The Timeline: Your Guide Through the Twists and Turns of Research
Timeline: Chronological Time and Place
Timeline: Reveals Research Gaps
Timelines Reveal Lives
So, how to create a timeline? Start with what you have. You have a tree in software on your computer or online. All of these have a timeline function which is where you want to begin. Ancestry, MyHeritage and FamilySearch Family Tree (pictured here) all have a timeline built in. Some people like creating a timeline with paper and pencil, some use a word processor or special software. I use Google Docs because our SKCGS Research Group, which shares timelines of Persons of Interest for our meetings, has found that an easy way to share. And as I've used GDocs, I've come to appreciate the tools. For instance, you can include record images and easily create footnotes for the citations. Control + Alt + f neatly adds the superscript number, then scrolls the doc to the footer area where you paste or create the citation. As you find more data points, GDocs automatically re-numbers if necessary.
Gena Philibert-Ortega makes the point in her article Genealogy Timelines: Helpful Research Tools that keeping track of the name of the person in the record is worthwhile, particularly for those who changed names, such a some men and many women who married multiple spouses. If the name in records didn't change, perhaps track street address, reported occupation, race or other unique details. This will help you ensure that you are researching one person, not two. This was crucial in my research of Effie, who married (at least) four times.
The FamilySearch Wiki mentions some other sites that could be useful as you determine whether or not your person might have been involved in a war or other large event, at https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/US_Timelines_-_Creation_and_Use_with_Families. One task pointed out in this post which is valuable, is:
Once you have created the timeline, determine:
• The parents' ages when they married
• The mother's age when she had each child
• The age of each child when he/she married
• The age of each person when he/she died
MyHeritage does this automatically and adjusts the age as you find more specific dates for events in each person's life. Pictured is a snippet of Effie's early life as rendered by MyHeritage.
There are some good videos on YouTube about creating and using timelines. Here is one from Boundless Genealogy which shows how to extract many data points from one record: