A Family Chronology
|William Lynch Couch Family ca. 1899|
A Chronology is a Tracking Tool
Third, it tells me what data I have that is substantiated by records and what data is from a secondary source and will need verification. It also tells me what data I have that I may never be able to prove and what data may be totally bogus.
Fourth, it tells me what data I have that may conflict with other data that I have. Since I have attached an abbreviated version of my source, I can compare the quality of the sources and then may be able to decide which source is more likely to be correct.
Fifth, it tells me what data I have yet to collect. I leave rows blank for the basic information such as birth, marriage, census years and death. It is easy for me to see what I haven't filled in yet and what source information I need to collect.
A Chronology as an Analytical Tool
A chronology can also be used as an analytical tool. When you organize your data on a person you can see the conflicts in information that you may not have noticed before. It can help you pinpoint the discrepancies or missing information in your research.
You can collect a set of data about a particular issue that is unresolved and organize it chronologically. By doing this you can tell what information is in conflict, what information may not be valid and what additional information you may need to collect.
Using a chronology I have been able to demonstrate that one of my ancestors had to have had 3 wives rather than the 2 known wives. A 15 year gap in the birth of the children provided evidence that the first known wife was actually wife # 2. While it is possible that there was some very unusual circumstance that could account for a 15 year gap in the birth of children by the same mother, the more likely scenario is that there was a first wife who was the mother of the first set of children. When she died the husband remarried and had another set of children.
Using a chronology I was able to organize my facts to help settle a family dispute. Researchers were in disagreement over the first wife of a common ancestor. I made a quick chronology of his grandfather's and his parents' marriages--both substantiated and speculative to determine where to look for his marriage record. I included the data about his marriage to both women. I included my sources and evaluated the data. With this quick chart I was able to determine where the marriage most likely occurred. I found an index and ordered a copy of the marriage bond from the county. It told me that if anyone had ever looked for or found the marriage record they did not indicate so in their sourcing information. By the way, since I didn't want a certified copy, it only cost me $1.64 to get the copy of the marriage bond from the county, $1 for the copy, and two 32¢ stamps--one to send the request and one for the SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope.)
I learned that a chronology helps me keep my data organized by providing a ready reference of everything I know about any particular ancestor.
I learned that I can add any information I have to the chronology. It doesn't matter if the source is questionable. I still have information available to me for evaluation and comparison to other information that I have found or will find without adding to my family tree.
I learned that using a chronology can help me analyze conflicting data.
I learned that a chronology can help me identify missing information about my ancestor and help me determine possible locations and types of records where that information might be found.
I learned that a chronology is an easy reference to show the migration of my ancestor from place to place.
I learned that a chronology provides me with a picture of what my ancestor's life was like by having all the events in their life arranged in the order in which they occurred. This gives me a feeling of knowing them.
Click here to learn more about developing and using a chronology.
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