Timelines Come Alive With Twile

Timelines are very useful research tools for the genealogist. Not only do they show your ancestor’s place in history, they also show the gaps in your research. There are all kinds of timeline options ranging from printed sheets to Excel templates. While these are very useful, they can also be rather clunky. When you find sources to fill in a gap in your timeline, the editing necessary to add that information can be quite an effort.

Today we have a timeline management option that’s not only easy to manage, it’s also quite beautiful. And, while it will help your research, it will fascinate your family too. This wonderful tool is an online platform called Twile.

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A sample of a person’s timeline in Twile.

Twile’s timeline consists of a series of milestones. In the example above, you see “cards” for each milestone in this ancestor’s life. Each milestone includes the date and place for this event, but you can add much more. Here you see lots of photos. Click on any milestone and you’ll find room for even more information.

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Sample milestone panel

Each milestone panel gives you the opportunity to add more information about that milestone. Some of that is automaticlly included. For example, if there is location information related to a milestone, Twile will include a map showing you that location. You can add photos – with captions – along with your own notes, documents and even video.

Now this might look more scrapbookish than timeline, that’s what makes Twile so interesting. It’s both! Once you register your account with Twile, you control your timeline. Only you and your family have access to it. One other thing . . . Twile is free!

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When viewing your Twile timeline, you chose your focus. You can view a single person’s timeline or expand it to close family or even the entire family. Here is a broad view. In this example you see mostly death and burial milestones in this full family view. There are two photo panels added – one describing a summer vacation in the early 1960s and another is a newspaper clipping related to the Cuban missile crisis.

For research purposes, use either an individual’s timeline or a close family timeline to determine what’s missing.

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Notice the Family Tree tab at the top of the Twile screen. After registering your account, use the family tree tab to upload a GEDCOM and build the basics of your timeline. Twile will capture all the milestones in your GEDCOM – like the wedding milestones shown in the example above. Looking at this, I can see that I need to research when and why the family moved from Georgia to Tennessee in the 1920s. Other obvious missing links include what happened between her marriage to one man in 1943 and another in 1950. How did she get from Tennessee to Mexico in the middle of a war? Early school records are missing too. There’s still a lot of research ahead.

Twile is functional, beautiful and free. You can also use it as a private family social network to share your research with others. As you add photos, documents and stories to your timeline, you are also building an eye-catching history of your family. Who can resist this fascinating look into their family’s history.

Introducing Twile from Twile on Vimeo.

Want to learn more? Visit Twile today. You’ll find a series of video tutorials at Vimeo.

5 thoughts on “Timelines Come Alive With Twile

  1. Denise, thank you so much for introducing me to Twile! I have used it a lot in writing my grandfather’s story. It is so cool and I think it will add some dimension to the book. I have a lot of scans and photos that support many things mentioned in the Twile timeline I did for him and my great-grandmother. Love it!

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      1. I haven’t yet done much on the website itself, but I’m using the notes from there as sidebars to my own narrative. I downloaded most of the timeline as it appeared, so I have it on my desktop. I’m using Apple’s Pages for my format—I believe you wrote about that. I save so many of your postings! You are a great resource and our styles seem to mesh well. I’ll try to get a screenshot taken.

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  2. Oh dear, I’ve made a terrible mistake! I referenced the wrong app. What I used was https://historylines.com. After my comments yesterday I went to Twile and it didn’t look familiar. Plus it asked for a password and I had no record of one—I keep a running list. So I requested a reset and couldn’t get that to work. Finally I created a new account, but there were no timeless shown. I tried and tried to find what I had created earlier. Finally, this morning, I realized I hadn’t used Twile after all, but HistoryLines. Are you familiar with it? It is quite simple—just plug in a person and dates and it generates a timeline. You can import GEDCOMs and/or just add to the timeline generated by the app, including adding photos, editing the text, etc. It’s free unless you want to subscribe to more data. I’ve found there is an awful lot in the timeline for free.

    So sorry about this big blunder!

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    1. I’m not familiar with historylines.com and will have to check it out. I do like the idea of a timeline that is both a useful research tool and an attractive way to attract my family’s interest. Twile does that and from your description I’ll bet historylines does too. Thanks for sharing!

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