An historical timeline can be an important aid to family history.
Ancestors are more than just names on paper; they are real people who
lived in a different time. Yet few ancestors left daily journals or
records of their activities and the events with which they were
associated. Their stories should be reconstructed as accurately as
possible through the use of authoritative sources and historical
accounts of the time. The use of the timeline will show visually events
surrounding an ancestor’s life in his time period and geographic area,
in essence, the timeline is a pictorial summary of a person’s life in
the context of historical events.
There are many historical sources which
contain listings of major events in geographic areas. Encyclopedias,
almanacs, outlines, and social science textbooks are but a few examples.
The writer became familiar with these sources when her son became
uninterested in his history class and was asked to bring his history
After gleaning several historical events in
Colonial American history, we proceeded to the computer to draw a
timeline of an ancestor’s life. The timeline was completed and drawn in a
matter of 20 minutes. The young boy was amazed to discover that he had
an ancestor older than George Washington, and that Benjamin Franklin was
older than George Washington. Then came the profound realization that
his ancestor was in America over 130 years before the Revolutionary War.
The student suddenly took an interest in American history.
Genealogists who have the Apple II
series, IBM and compatibles, or Macintosh computer systems with a mouse
may created a timeline with ease and confidence. After the information
for the timeline has been gathered, it is simply a matter of using the
graphic software to draw the lines.
Apple II systems use
software called Dazzle Draw, IBM and compatibles use PC Paintbrush, and
MacIntosh systems may use MacDraw or MacPaint software programs. The
bold horizontal timeline is made with one stroke. Then each vertical
line, smaller and not as bold, is created singly. A box at, the end of
each vertical line is drawn, and the historical data is typed into the
box before the next vertical line is drawn.
the Timeline to Genealogy
In producing the Posey
family history (Descendants of Francis Posey  Through His Son,
Benjamin Posey ), five timelines were created, one for each
patriarch of the five major Posey family branches. Posey descendants who
see this timeline can readily identify their ancestors and recognize
events from their academic studies. These graphic displays have been
well received not only by Posey family members but many genealogists
have used them as models for similar representations for their own
Following are examples of historical timelines.
The minimal effort required to design these charts, originally to
interest a young student in history, has been rewarding also in uniting
generations of a family. This genealogical computer application can
likewise make a difference in countless families in perpetuating family
heritage with a renewed legacy. The correlation between family heritage
and national historical events is an important one for the genealogist
and the history student.
Readers with questions about
this computer application may write or call Posey International, P. O.
Box 338, Orem. UT 84057, 801-377-5504.