Many of my writeups describe the people and events of individual years during the 17th Century, 18th Century, and 19th Century. This writeup is a central reference to their creation and bibliography/URLology.

One of my earliest writeups was one for the year 1743.  I was intrigued by the number of interesting people who had been born or died in that year, and felt it was worth writing up.  This initial success was encouraging.

Later, I noded 1755 on a whim.  Being the beginning of the Seven Years' War, I decided to node the whole war, and never looked back.

I knew some eighteenth-century history when this all began, but I have learned far, far more in the process.

My principal source for all of the nodes has been the vast amount of information available on the World Wide Web. Since the only language I know fluently is English, the information reflects what can be found on the Web in that language.  I know some German, and have had a limited amount of success using Web translators to glean information written in Polish, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

Because of this, you will notice a marked concentration of European and North American history in my writeups.  I have been able to find a limited amount of information about people and events for this period in Asia and South America.  Sadly, you will find almost nothing of Africa besides people who were captured there and sold as slaves.

You will also notice that most writeups for later years are longer and more complex than the ones for their earlier counterparts.  This is due to two factors:

  • The more recent an event newer the year, the more likely it is that someone will find it worthwhile to put up on the Web.
  • There are simply more events to report, due to the fact that there are more people around to cause them.
Initially, I tried to maintain a consistent level of detail between the nodes.  This led to a problem: Some of the writeups for the years of the Napoleonic Wars are too long to read at one sitting.  I now realize that such consistency is unrealistic.  An event that is remarkable in the early eighteenth century, but is overwhelmed by other events in the early nineteenth century, will go unreported. 

Research for every one of these nodes started with a Google search for that year.

Google led me to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different websites offering tidbits of information. They are far too numerous to list here, but I will list some of the more important ones below.  If I think of others, I will add them.

  • There are many online timelines covering this period.  Most are somewhat local in scope, and I got little information from them.
    • A notable exception is the Encyclopedia Louisiana's Louisiana Timeline at

    • Some bits were also gleaned from timelines at

    • "2000 Jahre Chronik"
  • "Obsidian"'s home page was invaluable for sorting out various regnal chronologies, especially the Mughal emperors.
  • The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive at

    contains the biographies of many mathematicians and physicists.
  • Malaspina University's site provided an occasional name but I stopped going there after the third or fourth time all of their Javascript crashed my browser.
  • Battles of the Great Northern War 1700-1721 at
  • Polish Renaissance Warfare, 1450-1659
  • Great Northern War at Acedia Press:

  • Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth at

    provided much useful information on the chronology and significance of the many wars and battles during this period.
  • The Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent

    was the source of many bits of information I could not find anywhere else.  However, it takes a certain...viewpoint... that you have to be aware of while you are reading it.
  • 2000 Jahren Chronik Geshichte at
  • Eric Weisstein's Treasure Trove of Scientific Biography at

    provided the names of many of the scientists in the list.
  • British Civil Wars, Commonwealth, and Protectorate 1638-60
  • Xrefer, a compendium of online resource books at
    Among the books referenced there are:
    • The Oxford Companion to English Literature, © Margaret Drabble and Oxford University Press 1995
    • The Oxford Dictionary of Music, © Oxford University Press 1994
    • The Oxford Dictionary of Art
    • Bloomsbury Guide to Art, ed. by Shearer West, © Bloomsbury 1996
    Update, December 2002: Xrefer has announced that it will be dropping all of the Oxford dictionaries as of February 2003.
  • And of course, there is no way to avoid the vast amount of information at Encyclopedia Britannica Online,


Yearnodes are amazingly fun to write. I've probably learned more from writing the yearnodes than I learned from all my other nodes combined. Writing a good yearnode requires processing and sorting through a vast amount of events and people and trivia to decide what goes and what stays, and for a history buff like myself, nothing could be more fascinating. If I could skip out on the rest of my life and devote all my time to e2, I would probably spend most of my time attempting to craft perfect yearnodes.

That said, writing yearnodes takes a lot of time, at least if you want to do it right and feel you've been reasonably comprehensive. Generally, it takes me about 3 hours to write a yearnode for the 1600s, and I have to add an hour for each century I go into the future. A good 20th century node takes about six hours to do. I can't even imagine how long Gorgonzola must spend - his yearnodes are even more detailed than mine!

So how did I write them?

Stage One: Encyclopedias

My process is rather the reverse of Gorgonzola's. I begin each and every yearnode by searching for that year in the Columbia Encyclopedia ( and the Encyclopedia Britannica ( I read every entry in which that year appears, and decide which events/persons are worth including. My criteria change depending on the year. If the year is earlier than 1400, I might well include every person and event I can possibly find, as there are often quite few to be found. But for the 19th and 20th centuries, I find myself rejecting hundreds of marginally famous people and events - because there are so many to choose from, I have to narrow it down.

This is of course a rather subjective process, but I like to keep my yearnodes readable and interesting. My goal is to create a node such that most people will read the whole thing without getting bored and giving up halfway through. This means I try to make sure each event or person is at least somewhat interesting to most people. The English part of the web is rather Eurocentric, and history in general has focused on men, so I do tend to be somewhat more willing to include events from non-western areas of the world or achievements by women, in order to present a more balanced picture of history.

Stage Two: Timelines

Following my search of the encyclopedias, I then check several timelines to see if I missed anything interesting. Two of the better known ones include the pages for that year at Wikipedia (although these are often quite sketchy or else very random, missing major events while highlighting very obscure events), and the Timelines of History page at (fair warning - this timeline has many many errors - you basically have to double-check the dates of everything you find here).

Some more obscure, but useful, timelines include:

  • Richard Orsinger's Chronologies of Military History, Technology, Science, and the French Revolution at
  • PBS's New Perspectives on the West timeline of the American West at
  • Ancient Battles and Wars of Siam and Thailand at
  •'s Pick-a-Year searchable timeline at
  • The History Channel’s History of the World Timeline at
  • The War Scholar's Military History Timeline of War and Conflict across the Globe, 3000 B.C. to A.D. 1999 at
  • The Leaders and Battles Database at

E2 also has a wealth of useful timelines, especially Japanese History, Chinese History, Vietnamese History, Korean History, and Military History.

Stage Three: Google

Finally, I turn to targeted Google searching to fill in gaps. I search for specific phrases (in quotes) that are more likely to yield useful results - for example, if I am doing a node on the year 1500 I might run searches such as:

"born in 1500"
"died in 1500"
"constructed in 1500"
"invented in 1500"
"destroyed in 1500"
"founded in 1500"
"established in 1500"
"written in 1500"
"published in 1500"


If it is a very early year, often just "in 69" or "in 69 AD" is good enough.

Finally, I use simple two term Google searches to target areas of the globe that are underrepresented so far in my node. Something interesting had to have happened in China in 1500, so I search for "in 1500" and China, "in 1500" and India, "in 1500" and Africa, etc.

By now several hours have gone by, but I've learned a lot of fascinating facts and trivia to impress girls with at parties and dominate my friends in trivial pursuit (at least one of these two results actually happens).

Won't you join us in this exciting project?

Update: Oh yeah, I almost forgot, if the node has already been created, check the soft links! It's almost guaranteed to find some facinating events and people that you've missed, thanks to the work of your fellow noders. If their writeups are at all interesting, you should strongly consider linking them in your year node - integrate the database!

A last word - please support the yearnode project by hardlinking years in your writeups!

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