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Synchronological Chart of Universal History Exhibit: Home

34-foot horizontal wall installation showcasing an elaborate Victorian-era timeline of "Universal" history.

Exhibit Publicity Statement

Want to Experience a Victorian View of World History Firsthand?

You can't do any better than Sebastian C. Adams' famous Synchronological Chart of Universal History!

Come to the CSUEB Hayward Campus' Library and view this 23-foot visual marvel, originally published in 1877.

The "chart" - what we today would term a "timeline" - traces human history from a specific date in 4,000 B.C. as determined by Biblical scholars of the time, and attempts to unravel the complex threads of the Old and New Testaments, before merging into a secular record of various world empires and leaders, right down to U.S. President Garfield in 1877!

The chart is compelling visually, as well as for the mind-set and underlying cultural assumptions it betrays in a critical period in world history, characterized by Imperialism and Industrialization.

About the CSUEB Installation

The original Synchronological Chart created by Sebastian C. Adams extends over 23 feet in length, and should ideally be viewed mounted on a wall, so that one can walk the length of the work and appreciate the colorful, intricate detail as it contributes to the entire historical context presented.

For purposes of the CSUEB exhibit, a fold-out chart from one of our books in Special Collections was photographed in sections, married together in Photoshop, then printed on a large-scale printer. The chart was then mounted on sections of foam core and hung in the Library's Upper Mall, coming in roughly at 34 feet in length.

During the 60 months it was on display, beginning in 2010, it was a popular draw; almost any given day we could count on at least a few new people perusing the chart, and would also expect a half dozen "repeat" viewers!

Views of the Installation

Ways to View the Entire Chart

How can you view the chart now that the exhibit has been taken down?

You have two options:

  • You can use the gallery view of the 1900 revision of the Chart in this Guide, sliding the segments into view, then right-clicking for detail;
  • If you'd like a sharper, more fluid view of the original printing by Adams (which goes to 1877, but also includes illustrations of the U.S. presidents), you might want to visit the David Rumsey Map Collection on the Web, which allows you to zoom in on any part of the chart, and to view it in crisp detail.


Gallery of Invidual Panels - 1900 Revision of the Synchronological Chart - (right-click for closer view of each panel)

Show Dates and Location

Exhibit Dates: April 10, 2010 - March 22, 2015

Exhibit Location: CSUEB University Library, Hayward Campus, Upper-Mall Elevator Lobby

Title Poster for This Exhibit


Producer: Richard Apple
Concept and Content Development: Linda Dobb, Richard Apple
Text, Poster and Graphic Design: Richard Apple
Archival Support: CSUEB Special Collections

Copyright 2010-2015 by the CSUEB University Libraries

Background on the Chart

The volume from which this wall chart imaged is formally titled (in the Victorian style): Deacon's synchronological chart, pictorial and descriptive, of universal history : with maps of the world's great empires and a complete geological diagram of the earth.

The title plate indicates the "Maps, etc"  were "drawn by Professor Edward Hull."

Originally the famous 23-foot chart of "Universal History" was both imagined and drawn by Sebastian C. Adams, a Presbyterian missionary. He published it in many forms over a period of years, with the first edition of the Chart being published in 1877.

After Adams' death, several updates were published to include more recent historical events and people. The volume from which we have imaged the published chart represents one of these later revisions of the Chart. In this particular publication, Professor Edward Hull is credited with drawing a "Complete Geological Diagram of the Earth," but the centerpiece remains the fabulous Timeline created by Adams.

- DA