Your family history is an important part of what makes you unique. Unfortunately as many families grow, parts of their heritage and stories are lost in time—but not forever.
We’re fortunate to have a variety of tools available to make the process of uncovering and preserving our family history a lot easier than what our grandparents had to do. If you’re embarking on a journey to discover your family’s history, here are 10 tools to aid you in your work.
1. Family Search
Explore and preserve your family history with a digital family tree from Family Search . Start building your tree with the familial information you already know or ask relatives to help you fill in the blanks.
As your tree grows, you can look up missing ancestors in Family Search’s database of existing family trees and ancestral information. Finalize your tree by adding photos and stories.
Most people use search engines to conduct research for school projects or learn more about a product before buying, but they are also a great resource for genealogy. Through the use of Google, you can search for significant moments, such as births, deaths, and obituaries, in your family’s history, look for ancestors and access data from government archives.
WeRelate is an open-access source for genealogical information. You can find missing family members or create entries for deceased ancestors that are then linked to other known relatives.
As a member of the “wiki” family, anyone can upload information to WeRelate. However, information posted to the site must be backed up by credible sources.
You can preserve family memories and stories with StoryWorth. If you’ve promoted yourself to family historian, you’ll purchase a subscription, select questions and invite family members to answer these questions as “storytellers.”
Each week, storytellers receive a question via email and their responses are sent back to you for preservation or sharing with loved ones. For storytellers without email access, questions and answers can be printed out and sent by standard mail.
5. StoryCorps App
The StoryCorps app preserves family stories through smartphone audio recordings. The app provides tips and prompts for interviewing family members. Completed interviews can be uploaded to the StoryCorps website or added to your digital family tree.
The SHOTBOX is a portable, smartphone-compatible and collapsible light studio. It features an adjustable LED light, several camera holes for a variety of picture angles and a USB port for charging your device during photo sessions.
It’s great for digitizing fragile, family memorabilia, such as old photographs, heirlooms, journals and newspaper clippings, which can conveniently be captured from a top-down angle for the best view of these documents. After photographing your family keepsakes, upload your photos to your family tree or compile them in a family book.
7. Find a Grave
With Find a Grave, you’re able to browse millions of grave records in the U.S. and abroad for your deceased ancestors. You can view birth and death dates, burial locations, stories and photographs or upload memorial information from local cemeteries.
8. Chronicling America
The Chronicling America website gives you access to digitized American newspapers from 1836-1922. It also lets you browse newspapers by date and publishing location to learn more about your famous ancestors who may have made their way into national headlines, find out what life was like for your ancestors or discover more about where your family took-up roots.
Fold3 allows you to learn more about your deceased and distinguished ancestors who served in the military. The site contains more than 5 million records, documents, stories and photographs from former members of the U.S. military.
10. National Archives
The National Archives website provides access to important historical documents, photos and service records for U.S. citizens. You can use the site to conduct research and substantiate your family legacy.