Your family in numbers – a free personalised infographic

We are delighted to share our new feature with you – a personalised digital family history infographic which you can create easily for free, to share with your family and friends.

Last week we posted an article about perspective in family history and the benefits of looking at things in a different way. Our new infographic takes this a step further and what’s more, we think it will appeal to everyone, whether genealogists or not!

What is an infographic?

Family History InfographicAn infographic is a colourful graphic made up of statistics, in this case numbers pulled from your family tree.

Whether you have imported your tree or manually created one in Twile, you can simply click a button to see it converted to an infographic. It displays information such as the average age of marriage, popular surnames and average family size. Fun right?

And we’ve designed it to be very easy to share with your family – you can quickly share your graphic on Facebook or Twitter, or download it to print or email it.

To celebrate the launch of this exciting feature, we are giving away a $200 Amazon gift card. Simply create your infographic at www.twile.com/numbers, share it and tag Twile on Facebook (@TwileTimeline) or Twitter (@TwileTweets) to enter the prize draw.

How to get your free infographic

  • Existing Twile customer? Simply click the ‘View infographic’ button at the top of your family tree in Twile.
  • New to Twile? Visit www.twile.com/numbers and we’ll send your infographic to you by email.

 

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

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!

Add your review of Twile in the FamilySearch App Gallery

If you are a FamilySearch user, we would really appreciate a review in the FamilySearch App Gallery.  This will help to let other FamilySearch users learn about Twile.

To read our reviews and leave a review yourself:

  1. Visit https://familysearch.org/apps/product/twile/web
  2. Scroll down and click the blue ‘Write a review’ button
  3. Log into FamilySearch if asked
  4. Scroll down, click 5 stars 🙂 and then enter the text for your review
  5. Click ‘Submit’

It takes a couple of minutes, but will be really helpful in raising our profile in the App Gallery and spreading the Twile word.

Thanks!

Timeline of Inventions

Twile now includes a timeline of the big inventions that have pushed the human race forward (or maybe backward in some cases).

Starting with the invention of the mechanical clock (circa 724), via the hot air balloon (1783), right up to the invention of the digital satellite radio in 2001, you can explore the progress of human innovation on a single visual timeline.

Did you know the first mobile phone was invented in 1973?  Or that people have been wearing eyeglasses since the 1200s?  Do you know who invented dynamite?

Take a look at our timeline of inventions at:  twile.com/timeline/inventions

What have we missed?  Is there a glaring omission that you’d like us to add?  Please add a comment below and we’ll jump straight on it!

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’