How to Create a Family History Timeline

by Pranav Reddy
Making a family timeline can help educate your children on their ancestry.

Making a family timeline can help educate your children on their ancestry.

Creating a family history timeline can help you learn a lot about your family. The task can be time-consuming and complicated at some points. However, in the end you will have a complete history of your family that can be passed down to future generations.

Gather information about significant events in your family's past. Write down birth dates, death dates, graduation dates and any other significant dates in chronological order.

Get a long piece of paper. The length should be proportional to the amount of family information you have collected. You can even make it a little longer and bigger if you wish to add to it later. Draw a horizontal line from left to right down the length of the paper

Make a vertical line through the horizontal line on the left side of the paper. This will be your beginning date. Write the date this line will represent next to the vertical line. Next, make vertical lines at even intervals and mark them with the corresponding date. For example, each line could represent 10 years. This all depends on how far back your information goes.

Make a point on the horizontal timeline corresponding to the date of a significant event. Then, write a small blurb about what happened above or below the horizontal line and draw a line connecting it to the point on the timeline.

Repeat this process for the entire list of information and dates you have collected. You can always add to it as you come across new information

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Items you will need

  • Family history
  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil


  • If there are multiple significant dates within a short period, you can stagger the blurbs vertically so they don't overlap. Just be sure to connect each blurb to the timeline.
  • You can color-code events, such as using blue for births or red for deaths, to make it easier and quicker to find them on the timeline.
  • A good example of a family timeline is available in the references section.


  • Be careful when asking people about death dates and other sad events in their past. Approach touchy subjects with caution, since you do not wish to hurt any family member's feelings.

About the Author

Pranav Reddy started writing professionally in 2010. He has written automotive, society, culture and science articles for various websites. Reddy is pursuing his Bachelor of Science in molecular biology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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