Category Archives: HistoryLines

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.


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.