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 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!

 

 

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 

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…

Twile supports #CreateUK

This week we have been supporting The Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s campaign #CreateUK, a week long celebration and showcase of the creative industries in the UK.s300_CREATE_UK_GOV.UK

As a tech startup in the UK, we’re delighted to be amongst a community of fellow creatives who are generating almost £10m every hour for the UK economy!

When asked why we create, many reasons sprang to mind and it reminded us of an article that Paul Brooks (Twile co-founder) wrote to TechCityInsider earlier this year:

“When we first started Twile in 2013, we had dreams and expectations of quick success, exponential growth and big investment. As it turns out, building a startup is a lot more than that. Along with my co-founder Kelly Marsden, I launched the company as part of the first Dotforge accelerator in Sheffield and quickly managed to close a small seed investment round from local angel investors.

We soon found that growing a consumer userbase with a small budget and an early product is not easy. We regularly worked 70-weeks with very little to show for them except a little more understanding and gradually improving product. We managed to maintain the confidence of our investors and they put more money in to two more rounds over the next two years, giving us the runway we needed to experiment, pivot and chase product-market fit. There were many times when we didn’t think we’d last long enough.

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Based in Yorkshire, it has been difficult to attract big investment and raise our profile in the tech community. While there are initiatives such as Tech North , to address the challenges faced by entrepreneurs outside of London, the capital is still very much the centre of the UK tech community.

To secure investment, you need to meet as many investors as possible and work to build long term relationships with them, keeping them updated on your progress and successes. With limited budget, it hasn’t been possible for us to travel to London regularly or spend large periods of time there. The fact that everyone involved in the business has young children has made this even more difficult. Of course, there are investors in the North, but from our experience most of them are lacking an understanding of the tech industry, especially web software. For example, it is fairly typical for a consumer app to prioritise growth over revenue at the start, but most investors we have met in the North East, for instance, expect to see a healthy turnover and strong balance sheet before they’ll even glance at the cover of a business plan.

Despite these challenges, our perseverance and hard work is paying off. In 2015 we started to gain recognition as an innovative visualisation tool for the family history market and started to acheive real growth.

We attended the RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City in February and won two of the four innovations awards as part of the innovator showdown competition – returning to the UK with $16,000 in cash and another $10,000 in “in-kind” support. We are looking forward to returning to RootsTech in 2017.

On our return, we learned that we had secured investment and a partnership deal with Findmypast, one of the leading names in family history. This gives us the resources and support we need to grow Twile into a global brand.

In under three years, we have evolved Twile from an early concept into a robust, fully featured product that solves a real problem for our customers. We have made a point of talking to our users as often as possible and we’ve used their input to intelligently prioritise development. We’ve put a huge amount of effort into every phase of the business and we’ve acknowledged our failures as essential steps to success.

If there’s a moral to our story, it’s that our own hard work is going to deliver the results. It’s easy to blame market conditions, geographical location, lack of government support of any other external factors for the failure of a start-up, but we’ve seen a number of early stage businesses (including Twile) succeed in recent years and every one of them has put a lot of effort in to overcome the obstacles they’ve been faced with.

Fortunately, recent investment in the infrastructure for start-ups outside of London is beginning to amplify the hard work that entrepreneurs are willing to put in.

Organisations like Creative England, (who have been hugely supportive in our journey, backing us from the beginning) and Tech North and accelerators like Dot Forge and Ignite are making it easier to start and succeed. If this can be matched by investors with an appetite for opportunities outside of London, I believe we will see many more successful northern startups in the near future.”

The #CreateUK campaign this week reminds us that with hard work we can continue to thrive and take advantage of the new opportunities which are opening up to do business across the world. Why do we create? Because it’s our dream, our passion, our mission to succeed.

Relevant articles:

 

Using Timeline Technologies in your Family History Research

If you were lucky enough to catch some of the workshops at Who Do You Think You Are? Live last week, Ron Arons spoke about ‘Technologies for Timelines’. It was a great presentation and we’re delighted that Ron agreed to do a guest blog post for us!

Twile and Mind Maps: Two excellent choices for building genealogical timelines, Ron Arons.

 

When it comes to Timelines, there are many technologies that fit the bill; I can tell you about two dozen different products and services which come in all shapes, sizes and prices. The good/bad news is that there are so many options. It can be confusing to decide which one(s) to use.

The really good news is that you don’t have to select just one approach, even if you are under a limited budget.

One way of deciding among the many choices is to consider how you want to use a timeline.

  • Do you want to create a beautiful report for yourself and others to show off what you have discovered as a result of all of your research efforts?

Or

  • Do you want to use a timeline for analysis purposes?

The really good news is that there are products and services which fall into each category.

Twile’s product/service falls into the first category. It is a unique product in that it allows you to build visually stunning timelines with superior graphics, including images (think family photographs, etc.)  The Twile folks make it easy to add family members to the timeline, whether you type information in directly or, better yet, import a GEDCOM (industry standard genealogy database) file. While relatively new to the market, Twile’s product is very capable and I know that they have great plans for the future with feature enhancements, e.g. video, on the drawing boards.

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By contrast, a mind map is a different animal altogether. The notion of mind maps has been around for centuries and software programs to create them have been around for nearly twenty years. Mind maps are used in companies of all sizes for brainstorming and creative thinking. In the education field, teachers use them with their students. Attorneys use them to layout their cases both for their clients as well as for juries. Writers use mind maps to plan their stories.

If you are a visual (or non-linear thinking person and have never tried them, you should really give them a shot.

Mind maps are radial outlines that start with a central theme or concept, e.g. a person or a question. From the centre, you expand the mind map with several branches. Each branch can be expanded with more specific details in sub-branches, sub-sub branches, etc. For example, the following mind map provides information about my great-grandfather, a criminal and consummate liar.

Isaac Spier1iMindMap

Better yet, you can make connections across the map using connector arrows/lines. It is this latter capability that I found so useful in my own personal research to help analyze two very difficult problems that haunted me for more than fifteen years.

The themes for my various mind maps were individuals. I created a first level of branches which represented the many different genealogical documents that I found for that individual (or other related individuals). I then organized the documents in clockwise, chronological order, effectively creating a timeline. Next, I populated sub-branches with details of each document. Finally, I used connector arrows of different colors to connect specific “facts” I saw in common across the various documents. I found that this approach “lit up” my brain, allowing me to “see” things that would have been much more difficult to notice and comprehend if I just looked at the original documents, comparing two at a time. You can see an example of a timeline mind map (without connector arrows) about my great-grandfather on my website here: http://www.ronarons.com/isaac-spier-mindmap/

So, you CAN have your cake and eat it, too!

You can use mind maps to help with the analysis portion of your research and a great product like Twile’s to spruce it up and make it look pretty to share with your relatives.

Regardless of which direction you take, I wish you the very best of success with your family history research. Happy hunting!

Ron Arons, lives in Oakland, California and  is a veteran genealogist, speaker, and author’
Ron Arons, lives in Oakland, California and is a veteran genealogist, speaker, and author.

We’d like to thank Ron for this insightful blog post. If you like this mind map approach to timelines, consider Ron’s book, Mind Maps for Genealogy, which discusses using mind maps for timelines, using the Genealogical Proof Standard, and implementing the FAN (friends, associates and neighbours) technique (also known as “cluster” research).

Twile Partners with Findmypast

We are delighted to reveal that Twile has secured an investment  and partnership deal with leading family history site Findmypast, which is set to open up huge opportunities for us.

The agreement will offer Twile’s customers access to Findmypast’s rich bank of eight billion records, helping them to expand their family trees and timelines from within Twile.  We’ll also be working closely with Findmypast to allow their customers to display their family tree data on a rich, visual Twile timeline.

From our earliest conversations with Findmypast, it’s been clear that they share our mission of making family history more engaging for the wider family, especially the younger generations. This relationship makes Twile better in every sense, while also allowing a whole set of features that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

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In a statement to the press, Annelies van den Belt, CEO of Findmypast, said “We believe that our partnership offers great value to both companies’ customers. The recent RootsTech awards speak to the creativity of Twile and to win the People’s Choice award shows clearly that this is a product that the public wants”

What does this mean for Twile customers?
The investment from Findmypast – along with funding from some of Twile’s existing investors – means we have all of the resources we need to develop new features for Twile more quickly and create a truly global product.

Our customers should expect to see a lot of exciting new features and more integrations with third party services (including Findmypast).  We have a long list of ideas (mostly requested by our customers) and we’re working through them as quickly as we can – this investment means we can now move even quicker!

We love our customers and are hugely appreciative of the support they’ve given us since we started.  Today’s news marks the start of a relationship that will help us build Twile into the family history tool you’ve always wanted!