A 14 Generation Family Tree Mural In My Dorm at Duke
One way to share your passion for genealogy (or anything) with your friends
I got back to campus a week before everybody else in January, 2022. Staring at my blank, white wall, with time to spare, I had an idea: I should draw my family tree on it.
It took four full days — working through nights and the quiet days — but it came together! Eleven feet long and four feet tall. I even made a (slightly goofy) video of it from start to finish.
But my favorite part was something I had not considered when I started drawing it. It caught my friends’ interest and sparked daily conversations about genealogy. Guests in our room stopped in their tracks, stared at it, and had lots of questions. And, when you are always reviewing something, you get new ideas! Seeing the diagram every time I woke up, got ready for the day, and folded my laundry inspired new research angles. It casually puts genealogy on your mind 24/7.
Tip: Visuals grab attention! And, they keep your mind active. Sure, tell your friends and family about your genealogy pursuits. But nothing triumphs over a good visual. I learned that by drawing this on my dorm wall. Anybody who visited our room immediately understood why genealogy research is exciting. And, it is fun to show your friends another dimension of your life!
Jack Palmer is a History and Psychology double-major at Duke University. I’ve done genealogy research since I was 10 and love writing about it for family, friends, and anybody else who might enjoy a blast from the past.
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FABulous Jack! What a delight. I especially like your observation about using its visual presence to spark conversations about family history with others. I've been kind of inspired by new tools out there to create virtual whiteboards for family trees and photos. They're cool and portable, but certainly don't have that power to dominate a room that something so beautifully hand made does... Bravo, dude!
What an incredible way to honor your family story! As a Duke alum and someone who works at Ancestry, I love the investment of time you put in to discover and now share your history.