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.

How to Twile your Christmas

We have just added a new Christmas milestone to help you Twile your memories over the festive season.

We encourage you to add this year’s Christmas to your timeline, but also try to add some of your past Christmas memories.  Is there a particular Christmas memory that is close to your heart?  Are there traditions you remember from your childhood – do you still keep those traditions?

As your family comes together to enjoy a Christmas dinner, unwrap presents, take lots of photos and make new memories, firstly take a few moments to think about Christmas in years gone by.

Here is how to Twile your Christmas by adding a Christmas milestone to your Twile timeline…

Create a Christmas Milestone

  1. Click Add at the top of your Twile timeline
  2. Click Add milestone
  3. Select Christmas from the new Holidays section
  4. Enter the date
  5. Click Choose photos to add photos from the special day
  6. Click Add

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

Tag family members
Add people to your new Christmas 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 it a child’s first Christmas or the first Christmas in a new home?  What was special about the day, what memories would you like to pass forward?  Add words to your Christmas story to fill in the details.

Add the location
Where were you this year?  Were you at the family home or enjoying Christmas 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 Christmas with.  And because they can all add up to 10 photos every month for free, they can contribute to your 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.

From everyone at Twile, we wish you and your whole family a very Merry Christmas… don’t forget to Twile it!

Related article: What does Christmas mean to you? 

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’

 

Invite your family by text message

Because you may not always know their email addresses, you can now invite your family members by text message to join your Twile tree and explore your family timeline.

You can invite as many family members as you like to join Twile, which lets them explore your timeline and add their own milestones and photos for free.  We’re building Twile to help make family history more engaging and interesting for the wider family, so we encourage our customers to invite their family and let them see what you’ve built.

To invite your family by text message:

  1. Start at your Twile family tree
  2. Tap on or move your mouse over the person you wish to invite – a small popup menu appears
  3. Click the ‘Invite them’ option
  4. Enter a mobile number and/or email address
  5. Click ‘Send’

We will send them a message which includes a private link to join your tree.  They will be able to view what you’ve added to your timeline and tree and add their own content to the timeline.  They won’t be able to remove any of the people you’ve added to the tree or events you’ve added to the timeline.

Go ahead – share your Twile!

What does Christmas mean to you?

Christmas means different things to different people.  We asked some of our customers, family and friends what means the most to them at this time of year.

The video also features some of the residents of Silver Birches Care Home in Mytholmroyd, who told us of their Christmas memories. It was great to hear their stories, most of which centred around family.

We spoke to Marion who remembered Christmas mornings as a child, when her father would get the car out and take the family to church – when they came out of church there were always presents on the seat.

It was interesting to hear Ian share memories of his older brother, who was in the navy and came home at Christmas time. They would play football together and enjoy games in the snow. If it hadn’t snowed, they didn’t think it was Christmas.

And we spoke to Joseph, who said Christmas is all about the children and how we want to see them happy and enjoying it. His memories of Christmas were very different from those children might enjoy today – he remembered (very fondly) getting an apple and an orange “polished up”.

When asked what Christmas meant to them, many of the people mentioned toys and presents, some thought of the church.  And almost everybody mentioned family.

We hope you enjoy making special memories with your family this year.  And don’t forget to add your photos and memories to your Twile timeline.

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 

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.

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…