Wednesday, April 22, 2015

HistoryLines Launched This Week - Post 1: First Look

One of the more recent genealogy startup companies is, which sent out a press release to many geneabloggers (but not to me for some reason).  You can read reviews and the press release in the post HistoryLines Official Launch With a Bonus on the Geneabloggers blog.

The site is not totally free - the retail price for an annual subscription is $59, or for a monthly subscription $9.95.  The Geneabloggers post has a link for an early bird subscription price reduction of 30% through 30 April 2015.  Anyone can register for a free account and create two stories without a subscription.

I have added some content to HistoryLines as a beta tester over the past months, and offered some feedback to the company principals at RootsTech 2015.

Here are the basics:

1)  After registering, and adding some content, my logged in home page looks like this:

As I mentioned, I have entered some family tree data into the site over the past few months, and have created a number of "Stories."  I'm going to work with my grandfather's tree and story.

2)  Here is the family tree information that I entered for the Della Smith Family:

When I add a person, or click on the person in the tree, I can add or edit birth and death information about the person.  Here is Lyle's information:

3)  If I click on the link "View Story" on the screen above, or on "Lyle Lawrence Carringer's Story" on the opening screen, I can see the HistoryLines story created for him.  Here is the top of the story:

Across the top of the screen above is a timeline with all of the history stories included in Lyle's story line.  A small map shows where Lyle lived during his life.

On the left side of the screen are links to "Add to Story" and "Edit Family Tree."  I will add to the story in a later post.

There is also the "What to do next?" box in the lower left-hand corner of the screen with suggestions for further input and interaction.

Let's get to the history line itself.  The first one is Lyle's birth (on the screen above), noting the date, place, parents names and parents ages.  This is one of the "custom" stories for the person - essentially birth, marriage, birth of children, and death, plus whatever custom stories the user wants to add.

There are a number of history stories, apparently gleaned from published material (perhaps Wikipedia?) for periods throughout the person's life.  These are lifestyle, social, technological, political, and other events that were significant to the country and world, even though the person (e.g., Lyle) may not have known or cared about them.

The next part of the story:

 Since Lyle lived from 1891 to 1976, the History Line stories provided include;

*  California 1891
*  Professional football, 1892
*  Childbirth
*  Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896
*  Childhood
*  Spanish-American War
*  Education
*  Emily, born 1899
*  Wright Brothers, 1903
*  Ford Motors, 1903
*  Hygiene
*  Clothing
*  San Fran. earthquake, 1906
*  First Radio Broadcast, 1906
*  Religion
*  Marriage
*  Diet
*  Titanic Sinks, 1912
*  Medicine
*  World War I, 1914-1918
*  National Park Service, 1916
*  Entertainment
*  Flu Pandemic, 1918
*  Household
*  19th Amendment, 1920
*  Transportation
*  Scopes Monkey Trial, 1925
*  Communication
*  Penicillin, 1928
*  Military
*  Great Depression, 1930-1945
*  Empire State Building, 1931
*  Politics
*  New Deal, 1933-1938
*  Dust Bowl, 1934
*  Commerce
*  Amelia Earhart, 1937
*  Pearl Harbor, 1941
*  World War II, 1941-1945
*  Atomic Bomb, 1945
*  McCarthyism, 1950-1954
*  Korean War, 1950
*  Brown v. Board of Education, 1954
*  Vietnam War, 1955-1975
*  Polio Vaccine, 1955
*  Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
*  JFK Assassination, 1963
*  Civil Rights Act, 1964
*  Woodstock, 1969
*  Moon Landing, 1969
*  Watergate Scandal, 1972

The end of the story looks like this:

4)  Comments and observations:

*  I did not see an easy way to save the HistoryLines Story with all of the formatting.  I could save it to Evernote as a Full Page with all of the formatting.

*  I didn't see a way to delete specific stories created by HistoryLines.  Do we have to keep all of the lifestyle and history stories created by HistoryLines, even if they are not of interest or do not apply to the life of our person?

*  The user can add personal stories, even record transcriptions and images, to the HistoryLine Story - but it takes some effort to do this by typing or copy/pasting, adding images, and saving the personal stories that would then be interspersed among the history and lifestyle in the HistoryLines Story.

I will show how to add a personal story in the next post.

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Or contact me by email at

1 comment:

bgwiehle said...

Re your comments: If you can't customize which component stories to show, then putting together a family's stories will result in a lot of repetition.

The press release said "After several months of large-scale beta testing, we’re very excited to be able to offer the HistoryLines experience to the world" - suggesting that there would be content for more than just U.S. events and experiences.

Randy, it would be interesting to see what you get if you use one of your non-American ancestors or relatives (Canadian, English, etc.). Are there events that are included that don't appear in an American profile of the same era? Are the texts worded in a way that explains a different view-point of a shared event?