In recent posts, I wrote about how creating lists and identifying a theme were good steps toward creating your own personal history. A next step should be preparing a timeline.
Start at the beginning of whatever time period you are documenting. Add key events from the lists you prepared. Doing this will help you identify missing information. Are there whole decades that are blank? Are there periods that are so crowded you can’t imagine how so much could have happened in a short time? What does this tell you?
Sometimes, once the information is laid out on the timeline, themes and topics you hadn’t thought of pop out. Are they worth exploring?
Be sure to use a method for your timeline that enables you to add information between other entries. I’ve used Excel before and now I use Aeon Timeline, an inexpensive software program designed especially for timelines. A word processor or paper and pencil would work, too. Just be sure to leave lots of room for additions. Do what’s comfortable for you.
The next step is Research. Stay tuned!
Remember, if at any point in the process you get stuck or overwhelmed, you can turn to a professional. For a list of personal historians in your area, visit the website of the Association of Personal Historians at personalhistorians.org.
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