The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by George G. Morgan.
Context is everything. Placing your ancestor into geographical and historical context is one of the most important means of understanding him or her better. Like us, our ancestors and their families did not live in a void. They were aware of local, national, and international news. Even several centuries ago, news that arrived with incoming ships quickly spread throughout the American colonies.
Our ancestors were very focused on the events of their times. Information they received influenced their opinions and helped them make important decisions. Hearing an announcement about a new tax was liable to cause them to become angry and, like us, worry about how they would make financial ends meet. News of political or religious unrest or reports about the approach of a foreign army might cause tremendous stress and fear. Economic downturns, drought, famine, and disease all meant potential disaster for our forebears. Such news could also cause our ancestors to make the crucial decision to migrate elsewhere or immigrate to another country.
You will want to place your ancestors in perspective by using timelines for any number of reasons. Let’s explore some of these and look at how to create an effective timeline.
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