Introducing The Atlantic's Life Timeline

A new project personalizing more than a century of journalism

Today The Atlantic debuts an exciting new project: The Atlantic Life Timeline. The timeline draws upon The Atlantic’s 160-year archive to create a personal and shareable timeline that shows readers their own place in history, through the lens of The Atlantic’s reporting on key moments throughout time.

Explore the Life Timeline at

Each Life Timeline—generated after inputting a birthdate—includes 10 to 13 milestone events spanning the reader’s life so far, with each milestone correlating to an article from The Atlantic. Milestones fall into thematic buckets including: Before You Were Born; Coming of Age (a milestone that falls close to the reader’s 18th birthday); Contemporaries (a major event in the life of a famous figure born in the same year); and other major milestones. The product is meant to be found and shared on social: at the end of the Life Timeline, each reader can push out a personalized share card on Facebook or Twitter.

National Geographic is the launch sponsor for The Atlantic’s Life Timeline. Each timeline includes two native integrations for the National Geographic video series Origins: The Journey of Humankind. Every archival Atlantic story linked from the timeline will also include ad units for Origins.

The Atlantic’s Life Timeline creates a dynamic, compelling story for each individual. It also makes The Atlantic’s rich legacy personal: connecting readers to the events that have changed the world during their lifetimes, some Earth-shattering and some more subtle. deputy editor Matt Thompson introduces the project in a Note on the site, also shared below. Create your own Life Timeline and please be in touch if you would like to learn more about this project.


How Is Your Life Situated in History?
By Matt Thompson, The Atlantic

It’s difficult to piece together, in the moment, which of the events we live through will be remembered over time. Will it be the resignation of a national security advisor weeks into a new presidency? Will it be the sight of people wearing shorts in the middle of winter, a chaser for the hottest year on record? Or will it be something else altogether, a domino that tumbled mostly out of sight, setting off a chain of events more significant than anything that grabbed headlines at the time? What historic events have you lived through that weren't thought of as historic when they happened?

Today, The Atlantic is launching something we call the Life Timeline. Enter your birthday, and the Life Timeline will show you a brief tour of the history that’s happened all around you. You can think of it as a rearview mirror for your life, allowing you to view the milestones that dot your journey to this moment, stretching back until just before you were born. Just like history, each Life Timeline comprises many different types of events—delightful moments and tragic ones, world-changing milestones and moments merely worthy of note, some moments you probably remember, some you might have forgotten, and a few you might not have known about at all. Many are paired with stories from The Atlantic’s archives, so that you can see how these events and their significance play out in the memory of this 160-year-old institution.

My Life Timeline tells me that right around the middle of my life, Google was founded. So right at this moment, I’ve lived in a world with Google just as long as I lived in the world without it, and as I age, I move further into a world where it's been around for most of my life. Those still-vivid pre-Google scavenger hunts through Dewey Decimal cards will start to recede deeper into the fog of memory. For me, the milestone is a reminder to mark my memories of that time before they get blurrier, to take a moment to think about what I might have gained and lost. But I imagine your Life Timeline will prompt different sorts of reflections.

We plan to continue adding to the Life Timeline over time and in response to your feedback. After viewing your own timeline, you can share your email with us to be notified of future updates. Whether you consider it a blessing or a curse, you’re living through interesting times. And you’ve already lived through enough to fill history books. Consider this a sneak preview of what those books might say.