mobile app, which is free for both iOS and Android users, allows you to record stories and upload them to the website, where you can then add photos and other documents. You can also share your recorded stories to social media.

StoryWorth

If you’ve got an uncle or grandparent living far away who you don’t know much about, StoryWorth is for you. StoryWorth, an email-based storytelling app, was created by Nick Baum in 2012. The app won the 2015 Innovator Showdown at RootsTech.

StoryWorth makes it easy to record and share family stories by providing weekly story prompts via email that you or a family member can respond to. At the end of the year, you can purchase a beautiful hardcover book with each of the stories you’ve recorded printed and neatly formatted.

Treelines

A collaborative, story-centric family tree website, Treelines can help populate your family tree with stories and information that are important.

“If you want to do a keepsake that is organized in a timeline format, Treelines is a nice program to do that with, because you can add text and photos and all sorts of things—documents and so forth,” said Alzo.

HistoryLines

If your ancestors lived and were impacted by the events of history, HistoryLines is an interactive timeline that displays historical events alongside your personal or family history. It’s a tool that helps you know more about not only your ancestors but the events that surrounded them and influenced their daily lives.

“You can use the family tree that you build, and you can create life sketches,” said Alzo. “What was life like for your ancestors? What were the events that they experienced?’ There’s a lot of options to view and print and share stories and so forth with HistoryLines.”

Twile

Another interactive timeline, Twile allows you to upload your GEDCOM file to the site and converts it to a rich visual timeline. Twile lays out your family story in a very engaging way and allows you to add milestones, photos, and other documents.

“You can build a family tree, share and collaborate, add unlimited milestones and photos, import your trees and memories from FamilySearch, so if you’re using FamilySearch, and you can merge multiple GEDCOM files,” said Alzo.

FamilySearch Memories

While you’ve probably used FamilySearch for research, you may not be familiar with the Memories section of the website. The Memories page of FamilySearch gives you a space to record and upload the stories and images of your life.

“What’s really nice is you can upload documents, you can put in photos,” said Alzo. “You can organize them into albums. You can label them and make them easy to find by date or subject matter or document type.”

FamilySearch Memories can be accessed on a desktop or as an app for both iOS and Android.

What tools do you use to record and share your personal story? Tweet us @RootsTechConf to join the conversation.

Tyler Stahle

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