Learning Something New with HistoryLines

I have several subscriptions that I’ve gotten when they were on sale, but haven’t done a whole lot with most of them. One of my education goals for the summer was to delve into these programs/sites one at a time to at least learn to make my way around.

Today, I’ll share my venture into History Lines. Dick Eastman and Randy Seaver have written about this new company. Randy has written multiple in depth posts about his experience with History Lines. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here, so I will focus on my impressions of the site and how I might use it.

September is more than a couple of months past April, so what prompted me to look at HistoryLines right now?

HistoryLines Update #21

HistoryLines update #21 did it. Yep, #21. I actually subscribed to HistoryLines when they offered 30% off an annual rate because the site looked interesting and I knew at some point I would have time to seriously take a look and try it out.

Back in the spring, rather than import an entire GEDCOM with 7000+ people in it, I decided to just create a tree of a single family. I’ve been obsessed with my Molin family for months, so Anders Molin and Sara Brita Krook of Sweden became my test example.

Sara Brita was my “home” person.

It is super easy to add people to the tree – just click and fill in the box. I added Sara’s husband and their four children. Then I wanted to see how the story looked. I was quite surprised.

I am used to, and not too impressed, with regular genealogy software programs that create stories in the canned format: “Sara was born on this date. She married so and so on this date in wherever and died on this date.”

HistoryLines has gone much farther than that. I know next to nothing about Swedish history so I learned a lot by reading the general reference material that was automatically inserted and the historical references paint a good picture of what life was like for her in the 18th century.

The story can be edited, not only to add text, but images can also be inserted. I added the last sentence about Anders’ and Sara’s son who died in infancy and inserted a photo my husband took when we visited Öved last year:

It’s difficult to see without enlarging the image, but at the very top right, the options are to click and personalize or to send feedback to HistoryLines. In the second section, the options are to edit because I’ve already personalized the paragraph by adding the last sentence and inserting the photo.

The depth of information just on childbirth is excellent and gives a sense of life in those times. Sara lost two of her four sons when they were just babies.

I tried a second family, this one in Slovakia. John Scerbak and Maria Patorai are my 2x great grandparents. They lived and died in a very small village, Udol, about 25 miles northwest of Presov.

This time, no detailed history came up with the vital records. It was a bit disappointing not to find any historical information, but HistoryLines may be working to expand its historical reference library. It isn’t reasonable to expect a new start up to have a worldwide catalog ready. I think I will send feedback information to them with a suggestion to add Slovakia. There were a lot of Slovak immigrants in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

This site is very easy to navigate and now that I’ve tried it out, I think I will import a GEDCOM and sample information about some of my other families. I think that this is a great way to interest the younger generation. I have a young cousin who is just starting to become interested in the family history. He has not been married long and this format would give him a lot of information in a compact manner.

I mentioned earlier that I have a subscription. Current rates are $59.00 a year or $9.95 per month. I believe that there is still an option to create two stories for free so if this site has piqued your interest, you can try it out at no cost. It is HistoryLines – The Stories of Your Ancestors.

If you would like an in-depth review, click on Randy Seaver’s link at the beginning of this post.


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