One of the most useful tools in our Research Toolbox is the creation of Timelines. There are various types or styles, but essentially, a Timeline is a chronological list of the life events experienced by our ancestors. Use the method that works for you, one that records the information in an organized sequence.
Major events to include are the births, marriages and deaths (BMDs) of their family members. Be sure to include the locations and dates, and most importantly, the source citations for the origins of your information. This can be as simple as stories from an oral interview with Aunt Gladys, or information extracted from a letter or diary, or transcribed entries from the Family Bible.
Historical and local events should be included in your timelines as these influenced our ancestors, impacting them both directly and indirectly, and effecting their daily lives. Exploring the Timelines of our ancestors brings their lives into focus. Events at specific times had a great impact on these families, such as wars, conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics. Seeing them as a whole, rather than as separate, isolated events, helps us to understand the situations our ancestors faced and perhaps, what led to life-changing decisions.
Timelines also reveal any gaps in our research. We can then easily identify where we need to focus our research skills next. Filling in these gaps may break down a brick wall, or provide the clue needed to direct our next research steps.
Further information on researching your female ancestors can be found in the National Institutes for Genealogical Studies course: Research: Grandmothers, Mothers & Daughters – Tracing Women