About: background and related work.

A combination of pursuing family genealogy, studying history, acquaintance with Clan MacMillan and a career in graphic design and illustration provided motives and means to specialize in communicating Scottish history and early American immigration.

Grandfather at linotype machine.
My grandfather Daniel McMillen had a colorful resume including WWI soldier, professional baseball pitcher and linotype operator (pictured here c. 1943). This would be state-of-the-art until the 1970's. Media have come a long way.

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.

Reconnecting with Clan MacMillan

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.

Finlaystone, home of Clan MacMillan International Centre
Finlaystone, our clan chief's estate and home of the Clan MacMillan International Centre, site of my introduction to the clan at a gathering in 1991.

Related pursuits

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 an ancestors, whether Scottish or Irish. 

Websites, displays, newsletters and logos.

Examples of my work for related subjects and clients.