Genealogy Software and Apps

StoryCorps.,,, 2016. Accessed

 16 Nov. 2016.

StoryCorps is an oral history project designed to collect the stories of America’s diverse past and present. More than 60 thousand interviews are contained in the growing collection. According to their website, the “StoryCorps app and were created as a global platform for listening, connecting, and sharing stories of the human experience”. The stated objective of the app is to facilitate meaningful connections with loved ones and to enhance understanding of others. All uploaded interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The free app provides assistance to users in formulating questions, setting the scene for interviewing, and enables recording and sharing interviews on mobile devices. The completed interview can then be shared with others and uploaded to the website. Interviewers must be at least thirteen years of age or have parental permission. The StoryCorps app archive at the Library of Congress is currently a closed collection so cannot be accessed by the public at this time, but individuals can browse the StoryCorps website to listen to featured stories, access their own interviews, download them and share freely. Interviews are limited to forty-five minutes with no minimums. Multiple part interviews can however be recorded. To participate, users must download the free app and create an account at the StoryCorps website. StoryCorps App (launched in 2015) was funded by the $1 million dollar TED Prize StoryCorps founder Dave Isay received. StoryCorps has received two Peabody Awards, produced five books and is featured on NPR. This app and website is ideal for the creation of family narratives, collaboration and sharing of content. Promoting awareness of this app and project could theoretically become a part of library programming centered around topic initiatives StoryCorps has utilized in the past, such as the Thanksgiving initiative, and others centered around identity, such as the Griot or LBGTQ.,, 2016. “Personal Historian Essentials & Personal Historian 2.” Accessed 16 Nov.2016.

RootsMagic Personal Historian2 is proprietary software produced by RootsMagic, a genealogical software company established in 1987. Compatible with Windows10/8/7/7/2000/Vista it can be purchased for  $29.95. It is now available for Mac only as a download. Free trial downloads of this program and other RootsMagic products, such as RootsMagic, Family Atlas and Family Reunion Organizer are available. Roots Magic Personal Historian Essentials is free and available for download. Both software programs are designed to assist in the creation of family history narratives by breaking stories into small parts. Users can write to prompts,  called “Life Capsules” such as “U.S. History”, or ‘First Date” or “Epidemics”. Stories can be saved as files, and combined in a variety of final products that can be tailored to the intended audience. Data such as genealogical files, photographs or documents can be imported. The software makes the task of writing  and publishing autobiography or family history easy, generating tables of contents, page numbers and layouts. Features include text to voice and voice to text, enabling users to listen to their writing or dictate their stories. YouTube videos demonstrating how the software works as well as tutorials are available at RootsMagicTV.

Blount, Keith. Scrivener. Literature and Latte, 2012. 

Developed and created by Keith Blount, Scrivener, first released in 2005, is described as a “complete writing studio” by Literature and Latte, Blount’s company. A content generator ideal for longer text, this proprietary software has more than simple word processing capability. It is compatible with Windows and Mac (the cost is $45) or iPhone and iPad for $20. Free trial downloads are available. Features and tools include a virtual cork board to organize ideas, and outliner to plan and structure documents,  and “Scrivenings” mode which provides a variety of options to different writers, from script writers who want to write individual scenes of dialogue, to novelists who may want to write and edit chapters, to academic writers seeking to isolate arguments. Large projects such as family history narratives are easily broken down into manageable pieces with this tool, which is extremely popular with authors (both amateur and professional) according to For family historians looking for a professional product, this popular writing software may be the right solution for tackling larger family history projects.

Talley, Partick. Storiesetc., 2013. Version 2.1.1. 8 October2014. Accessed 16 Nov. 2016.

This free Apple app was created by Patrick Talley who asserts it enables people to “capture stories anytime anywhere.” The app for iPhone and iPad provides prompts (called 10 for 10) to spark memories, suggesting story ideas about major life events and chapters which cover such topics as “teen years” “hobbies” and “philosophies” and so on. The app allows for text and picture uploads and also can be used to record stories via text, audio and video. Completed stories can be labeled, indexed and enhanced with photos and short descriptions. User can share their stories via email or Facebook. Talley, a graduate of Texas A &M, is the Houston Texas based founder of  HeraTrack, a wearable device that helps individuals with cognitive issues stay safe if they become lost. Talley is also the creator and founder of SWAHA, an app that allows users to create narrated slide shows. This app is a simple and fun way to begin creating a family history narrative. It is designed to be user friendly for all technology experience levels. It will be of interest to individuals, and could be part of a library program”share out” event designed to support family history narratives.

Family Tree Quick Guide to Oral History Recording Apps