Two new features for St Patrick’s Day

To celebrate St Patrick’s Day, we are pleased to announce two new features.

Our infographic, designed to help you share your research in a fun and exciting way with your family, can now be created in the national colours of Ireland.

So if Irish Infographicyou have a bit of Irish blood and want a fun way of showing your family members their Irish heritage, click here to create yours. It’s free to create and shows you statistics such as the average number of children per family, the most common surnames, the ratio of men to women and the average age of marriage.

We are also delighted to have launched a timeline of Irish History. The timeline shows the story of Ireland through it’s legal, political and religious events and we are grateful to the Irish Family History Centre in Dublin for their help in pulling the content together.

The Irish Family History Centre are an award-winning history and heritage company, who as part of the EPIC Ireland experience, showcase the unique global journey of the Irish people. Their experts help people research their Irish ancestry and they provide an interesting way for visitors to discover their family story and Irish heritage.

As a Twile user you can overlay this new Irish History timeline onto your own family history timeline, to see the lives of your Irish ancestors in the context of what was happening in the country around them. Your ancestors milestones will be alongside events such as the Confederate Wars and the Great Famine.

We hope that you enjoy these new features…happy St Patrick’s Day!

Related articles

Have you got a little bit of Irish in you? Take the Findmypast Quiz 

10 things you need to know when starting Irish Genealogy Research (Fiona Fitzsimons of the Irish Family History Centre explains everything you need to know)

 

 

Twile supports Legacy Tale’s Family Storytelling retreat

We are delighted to be supporting Legacy Tale’s Family Storytelling retreat, which takes place in St. George, UT in April 2017.

Legacy Tale work with families to reflect and capture their legacy.  Their storytelling retreat brings together mothers, daughters, sisters and grandmothers to record their life stories whilst having fun!

We like anything that makes recording your family story fun and Legacy Tale will be using Twile throughout the two-day retreat to capture and share stories.

Great that this has been announced on International Women’s Day too! For more information and to book tickets, take a look herecropped-main-logo-with-tagline

 

 

 

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

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’

At home in ‘Bronte’ Country

I was pleased to go along to Todmorden Library earlier this week, where members of the Todmorden Family History Group launched an exhibition sharing family history stories from the local area.

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Todmorden is a market town and civil parish in the Upper Calder Valley in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, England. It is firmly nestled in ‘Bronte’ Country –   where the Bronte sisters lived and wrote their classic novels –  around 17 miles from Manchester. I live near here in the village of Hebden Bridge, so it was great to find out a bit more about family stories close to home.

Jan Bridget, pictured second from the right and founder of the Todmorden Family History Group had a great story to tell. She spoke about her link to Emily Bronte’s novel ‘Wuthering Heights’, through her fourth great grandfather, Richard Sutton.  Sutton was a possible role model for Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff.  Jan has just finished writing a book about Richard’s grandson, Willian John Sutton, whose father emigrated to Canada in 1850. Known as Will, he was a lumberman, geologist, assayer, pioneer and promoter of Vancouver Island and, with his brother James, robbed the graves of First Nation people to sell to Franz Boas, the ‘father’ of American Anthropology.

Everyone I saw yesterday had something interesting in their family history. Councillor Tony Greenwood, opened the exhibition and shared stories from his own family history including his three times great uncle, Abraham, who was the librarian of the Rochdale Chartist Library and later became first president of the co-operative wholesale society, which he ran from his terraced house in Rochdale.

Further to the remembrance day celebrations of last weekend, I was also interested to hear about the story of Joseph L. Milthorp, who having fought in the First World War,  tried to enlist for the Second World War but was too old! Instead he joined the Blackshaw Head Home Guard and a photograph on display at the exhibition shows him and fellow members of the Home Guard football team for 1943 including: Sgt Pickles, L/Cpl Simpson, Savage, Crowther, Pte Townend, Coupe, Nesbitt, Marshall, Barker and Hodge in goal.

For more fascinating stories, if you are in the area, I would recommend a visit to the exhibition which will run until November 21st at Todmorden Library.
Pictured: Councillor Tony Greenwood, Mayor of Todmorden, Kelly Marsden, Jan Bridget and members of the Todmorden Family History Group. 

Add more people to your family tree

When you add people to your family tree, Twile automatically adds their life events (such as their birth) to your timeline.  The more complete your tree is, the more detailed your timeline is and the richer your family story will be.

How to add people to your family tree

  1. Visit your tree at https://twile.com/people
  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. 

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

 

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:

Family History is About the Living Too

How much of your life will be remembered by your descendants?

The death of a relative can often bring to mind all of the questions we wished we’d asked before it was too late. Why didn’t we ask them more about their life? Why didn’t we pay attention when they tried to tell us their story?

Once they’re gone, we will dig through boxes of photos they’ve left behind, maybe find diaries that we didn’t know existed. For some it may generate a new (or renewed) interest in their family history, but no amount of research can uncover a person’s full story.

I think about this a lot. I remember that my Granddad – who lived well into his 90s – always had a story to tell. But we were too young or too busy to ever really listen. Now that I’m older, I would love to hear the stories about his time in the war. Where was he stationed? What action did he see? How did he spend his time in the days or weeks in-between?

And that makes me curious about how he met my Grandma, where they went on holiday or how life changed when my Dad came along. How was parenting different for them than it has been for me?

Mixed with this frustration is a fear that my grandchildren will know as little about me as I do about my grandparents.

So I’ve made an effort to record my life so far. My family has a Twile timeline that starts in 1843 (the birth of my great-great-grandfather) and runs through to this morning (when I took my daughter to dance class). My descendants will be able to explore my life in detail – photos of my school years, my time at university, my wedding, honeymoon, birth of my children… and all with comments and thoughts that I’ve added.

In time, my kids will start adding their own stories and photos to the timeline, hopefully building a tradition that will continue forever – an endless record of the family story, which starts with my great-great-grandfather (until I get the time to work out who came before him!).

I’m curious to know how other people feel about the stories they’re passing forward. Have you ever thought about what your descendants will know about you? Are you doing anything about it?