I write about genealogy as part of my job. So what’s something I do in my off hours? Write about genealogy. Last fall, I decided to take a look at how I was doing my personal blogging and launched No Story Too Small. As the name implies, all of the stories that we find about our ancestors are important. Our ancestors didn’t have to be famous (or infamous); they didn’t have to be part of a critical moment in history. My goals with No Story Too Small have been to remind myself that it’s alright to blog about just a portion of someone’s life and to inspire others to do the same on their blogs.
One of the best ways to keep writing is to have goals or a calendar. (“I’ll write sometime” is usually a doomed strategy.) So to challenge myself and others to write at least once a week, I started the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. The premise: write about one ancestor each week this year. It could be a story, a photograph, a document, a pesky research problem — anything, as long as it involves one ancestor. The next week, write about another ancestor. Doing this will get you to look at those people in your family tree in a different light. What is it you want to say about that person?
To say that 52 Ancestors has taken on a life of its own would be a slight understatement. As of this morning, 157 bloggers have said they are taking the challenge. On January 8, I posted the Week 1 recap, which had links to 123 entries! Four bloggers have already made connections. (Yay, cousin bait!)
The entries in Week 1 were as varied as you might expect. Ancestors ranged from parents to at least one 8th-great grandfather. Some of the posts that stood out to me were:
- “The Meanest Man Who Ever Lived” by Peggy Clemens Lauritzen on her blog “Always Anxiously Engaged.” First, it takes no small amount of courage to describe your great-grandfather as the meanest man who ever lived. Peggy’s description of how she looked at his life in total, using things like timelines and examining the neighborhood and extended family, is a lesson in how to learn more about the person.
- “Catherine Conway Sawyer” by Susan Clark on her blog “Nolichucky Roots.” Susan describes Catherine as “the Nolichuckiest of my Nolichucky Roots.” If that isn’t a great description, I’m not sure what is.
- “Laura Cecile Donald” by our own Ancestry Anne, Anne Gillespie Mitchell, on her blog “Finding Forgotten Stories.” Anne is taking the challenge one step farther and aims to focus solely on the females in her family tree.
Each week, I’ll try to put together some of my favorite 52 Ancestors posts and share them with you here on the Ancestry blog.
If you’d like to join the challenge and be included in the weekly recap, leave a comment below or on my blog and include a link. (When you do blog something for the challenge, please put “52 Ancestors” in the title so I have some hope of finding it.)
It’s not too late to join the challenge; indeed, it’s never too late to start writing about your ancestors!