One of the most important skills to develop a historical sense is to de-compartmentalize information and realize that certain things happen at approximately the same time. How often, for example, do we stop to realize that events in history are often in some way interrelated and that one event can lead to another; how science and technology can be affected, positively and negatively, or even continue on in spite of political events. A span of only a few years can produce a huge advance in science, such as Kepler's proposition on the laws of planetary motion, as well as a momentous step backward in civilized behavior, the beginning of slavery in the American colonies. Or that although windmills had been around since the 12th century, it was not until Bach was writing his first cantata that the very first instructions for the construction of a windmill were written down.
In class, we recommend that teachers provide students with one or more of the timelines below, or one of the comparative PDF files combining these timelines, and ask them to discuss and/or research the impact of contemporary or near-contemporary events upon each other. They will also notice that in the comparative timelines, the entries are grouped by decade or part of a century for the more recent entries, and in some cases, one column might not have an entry for a particular date. We encourage you to have students fill in those blank spaces and explain how the events they add are connected to the others already on the table.

Individual Timelines

Comparative Timelines

The following timelines are in Adobe PDF format. If you need the free reader, click here.