20+ Generations Family Tree

This personal project of mine began in 2005 and compiles both sides of my family spanning over a thousand years of ancestors. On paper, it measures 36" × 175" and was composed by hand in Adobe Illustrator. To accompany the 1,774 names, I added maps, a timeline, and narratives to provide a broader understanding of time and place. It is typeset in Neue Frutiger LT, a compact sans-serif typeface with efficiency and clarity. Freight, a serif by GarageFonts, is used for the narratives and map labels. These typefaces were chosen for their modernity and weight range and their ability to evoke a classical yet sensible aesthetic.

Two families on this tree — the Taylors and the Morgans — trace back to ancient times. The dependability of the information beyond the break points is anyone’s guess. My confidence in any line drops at about twenty generations. In the case of the Welsh ancestors who date to the Iron Age, sources connect kings to mythological creatures when genealogy and folklore commingle. For the French lines that connect to Rollo, Viking and first ruler of Normandy, it seems almost convenient that the research ends with such a prominent figure. On the other hand, twenty generations calculates to about one million ancestors, and forty to one trillion, meaning that connections to the Vikings, French royalty, or kings of pre-historic Britain actually seems less far fetched.

This diagram appears on Visual Complexity and presented at the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA.

Sorry, templates are not provided. Please contact me if you wish to use this in a talk or publication.

20 Generation, 65 Generation, 2000 year, family history, chart, Huge, Massive, Family Tree, Cheek, Wilcox, Jarrett, Lowndes, Neckers, Smith, Morgan, Brush, McKee, Ashby, Logan, Dill, Muck, Mauzey, Newhouse, Elliott, Sears, Tobey, Gallup, Hancock, Flournois, Madison, Taylor, Powell, Adamson, Jacobs, Hill, Ball, Washington, Robertson, Hillhouse, Blood, Solomon, Pierce-Jones, Sackett, Bennett, Lusink, TeWinkle, Ashley, Best, Redd, Peterson, Hamilton-Smith, TenBrink, Cooke, Mellin, Swinderby, Bergeson, Loftus, Tilford, Wesley, Baldwin, Wheeler, Cottrell
Full image is low resolution for privacy
Family Tree, information design, bridge


Family Tree, information design, return

Line Breaks

Family Tree, information design


Family Tree, information design, timeline

Vertical Timeline

Family Tree, information design, generations

Generation Labels

Family Tree, information design, maps


Family Tree, information design

Future Narratives

Family Tree, information design, narrative

Historic Narratives

Family Tree, information design, typography

Typography & Illustration

Family Tree, Jarrett, Lowndes, Solomon, Pierce-Jones, Smith

Family Tree, Neckers, Tenbrink, Vardink, Letgers, Lusink, Winkelhorst

Family Tree, Logan, Ashby, Mauzey, Thompson, Redd

Family Tree, Brush, Cooke, Morgan, Sears, Tobey, Gallup, Wheeler, Cottrell

Family Tree, Hancock, Flournois, Mellin, Taylor, Powell

1,774 Names   36" × 175"   65 Generations   1,985 Years   Typeset by Hand

Type and Illustration Explorations

Early Print, 2006