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Join the 52 Ancestor Challenge

Updated on April 24, 2015
Virginia Allain profile image

I'm carrying on my mother's research into our family history. I've self-published some family memoirs & learned a lot about different eras.

Four generation photo of McGhees.
Four generation photo of McGhees. | Source

I'm Blogging about My Ancestors

Amy Johnson Crow started a challenge that has genealogy bloggers hard at work. In January 2014, she started the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project. Other bloggers found her suggestion inspiring and joined in.

The concept is to write a blog post each week about a different ancestor, 52 in all. The post can be a vintage photo, a description or story about the ancestor or the important dates of their life.

I got excited with this challenge and started right away. There's no question that I have plenty of ancestors to write about. Sharing these online opens the possibility that some distant cousin or someone searching for that same ancestor will find the blog.

With luck, I'll make some new contacts from this project. If nothing else, it will get me to round up the information I have on each individual and put it online in one spot.


Example of an Easy Blog Post for the 52 Ancestor Challenge

Sample of a Genealogy Blog Posting

It Can Be as Long or as Short as You Want

The ancestor I'm featuring today is my great-uncle Albert Vining of Tyro, Kansas. He was a veteran of World War I.

He and his wife had no children but his nephew Donald Vining lived with them as a teenager. Albert was also a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America.

I've written more about Albert's WWI experience here on Squidoo. You'll find a nice selection of photos there.

2015 - The 52 Ancestor Challenge Continues

I'm so pleased to see that genealogy bloggers are continuing on with this challenge into 2015. The amount of family information being shared is marvelous.

Videos on Blogging about Your Family History

Need some tips to get started? Watch a few of these YouTube videos and then jump right in.

How to Blog Your Family History

Are You Tempted to Try the Challenge?

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Part 2 - Blogging Your Family History

You Can Do It!

Who Will Care Once I'm Gone?

Those whose passion is genealogy get wrapped up in finding the dates, names and locations of their ancestors. It's usually a solitary pursuit and becomes consuming.

It's a process that never ends. There is always one more name to find and one more mystery to solve. Unfortunately our time on earth is limited, so at some point our research comes to an abrupt halt.

What happens to all those names and dates and places that you've worked so hard to find? Does anyone see them? Does anyone care?

Take one ancestor a week and work on them. Write out a summary of that person's life.

That may sound daunting. Most people don't consider themselves writers. Just pretend you are writing an email or a letter about the person.

The important part is to include not just the skeleton that is the birth, marriage and death dates. You need to put some meat on the bones. Are there family stories about that person? Can you verify those at all? One distant cousin thought our great-great grandfather was in the cavalry in the Civil War. My research discovered that he was in the Indiana Volunteer Infantry.

If it is an ancestor that you actually knew, like a grandparent, document your memories of they way they looked, how they acted, and how they spoke. Tell about little incidents that give insight into their character. Describe the circumstances and the setting for the conversation.

You can even write about the things you don't know about the person. What would you like to learn about great-grandma Tildy? What mysteries are there in their life?

Try to write at least 3 or 4 paragraphs about that person. Better yet, write seveeral pages, then share it. Send that letter or make a scrapbook or post it in a blog or even self-publish it. A collection of these makes a family keepsake that may spark an interest in the next generation in their family history.

Part 3 - Blogging Your Family History

Need Some Help Finding Those Ancestors? - Try This Book

Chances are you have some family photos stashed in a shoebox in the closet. Get those out and scan them into your computer. These will give you topics to blog about. Just start writing about the memories the photo evokes. Hey, presto, you have a blog posting for your 52 Week Ancestor Challenge.

You may have baby announcements, awards, and other memorabilia. This book tells how to take care of those. Again these will inspire your genealogy blog posts.

It's Easy to Start Blogging - Try a Book Like This to Get Started

Your local public library should have this title or something similar. It will help you choose your blogging platform and get started. You will be so glad you did.

An Example of a Self-Published Books of Family Stories

My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s and Clyde Owen Martin: Family Memories of His Life and Times.
My Flint Hills Childhood: Growing Up in 1930s and Clyde Owen Martin: Family Memories of His Life and Times. | Source

Turn Your Blog Posts into a Book

After completing your 52 week ancestor blogging challenge, why not save it in a book. With self-publishing, this is fairly easy to do.

Are You a Blogger?

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      As you know from reading some of my hubs, I have done a bit of this also but not as a challenge. I was contacted by a second cousin and have been able to fill in some blanks and furnish photos for her work on Ancestry.com which is nice. If we had children I would be more motivated to delve further into this. I am so glad that you discovered some of my work here and I am enjoying reading yours as well.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 2 years ago

      What a fun challenge! Too bad my family history is lost forever.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      While I don't have time right now, I love this idea - definitely will revisit later in the month.

    • Joanne Reid profile image

      Joanne Reid 3 years ago from Prince Edward Island/Arizona

      I'm late coming to this party but I have written about ancestors already this year so I am plunging in. Thanks for this lens!!

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      @DebMartin: That's great, Deb. I definitely will want to see it.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 3 years ago

      Yes I'm a blogger. And I've got to take on this challenge. I'll let you know when I launch the blog with my first ancestor. Wonderful idea.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Of course. Really enjoying the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, as well. Thanks for sharing about it!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 3 years ago

      What a cool idea for a blogging challenge!

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      @delia-delia: Although your known ancestors may not be plentiful, the ones you've featured were quite fascinating.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 3 years ago

      You certainly have great information about your relatives...and lucky at that! I know I could never do that challenge, I have the most elusive genealogy, but when I do find one, they always have accomplished something to make a name for themselves or the betterment for society. I just found a family black sheep, but he as well has made accomplishments...I just made a lens on him...