How Would You Use a Timeline on Your Family History Blog?

Dan Lawyer has been talking about Timelines for displaying on your family history site or blog.

One of the focus areas for some prototyping we plan to do in the near future is an effort to allow users to explore timelines of their ancestors that combine a richness of data into an easy to understand format. This is really hard to do. To give you an idea, here is the type of content we’d like to pull together automatically for any random ancestor a user would like to learn about.

Timelines are critical to help you understand your ancestor’s lives in relationship to chronological events.

Personally, I’d love to see timelines built directly from GEDCOM files for easy insertion into web pages or blogs. This way, I could see how a single member of my family’s life intersects with other members of the family during their life time. For instance, how old was Sally West when her brother was born? Or how old was she when her mother or father died? When did her family move? All those things play an important role in the life of a person and how they reacted, responded, and survived the events.

I’d also love to see a way to integrate current events at the time in the area or country in which they were living. Wars, plagues, massive immigration, all play important roles in people’s lives whether or not they were directly affected. And maybe they were. Maybe they didn’t go off to war but they lost friends and neighbors to the war.

Timelines are very important and currently there isn’t an easy way of including them on web pages. They can be created manually, but there is little software to assist you. I see this as an invaluable tool for genealogy and family history sites on the web.

Don’t you?

What would you use a timeline for on your family history blog?

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Lorelle VanFossen hosts Family History Blog covering her ancestors and related family members. She is one of the top bloggers in the world, and host of the Lorelle on WordPress, providing WordPress and blogging tips for bloggers of all levels. A popular keynote speaker and trainer, she is also editor, producer, contributor, and official disruptive thinker for Bitwire Media which includes WordCast, Making My Life Network, Stories of Our Journeys, Life on the Road, WordCast Conversations, and the very popular WordCast Podcast.
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4 Responses to How Would You Use a Timeline on Your Family History Blog?

  1. Murray says:

    I have had a go at incorporating a timeline on my website using the MIT Simile Timeline Project. It works well and as you say it is both interesting and informative seeing the family events in relation to historical events, however the issue of maintaining yet another database has slowed development.

    I am amazed that none of the genealogy database programs (as far as I am aware) provide modern methods to export data to synchronise it with a website. I would like to have the ability to selectively create an xml (or other) file and to have the means to directly integrate data (names, dates, mini-charts etc) into a website. The ‘old’ standard genealogy reports and charts are IMO at best boring and at worst all but unintelligible!


  2. Absolutely. It’s incredibly frustrating that no one has come up with a decent timeline, especially one for viewing on a blog. Very frustrating.

  3. Elizabeth Bidwell says:

    Do you know of any software with which you can make a family history timeline of family events and stories (e.g. Fall 1964–moved to Chile for one school year…)?

  4. @Elizabeth Bidwell:

    There is timeline software, but I’ve yet to find anything easy or well-suited to use on a web page. I’ve created manual ones before, so you can search for techniques on how to do that with HTML and CSS. If you find any programs or easy techniques, please let me know.

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