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Join the 52 Ancestor Challenge

Updated on November 8, 2019
Virginia Allain profile image

I'm carrying on my mother's research into our family history. I've self-published family memoirs and 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 activity has been so popular that it has renewed each year since then.

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 about 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.

Join in and save your ancestor stories and research for future generations.

This Is My Blog for Family Stories

I use the free Wordpress blog platform.
I use the free Wordpress blog platform. | Source

Getting Started

I'm so pleased to see that genealogy bloggers are continuing on with this challenge. The amount of family information being shared is marvelous. Reading other bloggers inspires me to work harder on my own research.

You can sign up for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks at any time. It's free and you don't need to wait for January. Each month, new prompts are issued.

You can feature your stories on a blog or create a webpage or just keep them in a notebook for yourself and your family.

You Can Choose a Document or a Photo for a Starting Point

This certificate is signed by my great-uncle, Albert Vining. I could research about the Boy Scouts in that time and write a short post about Albert being assistant scout master. He had no children of his own, but raised a brother's son, Donald.
This certificate is signed by my great-uncle, Albert Vining. I could research about the Boy Scouts in that time and write a short post about Albert being assistant scout master. He had no children of his own, but raised a brother's son, Donald. | Source

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 Hubpages. You'll find a nice selection of photos there.

This Is One Blog Where I Post My 52 Ancestor Posts

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.

How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records
How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records
I keep this book on a shelf right by my desk so I can refer to it often.

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.

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.

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

The Print-on-Demand Publisher That I Use for My Family History Books

  • Self-Publish Family Memories - I've self-published two books of family stories and history using a print-on-demand publisher like This is a way to preserve your blog posts for the 52 ancestor challenge.
  • Octogenarian Self-Publishes Memoirs - Gail Lee Martin taught family memory writing classes for years. During that time, she started writing down her own memories of the 1930s. I helped her self-publish these in a 180-page book. It won the 2010 Ferguson Kansas History Book Award.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Virginia Allain


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