Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Timelines

One of the presentations I made a point of attending at the recent OGS seminar in Ottawa was by Laura Prescott, a US-based speaker, professional researcher and writer. Judging by the number of times it's listed on her web site "Timelines: Placing Your Heritage in Historical Perspective" is her most popular talk. It was a polished performance. In it Laura shows matching historical events to an ancestor’s life; synchronizing one ancestor’s life events to another’s using genealogical software as well as everyday software programs to create a graphic profile and timeline.

Her main point was that, although genealogy software and custom programs do a nice job of making graphical presentations of timelines, often the most useful is a chronology in text format. Unlike graphic presentations, which almost force you to show a linear march of time, with text you can easily give more detail for especially active periods of an ancestor's life.

One of the challenges of producing a timeline is finding an appropriate overlay of historical events. The web sources listed in the conference syllabus were largely US-oriented, but in her presentation Laura suggested some web sources for the rest of us. The BBC has a convenient British timeline, part of a great website on British history. There are many others that can be discovered with your favourite search engine using timeline and topic as the search terms. For topic Scotland I found the Timeline of Scottish History, for Wales try here. Wikipedia has a useful Timeline of Canadian History.

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