To create an American history timeline, first decide on the beginning and ending years in your chronology. The theme of your project dictates which years you choose; for example, a timeline project on the Civil War begins with the year 1861 and ends with the year 1865. A timeline that explains the Cherokee Trail of Tears focuses on events leading up to and following the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
After you choose your beginning and ending years, select the units of time you wish to use. Timelines that focus on shorter historical periods may have yearly increments; projects with longer historical perspectives may use longer ones, such as 10 or 50-year spans. Next, pick events and years that are most significant to your theme. Historical timelines may present a variety of events to put an idea into context; these include, but are not limited to, important battles, significant births and deaths, world-changing inventions, devastating disasters and artistic accomplishments. Mark the years of your chosen events on the line between your beginning and ending dates; if you annotate these events, it can make the timeline more useful as a study guide.
The simplest timelines are lines marked with years and events; more elaborate ones may include images of a particular event. For example, a chronology of the women's suffrage movement may contain photographs of protest marches and portraits of movement leaders. Pictures of artwork can enhance the timeline of an artistic movement; for example, a timeline of American modernism might include an image of Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks." Choose images that bring the time period into the clearest possible context.