Timelines are a great way to visualize the events that somehow have affected the lives of your ancestors. You can choose as many relatives as you want, but if you choose only one single relative, you are more likely to come across events that he or she was engaged in or affected by.
What is a timeline?
A timeline is a chronological overview of historical events that are limited
both by geography and time. You can choose to include events either from around the world or just from a small village or farm.
You can limit the timeline to a period in the life of relatives, such as World War II, or you can extend it over a longer period to include several generations. The whole thing can almost develop into a family novel in key words and give you a richer overview of what affected your ancestors life.
How to make a timeline
A timeline can be created by using simple means. You can start with a spreadsheet or a word processor. If you want to try some more advanced tools, TimeGraphics can be worth a look. The illustration of this text is taken from that online tool that is free for you to use.
Whether you choose to use one of the tools mentioned above or manage with only pen and paper, you will need to find events to fill in your timeline.
How to find events for your timeline
In addition to Google or using history books, municipal books are an excellent source. Many genealogists are concentrating too much on the “farm and family history” alone. They cast only a few glances at the volumes of the municipal books that contain the cultural history of the place where their relatives lived.
Keep in mind that the lives of the person(s) you create a timeline for also are influenced by events in the close family. There may be deaths of a nephew, a sister who married or a cousin who bade farewell to the family and emigrated.
There are also a number of websites that show what happened on an individual day. Events that your relative might have experienced directly or indirectly. Dagsdato.no is a Norwegian website that shows both what happened in Norway and the world on different dates. This website also allows you to select a specific date. An English equivalent is Infoplease.com. That website also has History Timelines.
Wikipedia is also a good resource to use to find events for a timeline. The front page focuses on the day today, but you can also go on to the specific date you want to find an event.