Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Timelines in Genealogy

About 10 days ago, I attended the Nebraska State Genealogy Conference in Grand Island. It's my chance to get away from the kids for a couple days and listen to speakers on my favorite topic, and talk to people whose eyes don't glaze over. If you're reading this, you may know what I mean.
Our speaker, Laura Prescott from New Hampshire, talked about several things but her first topic was timelines. I love charts and graphs; I do have a degree in mathematics so it comes naturally to me. This was very interesting to me.
Timelines are outlines of our ancestors' lives. There are different types of timelines: text, graph, Excel (spreadsheet), or geographic. You can make timelines for an individual, a family, or perhaps a certain set of events (like the Civil War).
Timelines can show us where we have gaps in our research, or possibly where we have something that doesn't make sense (like great-grandma giving birth to grandpa at age 9, possible but not likely).
I really want to explore this further, but I did a quick timeline with my family tree on Ancestry.com and took one example of my paternal grandmother's page:

To do this on Ancestry.com, go to "publish" and then to "family history books", then I clicked on "standard". You then have to enter a few things about what you want; it will generate your book. This is one page out of about 60 it generated. You could then order the book through Ancestry.

Now my Grandma moved A LOT! Those 60+ years between 1935 and 1998 were busy ones for her. What it doesn't show is her 3 children, that she lost both her parents and her husband in the same year (1951) and all her moves. My father was the youngest of three boys, and he was not quite 8 years old when his father died. So my grandma had to finish raising three boys (age 8, 11, and 13) and do the farming when her husband died. My grandmother never remarried, and I never knew my paternal grandfather (something my kids will have in common with me, as my dad died before they were born).

This probably means I need to add more information to my tree, and then it would show up on the timeline. It is interesting to see what went on in the world when my Grandma was alive.

There are several other sites that will do timelines, as well as several genealogy programs. Do a search or play around and see what you get.
One person at the convention mentioned they send personal timelines out with birthday cards at certain "milestone" birthdays. That sounded like a neat idea to me; one I may have to try when I can remember.

Hopefully I can play around with these some more. Maybe you learned something or got an idea and you can get some experience with timelines too.

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