Today’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Genea-Musing‘s Randy Seaver involves timelines.

1) Do you use Timelines to help you in your research?  Create a Timeline (a chronological list with dates and events) for one of your ancestors that includes their parents, siblings, spouse(s) and children.  Tell us how you did it, and show us your work. 

This timing of this challenge is perfect! I’m currently trying to figure out whether Howard Hutchinson who drowned in the Missouri River in 1905 is part of my Albert Hutchinson family. If his age is reported correctly, this Howard Hutchinson was born in 1881. Since this is a difficult time period to find records showing family relationships, I need a timeline to help figure out where the members of the family were living between 1890 and 1905.

I tried using the timeline report from RootsMagic.

This report is too wordy for this particular task – especially when I add the children and spouses of Albert Hutchinson. Thus, I turned to a spreadsheet. Since my goal is to determine who was living where at a particular time, I limited the information I entered to those events that place a person in a particular community. I then color coded each of the children and his second wife. Once I had the data entered, I sorted the data by date and then by location.

This spreadsheet proved what I subconsciously knew about this family: they lived on both sides of the Missouri River between Kansas City and St. Joseph, Missouri. It also provides hints of where to look for a 1900 census record for Howard Hutchinson or for a death notice outside of St. Joseph, Missouri for Howard Hutchinson.

Thank you Randy for challenging me to actually get this spreadsheet created.

Timelines – Cluster Research

Do you use timelines in your genealogy research? I’m guessing that most people who have been searching their family history for some time have used some sort of timeline.

When I retired and starting spending more time researching my family tree, I created a spreadsheet for my Crawford family research.

In the spreadsheet, I was able to color code the people, locations and time periods. All of this information was copied from my RootsMagic data into the spreadsheet.

It wasn’t until I read Randy Seaver’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Make a Timeline Report blog that I seriously looked at the Timeline Report in RootsMagic. Thanks to his post, I started looking at the built-in timelines on Ancestry and within RootsMagic.

As I was learning about this report, I wondered if I could use RootsMagic Software to automatically generate a timeline similar to my Excel spreadsheet. Since the report allows one to use a ‘marked group’ to create the report, I decided I would try to create a marked group for my Crawford cluster research.

To experiment, I clicked on groups and then clicked on the folder to create or edit a group.

That opened a ‘Named Groups’ window.

When I clicked on ‘NEW’ that opened a window to allow me to select people. To start marking my cluster, I highlighted the first person in my cluster and clicked on the ‘MARK GROUP’ tab.

For this cluster, I wanted to show information for two generations of several different families. Thus, I selected “DESCENDANTS OF HIGHLIGHTED PERSON” from the menu. I then selected “DESCENDANTS AND SPOUSES” and changed the number of generations to 2. Then I clicked OK to mark that family for my cluster.
I then highlighted the next person I wanted to include in my cluster and repeated the process to mark the descendants of this next person. When finished marking the various families, I clicked the OK button at the bottom of the ‘select people’ window. 

That opened a window prompting me to name the group.

Once I had the group marked, I could then create the timeline report.

I pulled down the tab by EVERYONE and scrolled down to find my Crawford Cluster group.

When I clicked on Generate Report, it produced a report pulling together all of the events that I had entered for these various families. The report includes the date, the event, the person and the place of the event.

This report has several advantages over my original spreadsheet. The RootsMagic report

  • can be generated at any time
  • includes all events entered and not just selected ones
  • can be expanded to include others in the cluster by modifying the marked group
  • can be exported as a text file and then imported into Excel

THANK YOU Randy Seaver 

for blogging about this timeline report!