HistoryLines Website Announces Public Launch

By Diane Haddad, a site that helps you create personalized life stories for your ancestors with historical context, photos and an interactive map, has officially launched to the public after several months of beta testing and a “soft launch” last week.

Co-founder Jeff Haddon says HistoryLines addresses two major “pain points” many genealogists face in sharing their ancestors’ stories: The lack of detail about ancestors’ lives and the time needed to compose a story from gathered research.

You can try the site for free by creating two ancestral stories. Subscriptions cost $9.99 per month or $59 per year, and if you sign up before April 30, you can save 30 percent by using code EARLYBIRD30.

You start by creating a tree, either by entering names and dates on the site, or by importing a GEDCOM or a FamilySearch family tree. I created a small tree with just my second-great-grandparents’ birth and death dates and places, to see what the site would do with that basic information. Here’s the start of my great-great-grandmother’s story:

It weaves her life dates into a story of life at that time. It has descriptions of the local area and historical events (such as the Civil War and the Homestead Act), along with sections with information childhood, clothing, education, marriage, religion and more.

I can edit each section to include more personal information, and add pictures. Here, I’ve edited the “Marries” section with the church where they married.

You also can add a section about a family member, immigration, residence or other event.

Stories are currently available for ancestors in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the United States, Denmark, and Germany from 1600 to 1950.

Haddon told me he hired college history majors to research historical events and write about them (sounds like a job I would’ve loved in college!) in such a way that the information would flow naturally when combined with users’ family tree data.

Features new with the launch include the ability to export your ancestors’ life stories in PDF format and share them on social media. You also can access source citations for the historical context that’s information added to your ancestor’s life story.