Timeline of the American Civil War

Twile now includes a timeline of the American Civil War, which you can overlay onto your own family timeline to see how your ancestors might have been affected.

In 1849, my 3 x Great Grandparents were married in Hull in the UK. In the same year on Twile’s Civil War timeline, I can see that – many miles away – a lady called Harriet Tubman was leading a very different life, as a slave. In 1849 she escaped slavery and, as the American Civil War progressed, she became the first woman to lead an armed expedition.

Seeing my family events on the same timeline as world history generates new questions.  I wonder what my ancestors thought about America. A place where they would never hope to travel.  Did they think about it at all?

In 1861, when my 2 x Great Grandmother was born, was Abraham Lincoln’s election a topic at every dinner table, just as Donald Trump’s recent victory has been?  How much awareness was there of the bloody war that was raging from 1861?

We’d love to hear what you think of our American Civil War timeline – and please let us know if there are any topics you’d like to see timelines for?  Just add a comment or send us an email to help@twile.com

Now everyone can view Twile timelines of World History

To help in our mission of engaging the wider family in family history, we’ve just opened up our streams of world events to everyone, whether they use Twile or not.  This means that anyone can view a Twile timeline of World War 1 or a timeline of big inventions, for example, even if they don’t yet use Twile to record their family story.

There’s a quote attributed to author James Patterson that will explain how we think these public streams can help:

“There’s no such thing as a kid who hates reading. There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books.”

Family historians often struggle to engage their family members in their research.  Are they really not interested in where they came from and how their ancestors lived their lives?  Or are they simply reading the wrong book?

We hope that by encouraging people to explore world history events on a timeline we’ll be able to help them take the next step and start recording their own lives and those of their parents, grandparents and children.  Every memory and photo they add to their family timeline will be something preserved that could otherwise be lost forever.

Right now we have the following streams that you can explore:

And we are working on many, many more.

Can you help?
We’re looking for people who can help us put together streams on specific topics that would make good timelines.  Are you an expert on the American War of Independence or the history of London or the life of Ghandi?  Please get in touch by sending us an email to help@twile.com – you could have your own stream on a Twile timeline!

We’re also looking for suggestions on what streams we should add next – please let us have your ideas.

Add streams to your family timeline
If you already have a Twile timeline, you can add any of our streams of world history to help give context to your family story:

  1. Log into Twile: www.twile.com/timeline
  2. Click the ‘In View’ button at the top of the timeline
  3. Move the sliders on the right hand side of the page to activate any of our streams
  4. Click ‘Done’
  5. You should now see your chosen content on the same timeline as your family history

Privacy

By the way – although we’re opening up access to our streams of world history, everything you add to your own Twile timeline is still totally private and secure – nothing you share on Twile will ever be made available to anyone outside of your family.  If you’d like to know more about our approach to privacy at Twile, I’d suggest this article we wrote a while back: Twile Privacy

Silent Night: The Christmas Truce of World War 1

On Christmas Eve 1914, roughly 100,000 British and German troops were involved in a Christmas Truce during World War 1. This is just one of the events on our new World War 1 Timeline.

Candles were placed on trenches and Christmas trees, carols were sung and Christmas greetings were exchanged. Some ventured across No Man’s Land, where gifts such as tobacco and alcohol were exchanged.  A few men played football. Artillery fell silent.

“I wouldn’t have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything. … I spotted a German officer, some sort of lieutenant I should think, and being a bit of a collector, I intimated to him that I had taken a fancy to some of his buttons. … I brought out my wire clippers and, with a few deft snips, removed a couple of his buttons and put them in my pocket. I then gave him two of mine in exchange. … The last I saw was one of my machine gunners, who was a bit of an amateur hairdresser in civil life, cutting the unnaturally long hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling on the ground whilst the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck” 

From Bullets & Billets by Bruce Bainsfather

Add the events of World War 1 onto your own family history timeline.

  • Click the In View button at the top of your Twile timeline
  • Move the World War 1 slider on the right hand side of the window
  • Click Done

We would love to hear if your ancestors took part in the Christmas Truce. Comment below if you have a story to tell.

New timeline of the American Revolutionary War: Boston Tea Party

Today is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, which seems a fitting time to launch our timeline of the American Revolutionary War.  You can now overlay the events of the war onto your own family history timeline.

On this day in 1773, Samuel Adams and the “Sons of Liberty” boarded three ships in Boston Harbour and threw 342 chests of tea overboard. It was a reaction to the Tea Act, passed by the British Parliament earlier in the year, which colonists believed violated their rights.   This event and the British reaction to it were significant in the escalation of the American Revolution (The War of Independence).

The financial cost of the “Tea Party” was significant, with more than £9,000 (present day value around £1 million) of tea dumped into Boston Harbour.

Here’s our timeline of the American Revolutionary War:

Add the American Revolutionary War to your Twile timeline: 

  • Click the ‘In View’ button at the top of your Twile timeline
  • Move the slider on the right hand side of the window
  • Click ‘Done’

London’s Shoreditch: History in the architecture

How often do you stop to appreciate the history of the towns and cities you walk through?  I recently had the opportunity to join a spontaneous guided tour of Shoreditch, an area in the East End of London, by none other than Findmypast‘s Myko Clelland.

When I walked through Shoreditch from the Underground station that morning, I paid little attention to the architecture around us – but Myko showed me that the area has quite a story to tell.

For example, “The Theatre”, an Elizabethan playhouse built in 1576 by James Burbage, was the first built for the sole purpose of theatrical productions. The theatre’s history includes William Shakespeare, who was employed as an actor and playwright. After a dispute with the landlord, the theatre was dismantled and the timbers used in the construction of the Globe Theatre on Bankside.

I walked through Spitalfields market – the origins of which date back to 1638, when King Charles I gave licence for flesh, fowl and roots to be sold in what was known then as “Spittle Fields”. In the late 17th Century, streets were laid out for Irish and Huguenot silk weavers and Spitalfields’ historic association with the silk industry was established.

We saw the Ten Bells pub, notable for its association with two victims of Jack the 220px-st_leonards_shoreditchRipper in the late 1800s and we went inside St. Leonard’s Church, which occupies the site of a church at least as old as the thirteenth century. It is the resting place of many actors from the Tudor period and is mentioned in the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons – “When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch”.

What struck me in particular was the new buildings sandwiched between identical looking older buildings. This, Myko explained, was the result of bombing during World War 2, especially the Blitz. The Blitz (Blitzkrieg), meaning ‘lightening war’, was the name used by the British press to describe the heavy air raids carried out over Britain in 1940 and 1941. Whole houses gone in an instant.

We saw the world’s oldest council estate – the Boundary Estate (pictured at the top of this article) which has stood since 1890. Architecturally unique, the estate trialled a new form of philanthropy – flattening the ‘Old Nichol slum’ and replacing it with beautiful red brick homes.

In less than an hour I gained renewed appreciation for the architecture of London and was motivated to learn more about my own hometown. I’d encourage everyone to do the same.

Do you have any interesting stories about the area you live in?  Add a comment to this article – we’d love to hear from you.

Feature Image from London Metropolitan Archives 

The Poppy: Symbol of remembrance

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, World War One ended. Ever since that day, the countries of the Commonwealth have observed Remembrance Day, where we remember those in the armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Since 1921, we have used the poppy as a memorial symbol for soldiers who have died in conflict… a resilient flower which flourishes in the middle of chaos and destruction.

The Poppy Appeal is the Royal British Legion‘s biggest fundraising campaign, held throughout this period of remembrance. The first appeal, held in 1921, saw funds from the sale of red silk poppies help World War 1 veterans find housing and employment after the war and it continues to help the new generation of veterans needing support. The Flanders Poppy was first described as the ‘Flower of Remembrance’ by Colonel John McCrae who wrote the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ which is one of the most popular and quoted poems of the war.

I remember being shown a photo of a young man in uniform man by my Nana when I was very young. He had died in the First World War. I gave it a mere glance, not really understanding the concept or impact of war or the story that she was trying to tell me. I now have no idea who that man was or my relationship to him.  What did he do in the war? What sort of life did he leave behind?  When was he drafted to the front line?

Today I laid a poppy for my anonymous ancestor on Findmypast’s Remember Your Heroes website. I have also bought a poppy and my daughter was able to buy a remembrance poppy bracelet at school, showing that everyone can contribute to the poppy appeal.

If you haven’t yet bought a poppy, you may wish to make a donation directly to the Royal British Legion.

 

Useful links: