20+ Generations Family Tree

This personal project 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 mostly typeset in Neue Frutiger Pro Condensed, a compact sans-serif typeface with high efficiency and clarity. H&Co Quarto, a Dutch-inspired display serif, is used for the narratives, family names, and titling, and H&Co Decimal is used for 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 beyond twenty generations, hence the layout separation. In the case of the Morgan ancestors who date to the Iron Age, sources connect kings to mythological creatures when genealogy and folklore commingle. For the Taylor 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 — forty to one trillion — meaning that connections to Vikings, French royalty, and kings of pre-historic Britain actually seems less far-fetched.

This project was featured on Visual Complexity and Design Observer, and was 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, biggest, enormous, 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, narrative

Historic Narratives

Family Tree, information design, timeline

Vertical Timeline

Family Tree, information design, generations

Generation Labels

Family Tree, information design, bridge


Family Tree, information design, return

Line Breaks

Family Tree, information design


Family Tree, information design, maps


Family Tree, information design

Name Origins

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

Holland  Connecticut  London  Calcutta  New York  Peru  Alsace–Lorraine  Scotland  Kentucky  Ontario  Virginia

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

Type and Illustration Explorations

Early Print, 2006