Library of Congress

Teachers

The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Parallel Histories

[Detail] Discovery of the Mississippi: By Ferdinand De Soto

Chronological Thinking: Constructing a Timeline

Timelines—graphics in which events are shown in the order in which they happened—are useful tools for organizing historical information. Timelines can cover many years, like the timeline of exploration and early settlement provided in the collection. Timelines can also cover much shorter periods of time, like a day, week, month, or span of several months. Constructing a timeline requires careful thinking—not just placing events in the correct order but also selecting the events to be shown on the timeline.

During Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain, Juan Ruiz de Apodaca, the Spanish Viceroy (governor) of New Spain, wrote a series of reports to the Spanish secretary of state and secretary of the Department of War. Six of these reports are included in the Parallel Histories collection. Locate the six reports. You can locate the reports by conducting a search using the name Juan Ruiz de Apodaca as your search term or by browsing the “Hans P. Kraus” Collection for the title “Report to the Secretary of State and of the Department of War.”

When was the first of the reports available written? What was the last report available in the collection written? Create a timeline that spans the period between the first and last reports. Using the reports or “Notes” introducing them, select events covered in the reports that you think help explain the relationship between the United States and Spain on the eve of Mexican independence. Based on your timeline, what inferences can be made regarding the relations between the United States and Spain?