Twile supports Legacy Tale’s Family Storytelling retreat

We are delighted to be supporting Legacy Tale’s Family Storytelling retreat, which takes place in St. George, UT in April 2017.

Legacy Tale work with families to reflect and capture their legacy.  Their storytelling retreat brings together mothers, daughters, sisters and grandmothers to record their life stories whilst having fun!

We like anything that makes recording your family story fun and Legacy Tale will be using Twile throughout the two-day retreat to capture and share stories.

Great that this has been announced on International Women’s Day too! For more information and to book tickets, take a look herecropped-main-logo-with-tagline

 

 

 

“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.

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!

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

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 at the Doncaster Family History Fair

This weekend we spent the day at the Doncaster & District Family History Society Fair.  Twile is based in Doncaster, so it was great to support our local society.

The event was very well organised and attended and it was great to speak to people in our home town and tell them more about Twile. The programme included talks by Anisha Christison N.C.M on ‘Tracing your Coal Mining Ancestors’ and Karen Walker M.A on ‘Thieves, Drunkards & Undesirables’. The first is an interesting topic in my own family, with several generations of miners in the Doncaster area.

We had some really interesting conversations about how people became interested in family history. For many that we spoke to, recording their own lives is becoming an increasingly important factor – the ability to pass on family stories and make sure that their own grandchildren know more about them – where they were born, where they got married etc.

The one thing that people commented on the most was Twile’s ability to bring together the past, present and future and allow younger generations – who might not necessarily be genealogists – to record their own lives and explore the past, all on one timeline.

It was great to be part of a local event and speak to people in our home county about Twile. Our next event is the Huddersfield & District Family History Fair in November.

 

Invite your family and get a FREE month’s subscription!

Did you know that any family members on your Twile family tree can view your timeline completely free of charge?  You can invite as many family members as you like and they will all be able to explore what you’ve created.  And every time one of your family members accepts your invite, we’ll give you a month of Twile Premium for free.

Twile is the perfect way to share your research with the rest of the family and it’s also a great way for them to record their own lives and share photos and comments.  Combining family history with what’s happening today helps keep all of the memories alive.

All you need to do:

  1. Mouse over anyone in your family tree
  2. Click ‘Invite them’
  3. Enter their email address

They will then receive an email with instructions on how to register – as soon as they join we’ll give you a free month’s subscription!

Remember:

  • You have complete control over who sees the content you add to your timeline.
  • Your family tree and timeline on Twile is completely private to your family.
  • You can choose which members of your family you wish to invite and share your timeline with.
  • We use Microsoft’s secure infrastructure to store your content, so it will always be available and safe.

Related article: Privacy and Security on Twile

Questions about your life

You may have noticed a new email landed in your inbox over the weekend.  As well as sending you updates about what your family has been up to, Twile now automatically generates questions for you to answer that will help to fill gaps on your family timeline – and sends them to you by email each week.

Twile family history questions by email

In a recent survey, we found that very few family historians record their own life, meaning that a lot of their memories will be lost to future generations. Half of the people we surveyed said their great-grandchildren would know very little about their life.

We encourage our Twilers to add events from their own lives, in addition to documenting what their ancestors got up to.  This means adding your own early life events (schools, homes), career (college, jobs) and everything that came after that (holidays, marriage, children).  It’s your opportunity to paint a clearer picture of your life for future generations to explore.

The questions we send you each week will help identify pieces of your family story we think are missing.  It might be milestones from your own life or it might be events and details about your parents’ or grandparents’ lives that you may know.

As with everything we build into Twile, we’d love to hear what you think of the new Questions feature.  Please add a comment below, or just send us an email to help@twile.com.

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. 

Five Tips For Scanning Your Old Photos

If your family is anything like mine, you have hundreds or thousands of photos that will never be seen again.  We have boxes filled with old photos (typically hidden in the attic); everything from black-and-white pictures from the early 1900s through to colour photos of me and my brother growing up.

Even if we open up those boxes and look through them occasionally, that doesn’t help the family who live elsewhere.  I have cousins living around the world who, of course, share the same grandparents – of whom we have a lot of photos.  The only solution is to scan the pictures and put them somewhere we can all access.

Scanning in old photos is a BIG job – especially if you have as many as we do – so I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned while working through our old photo collection.  Here are five tips for scanning in old photos…

1. Choose your device

The first decision is whether to use a flatbed scanner or your camera (or smartphone) to digitise your old photos.  Using a camera is certainly the simplest option – it is far easier and quicker to snap, snap, snap your photos than it is to load them one-by-one into a scanner and wait while it scans.  It probably takes an average of 60 seconds per photo using a flatbed scanner, versus maybe 10 seconds using a camera.

But the quality of the scan from a scanner is far superior to what you’ll achieve using a camera.  Scanners are designed for scanning flat documents, while cameras are designed for taking photos of 3D things in the real world – and the difference shows.

With a camera, curled paper edges, lighting glare and lens angles can all diminish the quality of the final output.  With a scanner, these problems are all removed.

Whether you invest in a scanner and spend the extra time it takes to use one depends on the quality you want in the digital versions of your photos.  I’d suggest you try a camera first and see if the output is good enough for what you need.

2. Don’t aim for perfection

With the choice between scanner and camera in mind, it’s worth noting that any digital version of your photos is better than nothing at all.  Your family and your future self will be delighted just to see the photos, even if they’re a little skew or there’s a little glare in the top-right corner.

It’s tempting to spend a lot of time perfecting the scanning process, but your main aim should be getting your paper photos onto a computer.  The longer it takes to arrange photos, align them, adjust lighting and everything else, the less likely you are to finish the job.

It takes a little experimentation to see what you get from different methods, so have a play and find a compromise that you’re happy with between speed and quality.

3. Sort the photos first

It’s a lot easier to organise the paper copies of your photos than it is to do it on a computer.  It’s also a lot more enjoyable – you’ll find yourself spending a few moments on each photo, either enjoying your own memories or trying to solve the mysteries therein.

I suggest grouping photos by date primarily.  In some cases you’ll have an exact date written on the back of the photo (or imprinted in the photo itself in some more recent pics).  Otherwise, you might need to make a best guess on the month or year or maybe just decade.  

Organising your photos before scanning makes it much easier to store them in appropriate date-based folders on your computer later. For example, you could scan photos in date batches, so that all photos from 1973 go into one folder.

It’s also an opportunity to remove any that aren’t worth scanning in. Underdeveloped shots or the seventeenth photo of the same anonymous landscape might not be something you want to spend time scanning in.  

4. Check your scanner settings

Most scanners, cameras and smartphones will offer some level of customisation for the resulting image.  You’ll want to get this setup correctly before you start.

There are three considerations: image settings, resolution and file type.

The image settings include options like brightness, colour levels and contrast.  You may find that the default settings are perfect, otherwise you may want to adjust them until you get the image output you’re looking for.  I found that my colour photos looked a little too blue by the time they reached the screen, so I adjusted the colour balance to fix that.

The larger the resolution of your scanned-in photo, the higher its quality (and file size).  Bigger is always better, but there is a maximum to the quality you’ll actually be able to use.  It may be tempting to reduce the resolution to save disk space, but if you go too low you’ll end up with photos that aren’t good enough to print – and you may regret that one day.  I’d recommend a resolution of 300dpi (dots per inch), which will give you more than enough for viewing on a screen and emailing and plenty to produce quality prints if you ever need to.

You can often select the file type that you want to create during scanning, such as JPEG, TIFF, PNG or PDF.  For most purposes you’ll want to choose JPEG, which is a good compromise between quality and file size.  It’s the most familiar type of image file and can easily be used for viewing, emailing or printing.

5. Scan multiple photos together

Whether you’re using a scanner or a camera, you can save time by scanning more than one photo at a time.  A typical flatbed scanner can accommodate at least 3 typical photos and you’ll probably fit 3 or 4 into the viewfinder of a camera at a reasonable distance.

The downside of scanning multiple photos together is that you need to crop the resulting image into 3 or 4 photos.  Fortunately, there are a number of software solutions and apps that will do this automatically – and many modern flatbed scanners come with appropriate software as part of the package.

We’ll be reviewing apps and photo software in the future, so watch this space!

Add your photos to Twile

Once you’ve digitised your photos, don’t just leave them hidden away on your computer – upload them to your Twile timeline so that the rest of your family can explore and enjoy them.  Twile is totally private, which means only the family members you invite will be able to see the photos you share.

Click here to create your Twile Timeline