It’s About Time

By Rick Crume Premium

Genelines Timeline Software

Traditional pedigree charts and family group sheets present a rather dry summary of names, dates and places. To top it off, these charts can be quite a challenge for non-genealogists to understand. Your family is bound to have a few unfortunate souls who still don’t share your passion for genealogy—and “boring” charts aren’t likely to help them see the light. Enter Genelines from Progeny Software (

Genelines creates eye-catching timeline charts that highlight important events in your family history and put them in a broader historical context. Drawing on data you’ve already compiled using Personal Ancestral File, Family Tree Maker or other genealogy software, a Genelines chart can show not only personal events such as marriages, occupations and places of residence, but also how history unfolded during your ancestors’ lives—cultural milestones, wars and technological developments, for example. A quick glance at the chart lets you easily answer questions such as “Which of my ancestors were alive during the Civil War?” “Could my grandparents have known any of their grandparents?” or “Were any of my great-great-grandparents still living when the telephone was invented?”

The program is a utility that complements your full-featured Windows genealogy program. Version 1.2P offers a selection of five timeline charts:

  • The Individual Life Bar chart shows a timeline and events over the course of one person’s lifetime.

  • The Comparative Life Bar chart shows timelines and events in the lifetimes of two or more people. This format lets you compare relatives’ ages when certain events took place and how long those events lasted, perhaps indicating family trends or genetic traits.

  • The Direct Descendant chart shows an individual’s descent from an ancestor.

  • The Family Group chart displays an individual’s parents, spouse and children.

  • The Pedigree chart shows all of a person’s ancestors for a specified number of generations.

All of these charts are well-designed and feature pleasing color combinations. They can be infinitely customized, too: You can change a chart’s size and colors, select how many generations to display and add or remove individuals.

Genelines comes with a wide selection of historical events covering everything from the Gutenberg Bible, the Mayflower’s voyage and the Salem witch trials to more modern milestones such as the Great Depression and the invention of color television. You can also add your forebears’ own important events: immigration, change of residence, military service and educational or career achievements. Users can share their history files through Progeny Software’s Web site, where you can download customized history files, including Acadian, Jewish and LDS timelines.

Once your on-screen chart looks just right, you can print it out or save the image for insertion in a graphic or word processing document. A chart can extend up to 25 feet long—that’s sure to be an attention-getter at your next family reunion.

Genelines is a cinch to use and features an outstanding printed manual and on-screen help. The program reads Personal Ancestral File and Family Tree Maker files directly so you don’t have to re-enter any information. If you use other genealogy software, you just have to create a GEDCOM file for use with Genelines. To operate Genelines, you need a 486 66MHz PC with Windows 95 or higher and 8 MB RAM. It costs $29.95 plus $5 shipping from Progeny; call (800) 565-0018 or order directly from the Web site.

Too often history is taught as a long succession of wars and presidents, without any discussion of how average people lived. Likewise, genealogists too often tell their family histories without mentioning how their ancestors’ lives were shaped by national and international events. Genelines makes it easy to put your family history in historical context.

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