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.

  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.

 

 

Using Citations and References in Family History Research

When researching your family history, there are many types of information available, such as parish registers, tax records, census forms, wills military service records, electoral rolls etc., and although their interpretation is often not at all straightforward – they are very useful if you are looking to share your findings with other members of your family.

We asked Professional Genealogist Anne Sherman, for her advice on how to cite your sources and why this is important. We often receive questions about citations and referencing sources on Twile and it is something we are working to build into the site in the near future. We are delighted that Anne agreed to write a helpful guest blog article for us.

Referencing your Sources: Anne Sherman

 

A little time spent now can save hours of work later.

Imagine the scene – you have been researching your family history for years and you finally share it with a member of your family, who turns around and says “but John did not marry Jane, he married Elizabeth!“. Okay, so now what do you do? How do you prove that John married Jane? Where did you find that information? Was it from physical evidence (birth/marriage certificate, census return) or did someone tell you, in which case who told you and when? If only you had spent 2 or 3 minutes noting down where you had found that important piece of information, you would be able to quickly prove your information, instead you spend days trying to find it again. You might be lucky, if the information was on a certificate you purchased – it is just a case of finding it again, otherwise you have to start your research again.

You may think that this will never happen to you – but can you be sure? It has happened to me on several occasions. Fortunately I had referenced my sources and could quickly prove the details of the marriage, whereas my detractors only had it as a family story. One spent weeks trying to prove me wrong, but to no avail.

It is so easy to do.

There are no right or wrong ways to reference your sources. Academics generally use a version of the Harvard Referencing, but there is no overall system for genealogical records and different organisations will use slightly different systems. The main thing to remember is that it should help you (or someone else) to find that record again.

An easy citation will include:

  • The type of record – Birth, Marriage, Death (BMD) registration index/certificate, Census return, diary, audio/written interview with Uncle Joseph etc.
  • Place the event took place.
  • The date or year of the record/interview.
  • Name of the main person – child, married couple (give both names) etc. For Census returns you can either give the Head of the family, but if your ancestor is a lodger then give his/her name
  • Any reference number for the record – archive reference, GRO reference for indexes, Census reference and enumeration district & page number.
  • Location of record – name of the Archive Office, website or if held privately, by whom?
  • Date accessed – although most people only use this for websites as they can change over time, although it is also useful for interviews.

Example of citation – Marriage Index. RD: Islington, Middlesex. March Qtr. 1876 WIEDHOFFT, Frederick Augustus & HUNTSMAN, Emma. Vol. 1b. p. 456. Available online: www.freebmd.org.uk Accessed 17 Oct 2012.

If you hold copies of some of your records, you will also need a simple but effective filing system, so that you can quickly and easily find the record that you are looking for – not just an old shoe box with piles of other documents. Remembering to reference your sources may be a pain, but it is better than the hurt and tears you may suffer if you don’t.

Anne 2010
Anne Sherman

To learn more about referencing and other research tips, Anne runs an online course as part of Leaves Family History Research Services, where she not only researches family histories, but will teach you how to do it yourself. Anne is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and the Register of Qualified Genealogists (RQG) having completed a 2 year Postgraduate Diploma in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies with Strathclyde University.  Anne has undertaken some research for the Who Do You Think You Are? Television programme and recently had an article published in the Your Family History magazine.

We are working closely with Professional Genealogists to understand how we can best build citation functionality into Twile.

Further useful links:

Header Image citation www.freebmd.org.uk.

Twile is now even faster!

You asked, we delivered: How your feedback improves Twile

In April 2016 we made some big changes to the invisible parts of Twile, which means that the whole website now runs faster and can handle any size of family tree. You will hopefully notice that everything loads more quickly, especially if you have a large family on the site.

Now that this work is complete, we thought you might be interested to have an insight into the challenges of building a website like Twile and keeping it running smoothly.

We build Twile in a ‘lean’ way, which basically means that we build new features as quickly as we can to get your feedback on them sooner. We don’t try to make everything perfect straight away – we could spend a very long time getting a feature just right, only to find that nobody wants it! Instead, we will build a simpler version of a feature and then make some changes and improvements to it over time, based on the conversations we have with customers like you.

The family tree is a good example of this. When we first built the tree in 2014, it was only designed to display 10-20 people (and GEDCOM was but a twinkle in our eyes). It couldn’t show multiple marriages, often displayed siblings in the wrong order and it didn’t look anywhere near as pretty.

But, it allowed us to collect feedback and prove that we were heading in the right direction. We’ve since improved the family tree gradually, adding new features. tweaking the design and allowing it to handle much larger and more complicated families.

The performance work we’ve done in April is the latest in a long and continued line of work on the family tree. The site can now comfortably handle any size of tree (we’ve tested it with 100,000 people so far).

All of this comes from the conversations we have with our customers. Some of the changes we’ve been asked for – and are still planning to build in – are support for adopted families, multiple trees and admin controls for the tree owner. These are all on their way.

The challenge of building a product like Twile is deciding what to work on first. We have a lot of customers asking for lots of different things, so we have to prioritise the ones that will improve Twile the most for the largest number of people. It is for this reason that we encourage you to give us your feedback – the more people that ask for a particular feature, the more likely we are to build it soon.

And in between the launch of new features, we’re always working on the hidden aspects of Twile – making it faster and more reliable. This is a never-ending task, as we have more users and more complex features every single day.

So we hope that you will be patient with us while we make Twile as amazing as we can. Our team is expanding, with two new developers joining the Twile team in May, which will mean that progress on some features will be accelerated. We ask that you keep telling us what you like, dislike and would like to see – in that way you’re helping us build the perfect tool for you.

Image by Freepik 

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Using Timeline Technologies in your Family History Research

If you were lucky enough to catch some of the workshops at Who Do You Think You Are? Live last week, Ron Arons spoke about ‘Technologies for Timelines’. It was a great presentation and we’re delighted that Ron agreed to do a guest blog post for us!

Twile and Mind Maps: Two excellent choices for building genealogical timelines, Ron Arons.

 

When it comes to Timelines, there are many technologies that fit the bill; I can tell you about two dozen different products and services which come in all shapes, sizes and prices. The good/bad news is that there are so many options. It can be confusing to decide which one(s) to use.

The really good news is that you don’t have to select just one approach, even if you are under a limited budget.

One way of deciding among the many choices is to consider how you want to use a timeline.

  • Do you want to create a beautiful report for yourself and others to show off what you have discovered as a result of all of your research efforts?

Or

  • Do you want to use a timeline for analysis purposes?

The really good news is that there are products and services which fall into each category.

Twile’s product/service falls into the first category. It is a unique product in that it allows you to build visually stunning timelines with superior graphics, including images (think family photographs, etc.)  The Twile folks make it easy to add family members to the timeline, whether you type information in directly or, better yet, import a GEDCOM (industry standard genealogy database) file. While relatively new to the market, Twile’s product is very capable and I know that they have great plans for the future with feature enhancements, e.g. video, on the drawing boards.

By contrast, a mind map is a different animal altogether. The notion of mind maps has been around for centuries and software programs to create them have been around for nearly twenty years. Mind maps are used in companies of all sizes for brainstorming and creative thinking. In the education field, teachers use them with their students. Attorneys use them to layout their cases both for their clients as well as for juries. Writers use mind maps to plan their stories.

If you are a visual (or non-linear thinking person and have never tried them, you should really give them a shot.

Mind maps are radial outlines that start with a central theme or concept, e.g. a person or a question. From the centre, you expand the mind map with several branches. Each branch can be expanded with more specific details in sub-branches, sub-sub branches, etc. For example, the following mind map provides information about my great-grandfather, a criminal and consummate liar.

Isaac Spier1iMindMap

Better yet, you can make connections across the map using connector arrows/lines. It is this latter capability that I found so useful in my own personal research to help analyze two very difficult problems that haunted me for more than fifteen years.

The themes for my various mind maps were individuals. I created a first level of branches which represented the many different genealogical documents that I found for that individual (or other related individuals). I then organized the documents in clockwise, chronological order, effectively creating a timeline. Next, I populated sub-branches with details of each document. Finally, I used connector arrows of different colors to connect specific “facts” I saw in common across the various documents. I found that this approach “lit up” my brain, allowing me to “see” things that would have been much more difficult to notice and comprehend if I just looked at the original documents, comparing two at a time. You can see an example of a timeline mind map (without connector arrows) about my great-grandfather on my website here: http://www.ronarons.com/isaac-spier-mindmap/

So, you CAN have your cake and eat it, too!

You can use mind maps to help with the analysis portion of your research and a great product like Twile’s to spruce it up and make it look pretty to share with your relatives.

Regardless of which direction you take, I wish you the very best of success with your family history research. Happy hunting!

Ron Arons, lives in Oakland, California and  is a veteran genealogist, speaker, and author’
Ron Arons, lives in Oakland, California and is a veteran genealogist, speaker, and author.

We’d like to thank Ron for this insightful blog post. If you like this mind map approach to timelines, consider Ron’s book, Mind Maps for Genealogy, which discusses using mind maps for timelines, using the Genealogical Proof Standard, and implementing the FAN (friends, associates and neighbours) technique (also known as “cluster” research).

Making the Most of a Genealogy Conference

We are really looking forward to Who do You Think You Are? Live!,  the Worlds largest family history show opening on April 7th 2016. This year is the show’s 10th year – so it is going to be the biggest and best show yet and it is now approaching fast! We asked the lovely Tami Osmer Mize from ConferenceKeeper.org to give us some helpful tips on how to make the most of the event!

Tami recommends that you ask yourself the following questions: 

1. How are you going to get there?

There is never enough time in a genealogy day, so make sure you don’t waste a minute of it with mundane details, starting with your trip. Plan your transportation to and from the event. If you’re taking public transport, determine which stop will put you closest to the registration area of the venue. If you’re driving yourself, map out your route and know ahead of time what and where your parking options are.

2. Where do you want to spend your time?

Waiting in lines? Looking through schedules? Trying to locate certain classrooms or vendors? Don’t spend your precious conference-day time with tasks that can easily be done well ahead of the event. Take advantage of all of the conference information available on-line, from pre-registration and class schedules, to maps of the venue classrooms and vendor halls.

  • Review, print, and highlight the schedule of events and classes that you’d like to attend. Check to see if any of the particular events you’re considering will be video-taped and available to watch later. If so, consider skipping those and attending another instead.
  • Print out venue floor layouts and highlight the rooms for the events you’re interested in. Consider numbering the locations in order of the classes, so that you know how much time you have in between. You might have time to peruse the vendor hall, or you might have to sprint across the entire convention facility to make the next class!
  • On your floorplans, highlight the restrooms and refreshment/food areas. Do be sure to take some snacks and a water bottle with you, but often the food areas offer a generous seating area if you just want to rest your feet for a few minutes. (Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes!)

3. What do you need to bring?

As little as possible. Pack your conference bag with only absolute necessities. You’ll probably be taking in much more information than you will need to give out, and with all of the walking you’re likely to be doing, you’ll appreciate having as light a load as possible.

  •  If you use electronic devices (i.e. laptop, tablet, phone) put your family tree in an easily accessible digital format such as Twile, rather than lugging around your cumbersome paper research notebooks. Just don’t forget your device chargers!
  • Be sure to bring business cards or name & address labels to be able to easily enter drawings or exchange information with new acquaintances. Reserve a pocket in your conference bag just for collecting cards from other people and businesses as well.
  • Use your phone’s camera as much as possible. Take photos to remember the event, but also to remember interesting products and booths that you find, or new friends that you meet. A picture is worth a thousand words, and often makes it easier to remember just why you thought that vendor was so special. Be considerate in classes, though, and do not photograph the presentation slides unless the speaker gives express permission to do so. Chances are good that they are available in the syllabus, either printed or on-line already anyway.

4. What do you want to discover?

Chances are good that you’ve got a genealogy question you’re looking to answer. Or maybe two. Or maybe twenty. Write them down. Be specific. When asking questions in a class, networking with others, or just meeting new people, be considerate of their time by being as succinct and direct as possible. Consider the bare minimum of information needed when asking a question – your family history is absolutely fascinating… to your family. Genealogists do appreciate others’ stories and are generally always eager to help answer questions, but most anyone starts to nod off when your question about locating your grandmother’s birth certificate starts five generations back.

However, while you may think you’re going to a genealogy conference, workshop or event to gain insights and information for your personal research, I guarantee that your best takeaway will be the people you meet and the new friendships you make. Introduce yourself to everyone: Talk to vendors, the people in line for lunch with you, the person in the seat next to you, the guy in the elevator… everyone! Genealogists are friendly, helpful, kind and sharing folks for the most part. Perhaps it’s because they realize that you might be a new cousin. But whatever the reason, take names, share your contact information, and add folks to your social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and your conference fun and education will continue long after the day is over.

We asked Tami, What are you packing in your own conference bag?

  • I will have electronic devices and chargers, a small tablet, a pen, business cards, snacks, a water bottle, aspirin, ID and money. I guarantee you, though, that by the end of the day it’s crammed full of handouts, giveaways, purchases, and more!

To find the next genealogy event in your area, check the calendar and location pages at ConferenceKeeper.org, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter (#confkeep) for regular updates on genealogy conferences, workshops, seminars, contests and more.

We were delighted to meet Tami (Centre) at RootsTech 2016.
We were delighted to meet Tami (Centre) at RootsTech 2016.

Tami Osmer Mize has been attending genealogy events for the past 10 years, as attendee, presenter, and vendor.

Currently as half of the ConferenceKeeper.org team, she shares her passion for genealogy events with others by continually updating the website and social media outlets with genealogy and family history-related event information. We’d like to thank Tami for her advice!

17 Things that happened on March 17th: Saint Patrick’s Day

Today is Saint Patrick’s day – a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the day that Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland died. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years although it has become an international festival with people celebrating Irish culture around the world with parades, dancing, special foods and a lot of green!

But did you know that, on 17th March:

  • 45BC Julius Caesar defeated the Pompeian forces of Titus Labienus and Pompey the Younger in the Battle of Munda…his last victory.
  • 1658, A Pro-Charles II plot in England was discovered
  • 1755, The Transylvania Land Company buys Kentucky for $50,000 from a Cherokee chief
  • 1762, The first St Patrick’s Day parade was held in NYC, US.
  • 1776, British forces evacuated Boston to Nova Scotia during the Revolutionary War
  • 1800, The British warship Queen Charlotte caught fire; 700 died
  • 1842, Indians landed in Ohio, a 12 square mile area in Upper Sandusky
  • 1842, The Relief Society, a philanthropic and educational women’s organisation and an official auxilliary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) was founded by Prophet Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois, USA.
  • 1871, The National Association of Professional Base-Ball players was organized
  • 1891, The British Steamer “Utopia” sunk off Gibraltar killing 574
  • 1901, A showing of seventy-one Vincent Van Gough paintings in Paris, 11 years after his death, created a sensation.
  • 1921, Lenin proclaimed New Economic Politics
  • 1943, Physician Willem J Kolff performed the world’s first ‘hemodialysis’ using his artificial kidney machine in the Netherlands, however the treatment was unsuccessful and the patient died.
  • 1953, The US performed a nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site.
  • 1957, The Dutch ban on Sunday driving was lifted.
  • 1973, St. Patrick’s Day marchers carried 14 coffins commemorating Bloody Sunday.
  • 1995, The Sinn-Fein leader Gerry Adams visited the White House

How many of your ancestors would have been involved with any of these World Events?

A Twile account for the WHOLE family (plus two more Twile features)

We’re really excited to tell you about three features we’ve added to Twile this week, including a new Twile Family subscription.

One of the things we’re most proud of at Twile is how much of the website has been shaped directly by the ideas and suggestions of our customers.  We try to make it as easy as possible for you to reach out to us when you have something to say.

Here are some of the new additions that have resulted from this feedback, including conversations with the 1000s of people that we met during our week at RootsTech 2016…

1. Twile Family subscription

Our mission at Twile is to get the whole family exploring and contributing to their family history.  Our brand new Twile Family subscription makes it a lot easier for everyone in the family to view and contribute to a Twile timeline.

For £74.99 ($124.99) per year, you can enable every (yes every single living) person on your family tree to add unlimited events and photos to your family timeline, without having to pay for a Twile subscription of their own.  With Twile Family they will be able to explore the timeline you’ve built and add their own photos and events to tell the story of their own lives and extend your timeline further.

This is particularly beneficial for younger members of the family who might not be able to afford a personal subscription or those who will contribute less often, but still have a story to tell.

To sign up for Twile Family, visit our pricing page at twile.com/pricing.  If you already have a Twile Premium subscription and wish to upgrade to Twile Family, please get in touch with us and we’ll arrange that for you – just email us at help@twile.com.

2. Who else was there?

One of the best things about Twile is that every person on your family tree has an individual timeline of their life – click through from the tree to see their story from the day they were born.

When you add a milestone (such as a birth or marriage) for someone, it gets added to their individual timeline, but there are often other people involved – who was present at their birth, who attended their wedding?

Adding people to an eventWe’ve now made it possible to add other people to these milestones.  Just click into the event and tick the family members that were there.  This helps you record more of the detail for each event, while also making sure they show on the timelines of everyone that was involved.

3. Choose the photos that show on your timeline

When you add photos to an event, Twile automatically chooses a few of those pictures as the ‘cover photos’ that show when you’re scrolling through your timeline.  A lot of customers have asked for the ability to control which photos are selected.Choosing cover photos on Twile

Now, when you open an event, you can click the star in the top-left corner of any photo to have that image included in the story when it’s shown on the timeline.  This gives you even more control over how your timeline looks.

Coming soon…

We’re working on new features for Twile all of the time – keep any eye out for big improvements to how events are displayed, new milestone types and a much faster Twile experience.

Things you didn’t know about Mother’s Day

In the UK, the fourth Sunday in Lent provides time to enjoy a firmly embedded tradition: Mother’s Day, which means breakfast in bed for mum, a (usually) hand-made card from the children and family meal.

The tradition dates back to the sixteenth century where people saw Mothering Sunday (note not yet Mother’s Day) as a time when they returned to their Mother Church. Domestic servants were given time off to visit their family and attend their mother church together and they were encouraged to pick wild flowers along the way to place in church or give to their mothers. This is where Mothering Sunday evolved to include the giving of gifts, particularly flowers and it has evolved a great deal more since.

Mother’s Day in the UK has become one of the biggest consumer spending days in the yearly calendar, with retailers seeing an increasing amount of cash spent, particularly online –  it has become big business.  A staggering 30 million cards are sent each year and it has become one of the busiest times of the year for pubs and bars!

It hasn’t always been so commercial however.

The event became known as ‘Mother’s Day’ and became the celebration that we now know in the 20th Century, when the UK and many other countries around the world took their lead from the USA and in particular a lady called Anna Jarvis. Anna held a memorial for her mother in 1908 and coined the term ‘Mother’s Day’, trademarked it and petitioned for it to be an official holiday, something which was recognised by all US States by 1911.

Anna fairly soon became resentful of the commercialisation and disagreed that companies were profiting,  to the point of threatening lawsuits to stop the holiday.

Her efforts were fruitless and the holiday continues to be one of the most commercialised events in the national calendar to this day, with people spending up to three times more than on Father’s Day!.

Some more interesting facts about Mother’s Day

  • Mothering Sunday is observed on 6th March 2016 by the UK, Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Nigeria.
  • Many countries will observe Mother’s Day on 8th May 2016 including the USA, Australia, Belgium, Denmark and Germany to name a few. See the full list here
  • UK sons and daughters spend £30 on mum compared to £112 in Brazil!
  • The world’s most prolific mother was the Russian Mrs. Vassilyev, who had 69 children in 27 pregnancies. She had no single births, but multiple sets of twins, triplets and quadruplets.  67 survived past infancy!
  • Maddalena Granata of Italy, gave birth to a whopping 15 sets of triplets between 1839 & 1886.
  • The Hindu population celebrate ‘Mother Pilgramage fortnight’, which is observed in April/May
  • In France, in 1906 ten mothers who had nine children each were given an award recognising ‘High Maternal Merit’
  • In Germany during the war the government promoted the ‘death of a mother’s sons in battle as the highest embodiment of patriotic motherhood’.
  • Simnel Cake is a type of fruit cake that young girls in service used to take home to their mothers on their day off.
  • 46% of people in the UK send a facebook or text message instead of a card!?
  • In Japan it is traditional to give your mother a red carnation
  • The most unusual gift idea we have seen this year is an ‘Eyezone Massager’!
  • If you fancy giving your mum just a good old fashioned hug, try to not let go for at least 24 hr 33 min. Ron O’Neil and Theresa Kerr (both from Canada) hold the record for the longest hug in 2010.

To all the mothers out there… enjoy your day!

Twile Partners with Findmypast

We are delighted to reveal that Twile has secured an investment  and partnership deal with leading family history site Findmypast, which is set to open up huge opportunities for us.

The agreement will offer Twile’s customers access to Findmypast’s rich bank of eight billion records, helping them to expand their family trees and timelines from within Twile.  We’ll also be working closely with Findmypast to allow their customers to display their family tree data on a rich, visual Twile timeline.

From our earliest conversations with Findmypast, it’s been clear that they share our mission of making family history more engaging for the wider family, especially the younger generations. This relationship makes Twile better in every sense, while also allowing a whole set of features that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

In a statement to the press, Annelies van den Belt, CEO of Findmypast, said “We believe that our partnership offers great value to both companies’ customers. The recent RootsTech awards speak to the creativity of Twile and to win the People’s Choice award shows clearly that this is a product that the public wants”

What does this mean for Twile customers?
The investment from Findmypast – along with funding from some of Twile’s existing investors – means we have all of the resources we need to develop new features for Twile more quickly and create a truly global product.

Our customers should expect to see a lot of exciting new features and more integrations with third party services (including Findmypast).  We have a long list of ideas (mostly requested by our customers) and we’re working through them as quickly as we can – this investment means we can now move even quicker!

We love our customers and are hugely appreciative of the support they’ve given us since we started.  Today’s news marks the start of a relationship that will help us build Twile into the family history tool you’ve always wanted!