Creating a Timeline for your Ancestor

Many genealogists and family historians find the use of an ancestor's timeline to be beneficial in their research. Timelines can assist you in finding "gaps" in your research and can even help you with brick wall ancestors. Timelines are also fun to do as you lay out your ancestor's life. 

If this is your first time creating a timeline for your ancestors I would like to give you a few guidelines (and tips) to help get you started. 

What information do I include in my Ancestor's timeline? The information you include in your timeline is dependent on the information you have. The guideline with genealogy is to start researching an individual with a death record, however, when creating a timeline I start with their birth record. After all, I want to create their timeline from beginning to end, right?

Include in your Ancestor's timeline Census records. These will assist you in discovering where your Ancestor lived. Census records also include other valuable information - not just the location. They contain occupations, age, the individuals living with your Ancestors, neighbors of your family and those living near them, the number of births for females, and much more! 

To make you timeline more useful, include the following information as well: 
- marriages
- birth dates of children
- marriage dates
- divorce dates
- death of spouse dates
- any other life events

I have found timelines to be very helpful in my own research - especially with my brick wall ancestors. I am currently putting together the pieces of my great great grandmother's life. While it is confusing and questionable in some areas it is still a great tool. 

Do you create timelines for your ancestors? Have they helped you in your family history research? How? Let me know in the comments below. 


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  2. I frequently use time lines to help me to organize & evaluate my research. I can easily see the growth and movements of a family. I like to add historic events such as wars to show what my family was doing and how they were effected by those historic events.