Timelines are a great way to visualize events that have in some way affected the lives of your ancestors. You can choose one or more relatives, but by choosing only one relative you might find events that he or she in fact was concerned with.
What is a timeline?
A timeline is a chronological overview of historical events that are both geographically and time limited. For example, you can choose to include events from all over the world or just from a small village or a single farm. You can also limit the timeline to a period of a relative's life, such as World War II, or you can extend it over a longer period of time to cover several generations. The timeline then more or less become a family novel presented by keywords and give you a richer overview of what affected the life of your ancestors.
How to create a timeline?
Using simple means, you can create a timeline, for example starting with a spreadsheet or word processor. If you want to try out some more advanced tools Time Graphics might be worth a look. The illustration of this text is taken from this online tool, which is free to use.
Regardless of whether you choose to use one of the tools mentioned above or manage by simply using pen and paper, you must find events to fill in your timeline. In addition to Google or using history books, local history books are an excellent source. Many genealogists concentrate too much on the volumes presenting "Farm and Family History" alone and offer little or no glimpse at the volumes containing the cultural history of the place where the relatives lived.
Remember that the lives of the person(s) you create timelines for were also influenced by events in closely related family. There may be a nephew that died, a sister who married or a cousin who took farewell with the family and emigrated to the United States.