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Artist Unidentified
Family Tree

Genealogical imagery draws upon the ancient metaphor of the branching tree to create a systematic representation of family relationships. These examples were created in the 19th century, although the tradition of hand-drawn family trees dates back many centuries. The colorful watercolor example draws on local traditions of Northeastern Massachusetts, with the tree sprouting up from a base of two hearts, and each family member represented by an individual fruit. Notably, several fruits remain to be filled, and the differences in penmanship indicate that family names and birth dates were recorded at various moments, testifying to the document’s use over time. A second work features the still relatively novel technology of photography, emphasizing the continuing longevity of the tree as a genealogical device.