I grew up in a house full of family heirlooms. My great-great-grandfather's mid-19th century Tennessee long rifle leaned in a corner of the living room. Enigmatic sepia photos of grim-looking frontier people stood on shelves. Faded letters illuminated private lives, daily activities and international events (those addressing the 1918 Influenza Pandemic are eerily familiar). These ran the gamut of perceived importance from an 1890 postcard notifying family they were going to a "hog-killing" in a neighboring town to a letter in which my grandfather's half-brother announced he would be coming home from Montana to die from a terminal veneral disease. The tone and diction in these missives was as revealing as the content.
On inheriting boxloads of these artifacts I began following leads buried in old letters and photos. They led to ancestors unknown to my parents, tracking them east to Tennessee, Pennsylvania, the coastal states and eventually to Britain, France and the German states. Almost all these ancestral lines crossed the Atlantic before the American Revolution. On discovering these journeys I also traced the migrations of which they were a part.
In this research I found my McMillen (spelled variously over the centuries) ancestors emigrated from Kintyre in the Scottish Highlands to the Cape Fear Colony about 1750. After 250 years I reconnected with the clan, attending a 1991 gathering in Scotland and becoming acquainted with Clan MacMillan's chief, George MacMillan.
For the last twenty years I have worked with George and our historian Graeme Mackenzie on clan communications in a variety of media, regionally and internationally, including development and maintenance of the clan's website. Studying the subject and becoming acquainted with the audience both in-person and online has provided invaluable insight. Feedback from Google Analytics has proved invaluable in assessing the interests of those who visit it.
Graphics have been created both specific to Clan MacMillan and of a more general nature, most of the latter addressing early migrations to North America. A print of Scottish Highland and Scots-Irish immigration attracted attention with frequent enqueries about availability for sales. Testing the waters, I tried printing these on archival paper, a perfect match for the period style. I have since created these for other migrations (three of which included my ancestors) as well as addressing the lands and histories of Scottish clans, to date clans MacMillan and MacDonald.
An offshoot of the Scottish clan efforts was media with a broader Celtic theme. The headline of the website and display is "Scottish? Irish? Scots-Irish?", the latter popular at Irish-themed events. This questions event attendees and website visitors about their ancestral origins, many of whom have inaccurate assumptions regarding the national and ethnic origin of ancestors, whether Scottish or Irish.
- Self-promotional graphic that won a Silver Award at Typographer's International Association's annual show.
- Website for Clan MacMillan International.
- Digital newsletter for a branch of Clan MacMillan.
- Logo for a clan gathering incorporating clan symbols and a loon, Minnesota's state bird.
- Tent display for Celtic events and the accompanying website.