Historic Timelines

Historical texts have long been the subject of critical analysis from the writings of the Venerable Bede to the latest releases from the National Archives.

Joseph Priestly Chart of History

    • Maps too have been analyzed in great depth. We explore what they can  reveal to us about the world in which they were created, from the Mappa Mundi, through the lavish maps of  the Enlightenment Period to battle field maps of WWII.

Graphic representation is without doubt, both historically and in the present day one of our most important tools for organizing information.

Some see timelines as a distillation of historic text. The point is, they take text and data and unwrap and display it for us, in a way that we can derive information from it. It is the derived value that we get from a timeline that makes it such a rich tool for us.

    • Aside from maps therefore, what else is available for us to explore historically, in the way of graphical charts and diagrams?

For example, are there any historic timelines , for us to explore?

    • We are used to timelines with a single axis and a regular measured distribution of dates but this is a fairly recent graphical representation of data. Look back further than two hundred years and such a simple single axis timeline did not exist.
    • Many timelines in the past tried to encompass, from a single point, all possible connections going backwards and even forwards in time.
    • They would try and capture not just historical data but historical mood as well. The sort of mind, body and soul approach to representing data!
    • Other timelines sought to represent single events, single points in time or single locations, where they mapped out significant data.

Timelines as tools to the historian are unquestionably important.

    • Chronological mapping of data is a powerful way to reveal flaws in data sets.
    • For the family historian, it is another way to capture disparate information. What better way to unravel those family stories than to stack them up against historical facts?

Anyhow, this we will explore through the Tool Kits for Family Historians

So take a look at some historial, graphical representations of  data, not maps, not texts and analyse them for yourself. The ‘lines’ soon disappear though, in a wealth of curves and convoluted connections.

Read Daniel Rosenberg’s book  ‘Cartographies of Time’ to see beautiful diagrams ‘mapping time’

Explore for yourself, what must surely be one of the oldest of timelines, that of the Chronicle of Eusebius, laid down in 325AD  and held by Merton College Oxford

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