Some time ago I ran across a novel approach for displaying ancestor timelines on the ProGenealogists blog. In their November 10, 2011 post Timeline Pedigree Charts, they describe a way to build a timeline in Excel that gives a visual representation of the pedigree chart with a little timeline thrown in. While it takes a little planning it’s well worth it and really helps put your ancestors in context.
Here is the ancestor chart for my great grandfather Christian Andreas Conrad, who was the first of my Conrads born in St. Croix. On this chart, dates run from right to left. The dates aren’t printed. Each ancestor is a block. For each block, the right hand border is set to the person’s date of birth. The left hand border is the date of birth of the next person, so the death dates aren’t in the chart. So, while it doesn’t actually give the lifespans, it does show interesting things, like relative ages of couples and parent’s ages when the child was born.
Looking at Christian’s chart, he is the left-most block. Along with his name, I have listed his date of birth. Moving to the right, I see his parents. Males are above and females below. His father, also Christian Andreas was much older than his mother. I fact, Christian was older than Sophia’s mother, Elizabeth. Not at all unusual in the islands at the time.
These charts can get pretty big as you flesh out the pedigree, but they’re a very interesting way to view your family history. Here’s the full chart of my VI family, beginning with my grandfather, Ludvig Conrad. You’ll probably need to click it to read it (even then, no promises).
As you see, the charts get taller the further back you go, so you can see, at a glance who’s got the longest pedigree in your family. Clearly, I have a much better history for the van Beverhoudts than the Conrads.
If you haven’t seen the post on ProGenealogists, take a look and build your own chart. Really adds a new perspective.