US Timelines - Creation and Use with Families

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A timeline is a chronological list of events for a person, family, or location.  This is helpful for analyzing events in a family by showing gaps in knowledge about a family or events that probably did not or could not happen for this family. Matching a family timeline with a location timeline can help determine the likelihood of a family's involvement in the events of a locality, such as wars.

Before creating a timeline for a family

Gather family group records for the family in question.  A family group record is a great source for the family events, even if the record if not complete.  You can add additional information to the timeline as you find it, such as data from census records, land records, etc.  Determining what was happening in the country or locality during an ancestors lifetime can also be helpful.

Internet Timelines

An Internet site that allows you to customize a timeline by entering data about an ancestor, then shows what was happening in the world is

Some other Internet sites with U.S. history timelines are:

• State History Guide Resources Chronological History Timeline of the United States

• Wikipedia Timeline of United States history

• American Educational History Timeline


To analyze a family in depth, add all the events for a family, including census locations, military service, buying and selling land, etc. in addition to the births, deaths, marriages, and divorces

What to do next

  • Once you have created the timeline, determine:

• The parents' ages when they married

• The mother's age when she had each child

• The age of each child when he/she married

• The age of each person when he/she died

  • Notice anything unusual, such as:

 - The mother having a child at age 8 or marrying at age 10

 - The father being 10 years younger than the mother

 - 4 or more years between children

 - A child born after the mother or father was long dead

See Also, The Perspective of Timelines