Twile: A Different Way to Show Off Your Family Tree

Let me introduce you to Twile. This is something I’ve been playing with recently, but it has actually been around for a year or two now, so some of you may already know how fun it is.

First up let me just say that Twile is a website that allows you to display your family and milestones as a timeline … and, not only that, it is totally FREE.

As it offers timelines, don’t expect a traditional tree-type chart from them. The timelines are created by using data that you either you enter, or a gedcom file you upload. To add to this, you can also add photos, milestones, and historical events which everyone in your family can view and contribute to.

At RootsTech 2016 Twile won both the People’s Choice Award as well as the Innovator Showdown, so it’s certainly grabbed people’s attention.

And the claims that it “makes genealogy more engaging” is true. Apart from a graphical timeline of your own tree, they can create a statistics infographic based on your family. Now this is truly cool, and here’s mine …

twile infographic


To get this simply upload your gedcom (or link to an online tree) – if you hadn’t already got one there for your timeline, wait a few mins … and wallah, it’s there in your inbox!! Go ahead and try it for yourself, and if you have Irish ancestry, there’s a special green infographic for you here

twile infographic Irish

So if you’re looking for a novel way to show off your tree, or a way to get your family interested in family history, why not try Twile? It could just be the thing you’ve been looking for.

So. Much. More. Research. To. Do!

start with a printout

start with a printout

It is said that ‘genealogy never ends’. You get one generation back, then you suddenly double the number of people to research on the following one. Not to mention following the the siblings, and the side branches as well. So it’s true … it doesn’t.

And anyone who says it does, should take part in this “Ancestor Tally” or “Ancestor Tracking” geneameme which I’ve seen on a few blogs now (Twisted Twigs on Gnarled Branches, and Michael Dyer’s Family Sleuther), so I thought I’d play along and see what my 15 or so years of on-off research shows.

In short it shows that I need to spend a whole lot more time researching!

So the idea is to count up the number of direct line ancestors you can identify going back10 generations (starting from yourself). So I sat down, printed out a 10 generation ancestral  chart (4 pages so it wasn’t too bad), counted them up generation by generation … and wallah … I have the numbers, which I then also converted to percentages.

As you can see from the numbers I’m not doing too bad till I reach my the 7th generations (4x great grandparents). Part of that is probably due to the fact that I just haven’t entered some info (I really find the search more interesting than the entering, do others find that too?), but it does also highlight that a LOT more research is still to be done.

It’ll happen bit-by-bit. Another name here, another date there, or something verified so I can add it in. We all know it’s a slow process. That’s just the way of proper genealogy.

[table “3” not found /]







25 Ways You Can Present and Share Your Family History

Let’s say for instance that you’ve started your family history. In fact, you’ve probably been doing it a while. Possibly even years. So now you’ve got all this family information … why not do something useful and creative with it?

I’m sure many of you will say ” but none of my family are interested”. I know, I’ve heard that many, many times. And my answer to that, is that it is then your job to MAKE THEM interested. Don’t just tell them the facts (the names and dates) or give them a huge pile of papers, their eyes will glaze over, and you will have put them off family history forever. So it’s a case of getting creative in HOW you present your family history.

There are many, many different ways of ‘presenting’ and sharing your research, and it really comes down to whatever works for you. It might be with just your immediate family, or it might be with the whole world. It’s entirely up to you as to who you share it with, and how you share it.

Here are 25 ideas on different ways you can present and share your family history.

Blogging is one of the easiest ways to be able to share your research with the world. It’s free, you can do it when you want to, and you can do it from home. You’ve done the research, so why not tell your family (and the wider world) the stories of your ancestors. Tell them about the goldrush, the war heroes, the Depression, the struggles, life on the land, migrating or moving house, the stories of family heirlooms, family pets etc. It’s all history, and you could tell it. It’s a great way for distant cousins to ‘find’ you, and trust me it works!

part of my Lonetester HQ blog

the Family History Across the Seas blog, by Pauleen Cass

A traditional way of sharing your family history it to produce a book. While I’m not wanting to put anyone off doing a book, writing a family history really does take years to compile (I truly admire anyone that does one), and depending on how you produce it, the cost can easily be in the thousands of dollars to produce. But in saying that, it does leave a physical printed legacy of your research, which is a good thing.

some of the family histories in my collection

I know many of you will wonder why on earth I have ‘cake’ as a way of sharing your family history. If you (or an awesome cake making person) can create a family tree cake, and incorporate the names of your family on it, it’s bound to create interest amongst everyone there. See … so it is a way of sharing and presenting your family history! For a whole heap of awesome family tree cake ideas, just head to Google Images and type in family tree cake. Here’s just a couple I’ve chosen to show.

here's just two examples of family tree cakes

here’s just two examples of family tree cakes: the first was made by All About Cake, the second is by Cake Central

There’s several ways you can incorporate family history into a calendar. One is to use your genealogy program’s features to see what happened ‘on this day’. Say for instance May 15th (on different years) you may have had a grandmother born, a great great uncle die, another couple or two in your family marry on that day, and so on. If you incorporate these things on to your calendar it helps you remember them and think about them in a different way. Both Legacy Family Tree and RootsMagic allow users to create a birthday/anniversary calendar with their programs.

sample calendar entries using Legacy Family Tree

sample calendar entries using Legacy Family Tree

There’s several different formats that sharing a CD or USB could take. You could have your genealogy software file on it, and simply share that with your family members – though they will need a genealogy software program to read it. You could have copies of old photos that you’ve scanned on there, and have just grouped them together on the CD/USB for your family to have. Or you could create a family presentation which includes family trees, photos, audio and video all of which can be saved on to a CD to share. Passage Express is one such add-on program that is designed to do just this. You can check it out here.

Passage Express lets you create multimedia presentations of your family history

Passage Express lets you create multimedia presentations of your family history

I’m sure we’ve all done a chart of some sort throughout our research life. But there are so many different types available, and it truly is a great way to be able to visually show someone where they fit in.  They also make an awesome gift! For a listing of wall chart printers, check out this list here.

a 'giant' wallchart from Family ChartMasters

a ‘giant’ wallchart from Family ChartMasters

this is just one of the hundreds of chart styles that Family ChartMasters offers

this is just one of the hundreds of chart styles that Family ChartMasters offers

Let’s say you’ve been doing family history for years, and you have paper copies of everything. You could simply make copies of everything that is relevant to your newly found family member, pop it in the post and share it that way. There’s still nothing wrong with that. And it sure is exciting for the receiver (as long as they’re into family history) to see what goodies arrive when they do.


This one is obviously for the cross-stitchers. For a truly unique heirloom item, why not cross-stitch your family tree? While there would be a number of craft places around that sell the kits or patterns for these, I can highly recommend Fun Stuff for Genealogists who sell some of both. You can see their range here. And for an interesting twist with cross stitch, Martha Stewart writes about creating a cross stitch family portrait here … now I like this idea!!

two cross stitch kits that are available from Fun Stuff For Genealogists

two cross stitch patterns that are available from Fun Stuff For Genealogists

Christmas is a time for family and a time for many family traditions. And ornaments are one item that you may have inherited from your parents or even grandparents, and they ALWAYS get put up at Christmas time. Be sure to tell your family the significance and story behind the ornament. And why not create add your own touch to the tradition by creating your own ornaments with personalised Christmas baubles.

a sample of the many personalised Christmas baubles available

a sample of the many personalised Christmas baubles available

With so many people on Facebook, why not make use of it for genealogy too by creating a Facebook ‘group’ for your family … “Descendants of so-and-so”. There are many there already. It’s a way of being able to keep in touch, interact and share family memories and memoirs, not forgetting arranging family get-togethers.

just a few of the 100s of family groups on Facebook

just a few of the 100s of family groups on Facebook

A variant of the calendar idea, another way to use you family history in an interesting way is to create a birthday board. Online shopping website Etsy has plenty of them for sale. You simply write the names and dates on each tag, and hang in the appropriate month, in the appropriate order.

just one of the many family birthday boards available on Etsy

just one of the many family birthday boards available on Etsy

Simply using old (or copies of old) letters, recipes or even certificates put into frames on a wall is a way of bringing a piece of your family history into the family. Not to mention that it’s a conversation starter too. Dana from the  Tattered Style blog not only shows you how to preserve a precious old family recipe, but also how to make it into a work of art. And Kimberley Whitman writes about framing her grandmother’s old love letters here. Again … another awesome idea, and bound to create family interest.

who knew that old recipes looked so good framed!

who knew that old recipes looked so good framed!

Games are one way that you could get the younger generation interested. Be it computer games, card games, or board games, family tree games are out there – even ideas on how to create your own, DIY Ancestor Card Game Tutorial.  Here are links to a couple that you can try with the kids in your family. The easiest way of finding family tree games is to google it! But here’s a link to one great online ‘detective‘ one for kids though, and there’s a game called Six Generations which has a Zazzle store which you might ind interesting too.

the Family Tree Game, it sounds interesting but I believe you need to know Russian to be able to play

the Family Tree Game sounds interesting

The Book of Myself: A Do-it-Yourself Autobiography in 201 Questions

The Book of Myself

When we think of family history we think of the many generations before us … but too many forget that one of the best things they can do is to write your own story. No-one knows your own history as well as you.  So writing your own memoir is a way of leaving something for the future generations. It’s doesn’t have to be in a full book format, it could be random notes of things you think of at any time of the day or night and jot down. Or it could be following a series of questions, that you simply fill in the answers. Anything you write will be something for the generations to remember you by, and more than likely will be tidbits that they never knew about. A really good (and easy) book the get is one called The Book of Myself: A Do-it-Yourself Autobiography in 201 Questions. Each page has a question at the top, and you have the rest of the page to fill in.

go on, get writing your own memoirs

go on, get writing

15. MUGS
It’s a novelty idea, but why not. There’s plenty of places that will print a custom image on a mug these days. From actual family trees to humorous family tree quotes – they’re all there. For a range of them click here. The photo below shows some of my genealogy-related mugs. The second one from the left is a commemorative one with a picture of my grandpa on it. He was a footballer back in the day, and won numerous prestigious awards. This was a mug commemorating those from his club who won it – so it is a piece of history on a mug!

some of my mugs

some of my mugs

If you’re not adverse to having your tree online, you can put it up there, and share it with the world by having it public, or you can have a private tree and choose who you allow to view it. Ancestry, Findmypast, MyHeritage, FamilySearch Family Tree, TheGenealogist and Geni are the big names in the online tree world, but there are many more. I suggest before putting your tree online anywhere, be sure to read the fine print of their terms and conditions, so you know what you’re getting into.  In saying that, having you tree online and public is basically a way of cousin-baiting. You’re put your tree out there, people search for a name, and they find your tree so get in touch (hopefully).

be sure to check the privacy setting

be sure to check the privacy settings

If you’re not up for writing a book, but do have a whole heap of old family photos you’d like to share with the wider family, another method of sharing is to create a photobook. Simply the company you wish to go with, download their template software, choose your template, load in your already scanned photos and add captions, and text and/or tree and hit the send button and your book will be printed and posted out to you. There are numerous photobook companies around: Momento, Snapfish, Photobook Australia, Blurb to name a few. A perfect book to have on offer at a reunion, or afterwards if you wish to record the reunion gathering itself.

family tree photobook done by Momento

a family tree photobook done by Momento

If you’re lucky enough to have photos of your ancestors, why not put them on display? It’s a way a remembering who they are as well as creating family interest. Here are links to my posts about my own photo wall Part 1 and Part 2. For more photo wall ideas click here.

my Family Tree Photo Wall

my Family Tree Photo Wall

I’ll admit that I’m not really into Pinterest Flickr in a big way, but I know that many are – so it deserves  a mention. Flickr is an website that allows you to upload photos which you can then group into albums, you can have them as public or private and share albums too. With over 13 billion photos uploaded there, there’s bound to be some of interest, either people, places or occupations. As an example I typed in “family history” in the search on Flickr and 488,780 public photos came up. Impressed! You should be. It’s a way of getting your old family photos out there, and sharing with your wider family.

Now on to Pinterest, for those unfamiliar with the concept of it, think of it like have a bunch of pinboards. And you ‘pin’ different things on each. Family history stuff on one or two, other boards for other interests. You can follow other pinners, and repin what they have on your board. Following? Here’s one pinner that has an enormous amount of family history related pins on their various boards. But simply type in “family history” or “genealogy” in the search box on Pinterest and you’ll find 100s there. If you’re into (or getting into) Pinterest, you might like to have different boards for different family groups and scan and upload copies of old documents relevant to each. Just another idea on how to share.

check them out if you haven't already

check them out if you haven’t already

Again, another one for the crafters. Creating an heirloom item like a quilt with special family significance would make the ultimate gift. A lot of love and effort goes into one of these, not to mention the memories as well. Once again googling for “family history quilt” comes up a whole host of quilt styles – some like the one below have a traditional style tree and have photos incorporated into it, others family members handprints or signatures, another I saw was using family members old ties! It’s entirely up to you how you choose to ‘record your family and family heritage ‘. As a suggestion also google for “memory quilt” as that comes up more interesting ideas.  The step-by-step instructions for the quilt below are listed on the Quilting Board.

a family tree quilt created by D.L. Taylor

a family tree quilt created by D.L. Taylor

and here’s a video of a family tree quilt being worked on

Another idea is to hold a family reunion. It can be big or it can be small. Either way it’s a get-together of people connected. Think about it, how often do you see your aunts, uncles and first cousins? What about your second-cousins? It’s another way to be able to share what knowledge (and maybe memorabilia) you have of the family, with others. Not sure how to go about holding a reunion, there’s numerous helps available. Click here to have a read online, and here are some books that cover this very topic.

The Kelly Family Reunion, South Australia, 1938. 300 of the 400 Descendants of the original emigrants were at the reunion

The Kelly Family Reunion, South Australia, 1938. 300 of the 400 descendants of the original emigrants were at this reunion

Scrapbooking and genealogy certainly go together. First you do the research, then you can create beautiful heritage pages or albums showing off your research. What you come up with is only limited by your imagination. It s a perfect way to create some interest, and tell the stories of you ancestors. For a whole bunch of family tree and heritage themed scrapbooking papers and associated products check out Gould Genealogy and also For more layout ideas, click here.

just some of scrapbooking ideas that you'll find online

heritage scrapbooking ideas

We all have slides don’t we? So why not dig out the old slide projector, and have a slide night? It’s most certainly one way to get the family talking about their memories of places and events. If you don’t have a slide projector (or one that works), you might like to get your slides scanned, and then you can view them on your computer. Just look for a place that does film and slide duplication. One in Australia that does this is Big Egg Media. Don’t leave your slides sitting in their boxes forever. Get them out, get them looked, and get them shared with your family.

slides, we all have them!

slides, we all have them!

Again I’m guessing you’re wondering why this is in this list. While it’s not your standard way of ‘sharing’ your tree, it is one that you can do. And there are plenty of examples of family tree tattoos available, just have a look here.

who's ready to put your family tree in ink?

who’s ready to put your family tree in ink?

Creating a video presentation is a really interesting way of sharing your family history with others.  You might create it, and simply share it with your immediate family, or you might choose to upload it to YouTube as some do. The video below is a great example of a family tree video. And here are two others: sample 2, sample 3. While I’m talking about videos and YouTube here’s a tip: you’ll also find a lot of home movies on YouTube, so it’s always worth searching to see what you can find for your families or the region/town they were from.


“What are you doing with your genealogy”
– Amy Johnson Crow

Just Playing Along …

When I got home from work today and logged on to Facebook, I noticed that my feed was full of 5 generation colour charts. Wondering what all this was, I discovered that my geniemate J. Paul Hawthorne started the trend by posting a picture of his chart saying …

“A little visual I created in Excel. 5 Generation chart of my direct ancestors birth state — starting with me. A good way to visualize migration patterns.”

Obviously this piqued everyone’s interest, as they decided to play along too – as did I.

Creating a chart in Excel that covers 5 generations (starting with yourself), and then putting the birthplace (state or country) in each box for your ancestors, colouring each place a different colour. It does make for interesting viewing.

Here’s mine …

5 gen place chart #2

Go ahead, do yours. You’ll find it really interesting!