By April Leigh Helm, Matthew L. Helm

A social networking type benefit of a paid subscription to Ancestry.com is the LifeStory feature. LifeStory in Ancestry Family Tree allows you to create an online timeline and retelling of your ancestor’s life, giving color and context to it. Using records and information you’ve collected, in conjunction with information about historical events and areas, LifeStory builds a narrative for the ancestor.

Interested in adding a LifeStory for one of your ancestors? Here’s how:

  1. Go to Ancestry.com and log in.
  2. Select the Trees menu at the top of the page, and click on the family tree that contains the ancestor for whom you want to create a LifeStory.

    For example, if you want to create a LifeStory for William Henry Abell, you select the Abell tree from your drop-down.
  3. Click on the box in the tree for the ancestor, then select Profile.

    Click on William Henry Abell’s box. As he is currently the main focal point of this tree, his box is in the center of the page.

    Near the top of the page, there is a menu bar with options for Lifestory, Facts, Gallery, and Hints. The page defaults to the Facts view.

  4. Click on the LifeStory feature in the menu bar.

    The LifeStory generates in the form of a timeline. On the timeline are events about which you’ve entered information. There are maps of locations found in records for the ancestor, and historical facts that add color.

    In the example (see the following figure), the LifeStory for William Henry Abell has basic information about his birth, death, parents, and marriages, as well as general information and maps on the locations where he lived. The LifeStory also includes general information on the First Kentucky Derby, as William Henry Abell lived nearby in Kentucky at the time of the first derby. There is also an entry for the Great Lakes Storm in 1913 because William Henry Abell was living in Illinois when that weather system took its toll on the Midwest, so he may have been affected.

  5. Choose which content to keep in the LifeStory.

    If you see wrong information about your ancestor or wish to update something, you can choose to Edit the entries that come from facts you’ve entered in Ancestry.com.

    If there are general historical entries that you don’t want to include in your ancestor’s LifeStory, simply click on the Ignore button next to the entry. It will disappear.

    Use the Add drop down at the top-right of the screen if you wish to add photos or videos to the LifeStory. This allows you to select media that is already attached to the profile record for the ancestor.

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William Henry Abell’s LifeStory at Ancestry.com.