Which profiles do you find better--chronological or categorical?

+10 votes
I used to always functionally categorize my ancestral and collateral genealogical profiles--birth, death, etc.  Lately, I've been building timelines and listing events in a person's life by year as was demonstrated in the You-tube video.

Which do you find easier to read?  Which do you find easier to make?  And which do you use on a daily basis?  Why so?
in The Tree House by David Hughey G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)

7 Answers

+15 votes
Best answer

I personally like the "chronological" method in a narrative (from the beginning of one's life to the end). Doing the biography then goes smoother and it is sorta like writing an obituary: you start of with where and when they were born, where they went to school, if you know that. Add jobs and military service. Then marriages including where and when. 

Events dealing with the family always are interesting to read. Awards and any type of recognition is always fun to read and makes the person somewhat of a notable. Anyway, that is how I do mine. Putting the "category tags" is an added way to recognize someone. I especially like doing the military service and awards. 

I prefer the chronological method, however I think it should be "optional" if another person would rather use the categorical method! It shows our different personalities and talents when doing these profiles. 

by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (2.5m points)
selected by David Hughey
That's my approach as well. I don't like timelines; I'd rather tell the person's story. In a long profile, however, I often create topical subheadings for topics like a list of children, extensive details on a man's military service, etc.

Some details don't lend themselves to a fully chronological approach (e.g., I find it much more convenient to say that man was elected hogreave in 1706, 1711, and 1715, fenceviewer in 1709 and 1712, and tax assessor in 1710, 1713, and 1717 than it is to list each office chronologically). Also, I often give separate chronological discussions of career events and family events.
I also do prefer the chronological.  I have still been trying to just get my folks entered, have not really got into the narratives on them all ... yet.  But I do find when I connect profiles up, connect to family and merge dup's, I have been doing the narratives the way the current PM has them.  I feel that chronological makes for a better read, the flow from birth through their life is what people have told me they prefer, as I have been telling relatives to check out WikiTree ... and those that give me feed back have told me.  I do like it that we have the options to do so on WikiTree.
Thanks David Hughey for Best Answer!
+6 votes
I've taken to categorising and then trying to write up a life story in some interesting way. Some of then are inevitably a bit thin though,
by anonymous G2G6 Pilot (256k points)
+7 votes
I tried to answer this question 22 hours ago... but... Every profile where you have more than the basic facts is different.

Sometimes I start at the beginning and work to the end in chronological order.
Sometimes I list the basic facts BMD at the top and then tell about his life.
Sometimes his life stuff is done in time order, sometimes it's in groups, ie. tell about his estate, his career, his military service, ....
I almost always put a list of children at the end of the profile.

I don't think reading them, that it makes a lot of difference, what method you use. I don't ever remember reading a well done bio and thinking: "(roll eyes) they should have put that in a different order."  The obviously merged and not too well combined profiles don't count, because I will roll my eyes and redo it.
by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
+6 votes
I tend to put things in chronological order with the common exception being that lists of children immediately follow the marriage they were born of, even if other events fall in between the children's births.

Bob was born at... On... To parents... And .... (Source)

Bob married .... Daughter of .... And ..... (Source). Known children include:
{Numbered list in format name (birth year, marriage years and spouses, death year)}

Bob died on ... At .... And was buried at ....

Obviously there are other exceptions, for example if I am writing a paragraph about their war service and they were married during that service I'll finish the war service and then begin the next paragraph like:

While Bob was serving in the great Fantasian war he met ... They were married .....
+4 votes

I don't like it when a profile gets an automatic table of contents, so I usually stick to having headings for Biography and Sources plus one more heading, which may be Research notes or Children or something else. I know I could look up the tag for NoTOC, but I find the three-heading limit quite comfortable for my purposes.

I'm entering my research manually, mostly from notes I already have. For the section I'm working with I look up all the sources (old church records and taxation records) again, and at the same time follow up the occasional new hunch. I write the profiles as little stories as I go - they are usually not long stories, just birth-marriage-death. The story usually follows the chronological order - but where I'm at right now many persons have most of their info in a long obituary, while records for birth and marriage may be hard to find - or nonexistent. Those tend to get written in a backwards order.

Then I'm also filling in a few bits of my tree here and there in a more quick-and-dirty fashion, just to be able to see my ahnen list and such. These will get only a list of birth-marriage-death with sources in short form, cut-and-pasted from my notes. I'll get back to them, geographical area by geographical area.

I'm not very fond of timelines - the freetext format makes narrative my natural choice, particularly since I'm currently working with people who did not move around a lot. In later times when the young men and women served at different farms every year - often in different parishes - then a timeline will be useful. I have a few of those. Somewhere.

by Eva Ekeblad G2G6 Pilot (409k points)
+3 votes
I tend toward a chronological format - D/POB, parents, spouse, D/POM, children, D/POD. If I have occupational, military, etc. info, that comes next. This applies to "from scratch" bios. If I'm working on a bio set up by another PM, I add information in the format they used.
by Bob Keniston G2G6 Pilot (207k points)
+5 votes
I build a timeline as I'm researching an individual and link sources to the various events in the timeline.  Then I do a biography paragraph (or more depending), summarizing the information in the timeline.  I list:




On my own data sheets where I record ancestors information, I also have a table of their children, and a column for which census the child appears in with the parent.  This helps verify children and figure out when it's the same child, only a middle or variation of the name used in different census records.
by Peggy Kirby G2G6 Mach 1 (11.6k points)
I do something similar to this, Peggy. By creating a timeline, I can see obvious gaps in the information I have.

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