21 October 2009

Timelines--breathing with kin--past, present, past

A basic rule of family research is to start with what you know and work backwards through time.  But a few years back I heard a talk by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak where she defended a sort of accordion style of research where we sometimes hop over a generation then work our way back toward the present.  It is a style that suits me well.  I recall my mother playing the harmonica as I do this because researching like this is almost like breathing in and out to hear the music of our ancestors' lives passing through time.

A helpful tool to keep things straight is with timelines.  I start each one with a birth or a marriage.  Some of my timelines run to 50 pages because I attach my sources to them as well.  I'm hoping this will help when I'm ready to write my family histories.

A fun way to see what was happening in the world when your ancestor lived in on http://www.ourtimelines.com/    
Just plug in your kin's birth and death dates and the site generates a world events timeline.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lavinia,
    Thanks for the tip on the timeline webpage. Love it!


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