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.

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.

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!


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.


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.

The Genealogy Collection at Internet Archive

Did you know Internet Archive has a Genealogy Collection? If not, it’s time for a visit. There are currently more than 131,000 digital publications ranging from family genealogies and local histories to parish registers and city directories. According to the collection description you will find publications from:

  • the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center
  • the Robarts Library at the University of Toronto
  • the Indianapolis City Library’s Indianapolis City Directory and Yearbooks collection
  • the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library
  • Brigham Young University
  • the National Library of Scotland
  • the Leo Baeck Institute Archives
  • the Boston Public Library.
Genealogy Collection at Internet Archive
The Genealogy Collection page at Internet Archive

There’s an alphabetical index of the contents as well as a search facility and you can subscribe in the Forum screen to get updates – via email or RSS feed – as new items are added. Publications can be read online or downloaded to a number of e-reader formats including PDF, Kindle and EPUB.

Don’t just limit yourself to the genealogy page. In the American Libraries section you’ll find publications from the Library of Congress (a search for “genealogy” found thousands of results) and many public and university libraries. There are also impressive collections of local histories, military/regimental histories and much more. Then there’s the Canadian Libraries, the Universal Library and many more.

Internet Archive Americal Libraries
A search for Huguenot in the American Libraries collection produced 295 publications.

Internet Archive is an awesome resource for researchers that just keeps growing. Take advantage of its search and RSS features to stay up-to-date on possible hits of research gold.

WeRelate for Research Support

werelate103The latest news from Ancestry.com about RootsWeb is not good. Restoring the many elements of that platform will take months – at best. We do have another option, one that is properly maintained and has a dedicated group of users who regularly post new content regarding a broad range of genealogical information. Even better, it’s freely-accessible. I’m talking about WeRelate.

WeRelate is “a free public-service wiki for genealogy sponsored by the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy and the Allen County Public Library.” Their aim is to provide free, open access to genealogical data and the evidence that supports that data. Anyone can build their family tree at WeRelate – at no cost. Even more impressive, the community has been building a broad range of research support documents that helps all of us.

A user page on WeRelate

The content I’ve put into my user page describes the surnames and locations I’m researching, how I can be reached on social media and bookmarks to research content related to the people and places I am researching. My bookmarks link to other sections within WeRelate. Notice the state research guides, cemetery and place pages listed there. These are all crowd-sourced sections and pages and they are full of useful information.

Some of the resources listed in the St. Augustine page.

These pages are not “owned”. That means any WeRelate user can add or update information on any page at any time. You’ll notice the little [edit] item to the right of each section. Click it and you can add or update that section. Even if I only have one tiny bit of information, it adds value to the page and will help others.

Anyone can visit and browse the various sections of the site. You must have a user account before you can add content. Users also have the ability to “watch” a particular “page” within the site. Anytime new content is added to your watched pages, you are notified. There are also plenty of options for collaboration within WeRelate. For example, each content page has an associated talk page. The talk page can be used to make contact with others researching your surnames or areas or you can use it to ask questions.

WeRelate is built on the same wiki platform that was used to build Wikipedia and the FamilySearch Wiki. It isn’t as pretty as those sites, but it’s just as functional and new information is added daily. Take a look and see what WeRelate can do to help your research effort.