Category Archives: History Visualized

Pioneer Schmitt: A Visual Biography

Johann Peter Schmitt exemplified a quintessential American story. First, his family represented the tensions in Germany through their choices and resulting tragic losses. They fled from Germany in 1840 to become pioneers north of Chicago, buying land on “the Ridge” to clear and farm. Through three decades, Peter flourished through a transition from farming in Grosspoint to building greenhouses in Ridgeville to developing property for Chicago, without moving. Uncle Peter grew from log cabin to elegant house on the hill. Continue reading

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An Oldest Original Discovered

Looks can be deceiving. One of the oldest houses in Illinois is also one of the most eclectic. Though there are no photos of it, I have drawn what this gem might have looked like when built in 1840. I thought it would be easy, but instead, it became a mystery in brick and mortar. Continue reading

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A Chart of Strategic Choices

There are always stories in the numbers. The first way to understand genealogical data is to chart it. Tracing three families from 1700 to 1850 is the foreground of a pivotal point in history. Within their data, a strategy is revealed, reflective of the background history. This interplay also dictates the approach to chart design. Continue reading

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A Boast of Modesty

History can show the extraordinary in the ordinary, and study reveals what is carried forward and what is lost. A family’s history can be displayed through the places they lived—the architecture and the circumstances surrounding. This illustration, of a modest house in Züsch Germany, expresses this interplay of influences. Continue reading

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Rascal’s Revolt: A Memorial Tribute

The biography of a Civil War sergeant demonstrates a patriot’s price of commitment. There can be no freedom without defense. To protect values demands sacrifice. John Schmitt continually stood up for democracy several times. Though he paid dearly for his convictions and service, his example resonates with generations that have followed. Continue reading

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Magnetic Migration: Ironworkers to Züsch

Confronting the challenge of scale, this illustrative map gives context to convergence. In 1700, industrial pioneers in Europe did not travel as far as their descendants, but did so with as much significance. Not only did they react to historic demands, they were architects of their own, and our, destinies. Continue reading

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Continuity of Construction

The curious mind does not shy from an existential dilemma. I confront a life-long theme of creating the new versus preserving the old. The illustration series for Allendorf/Lahn represents the past, present, and future perspective of domestic evolution. Continue reading

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