I’m posting links to a few animated maps and timelines, and mapping sites with a twist, like the U.S. History Primary Source Timeline, America’s Best History Timeline, World History Timeline, New York Times Immigration Explorer, History Pin, and Timeline of Events in the West, There are lots of these kinds of timelines out there (just do a search in any browser), so find one you like and put it in your genealogy toolkit–handy sites that help you organize and interpret your research.
Having a historical timeline in your toolkit will help you understand the events that affected your ancestors’ lives, and can give you clues about what kinds of records to search. Was there a war going on? Did the creation of a territory provide opportunity for free land? Did world events stimulate immigration from certain countries?
Along with historical timelines for the nation, consider finding or creating state and county timelines, and always create a timeline for a family. That should be one of the first things you do as you begin your research, but it can also be something that will help you when you are well down the road in your research and may have come to a dead end.
Integrate your family timeline with county, state, and national timelines and you may be surprised at the new ideas that emerge for your research.
TIP: Keep your genealogy toolkit handy by creating a “Toolkit” folder on the “favorites” or “bookmark bar” in your internet browser, or create a “Toolkit” folder in the Evernote program.