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Are You My Cousin?: Using a Timeline

Are You My Cousin?

Discovering My Ancestors -- One Cousin at a Time

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

I tell the stories of my ancestors’ lives. Whether they lived 20 years ago or 200 years ago, they each have a story to tell. Some ancestors tell their stories willingly. Others must have their stories carefully teased from the records. Sometimes the stories are sad. Sometimes the stories are happy. Sometimes the stories are just funny. Regardless, my ancestors’ stories shaped their lives and the lives of those that followed. Come and share in the tales!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Using a Timeline

Creating a timeline for your ancestors is one of the tools I have been hearing about more recently.  I confess when I first heard of timelines, I felt is was just one more thing on the long list of things to do with my research.  I was slow to embrace them until ...

I started to hit brick walls in my research.  When I encounter brick walls - big or small - I have learned to look back at what I know. (This works well in other areas of life as well!)  "Back to what I know" has become a much used technique for me.  Even doing this, I still had difficulty gaining new insights and directions for my research.  I decided to give the timeline technique a try.  I gained a whole new perspective on my ancestor(s).  Many of the genealogy software programs have an option to create a timeline for an ancestor.  I played around with that feature, but still could not quite get the perspective I was seeking.  I then got out my paper, pencil and ruler to create my own.  Something about putting an ancestor's life in order myself  made his life "click".  I could see where age discrepancies existed.  I discovered where I thought an ancestor spent most of his life was only a small part of his life.  I saw where the gaps in my research existed. While the timeline itself did not break down a brick wall, it created new ideas for avenues of research. Isn't that what scaling our genealogy brick walls is all about?

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