Arches at Glendalough 2009

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Everything you have learned can be traced back to elementary school. You learned how to read, write, add and subtract in the primary grades. By the time you reached third or fourth grade you began to learn tools that carried you forward in life. Timelines are one such tool.

If genealogy had a beginner's primer, timelines should be the one technique that is taught. Timelines are wonderful for helping you learn and visualize place and time in history. Why not apply them to your family history?

I'm a huge fan of timelines. It's my favorite technique to use in genealogy research. And it's so easy to use.

Suppose you couldn't find the information you needed to get your research past your brick wall. By examining the information you do have and placing it in chronological order you will quickly realize that you have missing information. Whether it is a census record you never examined or a military pension you didn't order, you will discover that by utilizing a timeline your genealogy research may be back on track.

I format my timelines using a word document. I have used a spread sheet as well. Keeping it simple I create the first column for the date, the second column listing the event, and the third for the source where I found the information. By saving it on my computer, I can add or delete information by inserting rows. At the bottom of the document I keep a place for my notes which allows me to write what items I need to view the next time I'm at a repository or online.

I print my timeline and bring it with me if I'm in a repository that only allows paper. And by having it with me, I can spend less time looking for my notes and more time on genealogy research. The best part is that I can update my information when I get on my computer and email the timeline to others researching the same line or place it in my genealogy files.

There are millions of timelines online available for your use. There are templates to help you get fancy with your information and others that are straight forward. Don't overlook your genealogy software. Many come with features that allow you to create timelines.

Whether you make your own, or use an online site, you will realize that timelines will help your genealogical research.

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