When learning about history, something that I have always found helpful has been timelines (especially if they are interactive). In my Digital Public History course, we had the opportunity to create a timeline on a historical topic of our choice through Timeline JS. I did my assignment on the ultra-abridged history of Schutzstaffel (SS) uniforms. I have been largely interested in the history and influence of Nazi uniforms for quiet some time now, so selecting a topic was the easy part.
Learning how to use Timeline JS effectively was more of a learning curve than I initially expected. After talking it through with some classmates and watching some tutorials, it came much easier. What I had the most trouble with was uploading Wikipedia photos onto the spreadsheet so the photo would actually appear. Through lots of troubleshooting (and the help of some classmates), we were able to get the photo to appear by opening the photo into a new tab and selecting that link. This was extremely counterintuitive and was a frustrating experience.
I felt as though the primary downfall of Timeline JS is the limitations of sources that could be utilized. I have tons of great sources on SS uniforms and insignia that could not be applied in this setting since they are through a database/not publicly available. This speaks to the lack of publicly available sources on the topic that are reliable. Because of this, I primarily utilized photos from Flickr and Wikipedia.
When making this timeline, I was imagining the audience being any person who wants an “intro to” type lesson. I wanted to ensure that the viewer could examine my timeline with little to no prior knowledge and still understand the history and be engaged. As stated in one article on Timeline JS, “Beyond simply putting events in chronological order, TimelineJS, like all of KnightLab’s tools, encourages you to tell engaging stories that foreground the importance of understanding change over time.” Through this program, I felt like I was able to create a concise yet interesting timeline.