Timeline Project Assignment

This assignment is designed to help you practice working with digital sources and tools and will allow you to apply the skills we’ve been discussing in class for the first half of the semester, namely: finding primary and secondary sources, evaluating those sources, copyright and fair use, visual storytelling and historical narrative. This project is worth 20 points and is due on October 24 before class.


You will select a trial from any period in United States history prior to 1960 and create a multi-media narrative timeline using TimelineJS.  You can select any trial, but you must be sure to choose one with the sources available to help you meet all the requirements of the assignment. Some old trials have enough to meet these requirements and others will prove to be very difficult in that they either have very few or too many points to choose from.

There are 3 parts to this assignment:

The Timeline: Your final timelines must have must have a minimum of 12 slides with a maximum of 20.

Each timeline must have at least 1 (one) of each of the following:

  • a map
  • an image
  • a video
  • an image of a primary source

You may, of course, have more of any of these, but you must have at least one slide showcasing one example from each category.

All digital elements (not just the required ones) must be properly cited and include links to the original content source where applicable.

The Essay: In addition to the timeline itself, you must write an accompanying narrative of at least 500 words.  This essay should not be a “retelling” or an explanation of the timeline, but instead should detail your experiences creating the timeline. You should include details on how you decided on the narrative you wanted to tell about your trial (what research did you perform? how did you decide to focus on the story you eventually told?), what technological struggles or challenges did you encounter and how did you address them (was it difficult to find material that was in copyright? or that fulfilled the requirements for all elements? did you have too many? did you struggle with the Timeline program?). This is your opportunity to explain any challenges/issues/struggles you had and how you overcame them. Essays that merely describe the slides in the timeline will lose points.

The Bibliography: A complete bibliography of sources used–both ones used to construct the timeline and ones that provided any background information–should be included at the end of your essay. Please organize your Bibliography into two sections: Primary Sources and Secondary Sources. Each section should be alphabetized and conform to proper Chicago Style citation methods; please link to the sources where appropriate. Your bibliography must contain at least 3 secondary sources. Of these secondary sources, 1 must be a reputable website (not Wikipedia or Linder’s “Famous Trials” site – you can use these sites to help you find more sources, and please cite them if you do — but they will not count as your website), and 2 must be scholarly books or journal articles. You may use as many primary sources as you need.


You must embed your timeline and narrative to your course portfolio. Please do this as a separate page and not as a blog post. This page should contain the working timeline, your essay and your bibliography. Once complete, please email me the URL to your project, and put a link to this page in your main navigation.

In order to “turn in” your timeline, you must email me (ebush3@gmu.edu) the URL to your project page before class begins on Monday October 24. If you do not email me, I will not grade your timeline. Emails received after 7:35 that night will be considered late and your project will lose points per the course policy.

Grading Criteria

The points will be allocated as follows:

Timeline (9 points)

  • One element from each category is present and appropriate (not only in its applicability to the topic of the timeline and all elements adhere to copyright and fair use regulations.)
  • There is a clear narrative throughout the timeline that is coherent and cohesive.
  • All images and sources in the Timeline are properly cited/links provided to original content.

Narrative (6 points)

  • Accompanying narrative is required minimum length (500 words) and is a thoughtful evaluation of the problems, challenges, and experience of using TimelineJS to construct the visual historical narrative. It should clearly detail the research and technological processes of creating the Timeline.

Writing & Bibliography (5 points)

  •  All written work (both on the timeline and the accompanying narrative) uses proper grammar, syntax, spelling, and proper Chicago Style citations were appropriate.
  •  There is a full and complete bibliography of all sources used to create the timeline (including those that provided background information). The bibliography is properly formatted and adheres to Chicago Style citations with links to sources where appropriate. There are at least 3 secondary sources listed with at least 1 website (not Wikipedia/Linder) and 2 scholarly books/journal articles.