Revisiting HistoryLines – The Stories of Your Ancestors

Last fall, I wrote about my first experience with HistoryLines – The Stories of Your Ancestors. This site was newly up and running last year. I had signed up early while it was in the beta stage and received regular updates about its progress. By September, I actually jumped in and tried it out.

It is similar to Ancestry’s life story that is added to people in the member trees, but it is so much more. I originally created a mini-tree of my Anders Molin and Sara Brita Krook, born in the mid-1700s in southern Sweden. They, or at least Anders, was somewhat of a brick wall so this couple and their children were on my mind.

I was quite impressed with the Swedish historical context that was provided for Anders’ and Sara Brita’s lifetime, particularly with information about childbirth in that era because Sara Brita lost two babies.

I also put in a small tree of Slovak relatives, but no supplemental information came up at that time. However, I wouldn’t expect a brand new website to have developed a deep database of historical information for every major country in the world.

I received an email from HistoryLines the other day and they have been expanding the historical details. I was invited to take a look at Sara Brita’s story so I did.

Once I logged in, this screen appeared:

Logged In Screen

I can select a person in a tree and see a pedigree chart or I can click directly on Stories.

Notice the info below the red START A STORY button:  Stories are currently available in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, United States, Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Poland, and Sweden 1600 to 1950.

Therefore, I still won’t find anything for John Scerbak and Maria Patorai in Slovakia.

I went directly to Sara Brita’s story and found quite an expanded history compared to my first visit. Since I know little of Swedish history and customs, the earlier story was very interesting. Now, I have quite a clear view of what her daily life must have been like.

Sara Brita’s Story

Sara Brita’s story page has a timeline of her life, a map with pins representing the villages where she lived and, just below the timeline, is an update statement showing seven new categories of historical information have been added.

I chose to scroll through the whole story, which flows nicely. I could have jumped to a paragraph by using the category tabs on the left.

As Sara was born in 1752, the story begins with a paragraph overview of life in Sweden in that era. That is followed by one or more paragraphs about childbirth, the Seven Years’ War, Swedish childhood, education, hygiene, religion, marriage and family, diet, the 1772 coup d’etat where the king came back into power, medicine, entertainment, household life, transportation, communication, military, politics and commerce. The story ends with Sara Brita’s death in 1812.

I was particularly interested in the marriage and family information because Anders and Sara Brita separated between 1783 and 1786 and she went on to have not one, but three more sons out of wedlock. This is one detail in the life story:

the extremely difficult reality of having an oäkta ,or a child born out of wedlock, was usually enough to bridle one’s passion until marriage.

I guess not for Sara Brita! It also said the only two possibilities to allow divorce were adultery and desertion. I’ve not found any divorce record for them, so I don’t know if they formally divorced or just went their separate ways. Not at all what I would have expected given their social status in their community.

The story can be customized, images can be added and feedback can be sent, paragraph by paragraph, to HistoryLines.

I really, really like HistoryLines. It is very easy to navigate, add information or delete by customizing. I think younger family members might be attracted to this format with its use of visuals and pretty interesting details about Swedish daily life.

The current subscription rate is $59.00 a year or $9.95 a month. If I had young family members, aged about 9 or 10 upwards, and I wanted to encourage their interest in family history, HistoryLines would be an option I would consider.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this post are my opinions and I don’t work for or receive any compensation from HistoryLines.


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