A few decades ago, discovering your family history was a lot of work. This involved going to the library, searching through newspaper clippings, and contacting relatives. Now, discovering your family history is as easy as downloading an app.
If you’re interested in diving into your family’s past, consider downloading one of the great apps below. Who knows, maybe you’ll make the next big family discovery on your smartphone.
Ancestry.com is the gold standard when it comes to online genealogy research. While there is a popular website for searching, there is also a popular app. Searching through the app makes it easy to explore your family history and get notified of new records on the go.
The Ancestry app has many of the same features as the website. With its proprietary records search, you can search through millions of records to find your ancestors. Ancestry also searches through newspaper clippings and state archives.
As you explore new hints, you can build out your family tree.
The Ancestry app has a way to view records in detail, so you can view records on your mobile device with ease. Once you have built out your family tree or discovered something interesting, you can share it through the app.
The Ancestry app also has tons of free records to search if you aren’t serious about researching yet.
Download: Ancestry for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)
Another Ancestry offering, AncestryDNA is a way to explore your ethnicity through percentages. By taking a DNA test, you can learn more about your genetic background. This means you can make discoveries about your past before you even start your research.
DNA testing is also a great way to explore your family background if you don’t know much to start with. This is because you can connect with DNA relatives who might know more. Who knows, you might even find a relative you didn’t know you had.
If you’ve taken an AncestryDNA test, or want to take one, consider downloading the AncestryDNA app. This will help you stay connected with your new DNA matches on the go and keep easy access to your DNA results.
With the AncestryDNA app, you can also access your DNA story on your mobile device. This will show you how your ancestors have migrated over the past 50,000 years, or more.
Download: AncestryDNA for iOS | Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
3. FamilySearch Tree
FamilySearch is the most popular alternative to Ancestry. The reason for that is because FamilySearch has many of the same records, including some records that Ancestry doesn’t have—for free.
FamilySearch also has many free international records. This means you can still study your family history if they come from a country where records are scarce. While translations aren’t available, you can translate them yourself.
FamilySearch is a non-profit organization that provides free genealogical records to everyone. The FamilySearch app makes it easy to access many of these free records on the go.
With the FamilySearch app, you can build a family tree, share your findings with relatives, and learn the history of your last name.
Download: FamilySearch Tree for iOS | Android (Free)
Another great genealogy company, MyHeritage offers DNA testing as well as record searches. There is access to millions of records, like most family searching websites. With the MyHeritage app, you can explore these records, message DNA relatives, and build out your family tree.
The MyHeritage app also has several features that set it apart from other Ancestry apps.
The first feature is the ability to restore old family photos or portraits. With its app, you can colorize photos and bring them to life to see what your ancestors really looked like. You can do this with photos you find from your record search or upload your own photos.
The MyHeritage app can also animate family photos. Once the photos are restored, you can upload your photos to the app and MyHeritage will animate them and bring your ancestor’s facial expressions to life.
Being able to see our ancestors move around, blink, and turn their heads can be fascinating. It makes us feel like we’re looking at real people and not just an old photo.
Download: MyHeritage for iOS | Android (Free, subscription available)
5. Find a Grave
One of the most popular websites for obituaries, Find a Grave has tens of millions of grave records and obituaries available to search. Here, you can learn family stories, see your ancestor’s graves, and connect with other distant relatives who may share a common ancestor.
The Find a Grave app is easy to use. You can search memorials by typing in a person’s first name, last name, and city of burial. This will bring up their grave information as well as information about them. Since members can add their own info, you can see photos and obituaries not available anywhere else.
If you don’t know your relative’s names, but know their last names and the city they’re from, you can search that too. Searching our family name and city of origin can yield fascinating results and help us discover new distant relatives.
While owned by Ancestry.com, Find a Grave can be used for free without paying for a subscription.
Download: Find a Grave for iOS | Android (Free)
6. Memories Book Family History
Finding out new details about our ancestors is fascinating, and it’s a ton of fun sharing this information with other family members. Luckily, all the apps mentioned make that easy using the relevant share buttons.
However, if you’re looking for a unique way to share your findings, consider downloading the Memories Book Family History app. Whether you want to share pictures or records, you can add them to a document that will be turned into a physical book and shipped right to your door.
With the Memories Book Family History app, you can customize what the book will look like and make it personal before it ships. This is all done within the app. It’s a great memento to pass down to your children and grandchildren, and it also makes a great gift.
The Android app is owned and operated by FamilySearch, and is digital only. Meanwhile, the iOS app is run by CodePro Studios, but syncs with Family Search. Either option helps you generate a memory book of all of your findings. The Android version of FamilySearch .
Download: Memories Book Family History for iOS (Free, in-app purchases available)
Download: FamilySearch Memories for Android (Free)
Discover Who You Are
While we may know our parents and grandparents, stories can get lost the further back you go. Thankfully, access to records can help us piece the missing details together and help us discover our roots. With great apps available, we can access these records on the go.
By learning about our ancestors’ struggles and triumphs, we can see how their experiences shaped who we became. After all, we wouldn’t be here without them.