Tag Archives: Personal History

The Ancestor Effect

download storycatcher for iphoneWhy Your Stories Matter

“So even if we don’t perceive to like our ancestors, thinking about them still leads to a mental state that boosts intellectual performance and decision-making.”

I just read this most fascinating article about the value of knowing our family’s narrative. Apparently, just thinking about our ancestors (ancient to the not so distant) helps us be better problem solvers and live better lives.

“Recently, a clinical study reported that thinking positively about our family roots boosts emotional confidence and even intelligence.”

Are you a good ancestor? Have you started to record and save your family stories?

“…keep your ancestors close at hand. Every day, think about the people who are responsible for putting you on the planet. Consider their hard work throughout the ages, their resilience in tough times, and their ingenuity.”

To check out the full article, visit “Amy Bruckner & The Dream Tribe.” I highly recommend taking a look. Then, be a good ancestor by recording and sharing a story from your own family’s history!

StoryCatcher for iPhone makes it easy to get started making short video stories your loved ones will cherish for all time. Plus, you’ll be helping them become smarter and more effective in the process! You can download the app on the Apple App Store.


April Bell - Personal Historian Blog post author: April Bell is a Professional Personal Historian and founder at Tree of Life Legacies. She has been operating her Personal History Film business in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States since 2008. April utilizes her innate skills as an active listener to connect with others and draw out their stories and authentic, heartfelt values to be preserved and shared for generations to come. Her clients include individuals, families and organizations who value the power of story. In an effort to provide the gift of video storytelling to the world at large via a simple, fun and easy to use tool, she and her business partner, iPhone app coder Urs Brauchli, released StoryCatcher for iPhone in the Fall of 2013.

Forgotten Childhood

Loving Gift to Your Child’s Future Self

download storycatcher for iphoneHaven’t you, like me, wondered why most of us don’t remember anything prior to age 3? Well, it turns out, we DO have memories prior to age 3, however, those memories are almost completely forgotten somewhere between the ages of 6 and 9. How fun would it be to record our kids’ memories of these years before they forget them? I recently read a fascinating story on NPR about childhood amnesia.

“Another powerful determinant of whether an early memory sticks is whether a child fashions it into a good story, with a time and place and a coherent sequence of events, (University Research Professor Carole) Peterson says. ‘Those are the kinds of memories that are going to last.'”

S t o r y C a t c h e r | for iPhone is the perfect tool to fashion such a story. Record your child on video, sharing her memories in her own words. Once you’ve filmed her story, add screen text and photos to help round it out. Easily share with family and friends now, plus save it to enjoy for years to come.

Imagine what fun it will be for your child to see himself recollecting his life stories from times that  would otherwise be forgotten.

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Download StoryCatcher here

“For a long time, scientists thought childhood amnesia occurred because the brains of young children simply couldn’t form lasting memories of specific events. Then, in the 1980s, (Patricia) Bauer (a professor of psychology at Emory University) and other researchers began testing the memories of children as young as 9 months old, in some cases using gestures and objects instead of words.

“At age 3, the children were all recorded speaking with a parent about recent events, like visiting an amusement park or a visit from a relative. Then as the kids got older, the researchers checked to see how much they remembered.

“And they found that children as old as 7 could still recall more than 60 percent of those early events, while children who were 8 or 9 recalled less than 40 percent. ‘What we observed was actually the onset of childhood amnesia,’ Bauer says.”

Post video links of your child’s memories in the comments below!

Listen to the full story here: The Forgotten Childhood: Why Early Memories Fade

Photo credit: Suzy Hendrix


April Bell - Co-developer Blog post author: April Bell is a Professional Personal Historian and founder at Tree of Life Legacies. She has been operating her Personal History Film business in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the United States since 2008.  April utilizes her innate skills as an active listener to connect with others and draw out their stories and authentic, heartfelt values to be preserved and shared for generations to come. Her clients include individuals, families and organizations who value the power of story. In an effort to provide the gift of video storytelling to the world at large via a simple, fun and easy to use tool, she and her business partner, iPhone app coder Urs Brauchli, released StoryCatcher for iPhone in the Fall of 2013.

Capture a Dad’s Stories on Video This Father’s Day

Take time to ask, before it’s too late…

“After lunch we returned to the house, where Jerry Graham indulged me by answering questions about his life, on video.

Little did either of us realize that he would be dead of a sudden heart attack within 36 hours, that this encounter would be my final chance to learn details of his life that only he could reveal.

So as we approach Father’s Day, I urge everyone to sit down with their dads to record and preserve these personal stories for future generations.

Before it’s too late.

We live in an era unlike any other in history, where most of us now have a video camera in our pocket — the smartphone. Let’s use the tool to tell and preserve our stories.”

~Jefferson Graham, Tech Columnist at USA TODAY

All too often, this is a story I hear from people when talking about my business, creating personal history films. What’s more, often I hear they were PLANNING to “do something” with their loved ones’ stories, but they just haven’t gotten around to it.

This is part of the reason we developed StoryCatcher, to assist people in capturing video stories with their friends and family, anytime, anywhere; before it’s too late.

The value of having captured video stories is impossible to explain. It is something that those who have lost the opportunity can talk about quite a bit. That sparkle in his eye, the sound of her laughter and her voice, those questions they always meant to ask…

Some might view it morbid or crass to connect recording our loved ones’ stories with mortality. Frankly, I’ve found it’s one of the few things that gets people’s attention. We live in a culture and society that tends to operate as if we’re immortal; until we’re not.

I feel the value of presencing our mortality is so that we do take the time to love and connect with the important people in our lives NOW and not wait for that mystical, magical more convenient future moment, when all our “to do’s” are done and we’re ready. LIVE now, LOVE now. Enjoy your Father’s Day and honor the men who are Dad’s in your life, biological or not, by capturing a story or two with them on video…using StoryCatcher for iPhone, of course!

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Click to download StoryCatcher FREE version

Click to read Jefferson Graham’s full USA TODAY article

2014-02-16-AprilTo learn more about me and the work I do with people capturing life stories, visit the About page.

Urs and I would love to stay connected with you. If you’d like periodic inspiration, plus tips and tricks, on capturing and sharing life stories, please join our community by entering your information in the upper left area of this page. We never share your information. Also, please follow us on Twitter!

It’s an honor to be connected to you, thank you for visiting and for your interest in creating more love and connection in the world through capturing and sharing the stories of the people in your life.

Dear Kids… Legacy Storytelling

Your Most Important GiftDownload_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40

This is for anyone who has held the honorable place in life of guiding another soul. It’s important to note, you don’t have to be a biological parent to hold that sort of importance in a child’s life ― no matter their age. Consider including those you’ve been a mentor or guide to. You never know how you might touch another with your legacy storytelling.

Our kids are our kids, for all of life. They look to us for guidance, learning, hope and security. What greater gift than to give them ourselves, to let them know us and have us, when they’re ready to know, when they are available to receive and understand all that we are always offering.

I hope you read all of the below article, it’s powerful and important and will potentially inspire you to start collecting little gifts today that they will some day cherish beyond anything else they have in their lives. You may choose to do this in writing; my friend Elizabeth, whom I recorded a video biography with, is further expanding her collection and has embarked on a journey called, “my life in paragraphs.” You might consider using StoryCatcher and creating a collection of short videos telling about your life, lessons, values and hopes. You may feel most comfortable expressing yourself via an audio only format, which can easily be done any time, any where using a smart phone or mini voice recorder.

Share when you’re inspired to. Create a little collection, or even a big one. Do it on your own or consult a professional for help and guidance. Save your data somewhere you’re sure your loved ones will find it or tell them where it is. It’s the greatest gift you will ever leave them. I promise you that.


Slate.com|Dear Kids by John Dickerson, | Published May 8th, 2014

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“Mom also kept letters she wrote to me, which prove my point. I don’t remember getting them when they were originally sent…they’re full of wisdom as I reread them…”

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Enjoy Jorja’s wisdom on having a positive impact: [ez_vimeo url=”http://vimeo.com/18689802″ width=”640″ height=”360″ portrait=”1″ title=”0″ byline=”0″ autoplay=”0″]

An app is born…

Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40How the StoryCatcher app came to exist in the world and on the Apple App Store. I hope you enjoy this short video I created for you using StoryCatcher for iPhone, the video storytelling app that prompts you with family history questions to ask. Don’t miss some of the customer reviews posted below! Please leave a comment. Urs and I (the co-developers of StoryCatcher for iPhone) would absolutely love to hear from you!

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“A must have! 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.” ~the latest ★★★★★ review posted on the Apple App Store by Kn23writer, a happy user in Australia. Thank you, Kn23writer!

“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 a note received after a group demonstration for the NorCal Association of Personal Historians

Note: Search under “iPhone Apps” in the Apple App Store when on an iPad or iPad mini and you can successfully download and use your copy of StoryCatcher on that device.

If you feel moved to, we would greatly appreciate your positive review about StoryCatcher for iPhone on the Apple App Store!

Love stories

Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40Today is the perfect day to share a story about love with those special someones in your life.

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My absolute favorite love stories are the “how we met” stories, as seen above. They can be touching, funny, and even humbling. Sometimes they can be quite different, even though the story is being told from two people who shared the same experience. What I love about interviewing people and capturing their stories is that so often their loved ones say things like, “I never knew that!” or “I hadn’t heard that part of the story before!” Go ahead, surprise and delight yourself and the ones you love by capturing and sharing their love story today. Sharing stories with the people we love forages deeper bonds of love and connection. StoryCatcher can help. Here are some Interview Tips on love.

  • Who is the love of your life?
  • When did you first fall in love?
  • Do you remember your fist kiss?
  • Who was your first serious relationship with?
  • Do you believe in love at first sight?
  • What lessons have you learned from your relationships?

~Happy Big Love Day from StoryCatcher to you!

Photo credit: Coolm36 (Creative Commons)