Tag: america

Historical Imaging



Showcasing images I’ve created, composited and/or altered in order to make historical situations, places or circumstances more readily accessible to as many people as possible.

This grew out of my effort–shared with anyone who gets intricately lost in making family trees–of trying to find relevant imagery to use for people of whom no pictures exist (e.g., anyone who lived before the 1840s). But not just relevant, you really want to push it further and find images that are interesting, too. Or at least I do. And accurate, for instance, to the time when a particular ancestor or historical personage might have actually lived or been at a given location. So from these endeavors, the following sampling of images.

First Example

This is Château de Jumilhac, a castle south of Limoges in southwestern France. In the course of working on a friend’s family tree, I learned some of his ancestors had been ChteaudeJumilhacleGrand copyinvolved in actually building it back in the 1200s. (!!) They’d been among its lords, too, for 150 years or so. After first thinking, aha! whatta sweet image to use for that string of ancestors, I learned as I read more about them and it, that the conical rooftops (that will surely strike Americans as quintessentially “fairy-tale”) were added hundreds of years after his family had been on the scene in the depths of the actual Middle Ages. Well I couldn’t use a historically inaccurate image, so I did something about it.

ChteaudeJumilhacleGrandOLD copy



This is much closer to what it would have looked like to the de Bruchard family as they knew it.




An older photograph also lent itself to easy changing:


















So the examples here are each within a category:

  • People & Location
  • Now to Then
  • Obsolete Professions
  • SketchUp 4 Teaching History
  • Now to Then 2 (showing elements)

People & Location

  1. Swedish origin spot of my great-grandmother and 3 generations of her people


South-central Sweden, Vastragotaland.


2. Recent Dukes of Argyll at their seat, Inverary Castle, Scotland

DUKE 11 1


Now to Then

  1. View from the Mayflower

2. Castle Hornby

On the left, as seen around 1900 (& today); on the right, as it was when my ancestor lived there (incidentally, just about the last–my most recent–ancestor to reside in a castle…500 years ago!)


Obsolete professions

Two variations


SketchUp 4 Teaching History

  1. Construction of the White House (the Executive’s Mansion) in the 1790s in Washington, D.C.

These are views of a multi-layered SketchUp model I’ve built of various stages of the White House’s construction. Here we see the foundation as it was originally laid down in 1791-2. The layers reflect the actual materials, orientation and configuration learned from researching primary source material (such as reports of the crew who laid the new foundations in the 1950s as to what they found as well as reports of Thomas jeffereson, architect Benjamin Latrobe and others involved in the early days of the building). The close-up is the northwest corner, seen from just a few feet south and west of it.


Here’s the southern facade, seen from the southeast, depicted as the Limestone facing began to be mounted on the brick walls.

And the same face seen from the southwest, a little further along in the process:












And here’s the north (properly, the front) as it neared completion. (The portico that we know today  was not added until the 1820s).


Now to Then 2 (showing elements)

Here you can see various elements that went in to the image at the very top of the page (the black & white 1800s looking street).

That’s Liverpool, England. Specifically, Vauxhall Road, looking across it from near where my gr-gr-grandad, a guy named Edward Dunn, had a business in the 1870s, to the intersection with Blacklock Street, toward the site of Vauxhall Gardens, a housing project that was destroyed in WWII during the Blitz just before Xmas 1940.




Composite of contemporary shot (made B&W) with old shot.






Composite of two images; the corner building has been added to the street shot. I then added this with the B&W version of the current corner seen in the shot above this to get the image seen at the very top of the page.

This is the current shot, unaltered.




And the combo with the building destroyed by Nazi bombs in WWII is below again for easy comparison.






Roots, now!


Obviously I’ve been excited since I heard that Alex Haley’s Roots had been re-adapted for TV and would be airing starting this coming Monday May 30th.

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 9.16.22 PMIt ties in with everything I care about as it pertains to collectively educating ourselves and using what learning and education (and learning about history) offer to unravel things like prejudice so we can–collectively–get on with the hard work of making this world a better place.


Roots the TV series circa January 1977 framed my worldview; I watched it then at all of 6 years old as I began 1st grade at an integrated school in Denver.


Roots the book had a greater impact on me than anything I’ve ever read.


720x405-121715-celebs-underground-tv-show-still-macon-7And have you been checking out that new series “Underground” on the WGN Network about slaves in Georgia and the Underground Railroad? Excellent, really excellent stuff. The show’s produced by the recent pop music phenom John Legend. And one of the executive producers is Akiva Goldsmith. Is the name not immediately familiat to you? He won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “A Beautiful Mind”, but of greater relevance in many ways to the topic at hand and of this as well as my past two posts, is that he was also a producer of the much-overlooked historical period piece I wrote about previously: Jonah Hex. And indeed, the same  production elements that I cited as groudbreaking in Jonah Hex are absolutely being deployed in this show “Underground”: contemporary, fast cutting (editing) style of visual pacing and contemporary music tending towards the more dissonant and dark side of the tune; these things help the productions feel immediate, rather than  historical, which to me, is the goal. Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 3.00.37 PM

And then Roots! Comin’ back. Crazy! And awesome. The production team, acting team, everything seems top notch and I can’t wait.

Then, to boot, I found out the other day that a cousin of mine is appearing in it! (He’s a fine actor and a guy of depth. He was also in Dallas Buyer’s Club.) How cool is that?! Very. It’s very cool.

Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 2.58.13 PM

I mean, this production: Laurence Fishburne as Alex Haley, Forrest Whittaker as Fiddler. And annointing this iteration, in the role this time as a producer is LeVar Burton–who of course catapulted into his career as Kunta Kinte, Haley’s African ancestor back in the 70s…only to go on to enlighten millions of kids’ minds with Reading Rainbow and then to go …where no one Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 2.57.49 PMhas gone before in Star Trek the Next Generation. The Point is, it’s top brass on this deal, and I’m stoked for my cousin to get to be part of such a high-profile project.

LeVar Burton

And here’s another very cool thing:

My best and oldest friend’s grandfather–a man who was also the closest thing I ever knew or had to a grandpa since I didn’t know either of mine–I discovered a few years ago is related to Roots author Alex Haley. Check it out:

TO HALEY 2 copy

US / a-and our / Sha-adow!


July 4, 2015

The 239th birthday of the United States of America
I’ve written a special new post for America’s birthday this year. (With special hyperlinks, too; be sure and check ’em.)

Instead of reposting the piece about how many of my kids’ ancestors were actually here, living within the area that became known as the USA on that fateful 4th of July, back in 1776, I’ve written this year’s 4th of July post that in a way is a bit of an inversion of that idea.

So instead of taking two people alive now in 2015 (my kids) and reversing the film-reel of time through their mom’s and my ancestors to situate those pieces from which we came that were here back then–which is quite instructive since her ancestors were all in Virginia and mine were in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Massachusetts and even includes at least a couple of people who were a quarter Native American–I’m starting with two people who were alive 239 years ago, back on the July 4th that gave the day its name, that gave it a reason to have fireworks–and am winding the proverbial film-reel of time forward from them.

Before the Big Reveal, here, I should preface by saying that I didn’t uncover a new tale. Rather I came upon some photographs–freely and readily available–that illustrate just how relevant the two people I chose to “roll forward” from are to us today. The “here and now” of the present day being what was the future for them, it also includes what is past to us as well as the present time.

And they are relevant because their story–only accepted into the general, conventional version of American history over the last 25 years–is “essential reading”, as it were, to understand indeed how we got where we are now as a nation. Because, although the recent INDIE HALL IN 1terrible church massacre in South Carolina demonstrates that we still have so, so very far to go, every such event, every such act of racially justified hatred, bullying, attempt at dominance on that fallacious basis must always be answered with: “Never again”. And boy does it ever tie in tightly with the 4th of July.

Without further ado, I bring you the legacy of a very particular couple who lived a long time ago in America at the time this great nation was born.

The male half of the couple has been well known to history since his own time, and deservedly so. For although the efforts of many people engendered the birth of the USA, one man in particular, Thomas Jefferson, in the words of historian Clay Jenkinson, “found the language to express the greatest aspirations that humanity has.”

True enough. And those century-resounding words contained in the Declaration of Independence must be read anew in the context of other of his actions about which, tellingly, he left few to no words at all: his mating with the female half of our couple, Sally Hemings. Thomas_FREDERICK_PeEL1Sally’s maternal grandmother had been taken from Africa by British slavers; thus, despite being only a quarter African, since the law of the times and place stipulated that if one’s mother was a slave, you were, too, Sally was not only Jefferson’s mate–mother of 4 kids–but also his property.

The legacy to be shared here this 4th of July season is of Thomas Jefferson’s descendants through Sally Hemings.

These were people who should have been the closest thing the U.S. would have had to royalty: the offspring of the AUTHOR of the Declaration, of the “proposition that all men are created equal”, as Abe Thomas Jefferson  MASK 2Lincoln had it. But because they were considered “black”, they were forbidden from claiming that heritage.

A glance at these photos of some of his genetic legacy speaks volumes.