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How to Use Tech to Capture Your Family History

Our elders have rich stories to share. There’s no better time than now to sit down and hit Record. — by Lisa Kanarek

IN LESS THAN 10 years, one in five Americans will be over 65 years old. As our parents and grandparents age, we grow one day closer to losing the opportunity to learn their life stories. The good news is that with the various recording options available, you don’t have to be an award-winning filmmaker or videographer to preserve your loved one’s history.

The New York Times

The Ethical Will, an Ancient Concept, is Revamped for the Tech Age — by Constance Gustke

“Even iPhone apps are being used to create ethical wills. April Bell, who owns a video storytelling business called Tree of Life Legacies, codeveloped the ethical will app StoryCatcher® for iPhone use.”

USA Today

Preserve Your Family Stories With These ‘Time Capsule’ Apps and Sites — by Marc Saltzman

And how do I say this delicately: With more than 100,000 Americans already dead from the COVID-19 pandemic – and many dying alone, without family allowed to be there in the final days – archiving one’s life with stories and photos, before it’s too late, may be more important than ever before.

Lamorinda Weekly

Tree of Life Legacies: Doing More For Families Than Just Telling Stories — By Sophie Braccini

“A study by two psychologists, Marshall Duke and Robyn Fivush, who worked with children of 9/11 victims, concluded that the more children knew about their family’s history the stronger their sense of control over their own lives…”

Listen Closely Productions

How To Keep Your Family History Resolutions — by Liz Massey, Professional Personal Historian

“You can get your family history project done this year — it just takes a little know-how, some strategic thinking and a few simple tools. Here’s some tips for creating a family history…”

Idealawg Blog

App To Help You Gather Family Stories — by Stephanie West-Allen

“Because I believe the flow from ancestry to life to legacy is important—often extremely influential on how we live our lives and affect future generations…”


The beauty of this little app is its simplicity. As one who didn’t grow up with technology, I wondered if I could achieve the things that were described in the video – but I did, and without any problems. Adding captions and photos is easy. I can see this being used frequently to record those snippets of information and stories that often occur on an impromptu basis when you are unlikely to run and grab a video camera. I’m hoping to make use of this as my son approaches his 21st birthday to get friends of his to record 60 second memories and their old photos – some have known him since primary school. Then I’ll patch it all together for a birthday presentation. So if a (ahem) middle aged citizen can mange this, then anyone can. I’m hoping that they’ll launch it on iPad soon. Top marks for making it user friendly. ~Kn23writer in Australia on Apple App Store


April, Got home, downloaded your app, and tried it out. Wow! It’s just like the original iMovie: simple, clean, and does the basics well. Kudos and huzzahs! It’s gonna be fun. Good demo, too. Best, Peter & Mary ps: The high rez version is very nice—displayed quite sharp full screen on my 27″ iMac. ~Peter & Mary Farquhar, Professional Personal Historians at Tombo Media in San Francisco, California


Create mini-docs. Capture shareable stories about friends and family. ~Splinterphobic Jon in the USA on Apple App Store


This app was the perfect thing for me to have when my grandmother and her sisters (my great-aunties) came to visit. Using the questions provided in the app, I captured so many great stories from each of them about their lives and also some great advice on living a good life. They had great fun telling stories about each other, asking each other the questions from the “Interview Tips”. They also enjoyed knowing I was going to save and share their stories with the rest of the family. We love this app!!! ~FamilyHistory in the USA on Apple App Store


We each have a story to tell. Many of us have several. When we share our lives with those close or far it really allows us to get to know one another on a deeper level. I really like how I can use this app for sharing some simple thoughts or I can take my time and pass on what really touches me in life so that others can be touched. I love how this app allows me to express what is important to myself, to the world and for those I care about.  ~Waterscape Man in the USA on Apple App Store


What an awesome app to have right at your fingertips– especially during the holidays! The best part is being able to pick from the questions made available. Love love!! ~Graci B. in the USA on Apple App Store


What a great app! I particularly like the suggested questions to use with the person being interviewed. Even with the plethora of social media apps, we miss so many opportunities to save our personal histories for our families. This app is a really fun and easy way to do just that…~B Flick in the USA on Apple App Store


What a simple and fun way to capture life’s special moments. I only wish that I had this app when my mom was still here. Photos just can’t capture the essence of a person like video does. Hopefully, everyone out there discovers and uses this app to record even the simplest moments with their loved ones…while they have the chance. What a difference this app will surely make for many! ~Monk Luver in the USA on Apple App Store


We had such a great time showing my Mom old family photos and recording short videos for each one as she spoke. It’s so cool that we can see her face as she tells her stories and also have the photo displayed on the screen at the same time! I love using the quotes to write in dates, names and places to go along with the story and picture. My sisters are loving these little keepsakes I’ve been making and sharing for our whole family to enjoy. We love this app!! ~by Kbell152 in the USA on Apple App Store


Company Contact:
April Bell – North Beach Apps, LLC
(925) 322-0636 and
Apple App Store

StoryCatcher® app for iPhone is breakthrough technology that provides users with a simple tool to create sharable mini-biographies in video using their iPhone; complete with titles, video capture, photos, and screen text. The user can record, save and share all that they, their family, friends — or maybe even strangers — have to tell. Included in the app are tips of good questions to ask, which can be found under “Interview Tips” in the “Record a Story” user interface. The finished stories can be shared publicly or privately via email, YouTube, Vimeo, Dropbox or stored locally to their camera roll — all done directly from inside the app. Privacy is taken seriously and no data collection is ever done without use permission. Once they downlaod the app, they have full control over their meida.

Recording is easy and the pre-made themes included in the app assemble the stories together so users don’t have to tweak and edit them. StoryCatcher® can be downloaded here on the Apple App Store, Samples and a demo can be found here: Please contact me directly for a free promo-download-code. See info above.

Recent happiness research has found that the passing on of a family narrative leads to greater happiness and resilience in children. ref: New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – North Beach Apps, LLC announce StoryCatcher® for iPhone, now available in the Apple App Store.

StoryCatcher® is the brainchild collaboration of Professional Personal Historian, April Bell, and iPhone App Coder, Urs Brauchli. April and Urs wanted to find a fun, easy and engaging way to help bring family and friends closer together through video storytelling. Ultimately, it is our personal stories that connect and bind us, today and for generations to come.

“StoryCatcher is a wonderful development in the evolution of how we record, structure and save family histories.” ~Liz Massey, Professional Oral Historian 

North Beach Apps, LLC was formed by April Bell and Urs Brauchli in October of 2012 to support the creation and distribution of the StoryCatcher App for iPhone.

April Bell, a professional Personal Historian, has operated her video storytelling business, Tree of Life Legacies, in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States since 2008. Possessing a BA in Psychology, April has a keen ability to not only listen to people intently, but to also put them at ease in front of a camera, drawing out their stories. She also has a strong background in media and graphics, so she crafts those stories told into a professional and compelling multimedia Personal History Film to be preserved and shared for generations to come. She has been a proud member of the Association of Personal Historians. Her clients include individuals, families, organizations and corporations who value authentically sharing and recording their personal stories. Lamorinda Weekly feature story.

Urs Brauchli began programming commercial software in the mid-1980s in Switzerland using BASIC on a Commodore 64. In 1994, he started building web pages using MS-Word and a dial-up modem to connect to the internet. This was so exotic at the time, Swiss National Television dropped in to interview him. Since then, he has continuously improved his knowledge, learning Javascript, PHP, MySQL and modern CSS techniques to build webpages for his customers. He developed his own CMS which is successfully used by several customers. In 2008, Urs started learning Objective-C and released his first iPhone app in 2009. Since then, he has released 16 of his own apps in the Apple App Store and numerous other apps through contract-work he has done. Urs’ customers include worldwide companies like Swarovski, Metrohm Inc. and Rieter Machine Works, to name a few.


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