DON'S FREEWARE CORNER -- JAN 2015

OURTIMELINES.COM SHOWS A PERSON'S LIFE IN CONTEXT

This page was last updated 2015-01-07
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DON'S FREEWARE CORNER  2015-01

OURTIMELINES.COM SHOWS A PERSON'S LIFE IN CONTEXT

2015 Donald R. Snow

These Freeware Corner notes are published in TAGGology, our Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group (UVTAGG) monthly newsletter, and are posted on  http://uvtagg.org/classes/dons/dons-classes.html  where there may be updates, corrections, or additions.


OURTIMELINES.COM OVERVIEW
This is a free website -- http://ourtimelines.com/ -- where you can enter a name, your own or anyone else's, with the birth and death years, and it generates a brightly-colored timeline of world events that happened during that person's lifetime.  It even shows the age the person was when that event occurred.  I have generated and posted a copy of the timeline for my Grandmother, Ann Stafford Snow Condie, on my web site.  Here's the complete URL:  http://uvtagg.org/classes/dons/StaffordAnn(Snow)(Condie)(1867-1948)-History-Timeline-GeneratedByOurTimelinesCom--2015-01-06.html  .  It is easy to use this website and the results can be saved in various formats.  There is a Printable option, but that changes the colors to just black and white and isn't nearly as pretty or easy to read.  The colored timeline can be saved in various formats including pdf, jpg, and html (HyperText Markup Language).  Using html it opens in a browser just as though you were online, but it's only reading the file you have saved to your own computer.  They give instructions or how to post it on your own website so it is visible there, but has a link to their website so anyone can generate their own timelines from the original website.  A copied version can be attached  to someone on FamilySearch Family Tree as a document.  Last month our discussion here in Don's Freeware Corner was on html and how to use it and this is a good example.

The color coding of events in the timelines generated is as follows.
     Light blue -- Historical Event
     Pink -- Leadership and Political
     White -- Technology Event
     Red -- Disaster, Wars, Plagues, etc.
     Yellow -- Personal Historical Event
     Orange -- Personal Disaster - Death of Loved One, Illness, etc.

The entry page allows you to enter up to 10 events for the person yourself, e.g. marriage, children born, and other significant events, and these show in their appropriate places in the colored timeline with the world events.  It would be nice to be able to enter more than 10 personal events and maybe if you know enough about html you could figure out how to do that, but I don't know how.  To get around the 10-personal-event limit you could set up a series of timelines with one for family and children, one for education, one for work, etc., and enter up to 10 personal events in each, but then they wouldn't all be in the same timeline.  Or you could do a timeline for the person's early life from birth to marriage, then married life with children to retirement, then retired life.  When you enter events for the person, you select the type of event it is, e.g. Personal Historical or World Historical, and then it appears in that color in the generated timeline.

USES OF THE TIMELINES GENERATED
Timelines with world events included are very helpful to give an overall picture of a person's life in context of what was going on around them.  If you see that a man was about the right age when a war was going in the country where he lived, you may want to check for military records for him.  Likewise, if there was an epidemic of some kind during their lifetime, it suggests you check medical records in that area for the person.  If the person was alive when a state in which they were living was admitted into the United States, there may be land or other type records you could check.

Some of the world events in the generated timeline are links to further information about that event.  These are underlined and clicking on one takes you to wepages with more information about that event.  I don't know of a way to include URL's in the personal events you enter yourself, but there may be.  Or you may be able to edit the html file you save from the generated timeline to include more information or links to further information about that personal event.

COMMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS
I have noticed that at times you have to enter the year after the person was really born to get the ages to show correctly in the events, e.g. doing a timeline for Joseph Smith, if you enter his correct birth year of 1805, since he was born so close to the end of the year (23 Dec 1805), his age at the First Vision is shown as 15, when he really was only 14 when that occurred.  I don't know what day of the year the timeline generates the age from, but entering Joseph Smith's birth year as 1806 causes it to show that the First Vision occurred when he was 14.  A timeline of world events during the lifetime of a major historical figure that you are studying is quite thought-provoking, e.g. the LDS Church manual for some adult classes during 2015 is Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994).  Forming the timeline and considering the world events during a person's lifetime is very helpful in understanding the person and their concerns. 

I have found that for adding personal events, if you enter the year and then an ending year (which might be the current year or the year the person died), the program generates a timebar that shows up better than just a one-year event.  For example, entering the marriage year and the death year you get a bar that covers the person's entire life or the spouse's entire life, so you see when the person was a widow or widower.  By entering the birth years of children and the current year or death year for the termination, you see full bars for that person's life, rather than just a one-year birth indication.  You'll see examples of this on the timeline I did for my Grandmother.

Once the timeline has been generated you can save it as an html file by right clicking on it anywhere and selecting the Save Page As option.  I give it a name in my "timeline" fashion.  For instance, for a timeline for myself I would title the file:
SnowDonaldRay(1931-)-History-Timeline-GeneratedByOurTimelinesCom--2015-01-06.html .
This then shows up in lists of files related to me when I search my computer with the freeware program EVERYTHING.  I've written about my file naming system in other notes so that the files form an interactive timeline of the person's life and opening this new file shows historical events during their life.  By including the word "History" after the surname and given names in these file names, this file alphabetizes among the histories for that person.  I have noticed that saving as an html file works with some browsers, but not all.  The timeline I generated for my Grandmother Ann Stafford Snow Condie, and gave the URL for at the start of this note, wouldn't save in Chrome, but would in Firefox.  With an html copy posted on a website somewhere you can link it to the person in Family Tree.  Or, another way and probably better, would be to save it as a pdf and upload it directly to Family Tree.  The problem with this second method is that then the underlined links don't work in the pdf like they do in the html version.  For saving it as a pdf or jpg I have found that Faststone Capture version 5.3, the last freeware version and still available from websites like  http://www.aplusfreeware.com/categories/mmedia/FastStoneCapture.html , will sometimes copy the scrolling window and sometimes not.  It seems to depend on the browser, so if it won't work in one browser, try another. 

Besides timelines the Ourtimelines.com website has a Peers and Contempories page where you can see who was born in the same year as your ancestor and this helps put the person in context of the times.  I was surprised at the list of people born in 1867, the same year as my Grandmother.  Check it out.

This is a worthwhile website for lots of good information and reasons to use it and is completely free.  Good luck with it.
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