A new surprise cousin, Mark Carpenter, popped up on the Internet with connections to my maternal great-grandmother in Rochester, N.Y. and intriguing new family photos.

The email began: “My name is Mark Carpenter. I became hooked on genealogy last year and it looks like we are fourth cousins, two times removed, although by age, we're only one generation apart. Your mother was born the same year as my grandmother (1916).

Holiday gatherings are a great opportunity to collect family history. What better time to find out more about your family or fill in the missing pieces of their story than when surrounded by those who know most of it?

Bring these apps to your next family gathering to record precious memories or trace your roots together.

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