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!