Add relatives to your family history timeline

Twile allows you to build a visually stunning timeline of your life, which can be enhanced by adding relatives…helping your family story grow into something special that can be shared by future generations.

How to add relatives

 

  1.  Click the ‘Family Tree’ tab to load the family tree
  2.  Move your mouse over one of the people already on your tree
  3. Click ‘Add Relative’
  4. Choose the relationship type for the new person
  5. Choose their gender and enter their name
  6. Click the ‘Add’ button at the bottom of the window
  7.  The family tree will reload to show you the new addition

Watch the Video…

Take  look and see how easy it is.

A Twile timeline is a great way of sharing your research with other members of your family – read our blog post on Inviting your family. 

Olympic Memories

On Saturday 6th August the Olympic Games begins in Rio. As the World gears up to watch their countries’ best athletes compete, I’m sure I’m not alone in enjoying some 2012 Olympics nostalgia.

As the Olympics approached, we had the torch relay which toured the UK over 70 days. 8,000 people carried the torch a total distance of around 8,000 miles london-2012-olympic-torchstarting from Land’s End in Cornwall. I have memories of carrying my then 8-month old daughter as we watched the torch pass through our town – she had no idea what was happening but it was a fantastic atmosphere and something we had to see.

Prior to London 2012 there was apprehension about whether Britain could stage an opening ceremony to reach the standard set at the Beijing games 4 years previous. We didn’t need to worry – London’s effort was a huge success and became the most-viewed Olympic opening ceremony in both the UK and the US. The content showcased Britain’s technological and cultural contributions to the world, including the Industrial Revolution, literary heritage, popular music and significant inventions (many of which are included in our new Inventions stream to add to your timeline).

 

The event acknowledged how the digital revolution, arguably sparked by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners Lee, has changed everyday lives potentially as much as the Industrial revolution before it. In 2012, Twile was an idea, it was only just beginning and the invention of the Web made our product possible.

We joined the chaos, visiting London during the games. Everyone was in a good mood, everyone happy to be a part of something so special that would potentially only happen once in their lifetime. We saw part of the marathon and returned home satisfied that we had ‘taken part’, taking our very tiny slice of history home with us.

Our experiences of the day are recorded on our Twile timeline so that our daughter can see the photos. She will know she was in London during the Olympics, she will view our comments. She will see that we got wet in the rain, that Daddy forgot his waterproof jacket, that the Team GB duck she plays with in the bath now, was purchased from the shops outside the Olympic village by Grandma, who joined us for the day trip. One day she may be lucky enough to get tickets for the Olympics somewhere else in the world and she can record her own experiences on the same Twile timeline.

We look forward to watching the games in Rio this month. Records and memories will be made. Good luck to Team GB!

A life in context…inventions to change the world

My maternal Grandmother was born on 3rd February 1922. I knew my Grandmother very well, she passed away when I was in my late twenties so I shared a lot of happy times with her and have some great memories.  But I knew her as a ‘Grandma’. Not as a young girl, not as a young woman…she was my ‘Grandma’ who to me was never younger than 60, so it is hard for me to visualise what society and life was like for her whilst she was young.

My Grandma was born during King George V’s reign, in Yorkshire, at a time when the UK was returning to some level of normality following the first World War. I know that her Mother was around 20 when she married my Great Grandfather who was then in his late 30’s and she was one of five children – but how can I get a better understanding of what the world was like in the early 1920’s and what her childhood was like?

These are questions I wish I had asked when she was here.

By looking at my Grandma’s birth date on my Twile timeline, I can see a few things. Firstly I can see that she was born 9 days before my Grandmother in-law. Born in a different part of the UK, only days apart in age. Were they similar?

To add some context, I am able to switch on the World War One and Two streams.  I can see that my Grandmother’s parents were married shortly after the Treaty of Versailles was signed and the First World War officially ended. I am also able to see that in the summer before my Grandma’s birth, Adolf Hitler became the leader of the Nazi party in Germany.

Furthermore, by switching on the new Inventions stream, my Grandma was born shortly before the invention of the Television in 1924 and before the invention of Penicillin by Alexander Fleming (pictured above) in 1928.  As the mother of young children now, who have had more than a couple of doses of antibiotics in their lifetime, I can imagine that life before antibiotics was tough and reading articles around the subject confirms this.  My children of four and two have certainly got a lot to be thankful for.  I came across an interesting video referencing the death of a young girl from TB in the 1920’s and wonder how true a reflection this is of life in Yorkshire in the 1920’s?

Writer and commentator Harry Leslie Smith reflects on growing up in Yorkshire

When I was younger I played Dotty in the school play Bugsy Malone…I had two words…not a huge part, however I imagined the 1920’s to be glamorous – feather Boa’s and beautiful dresses – the ‘roaring 20’s’. I think it was for some (http://www.history.com/topics/roaring-twenties), however the influence of John Logie Baird’s creation and the invention of Sound Film in 1923 have perhaps skewed my vision.

One thing is clear though, looking at my Grandmother’s life on my Twile timeline, in context with things happening around the World has piqued my interest. How did events and advancements in technology, medicine and engineering affect my ancestors lives directly? I want to fill in the gaps and know more about her life and that of my other Grandparents. I want to know if and where they went to school, what they did for a living and why and how they moved to different areas of the country. The way to do this is by asking other members of my family questions whilst I can, to try and piece the jigsaw together…and in doing so, record it in one place so that my children when they are a little bit older can see it and appreciate it in a way that is interesting to them.

To switch on streams in Twile

  • Click on ‘In View’ at the top of your timeline
  • Move the slider on the right hand side to choose ‘Key’ or ‘All’ Inventions
  • Click ‘Done’

You will now see inventions appear on your timeline.

We are going to be adding more streams soon. If you have a suggestion, please contact us at help@twile.com

 

Five Tips For Scanning Your Old Photos

If your family is anything like mine, you have hundreds or thousands of photos that will never be seen again.  We have boxes filled with old photos (typically hidden in the attic); everything from black-and-white pictures from the early 1900s through to colour photos of me and my brother growing up.

Even if we open up those boxes and look through them occasionally, that doesn’t help the family who live elsewhere.  I have cousins living around the world who, of course, share the same grandparents – of whom we have a lot of photos.  The only solution is to scan the pictures and put them somewhere we can all access.

Scanning in old photos is a BIG job – especially if you have as many as we do – so I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned while working through our old photo collection.  Here are five tips for scanning in old photos…

1. Choose your device

The first decision is whether to use a flatbed scanner or your camera (or smartphone) to digitise your old photos.  Using a camera is certainly the simplest option – it is far easier and quicker to snap, snap, snap your photos than it is to load them one-by-one into a scanner and wait while it scans.  It probably takes an average of 60 seconds per photo using a flatbed scanner, versus maybe 10 seconds using a camera.

But the quality of the scan from a scanner is far superior to what you’ll achieve using a camera.  Scanners are designed for scanning flat documents, while cameras are designed for taking photos of 3D things in the real world – and the difference shows.

With a camera, curled paper edges, lighting glare and lens angles can all diminish the quality of the final output.  With a scanner, these problems are all removed.

Whether you invest in a scanner and spend the extra time it takes to use one depends on the quality you want in the digital versions of your photos.  I’d suggest you try a camera first and see if the output is good enough for what you need.

2. Don’t aim for perfection

With the choice between scanner and camera in mind, it’s worth noting that any digital version of your photos is better than nothing at all.  Your family and your future self will be delighted just to see the photos, even if they’re a little skew or there’s a little glare in the top-right corner.

It’s tempting to spend a lot of time perfecting the scanning process, but your main aim should be getting your paper photos onto a computer.  The longer it takes to arrange photos, align them, adjust lighting and everything else, the less likely you are to finish the job.

It takes a little experimentation to see what you get from different methods, so have a play and find a compromise that you’re happy with between speed and quality.

3. Sort the photos first

It’s a lot easier to organise the paper copies of your photos than it is to do it on a computer.  It’s also a lot more enjoyable – you’ll find yourself spending a few moments on each photo, either enjoying your own memories or trying to solve the mysteries therein.

I suggest grouping photos by date primarily.  In some cases you’ll have an exact date written on the back of the photo (or imprinted in the photo itself in some more recent pics).  Otherwise, you might need to make a best guess on the month or year or maybe just decade.  

Organising your photos before scanning makes it much easier to store them in appropriate date-based folders on your computer later. For example, you could scan photos in date batches, so that all photos from 1973 go into one folder.

It’s also an opportunity to remove any that aren’t worth scanning in. Underdeveloped shots or the seventeenth photo of the same anonymous landscape might not be something you want to spend time scanning in.  

4. Check your scanner settings

Most scanners, cameras and smartphones will offer some level of customisation for the resulting image.  You’ll want to get this setup correctly before you start.

There are three considerations: image settings, resolution and file type.

The image settings include options like brightness, colour levels and contrast.  You may find that the default settings are perfect, otherwise you may want to adjust them until you get the image output you’re looking for.  I found that my colour photos looked a little too blue by the time they reached the screen, so I adjusted the colour balance to fix that.

The larger the resolution of your scanned-in photo, the higher its quality (and file size).  Bigger is always better, but there is a maximum to the quality you’ll actually be able to use.  It may be tempting to reduce the resolution to save disk space, but if you go too low you’ll end up with photos that aren’t good enough to print – and you may regret that one day.  I’d recommend a resolution of 300dpi (dots per inch), which will give you more than enough for viewing on a screen and emailing and plenty to produce quality prints if you ever need to.

You can often select the file type that you want to create during scanning, such as JPEG, TIFF, PNG or PDF.  For most purposes you’ll want to choose JPEG, which is a good compromise between quality and file size.  It’s the most familiar type of image file and can easily be used for viewing, emailing or printing.

5. Scan multiple photos together

Whether you’re using a scanner or a camera, you can save time by scanning more than one photo at a time.  A typical flatbed scanner can accommodate at least 3 typical photos and you’ll probably fit 3 or 4 into the viewfinder of a camera at a reasonable distance.

The downside of scanning multiple photos together is that you need to crop the resulting image into 3 or 4 photos.  Fortunately, there are a number of software solutions and apps that will do this automatically – and many modern flatbed scanners come with appropriate software as part of the package.

We’ll be reviewing apps and photo software in the future, so watch this space!

Add your photos to Twile

Once you’ve digitised your photos, don’t just leave them hidden away on your computer – upload them to your Twile timeline so that the rest of your family can explore and enjoy them.  Twile is totally private, which means only the family members you invite will be able to see the photos you share.

Click here to create your Twile Timeline

 

Twile supports #CreateUK

This week we have been supporting The Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s campaign #CreateUK, a week long celebration and showcase of the creative industries in the UK.s300_CREATE_UK_GOV.UK

As a tech startup in the UK, we’re delighted to be amongst a community of fellow creatives who are generating almost £10m every hour for the UK economy!

When asked why we create, many reasons sprang to mind and it reminded us of an article that Paul Brooks (Twile co-founder) wrote to TechCityInsider earlier this year:

“When we first started Twile in 2013, we had dreams and expectations of quick success, exponential growth and big investment. As it turns out, building a startup is a lot more than that. Along with my co-founder Kelly Marsden, I launched the company as part of the first Dotforge accelerator in Sheffield and quickly managed to close a small seed investment round from local angel investors.

We soon found that growing a consumer userbase with a small budget and an early product is not easy. We regularly worked 70-weeks with very little to show for them except a little more understanding and gradually improving product. We managed to maintain the confidence of our investors and they put more money in to two more rounds over the next two years, giving us the runway we needed to experiment, pivot and chase product-market fit. There were many times when we didn’t think we’d last long enough.

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Based in Yorkshire, it has been difficult to attract big investment and raise our profile in the tech community. While there are initiatives such as Tech North , to address the challenges faced by entrepreneurs outside of London, the capital is still very much the centre of the UK tech community.

To secure investment, you need to meet as many investors as possible and work to build long term relationships with them, keeping them updated on your progress and successes. With limited budget, it hasn’t been possible for us to travel to London regularly or spend large periods of time there. The fact that everyone involved in the business has young children has made this even more difficult. Of course, there are investors in the North, but from our experience most of them are lacking an understanding of the tech industry, especially web software. For example, it is fairly typical for a consumer app to prioritise growth over revenue at the start, but most investors we have met in the North East, for instance, expect to see a healthy turnover and strong balance sheet before they’ll even glance at the cover of a business plan.

Despite these challenges, our perseverance and hard work is paying off. In 2015 we started to gain recognition as an innovative visualisation tool for the family history market and started to acheive real growth.

We attended the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City in February and won two of the four innovations awards as part of the innovator showdown competition – returning to the UK with $16,000 in cash and another $10,000 in “in-kind” support. We are looking forward to returning to RootsTech in 2017.

On our return, we learned that we had secured investment and a partnership deal with Findmypast, one of the leading names in family history. This gives us the resources and support we need to grow Twile into a global brand.

In under three years, we have evolved Twile from an early concept into a robust, fully featured product that solves a real problem for our customers. We have made a point of talking to our users as often as possible and we’ve used their input to intelligently prioritise development. We’ve put a huge amount of effort into every phase of the business and we’ve acknowledged our failures as essential steps to success.

If there’s a moral to our story, it’s that our own hard work is going to deliver the results. It’s easy to blame market conditions, geographical location, lack of government support of any other external factors for the failure of a start-up, but we’ve seen a number of early stage businesses (including Twile) succeed in recent years and every one of them has put a lot of effort in to overcome the obstacles they’ve been faced with.

Fortunately, recent investment in the infrastructure for start-ups outside of London is beginning to amplify the hard work that entrepreneurs are willing to put in.

Organisations like Creative England, (who have been hugely supportive in our journey, backing us from the beginning) and Tech North and accelerators like Dot Forge and Ignite are making it easier to start and succeed. If this can be matched by investors with an appetite for opportunities outside of London, I believe we will see many more successful northern startups in the near future.”

The #CreateUK campaign this week reminds us that with hard work we can continue to thrive and take advantage of the new opportunities which are opening up to do business across the world. Why do we create? Because it’s our dream, our passion, our mission to succeed.

Relevant articles:

 

Fun Facts about Father’s Day

Father’s Day, like Mother’s Day, is a worldwide celebration of dads. Many countries will be celebrating Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June including the US and UK. Australia however celebrates the occasion on the first Sunday in September.

Here are a few more interesting facts…

  • Father’s Day was invented by American Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd who wanted to honour her father, with the first celebration on June 19th 1910.
  • Father’s Day is the fifth-largest card sending holiday in the US, with almost 100 million Father’s Day cards sent annually.
  • In the UK 7 million Father’s Day cards are sent each year, compared to 13 million Mother’s Day cards.
  • Traditionally fathers should be given white or red roses as a gift. The rose is the official flower for Father’s Day and wearing a red rose signifies a living father, whilst a white one represents a deceased father.
  • The average dad in Britain spends four hours a week as a taxi driver!
  •  The word ‘Dad’ was first recorded in English in the 1500’s but it’s ancestry isn’t clear. It’s likely that ‘da’ originated as baby babble and entered adult vocabulary from there!

Whatever you might be doing this coming weekend, have fun and record those precious memories with your Dad. Recording current events in your family is just as important as recording things that have happened in the past.

Relevant articles

 

Invite family to explore your Twile timeline

Twile is designed for sharing. The timeline is a great way of letting your family (especially the younger ones) explore their family history and recent events online. You can invite your family to view everything easily and for free!

In our last blog, we spoke about the The power of pictures and how a picture can ignite emotions and spark a conversation that you otherwise wouldn’t have had! So share your stories and record new ones with your family now… remember that Twile is totally secure and private – only the family members you invite will ever be able to see your content.

How to invite somebody…

  1. Click the ‘Family Tree’ tab to load the family tree
  2. Move your mouse over the person you’d like to invite – a popup menu will appear
  3. Click ‘Invite Them’
  4. Enter the person’s email address
  5. Click ‘Send’
  6. We will send them an email with a link to join your family tree

It’s so simple…give it a try!

Click here to go to your Twile Timeline

For every member of your family that you invite, we will give you a free month’s subscription.

Watch the video…

 

Related articles:

 

 

The power of pictures

In our last blog post, we spoke about how adding words to your photos makes a story interesting.

Maureen Taylor, known as the Photo Detective, has been using Twile with her Mother to build their family timeline and found that uploading photos to the timeline and the conversations that followed became quite emotional. Thanks to Maureen for sharing her experience…

I believe that each photo is a story worth telling.

My work as the Photo Detective is proof positive of that fact. I find the family history in family photos by studying the details in a picture.

Images can help someone remember their past. For some looking at a photo is life changing. A picture can reveal where they come from and whom they look like. For others it’s the collection of images that fit together to tell the tale of their family’s past.

A research timeline is a great way to organize your information, but don’t overlook the storytelling possibilities that extend beyond the lifetime milestones to the photo memories. Pictures of ancestors (living and dead) expand our understanding of our family history. All you have to do is “listen” to the stories they are trying to tell.

A Living Example

I uploaded pictures and details of my mother’s life into Twile. I know her story (or so I thought) and since it wasn’t the first time I’d looked at the images, it was easy to arrange her pictures by date and occasion. Then I sat with her while she looked at them.

Her first reaction at seeing her life on the screen was, “Oh my, I’m old.” Looking at her baby picture through her wedding photos made her feel all of her 86 years. She’s a forward-looking person, but her wedding group portrait gave her pause. She whispered, “I’m the only one left.” She stared at it for a few long moments and then with a sigh she began looking through the other photos. The power of those pictures transported her (and me) into the past.

She focused on one in particular. Maureen

She’s the little girl in the white socks and beret crouched down in front. Flanked by her brothers with her parents in the back right. Center and to the back left is her oldest sister leaning her arm on her future husband. A simple question about her cute beret and the memories started flowing:

“Oh that’s me in the center. My sister Lauretta (to the back and left) and her future husband in the (center in the fedora) loved to dress me up and take me to the movies.”

“We saw everything. There wasn’t a Shirley Temple movie they didn’t take me to.”

When asked how old she was in that photo she said 5. That one picture was a door into her life at that time. She talked about a lot more of her life than just that moment.

Her relationship with her older sister: “Because she was so much older she was like a second mother to me”

Recollections of the first day of school: “I didn’t like it so I walked home. My mother took me back saying I’d just have to get used to it.”

And her parents: “There was a family gathering at our house every Saturday night with music. My mother played the piano and she and my father sang.”

All these jumbled memories from ONE picture. We still had a lifetime of pictures to go.

What will your pictures reveal?

Before it’s too late, add pictures to events in a living person’s life using Twile and sit with them while they reminisce. You might hear tales of bravery, lost loves or stories about warm summer days. I guarantee those pictures combined with the simple facts of that person’s life will be mesmerizing.

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maureen-taylor
Maureen Taylor, known as the Photo Detective, finds the family history in your picture mysteries. She’s been featured in top media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and the Today Show. To discover some stories behind your favourite family photos visit her website

 

 

Also: Family Tree Magazine – Photo Detective Blog:

Related Links:

Adding words and documents to your photos

A good storyteller uses words and images to make their story interesting. By adding photos (old or new) into Twile, you capture each moment and help to piece together the story of your family history.

Quite often though, when looking through photos, we wonder who was there, where it was taken, why it was taken? This is where words become so important. Without them, family stories can become distorted over time and important details are lost.

To help you tell your stories, we’ve added a feature that lets you include words and documents (such as birth/marriage certificates, census records, etc.) to each event.

Click here to go to your timeline

  1. Click on an event on your timeline
  2. Beneath the ‘Add something’ title, click ‘Words’ to add a comment/memory.
  3. Click ‘Document’ to upload a document in JPEG or PNG format (we’ll be adding support for PDFs soon)

We’d love to hear what you think of these new additions.  Please get in touch at any time by emailing us at help@twile.com.

 

Related articles

Importing a GEDCOM file

Will your family preserve your genealogy legacy?

Getting the kids interested in genealogy

Family History is about the Living too

A Twile Account for the Whole Family

 

 

Mother’s Day US – Why is it celebrated on a different day to the UK holiday?

In the UK Mother’s Day has been and gone, however in the United States Mother’s Day is always held on the second Sunday in May. This date was formalised by President Wilson in 1914, whereas in the UK the holiday is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent every year.

We wrote about the history of Mother’s day back in March (https://twile.com/blog/2016/03/things-you-didnt-know-about-mothers-day/). The celebration began in the US and traces it’s roots to the creation of mother’s groups, consisting of women whose sons fought in the Civil War.

Over the years Mother’s Day has become more and more commercial, with the National Retail Federation estimating that this year Americans will spend an average of $172.63 on their mothers, an increase of $10 since 2014 and the highest amount in 12 years.