For 26 weeks I will take you on a family history journey through the alphabet, one letter at a time. I have decided that each post will be educational in nature, focusing on topics related to resources, methodology, tools, etc. Although the challenge is complete, there are still some people who are finishing up and Alona, the host, is encouraging others to participate anyway. Additional information on the challenge, can be found at Take the ‘Family History Through the Alphabet’ Challenge.
Timelines are such a wonderful tool in genealogy research. You can learn so much by looking at a visual depiction of your ancestors over time. From research gaps to research analysis, timelines should always to a go-to method for working through tough research problems.
I’ve written about timelines before in the following two posts from 2010, which I encourage you to check out:
Most genealogy software has some sort of timeline feature. In addition, you can create your own using charting software (such as Edraw and Visio), desktop publishing software, or by using the drawing tools in Word (some people even use Excel). Sometimes, I just take pencil and paper and sketch out a timeline.
There are also a few websites out there that let you create and share timelines, including OurTimeLines and TimeRime. I actually used TimeRime to generate a timeline for my second great-grandmother (see my post Fearless Females – Timeline).
Whenever you find yourself stuck on a research problem, try using a timeline. Whatever method you choose, be it software or by hand, it may be just the thing to help you bust down that wall!