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!

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 believe 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.

You can see the Boston Tea Party and all other events from the American Revolutionary War on our timeline at: https://twile.com/timeline/americanrevolutionarywar

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’

 

How to import your FamilySearch tree into Twile

If you have your family tree and memories in FamilySearch, you can import them into Twile to automatically build a rich, visual timeline of your family history.  Why enter all of that information again when you can import it with the click of a button?

If you aren’t already registered for Twile, you can sign up to Twile for free at www.twile.com

Here’s how to import your FamilySearch tree into your Twile timeline:

  1. Log into Twile
  2. Open your Twile family tree by clicking on the ‘Family Tree’ tab at the top of the page
  3. Click the ‘Import family tree’ button at the top
  4. Click the ‘Import from FamilySearch’ option
  5. Login securely with your FamilySearch credentials and then follow the prompts

Within moments your FamilySearch family tree, including memories and photos, will be imported and your timeline will immediately come to life, filled with photos and milestones – such as births and marriages. If you have a large tree, we will show you a small part of the timeline as soon as possible and then continue bringing in the rest of it while you browse.

Once you have imported your FamilySearch content, you can share it privately with the rest of your family.  Simply invite them to join for free and they’ll be able to explore what you’ve added and contribute their own stories, comments and photos.

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. 

Do you ‘overshare’ photos of your children online?

It’s so easy nowadays to share photos of our children and grandchildren online – with the ability to almost instantly post photos in places like Facebook and Instagram, it’s worth thinking about who can see them and what the longer-term implications might be.

We recently read a study by Nominet, which reports some interesting and thought provoking figures. Their poll of 2,000 parents reveals that:

  • The average parent shares 1,500 photos of their child before their 5th birthday!
  • Less than a quarter of parents knew how to find and amend privacy settings online.
  • On average parents upload a picture of someone else’s child nearly 30 times a year.
  • The top 3 destinations for sharing are Facebook (54%), Instagram (16%) and Twitter (12%).

This got me thinking.  Do I know where to find and amend privacy settings in my online accounts?  I’m not sure that I do.  We’ve spoken to a lot of parents over the years who complained that privacy settings on sites like Facebook are not intuitive or transparent.

Also, how many times have my friends and family members uploaded photos of my children without me knowing, from events like birthday parties and school plays?  Do those people know how to control their privacy settings?

It seems to me that there are some important things to consider when sharing photos online:

  1. When did you last review your social media settings? Here’s how to do it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  2. Remember that when you post a photo of your child, you could be inadvertently posting a photo of another child and their location.
  3. Photos you post now may be online forever.  Will your children appreciate the stream of embarrassing photos when they’re in their twenties?
  4. Why are you posting the photos to a social network? If you want to share with family or record a child’s life, a Twile family timeline might be a better choice – everything on Twile is private by default (so only visible to your family) and it creates a meaningful timeline of each person’s life

Twile selected to join Pitch@Palace boot camp

Twile has been selected to proceed to the next stage of the Pitch@Palace competition, which means we’ll be attending a boot camp in Oxford later this week.

A couple of weeks ago, we had the honour of presenting Twile to The Duke of York in Sheffield, as part of the Pitch@Palace program – and we are delighted to again be presenting Twile to royalty and to showcase our unique timeline to an audience of investors and mentors.

Pitch@Palace on Tour event at the AMRC Factory 2050 on Tuesday September 20th 2016 with HRH The Duke of York. Pitch: Twile
Pitch@Palace on Tour event at the AMRC Factory 2050 on Tuesday September 20th 2016 with HRH The Duke of York. Pitch: Twile

Believe it or not, genealogy is a multi-billion dollar industry. Times magazine found it to be the ‘second most visited category of websites, after pornography!’, so we hope the investors find our presentation interesting… the pressure is on.

This time around, Co-Founder Kelly Marsden and myself will be up on stage to tell everyone how Twile came to be and where we are going.

We have spoken several times about our journey and how Twile has evolved.  As a startup in the North of England, we joined an accelerator scheme – DotForge in Sheffield, which helped us launch our product. We have received various rounds of investment from ‘Dragons’ in Yorkshire and London, plus investment from Findmypast, all of which helps us continue to make Twile even more amazing.

We need your help!
As part of the Pitch@Palace boot camp, we will record a 1 minute pitch, which will be our entry into a ‘People’s Choice’ award, voted for by the general public. After our success at RootsTech in February, we would love your support again! We will be circulating information soon, so be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Thanks!

Caroline

Taking Family History back to school

We have recently started an interesting trial in a local school, which helps with our core mission of getting younger generations interested in their family history.

Besides being co-founder of Twile, I am a mum of three girls aged 4, 7 andphoto-of-me-and-girls 11 who have unwittingly been exposed to our ‘family history’ on Twile now for several years. When asked, my children would say family history is not something that would interest them. However, they sit for some time scrolling through our Twile timeline asking questions about stories from the past such as my wedding day and their christening celebrations. They ask about our family in both Ireland and South America and are puzzled by how Grandma and Grandad met when they were born so far apart! They love looking at photos of their grandparents as children and laugh hysterically at their fashion sense!  I would say that they have a good sense of belonging and an appreciation of the wider world after seeing how our family came to be.

I struck up a conversation with one of their teachers, who was hugely supportive and loved the idea of teaching children a bit about their family in school. As well as providing a sense of belonging and some emotional support for the children, the opportunity to learn more about their family story and build a family tree in something new and innovative appealed. Together with the teacher, we began to put together a 7 week  project for Key Stage 2 children at Old Town School, in my home town of Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.

It turns out that Twile fits in to the UK curriculum in many ways, covering PSHE (Personal, Social, Health & Emotional), History and ICT. I was delighted to be invited to help with the project that will take place once a week for the rest of term. My 7 year old daughter Arabella, is loving having mummy in class too!

It’s wonderful to see my local community supporting and welcoming innovation. It will also be a great opportunity for me to see how the children interact with Twile…and i’m sure that they will give me some (very honest) feedback!

I will be posting regular updates on my time at the school and I am really excited to see the reaction from the children.

Related article:

Meet the founders 

Twile Integrates with FamilySearch

OK, so this is exciting! Today we have launched our FamilySearch integration, which lets you import your FamilySearch tree into Twile to automatically create a rich, visual timeline of your family history.

Twile now connects securely to FamilySearch to import your tree and generate a timeline, made up of key milestones such as births and marriages – onto which you can add photos and more recent events to bring it to life.

The integration means that – for the first time – FamilySearch customers can now share their research privately with other family members. The family’s non-genealogists can then explore their ancestry through milestones, stories and pictures – and add content of their own, such as their own life events and recent photos. Families can start to collaboratively record not just the past, but the present and future too.

We have been working on the integration since our success at RootsTech earlier this year. It’s taken some time to build, but we have a passionate community of FamilySearch users who have waited patiently while we built it. Some of our users have helped to test it over the last few weeks, so a huge thank-you to them. We’re delighted that it is now here and ready for you to use!

In a press release issued today, Steve Rockwood, FamilySearch CEO said “FamilySearch is always looking for fun, engaging experiences that help our patrons make new personal discoveries and family connections. Twile’s rich, custom timeline of key family history events does exactly that!”

We are delighted to be working with FamilySearch and we will soon be adding support for FamilySearch’s memories and photos, plus an automatic synchronisation that will keep the Twile timeline up to date as FamilySearch records change.

If you are a new FamilySearch user, simply register for Twile at www.twile.com to start your free trial – plus, our new Twile Free package allows you to add up to 10 events and 10 photos every month with no subscription fee.

Merge multiple GEDCOM files into one family tree

We are really excited to announce a significant new feature. It has been requested again and again by our customers, so we’re really pleased to finally have it finished!

Since early 2015, users have been able to import GEDCOM files into Twile, but have never been able to bring in multiple versions. With many of our customers wanting to keep their timeline up-to-date for their wider families to explore, we’ve added a new feature that allows you to merge multiple GEDCOM files into one family tree and keep it updated with future changes.

This means that family members storing their research independently in different family history sites such as Ancestry or Findmypast, can now bring all of their findings together in one private family tree on Twile and import newer versions as they further their research.

As well as generating their tree, Twile will use the data in the GEDCOM files to automatically add events to the family timeline, such as births, marriages and deaths.

The merge tool will intelligently match people from a GEDCOM file by comparing their names, genders, dates of birth and relationships, requesting the user’s help with any matches that aren’t obvious.

It’s now possible to for the whole family to explore their complete family tree, with all of the family’s historians combining their research together.

Try it now

Coming up next… keep checking our blog to see the upcoming features we are working on at the moment.

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.