Tempe, Arizona (NAPSI) - Researching your family history can be the journey of a lifetime. Not long ago, learning about your ancestors might have meant hours of sifting through dusty old boxes or reels of microfilm at libraries, churches and even city halls.

New technology advances, however, such as searchable websites and mobile apps, have made it easier for anyone to discover, share and preserve his or her family history—without ever leaving the couch.

Maybe that’s why so many people are digging into their family trees today. According to a Harris Interactive survey, nearly 87 percent of Americans are interested in discovering more about their own history. It is easier than ever before to hop online or use your smartphone to get a glimpse into your family’s past, revealing the secrets and stories that make you who you are today.

If you are ready to begin your online family history journey, here are five simple steps to help you get started:

1. Start with what you know. Simply enter a few details about yourself, your parents and grandparents into an online family tree. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the facts; this is just the beginning.

2. Search historical records. A simple online record search could help you find family members in historical censuses, military and immigration records, newspaper articles and more. Use these records to continue tracing your family back through time. Stay organized by adding what you discover to your online family tree.

3. Ask your family for more details. Family history can be a wonderful excuse to pick up the phone or pay a visit to your loved ones. Record interviews with relatives as well as search family photo albums and heirlooms for missing details. Attach these documents to your online family tree to create an illustrated time line of your ancestors’ lives.

4. Take a DNA test. The AncestryDNA test can be a great way to learn what ancient genetic material you’ve inherited. Not only does the test give you a map of where your ancestors might have lived, it can connect you with long-lost family members you might be related to.

5. Share your discoveries. Share your family tree so that all your family members have a better understanding of their rich heritage. Document your family history journey by creating a book, calendar, poster or another meaningful gift.

Ancestry.com has billions of records to help you in your family research and build your family tree. From your great-grandfather’s Civil War military records to your aunt and uncle’s marriage certificate, the site can be a one-stop shop for discovering your family’s roots.

To start your own family history journey, visit www.Ancestry.com.