HistoryLines Announces Beta Site

I have not yet used this new service but the press release sounds interesting:

Site provides instant biographies and personal timelines for ancestors, saving genealogists time.

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Oswego, IL – January 15, 2015

HistoryLines, a new website for genealogists and family historians, has announced the release of its beta site at https://historylines.com. The site allows anyone to understand the story of their forebears by discovering the historical events and environment that surrounded their ancestors. Users see their relatives in historical context with a personalized timeline, and read a detailed biography based on when and where the ancestor lived in history.

“There are a couple of aspects of family history research that are really problematic for genealogists,” says Jeff Haddon, HistoryLines co-founder. “First, genealogists want to know more about their ancestors than names and dates. They’re anxious for a glimpse into their ancestors’ daily lives to really understand what it was like to live in their time. But the research required to get to that level of detail can be extremely time consuming. And even if they successfully gather the data, they still have to compile it into a life sketch or biography. Multiply that effort by hundreds of ancestors in the typical family tree and you have a real time problem on your hands. There are not enough hours in a lifetime to research and write all those biographies!”

In the past, genealogists have relied on personal details discovered in artifacts like journals, census records and war records. While those types of sources are available for some ancestors, they are hard to come by for many others. Experienced genealogists often resort to historical research to fill in the gaps, but that research consumes valuable time that could be utilized elsewhere. According to Haddon, HistoryLines hopes to dramatically simplify that process for genealogists.

Additional features of the HistoryLines site include the ability to edit the existing story, or even to add personal events to the timeline and story. Users are able to build a family tree on the site, or to pull in their family tree from FamilySearch.org, thanks to the FamilySearch partner certification received by HistoryLines.com in December 2014. In the future, users will also be able to upload a GEDCOM file containing their family tree, further simplifying the process.

Currently, the HistoryLines site offers historical data for the British Isles, Ireland, and the United States from 1600 to present. Haddon confirms that data for additional countries and centuries will continuously be added until all locations and all centuries are represented. “As useful as the product is now, it’s only the beginning. We have a rich roadmap of exciting features and capabilities ahead of us that will continue to add value long into the future. Our mission is to make genealogists’ lives easier,” says Haddon. Much of the technology and processes behind the HistoryLines site functionality is covered by a pending U.S. patent application.

HistoryLines will be present at the upcoming RootsTech-FGS conference in Salt Lake City on February 12-14, 2015, and will be exhibiting at booth #1235.

Genealogists who would like to try out the beta site can sign up for access at historylines.com.

About HistoryLines

Formed in 2014, HistoryLines is an entrepreneurial venture dedicated to solving persistent obstacles to genealogical research and ancestral understanding. It’s initial product offering, https://historylines.com is currently in closed beta, and is accepting beta tester signups on its homepage.

9 Comments

Very interesting if they can get the historical context down to the local level. National level context will not be that meaningful to family historians if that is all there is to the historical timeline. I assume that local content from local histories and mug books will be added by users and consultants?

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Apparently this product is not ready, even the beta. I just attempted to sign up for it, giving my email, and received a message that they would get in touch with me when something was ready. I wonder whether this press release is misleading.

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    There’s a banner on the home page that says Coming Soon. I’m guessing they need a base of interested testers before they can launch. Seems very interesting. Thanks for covering this.

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    Hi Frankie. This is Jeff from HistoryLines. The closed beta is definitely live, and a few hundred users have been activated so far. We’re receiving lots of helpful feedback and encouraging praise. As of right now, the beta is free to testers who are willing to identify bugs and make helpful suggestions.

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If they can truly provide what they are advertising, it will be irreplaceable to those of us writing our family histories. Thank you, Dick, for providing this tidbit of info.

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This will be extremely useful. It will save me a lot of time. Recreating the lives and timeline of ones ancestors and there surroundings and the events that effected their lives and helped them make decisions like moving, etc, will lead to the uncovering of many brick wall dead ends in their family lines.

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I’d like to see an example, like for someone who died in the “Spanish” flu epidemic of the early 1900s. To see how they link it into a person in a tree

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I’ve received a follow-up email. “Sounds” promising!

Hi there,
Thanks for signing up for HistoryLines updates. We’ll fill you in on the progress and let you know when your personal access is ready to go!
The beta version is live and we’re adding new users as fast as possible. Hang tight and we’ll get you connected soon!
Cheers,
The HistoryLines Team

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How repetitious will it be when you have families in your tree with about a dozen children?

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