Our five highlights from RootsTech 2017

The Twile team were at RootsTech 2017 last week, at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, one year after we won 2 awards there in the Innovator Showdown.

Last year there was a huge buzz around Twile, because we were pitching in the competition and because we were introducing Twile for the first time to most people.  And the buzz was still there this time – RootsTech is such an exciting experience for family historians and we love being among such enthusiastic people!

Here are our five highlights from RootsTech 2017:

  1. Twile is now FREE for everyone
    On the first day of RootsTech, we announced we were dropping the subscription fee for Twile and making it completely free for everybody to use.  Needless to say, this was a very popular piece of news and we had a lot of new customers very excited to start using our family history timeline.
  2. Family history infographic
    We showcased our new family history infographic at RootsTech, allowing attendees to sign up and get their free “My Family In Numbers” chart, based on their FamilySearch or GEDCOM tree.  Get yours for free at: https://twile.com/numbers
  3. Innovator Showdown
    Five teams made it through to the final of the Innovator Showdown competition on Friday, 10th February.  Congratulations to Old News USA (1st), Qromatag (2nd), Double Match Triangulator (3rd) and Kindex with the coveted People’s Choice award! As one of last year’s winners, Twile were invited back on stage to give an update on what we’ve been up to since then.
  4. LeVar Burton’s keynote speech
    The keynotes are a big part of the RootsTech conference and the highlight for many was LeVar Burton’s speech on Friday morning.  The actor, best known for his roles as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Kunta Kinte in Roots, gave a truly heartwarming talk about his relationship with his mother, his African heritage and slavery in the United States.
  5. The exhibition hall
    If you’ve never been to RootsTech, you’ll struggle to comprehend how big it is! More than 30,000 people visited the exhibition hall during the 3 days of the show and there was never a quiet moment on the Twile booth. We spoke with so many customers and made some fantastic contacts with exhibiting brands (big and small), forming the seeds of some really promising partnerships.

And Twile appeared on Utah’s KSL News as the exhibition was getting set up:

RootsTech 2018 is on 28 February – 3 March and Twile will most certainly be there!

Did you visit RootsTech this year?  Please add a comment below to tell us what your personal highlights were.

 

 

Twile at RootsTech 2017!

The largest global genealogy conference in the world – RootsTech – is finally here and we are delighted to be in Salt Lake City to be a part of it again.

The Innovator Summit kicked off the event today, reminding us of our experience in the Innovator Showdown in 2016, where we came away with two awards, including the coveted People’s Choice (read our previous article here).

Are you visiting RootsTech this week?Here are 10 reasons you should come and see us on booth #332 & 334.

10 reasons to visit the Twile booth

  1. It’s now completely FREE for everyone!
  2. You can create a FREE personalized infographic of your family history
  3. We can show you how to get the rest of your family interested in your research
  4. You could win a $200 Amazon gift card
  5. We’ll show you how to import your FamilySearch Tree
  6. We have free balloons for your kids!
  7. We’re on the way to the restrooms
  8. We’re from England…we might be related!
  9. We have cute British accents
  10. Our flights have cost a fortune (we’re from the UK)

Twile demonstrations

We are also doing several demostrations of Twile, so come along and find out more:

Thursday 9th February 

  • 2.30pm. Not just about records –  Kelly Marsden, Co-founder of Twile – at the Findmypast booth
  • 4.40pm. How to create your family infographic – Paul Brooks, CEO of Twile – in the Demo Theatre

Friday 10th February 

  • 2.30pm. Not just about records – Kelly Marsden, Co-founder of Twile – at the Findmypast booth

Saturday 11th February

  • 12.40pm. Turn your FamilySearch Tree in to a Twile Timeline – Paul Brooks, CEO of Twile – in the Demo Theatre
  • 2.30pm. Not just about records – Kelly Marsden, Co-founder of Twile – at the Findmypast booth

We look forward to seeing you!

 

 

“Name That Baby” competition to teach children about family history

Here’s an update on the project we’re running at a local school, to help introduce children to their family history.

In this week’s lesson we held a ‘name that baby’ competition. The children brought in old photos of themselves as babies so their classmates could guess who was who.

Children playing name that babyParticular focus was given to their nose, eyes and ears as they made their decisions and they were reminded that personal facial features are often similar to parents and grandparents – I asked them all to think about who they looked like most in their family and some interesting discussions began.

I had set homework in the previous lesson for the children to write a story about a family member. As our discussions moved on, they added this information to the Twile timeline – again, they all had wonderful stories to tell.  One story in particular was very moving so we asked the child to tell the rest of the class what she had learnt:

‘My 2 x great grandparents from Belfast, Ireland met during the sectarian troubles. My 2 x great grandad was Protestant and my grandma was Catholic. They were in love but were unable to be together because it wasn’t allowed and they would have been in a lot of trouble if they were found out. During the civil conflict they decided to move away to England where they could be married. They did get married and raised their children in England, which is why I live here today.’

The time flies by when I am in the school and it is so great to see how much fun the children are having. Over the next few weeks I am looking forward to discovering more family stories and some of the children are even making videos.

How to add perspective to your family history

Putting your family stories into perspective and giving them context is the key to understanding what life was like for your ancestors and for telling those stories in an interesting way.

We read an article this week by The  Family History Guy, which summed it all up perfectly:

“The character John Keating, in the award winning film, “Dead Poet’s Society” was asked why he stood on his desk. His poignant reply: “I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.” So too must we, as genealogists ‘constantly look at things in a different way’. Another way of saying this is we need perspective. Just as the world looks far different at the cruising altitude of a commercial jetliner than it does standing in the midst of a wheat field. Our family history looks much different when examined at “cruising altitude”. The most valuable thing Twile gives me as a genealogist is perspective.”

The Family History Guy goes on to explain how Twile made him – a genealogist of 25 years and public speaker on family history – step back and see his family in a whole new way.

“When I first used Twile and loaded just my parents and grandparents in, just three generations and I noticed something. My mom’s dad died before my parents were married. Not a super alarming fact. But until that moment … those two facts were complete and total strangers. Both living happy, but separate, lives in my brain until that glorious moment that Twile put them next to each other and introduced them … None of the documents I have would give me that information, and I had never thought to ask.”

Take a look at the full article here and if you have had a ‘Eureka’ moment with Twile, we would love you to share it with us!

The Family History Guy will be speaking at RootsTech on Saturday 11th February. If you are at the event, go along to hear his presentation ‘Timelines: Back to the Future of Your Research”.

 

Introducing children to Family History at Riverside School

As part of our ongoing mission to make family history more engaging for the younger generations, we’re working with another Yorkshire school to introduce family history into the curriculum.

Last year I was delighted to go into a local school and speak to the children about family history. We had such a lot of fun and it was great to see the children so enthusiastic, enjoying conversations with their family about their ancestors and starting to record their own lives on Twile.

I recently accepted an invitation to go in to another school, working with the history teacher at Riverside School in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, UK. A group of excited 9 and 10 year old students greeted me and I have the pleasure of going along each week for six weeks .

In the first week, in order to introduce the children to family history, their teacher Mrs Patrick and I had a discussion with the class to get their thoughts on ‘What is family’, ‘Why is it important’, ‘What is an ancestor’.  She then asked the children to recall happy family stories relating to the Christmas holidays, where they were likely to have family gatherings.  Many mentioned seeing grandparents, aunts and uncles and discussed who was related to who and on which side of the family (maternal/paternal).

We then introduced the concept of the family tree, showing them the Twile version and asked the children to think about how their family was connected and draw their own trees.

As the children began this work, questions began to be asked such as ‘I don’t know my grandparents real names – they are just granny and grandpa’, ‘I don’t know if my uncle is my mum or dad’s brother’, ‘I don’t know my mum’s date of birth’ – We asked the children to write these questions down and take them home to find out more from their parents.

In the second week, the children came along to the class with more information about their family, ready to put it into Twile.

After showing the children how to log in, they set to work adding their family tree findings online.  The children got to work enthusiastically and found Twile easy to use.  By the end of the first part of the session the children had added their immediate family members and began adding aunts/uncles and their cousins.

The children took photos of themselves using the iPads and imported their photos onto the ‘profile’ on their trees.

We watched two videos: the first to illustrate how the family tree is pieced together. The second was the first part of Who Do You Think You Are – JK Rowling:

At the end of the 15 minutes, the children were asking to watch more – they were completely enthralled in the journey that JK Rowling was being taken on. They couldn’t believe it when she learnt that the grandfather she thought she knew about was the wrong person!

We had a class discussion following the videos – the children were keen to tell me their own stories learnt from the last session about their history – stories were told about soldiers in the war and an ancestor that had sailed on the ‘Mayflower’ from the UK to America in the 1600s!! I was quite taken by the enthusiasm the children displayed and clearly the parents’ involvement in helping the children learn – children had also found out the names of their grandparents and now knew the dates of birth of their parents. One child in particular discovered they had a well-known ancestor – Edward Jenner – who discovered the vaccine for small pox!

After the second session, the children were asked to choose a family member and write a story about them – find out their name, date of birth, what relation they are, what their occupation is/was and something interesting about them. They will bring a photo if possible, ready to ‘create a story’ about that person in next week’s lesson.

Their excitement was contagious and I can’t wait to go back next week!

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

Import your memories from FamilySearch

Our FamilySearch import feature now also brings in memories and photos, allowing you to create a visual timeline out of the pictures you have in FamilySearch.

Since announcing our integration with FamilySearch back in September we have had some great feedback and suggestions – the most requested addition has been this import of memories.

If you have dates associated with your FamilySearch memories, Twile will automatically add them to the right point on your timeline, along with your family’s milestones – such as birth and marriage.

Photos make it much easier to get the rest of the family engaged in their history, by giving them something more visual to explore.  Give it a go – import your FamilySearch tree and see what your family timeline looks like.

Note: If you already have a Twile timeline, re-importing from FamilySearch data will overwrite your existing Twile tree and timeline.  We are working on a merge tool that will let you import as often as you wish.

Family history in numbers

How much time and money do you spend researching your ancestors?  We surveyed family historians recently to see how much commitment it takes to build the family tree.

First of all we looked at when they started researching their family history. The common belief is that family historians are typically aged 50 or over.  For example, according to Ancestry Insider more than half of the attendees at the annual RootsTech genealogy conference in Salt Lake City are over 55 years old.

According to our survey however, the average age of starting to research family history is 40 years old, with 42% of our respondents having started before they were 40 – and a few beginning before they were 20.  So, while family history is typically considered a hobby for the retired, there is clearly some appetite for it in younger generations – look at the growing popularity of groups like NextGen, for example, who work to foster an interest in family history among the “next generation”.

We found that family historians spend more than 12 hours per week on their research, with more than a third spending 2 hours a day on average. 11% donate more than 4 hours a day to their hobby!  This includes time spent online in sites like Findmypast, FamilySearch and Ancestry, plus working in libraries or attending local groups.

And family historians spend $360 per year on their research on average.  Most of the large online genealogy services charge around $100-200 for an annual subscription.  Our survey respondents are either subscribing to more than one of these services or paying for extra records, society attendance fees or travel.

The amount of time and money that family history research requires, possibly explains why most people wait until they are 40 or older before starting.  Parents with young children will struggle to find the time (or energy) to dig through census records, birth certificates and black-and-white photos for clues about their ancestors.  But once the kids are older and more independent, those same parents will look for hobbies to fill their newly-found free time – genealogy is one of them.

Our mission at Twile is to make family history more engaging and accessible for the younger generations now.  If you’re keen to get the rest of your family interested in your hobby, import your years of research into Twile and share your timeline with them, for free.  Your commitment so far means that they will be able to explore your research easily, minimising the time and cost to them. They can contribute their own memories and photos too.  Sign up for free at www.twile.com.

How does your family history research compare with these numbers?  Add a comment below to tell us how much time you spend each week on your research or when you started showing an interest…

How to Twile your Thanksgiving memories

For our friends celebrating Thanksgiving this week, we’ve just added a new Thanksgiving milestone to help you Twile your holiday memories.

Families all around the US will be coming together to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner, take lots of photos and make new memories.  Twile is a great place to put all of those memories together for the whole family to share and to look back on in years to come.  Wouldn’t you love to explore a timeline of your childhood Thanksgiving memories?

Here’s how you can use Twile to record your Thanksgiving memories, creating something that will live on for your future generations to explore…

Create a Thanksgiving Milestone
We have created a new holiday milestone for Thanksgiving. To add it to your timeline:

  1. Click Add at the top of your timeline
  2. Click Add milestone
  3. Select Thanksgiving from the new Holidays section

Add your Thanksgiving photos
Once you have your Thanksgiving milestone, open it to add your photos, creating a visual Thanksgiving story on your timeline.  You’ll then have a mini photo album of these memories.

Tag family members
Add people to your new Thanksgiving story so you’ll always know who was there.  This also means that the story will show up on each person’s individual timeline of their life. You can tag anyone in your story, as long as they are on your family tree. For more information on how to do this, read our article on adding family members.

Add some comments
Photos are great to look through, but they don’t tell the full story.  Was there a culinary catastrophe or was the Pumpkin pie as amazing as it always was with Granny’s secret recipe?  What was special about the day, what memories would you like to pass forward?  Add words to your Thanksgiving story to fill in the details.

Add the location
Where were you this year?  Were you at the family home or enjoying Thanksgiving with friends?  Were you abroad?  Add the location to your story so you’ll always be able to look back and know where you were.

Invite family members
A timeline means so much more when its shared with your family, especially those you shared Thanksgiving with.  And because they can all add up to 10 photos every month for free, they can contribute to your Thanksgiving story with their own pictures and comments. Click here to watch our video on how to invite your family members and find out more about our free service here.

Twile your Thanksgiving holiday and preserve the memories forever.

 

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.

one-last-push-5

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.