One of the early niche markets that the Internet kindled was the business of tracing a family’s history and delivering that information in an attractive, informative, multimedia format. This became a popular, unusual birthday or holiday gift for that proverbial person-who-has-everything in the late 1990s.
The novelty of this then-new confluence of families and history wore off by the early 2000s and many of the ubiquitous websites that offered the service fell by the wayside as the once popular trend turned trite, along with the widespread Internet greeting card links in your Inbox that sang clichéd holiday carols, whilst dropping some nasty malware in your IE temp files cache.
But as long as there have been clans there has been interest in the proliferation of the far-reaching kinfolk and the sociological forces that drove them to leave the security of hearth and home for adventures in the wilderness beyond the motherland.
Some software companies reckoned that there was still a thriving market for genealogical research – if you could make exploring family history more of a DIY improvement oriented activity, by incorporating various search functions into an easy-to-use, accessible app.
So we now have utilities that combine functions on your smartphone into a toolset that can, potentially, take a video interview with a family elder, combine it with old recordings transferred from reel-to-reel tape, add in scans of ancient family album photos, along with document scans of birth, marriage and death records, to yield a pretty effective family tree timeline.
You can start this process, all by yourself, anywhere – like, say, at the next family gathering on Thanksgiving, and these new apps are so facile and unobtrusive, that Aunt Edna and Uncle Fred will hardly even know that you’re doing it.
What Are Some of the Best Apps for Processing Family History?
There is a record and transcription app called Interviewy that not only turns your cousins’ words into text, but also allows you to tag selections with typed notes, on-the-fly, and sync those tags with other quotes or recordings effortlessly.
A quick scan back through these notes can fill in timeline intervals with relevant facts and links to video, audio or pix files that the viewer can use to flesh out the parts of the historical story that particularly interest individual viewers.
And creating that timeline is a cinch with TreeView, an app that is provides flexible tree templates with subsets for pedigree, ancestors, descendants and family so you can build an engaging historical timeline basically from the inside out. You can work any kind of media into timeline thumbnails, positioned by several different types of reasons, which instantly expand and play whenever the viewer merely taps them.
Gravesites are a big part of family histories and Find A Grave is an app that can point you to over 120 million graves in cemeteries all over the world. This is a constantly expanding database with photos and locations being added and shared by the app’s users. It also organizes the map locations by GPS coordinates so sharing these locations via social media, text or email is a completely seamless process.
Other Family History Accoutrements
One of the most interesting visual manifestations of a family’s history is the coat of arms that emblazoned the shields of warriors, as far back as the 13th Century, BCE in Greece. The Romans continued this tradition, and a warrior’s coat of arms on his shield and tunic were a direct manifestation of his specific family’s contribution to that nation’s prominence. Many of these coats of arms have endured from the ancient era through the Middle Ages and European heraldry to this day.
Some families expand their genealogical timelines by researching these symbols and then have Coat of Arms Flags custom-made so that they can fly them at family gatherings that often commemorate life achievements, especially for child members as they matriculate through life’s important achievements.
The historical foods consumed by families, especially at important occasions are also an integral part of a genealogical study and should be noted on any historical timeline. Many of these family recipes go back several generations, often tied to annual religious festivals.
The cross-cultural integration of different types of food in our ancestors’ diets, as many families intermarried with other clans in order to expand wealth and property, is a fascinating subject and should be included in any genealogy. It was often at ancient supper tables of old that borders were defined, truces negotiated and marriage partners selected – and the food served to celebrate these decisions became an essential component of that family’s pedigree.