When our loved ones have long since pasted away, wouldn’t it be lovely to have their voice forever captured and accessible to your entire family? Let me show you how to use the FamilySearch Memories app to record your voice and the voices of your family and make it accessible for free.
Several years ago, I began digitizing old VHS tapes. I wondered if I had any video of my grandmothers. I found some footage…all of about 90 seconds and about 2 words each. I longed to hear their voices and share that with my kids. Then it dawned on me. Did I have a recording of MY PARENTS voices? I am not just talking about a few words or sentences, but something lengthy enough to hear their style, accent, and cadence. Nope. I didn’t. So I decided to make that happen.
With the holidays upon us, this is the perfect time to record the voices of our loved ones! Here’s how to do it.
Download the FREE FamilySearch Memories App
The look of the app will be a little different if you are on an Apple device or an Android device. For this article, I am going to show you the steps to using the FamilySearch Memories app on an Android device, but it is very similar for your Apple device.
Adding Your Own Voice to the Memories App for Posterity
Let’s begin with how to record your own voice for future generations. Open the app on your phone or smart device. You will need to login to your free FamilySearch account or create one. Creating an account is super easy and doesn’t cost a thing.
Once you are signed in, you will be directed to your Memories Page. A blank memories page looks like the following image:
By clicking the blue plus sign at the bottom right hand corner, you will be given the options to add a document, write a story, record audio, or add a photo. Tap the blue plus sign and then tap “Record Audio.” FamilySearch has given you some topic ideas for interviewing yourself or loved one. You can choose a topic idea or tap on “Begin Recording” at the bottom.
You are given up to 5 minutes to record. If your story is longer than that, be sure to indicate in your audio title “part 1,” :part 2,” “part 3,” etc.
When you have finished recording the story, you will be alerted to add a title to your recording. Later, you can add additional information such as who did the interviewing, the date of the interview, and the place of the interview, tag other individuals this story includes, and add tags for easy finding and organization. Adding this information is very important. Later, your ancestors will want to know when and where this interview happened!
Recording Your Loved Ones Voice and Attaching It to FamilySearch Memories App
When you are signed in to your FamilySearch Memories App and record audio, that audio is automatically saved under your name. If you are audio recording Grandpa, you will want the audio to be saved under his name. To do that, follow these instructions:
- Be sure your FamilySearch Family Tree includes Grandpa. Since he is living, you will need to add him to your tree manually.
- Open the FamilySearch Memories app and sign in to YOUR account.
- At the Memories screen, you will see a menu bar. On an Android device, this is indicated by three bars at the top left hand corner. Tap the menu bar and from the pull-down options, choose “Family Tree.”
- At the tree, find Grandpa and tap his name. This will take you to Grandpa’s person page. It might look something like this: 5. Near the top, you will see several headings such as “Details,” “Spouses,” “Parents,” etc. Tap and slide that bar to the left until you see the heading “Memories.” 6. Tap “Memories” and it will open the Memories page for Grandpa. At this new page, you will see a blue plus sign again. Tapping it will open the options to record audio. Just record Grandpa the same way you would do yourself. When completed, his voice and story will be attached to his name in your family tree.
How Can My Other Family Members Here Grandpa’s Story
Because Grandpa is alive and you have saved this story to his name on YOUR tree, there are privacy settings that keep it from being heard by others. There are some ways around this. Firstly, once the story has been recorded, you can go back and change the settings from Private to Public. You can also share it via text, Google Drive, email, and more. To do this, tap once on the specific story and then tap at the top right hand corner which will drop-down a menu. Tap on “Details” to change the privacy setting or “Share” to send this to family via text, email, etc.
To listen to the recording, the person you send it to does NOT need to have an account to FamilySearch. They will be able to just click the link and tap the play button to hear the story!
Read this additional helpful article on using the app for both Android and Apple devices: “Using FamilySearch Apps to Record Oral Histories.”
Tips for best recording
Sometimes, our voice or the voice of a loved one is not as robust as it once was. For this reason, here are some tips to consider:
- Remind the person being recorded to talk as loudly and clearly as possible. Write “LOUDER” on a piece of paper so you can remind them during the interview if their volume gets softer.
- Remove all background noise. Other people talking in the background, a fan, a furnace blowing, or even a microwave running can interfere with best sound quality.
- Put your phone or smart device as close to the individual as possible.
- Do a test run to hear how the sound quality records.
Looking for more ideas to add family history to your holiday activities? Read “Adding Family History to the Hectic Holiday Season.”