“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!

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

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.

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.

one-last-push-5

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. 

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

New Milestone Types: Military and Legal & Justice

We’ve just added a number of new milestone types to Twile, including two new categories: “Military” and “Legal & Justice”.

Milestones are events that you can add to your family timeline to tell the story of each person’s life.  Most people on your family tree will have key events like birth and marriage, but adding more detail can help you and the rest of your family understand what their life was really like.

Now you can add military milestones – such as conscription, awards or even court-martial – and legal milestones – such as arrest, sentencing and execution! We’ve also added a few extra milestones into other categories, such as wedding anniversary and blessing.

To add a milestone to your timeline:

  1. Login or register for Twile at www.twile.com
  2. Click the ‘Add’ button at the top of your timeline
  3. Click ‘Add milestone’
  4. Choose the type of milestone you’d like to add
  5. Choose the person you’re adding the milestone for, enter the date and other details
  6. Click the ‘Add’ button to save the new event

Watch our video for an overview:

All of the new milestones we’ve added have been requests and suggestions from our customers, so please keep those ideas coming – you can add a comment to this blog post or send us an email to help@twile.com.

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.