Societal Events: Events connected to Places

Several timelines in other record systems have overlays of historical Events on Personal Timelines. Sometimes these Event overlays are intrusive but sometimes they can be enlightening.

If Gramps had a function to add events to Places, it would open a whole new level of analysis possibilities.

As examples:

  1. If dual-dating due to the adoption of Gregorian from Julian calenders occurred in a region during a person’s life span, I might want to show it’s occurence. I might even be able to clean up some of the conflicting records by finding records that were not dual-dated. (The adoption started in 1582 & the last European country switch was in 1923.)

  2. Disasters (the American Dust Bowl), Regional Wars (refugees & repatriation of veterans), persecutions (French Wars of Religion, the Holocaust, the Crusades, the Four Buddhist Persecutions in China) & economic books/busts (California gold Rush, Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, the Great Depression) were major influencers of migration.

  3. Famines (Potato Famine) & pandemics (the Black Death, the Spanish Flu) give new insights into possible causes of death. Deaths causes were generally downplayed during epidemics to reduce panic & ‘preventative’ violence against the quarantined.

It probably wouldn’t be necessary to do more than add the link an Event to a Place as a 1st step.

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Would there be any advantage if events were added to a place instead of just using the current event system?
Right now you can already create timeline-like place events in gramps e.g. create events and add places and dates to it, maybe use a custom type “historic event”. In the event view you can then filter for the custom type, a place and/or time.


Yes. It would be probably better to use the existing functionality for this.

The new place events intended to be used when the place is the subject of an event. We plan to use it for recording demographics or when regions split or merge.


The advantage would be in not needing to Share historic events and missing people who would’ve been affected.

I have a number of relatives who died in 1918. For some, the cause of death is unknown. Others had La Grippe, influenza or pneumonia. But I didn’t put that together with the Pandemic. (Partly because I hadn’t even heard of ‘La Grippe’ before when I transcribed those 1st well-documented relatives. Partly because I was only interested in filling in the blanks in the Pedigree chart at that time.)

I cannot even imagine how many Shares I’d have to go back and insert, set a role & re-order. Then the Reference tab for the Event would be so overloaded as to be unusable. Also, would that Shared Person Event give another false connection in the Deep Connections Gramplet?!?

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By the way, this isn’t an idea that I expected would fly. I’m just running it up the flagpole. It’s entirely OK that it will draw some potshots as well as perfectly aimed fire. That won’t bother or offend.

(I’m often surprised by an ingenious workaround someone suggests!)

I would not share illness event to everyone in a period of time but sharing it to all who contracted it in that period and described as it in documented sources could be interesting. It’s the same virus. It’s not true for pneumonia (there are multiple reasons to get it) but it’s for some kind of pandemics in specific period and location:

  • flu: <1918-1919: from China to US then western Europe then all the world. Note: grippe, it’s the french word for flu
  • pest: last visible into french civil registers was in Marseilles in 1720 (previous are anterior to registers beginning),
  • cholera: seven pandemics in 19th century in France…
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Is it necessary to share such events with people? It seems what’s needed is a way to create the kind of timeline you want, in which such people-less events are included based on whether a person lived in a given place at a given time. In other words, it should just be a join condition for the query used by that chart or report (but I say this not knowing how things really work). Similarly, there could be a report of a series of events in a given place, for a given timeframe, with all the people who were affected, if it could work by selecting the people who were living in the place during the timeframe.

The Pandemic might not be a good example, since it was world-wide?


Exactly, a parallel timeline line (or societal influences on one side contrasting personal Events on the other) would be the objective.

While not everyone was infected or (obviously) died from any Pandemic, everyone was influenced in some ways. There was a dip in the economy, mortality averages shortened, migration was curtailed. Obituaries became vague on cause of deaths in an effort to reduce panic.

In my hometown, that 1918 impact created an obsession in the teenage brother-in-law of a relative. He became a doctor & he went on to isolate strain A, then develop the 1st flu vaccine as a protégé of Dr. Salk. (And discovering him is the reason I started noting the losses in our family in 1918. So I guess the impact continues.)

And, although a Pandemic is worldwide, its impact tends to be in waves… with pockets persisting or preceding the broader impact.

@emyoulation A new timeline report with place could work as followed:

  1. Get all events of the person
  2. Get all place events (between birth and death of the person) for all places of the person events.
  3. Then search all events of places higher up in the place hierarchy. (again only between birth and death of the person)
  4. Afterwards sort all events chronological for the finished report.
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That’s a cool approach. The possibilities have been percolating away since posting too.

Perhaps there a way to use the Family as another container for organizing these events?

Add a Family with no people – think of if as the family of mankind. Then add a century’s worth of world historical events as Family Events. Or maybe a Family with thousand years of Historical Events of a continent or nation.

Can we run a timeline on a Family with no People? If so, it would not be unreasonable to poll to database for all the Nations for Events related to a filtered Group of people, and generate corresponding timelines for those Nation Families. Possibly with events limited for matching time frames. (Determining timeframes might be hard. I’ve got some dateless events… like burials where the date is not yet known. )

Perhaps it would blend in more seamlessly by temporarily add a Person to this Nation Family (as a 2nd set of parents) to have all those timeline event appear? I would expect that comparing a person to historical events is going to be a special task anyway.

Just quick clarification, I mentioned pneumonia because Influenza was generally not considered the cause of of death. Early on, the concept of anyone other than the very young or old dying from flu was laughable.

My mother’s cousin related a heart rending memory shared by his grandmother of a young relative carrying her child miles to the city through miserable weather with early symptoms because her husband took the family horse to his job. She waited hours to see an overworked doctor… only to be told that there was nothing to be done. And as she carried the child home, the coughs grew worse and the mother could feel the child drowning in the congestion of his small lungs. The boy died before she arrived home again and the husband returned home that night to his disconsolate wife.

Deaths were typically attributed to the complications: high fever, paroxysms of coughing, pneumonia, etc.

Just as a breaking a hip is rarely listed a a cause of death in the elderly… but death is often a result of the complications.

I support this,
Its one of the reasons I have asked for Events on Places, to be able to track historical events on places, not just illnesses and pandemics, but also different kind of natural phenomena or man made events that had impack on whole communities and/or individuals… in addition to place specific events like census’, where the people actually are participants and not the “owner” of the event…

This is actually an Event Based research approach instead of the LDS lineage-linked research that are used (and that strickly speaking are not historical correct for anything but a persons vital events)…

To be able to compare Places Historical Events with Events added to one person or shared by multiple persons, would be a great feature…
And if there was possible to add this through CSV, it’s already a lot of datasets out there, open source and free that easily can be converted to a Gramps readable format…


Another thing that this would be useful for is historical events for ships, railroads, companies and buildings that people in the research was related to…

i.e. for migration, you could add the journey to a ship (place) and link people to the events for that ship that fit the timeline for that person and when sub-events comes (if its manageble), you will be able to record a journey over multible continents and with different places attached… but at the same time all the places, and sub-events would be sorted under the “main” event…
The journey start in Kristiania, Norway, goes to Hamburg, Germany, then to Bremen over land, and with ship from Bremen to Long Island, NY, then they had a really long travel with train, riverboat, and horse/walk, untill they arrowed in North Carolina…
AND on some of those places there will be registered different Place Events, i.e. Colera, Fire, or shootouts/wars that maybe will explain why the journey took 28 month instead of 18 for the people that travelled before them…

It can also be a great way of register ownerships, productions on a farm or other place spesific events…

There are a lot of usefull ways to use both this and “sub-Events”

And if it also would be possible to link people (incl. add new people) to events directly in the Event Viewer, it would be so many less steps to link Events and People…

Kind of my wishlist…


Maybe what you need is a “super-event” rather than a “sub-event”?

Imagine a new object (I don’t like the name “super-event” but I can’t think of anything else yet) that could contain any number of normal events, or even other super-events.

A super-event would not be linked to people, places, or dates. Rather, it would just be a container to organize and facilitate viewing. That way, a super-event could contain some normal events which are linked to places but not to people, as well as other normal events that are linked to places and people, or just to people.

A super-event would not be exported to GEDCOM, but would be part of the Gramps XML export.

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The point about migration by ship reminds me to ask how others handle something… I consider Emigration& Immigration to be bookend events. They show country of origin and final destination. There are often waypoints (layovers, ship changes, etc.) to record in between those two events too… but that’s beyond the scope of my current question.

How do you link an Emigration event to an Immigration event?

I haven’t found any good way to do that in any genealogy software…

So what I do as only way I have found is to enter all Events on the Journey as single Events in chronological order…

That is why I really would like the “Main Event” - “Sub Event” feature… and the possibility to register Events with Places as subjects for the Events…

I really dont care 5 cent about the gedcom import/export… gedcom are a really lossy format, so give me CSV, XLM and JSON, I really wish for JSON-LD…

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I created a “Port of Transit” event. I have more often used it with the events “Port of Departure” and “Port of Arrival” but still works well between “Emigration” and “Immigration”. These other events I use for non-immigration activities.

The Transit event assumes that the traveler remained on the same ship. If they traveled on different ships I will record it as one ship arriving and the next departing.


I tested an early version of the new place enhancements (still a long way from ready) and only did it on a test database.

One of my tests was using the new Place Event feature. What I created was events for different relatives at the battle of Gettysburg and specifically at Little Round Top. I created a shared event with relatives that fought with the same units and then shared these events with the Place (the Battlefield). I had relatives with the 20th Maine and a one with the 83rd Pennsylvania.

All this information could be found in the place’s References tab but sharing the event with the place created a very nice representation. And I have other relatives who were at Gettysburg that I did not fully integrate in this little test.


I’m really looking forward to this feature, and all the other great features for the next version :slight_smile:

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This is the way I do it at the moment to…

But this thread got me thinking about Gramps internal Links in Notes, I’m just not sure the internal links will show and are active links in reports and the different webpage reports…

I’m actually using Freeplane and Aeon Timeline for linking Events at the moment, but also working with Gephi, Cytoscape and the new Australian Constellation…

(Still looking for the perfect combination)