Adams Synchronological Chart or Map of History of the World 1400 to 1920

Adams Synchronological Chart or Map of History of the World 1400 to 1920

Usage conditions apply
Sebastian C. Adams’s Chronological Chart of Ancient, Modern and Biblical History is a colorfully illustrated scroll approximately 27.5 inches high and 22 feet long. Its linen-backed panels are wall-mounted with wooden cranks on each side. The scroll traces the course of human history from 4004 BC to 1883 using time lines, flow charts, and family trees that encompass settlements, countries, empires and civilizations around the world, from Babylon, Sparta, and China to Italy, Russia, and Wales. The text is accompanied by pictures of landmark events and personalities, including architectural monuments like the pyramids, history-changing tools and weapons, inventions, and portraits of famous rulers, adventurers, scientists, and cultural figures, as well as everyday people. The illustrations contain stereotypical ethnographic images that were typical of the period in which they were created. Maps drawn by J. A. Paine appear in the early panels of the scroll depicting the races and settlements of Noah, ancient Egypt, the conquests of Alexander the Great, Solomon’s Empire, the Roman Empire, 16th century Europe, and the United States. The last section shows the U.S. Presidents, other world leaders and sovereigns of the time, a list of eminent men (no women!) and a list of events in United States history up to 1883. Vertical red lines mark every 10 years and the bold black text highlight events, governments, and individuals. The Chronological Chart was produced as a series of chromolithographic panels and first published in 1871. It was published both as a scroll and in a foldable book form and a fabric cover for the scroll as well as a 7 page key were available for purchase at an additional cost. The Chronological Chart… became very popular, especially with church schools and was reproduced in several later editions as well a knock off copies in American and England. A British copy called The Wall Chart of World History, was published in 1890 by the Irish geologist Edward Hull (ca 1829-1917). It was incorrectly attributed to him when he added a geological strata, and this version of the foldout book has been reproduced in facsimile as Time Chart History of The Wall Chart of World History with additions at the end to include the 20th Century.
Sebastian Cabot Adams (July 28, 1825-January 5, 1898) was a minister, educator, pioneer, missionary, and writer who created the Chronological Chart of Ancient, Modern and Biblical History. Adams was born near Sandusky, Ohio but moved with his family to Galesburg, Illinois when he was twelve years old. As a young man, he resettled in Oregon, where he taught school (1852-54) and in 1856 opened his own school which eventually became Linfield College. He also worked as a preacher, surveyor, county clerk and state senator. In 1871, he published the first version of his Chronological Chart, a minutely illustrated scroll tracing the evolution of human civilization from Adam and Eve through much of the 19th century. Adams spent several years traveling to promote the scroll. The Oregon Encyclopedia notes that it is now prized by museums and library collections as an early representative of commercial illustration that made history lessons “colorful and dramatic.”
John Alsop Paine (January 14, 1840-July 24, 1912) was an archeologist and naturalist who drew the maps included in Sebastian Adams’s Chronological Chart of Ancient, Modern and Biblical History. Paine was born in Newark, New Jersey, and trained as a theologian but left the ministry in 1862 to do botanical work for the New York State Board of Regents. He went on to teach natural science at Robert College in Constantinople (now Istanbul) from 1867-69. He served as an archeologist on the First Expedition of the Palestine Exploration Society, a British organization created to study the topography and ethnography of the Levant region in the eastern Mediterranean. John Alsop Paine later held the office of curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from 1889-1906.
Strobridge & Company of Cincinnati, Ohio were the lithographers of this piece. Known as the “Tiffany of lithographers, they were accustomed to producing large theatrical and circus posters in eight or more colors by the 1870’s, producing in a multi-sheet format with backing. The firm was established in 1867 as Strobridge and Company and changed their name in 1880 to Strobridge Lithography Company. They were an outgrowth of a firm established by Elijah C. Middleton and W. R. Wallace. In 1854 Hines Strobridge became their partner but after a fire in 1866, the former Middleton, Strobridge and Company was just Strobridge. The company continued to publish until 1971, producing advertisements, calendars, and posters.
This fifth edition version of the Chronological Chart of Ancient, Modern and Biblical History was copyrighted in 1883 and published by Colby & Co. of New York City. John E. Colby, the owner, wrote and produced the seven page “key.”
Currently not on view
Object Name
history scroll
date made
ca 1886
Strobridge Lithographic Company
place made
United States: Missouri, Cincinnati
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
ink (overall material)
linen (overall material)
paper (overall material)
overall: 82 cm x 4.572 m x 14.5 cm; 32 9/32 in x 15 ft x 5 23/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. Richard Lodish American School Collection
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Education
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object