Bill Rankin, 2013
Most family trees are little more than names and dates. Adding some maps doesn't just help locate unfamiliar placenames; maps also tell important family stories of mobility and stasis. The jarring dislocation of rooted European families coming to the United States after more than a century in the same small village. The incessant westward displacement of homesteaders and tradesworkers in the American Midwest — and the boomerang trajectory of those that moved further west than the rain would allow. The intergenerational Brownian motion of yeoman farming in the North Carolina piedmont and Western Massachusetts. The pull of manufacturing jobs, leading from farms to regional centers to the promised land of the west-coast metropolis.
Each of these family trees shows the ancestors of one of my generation's grandparents, stretching back roughly to the late 1700s. (I have records of some of these lines going back several more centuries as well.) The coherence of these families' geographical stories over roughly 150 years is quite remarkable, especially compared to the ping-pong pattern of middle-class mobility in the late twentieth century.
Special thanks to Dániel Margócsy and Michal Razus for their help with the Hungarian and Slovakian (respectively).