Mount Vernon Genealogical Society - Founded 1991
Founded 1991

1500 Shenandoah Road
Alexandria, Virginia 22308
Telephone:  (703) 768-4101
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2020 MVGS Genealogy Writing Contest

MVGS is excited to sponsor our 3rd Genealogical Writing Contest to help support and encourage our members to write and share their family history.  All entries will be considered for publication in our newsletters.
Detailed Info about 2020 MVGS Writing Contest
We’re looking for short, no more than 3 pages, papers written by our members that tell the reader about someone in the author’s family tree. 
Entries are due by 10pm on 4 September 2020.  Use the link at the bottom of this page to submit your entry, or send an email to  Include your name, a reference to the writing contest, the paper’s title, and your phone number on the email, but NOT on the paper itself.  Attach either a Word, Pages, or PDF version of your entry.
Entries will be judged anonymously.  Evaluators will not be told the names of the authors whose stories they are judging, nor will authors be told the name of the evaluators.  Authors will receive a copy of the evaluation sheets and comments made by the evaluators.
Awards for the top 3 papers should be presented at the MVGS general meeting on 20 Oct 2020 and the top 3 winning entries will appear in our MVGS Newsletter.
Some potential topic areas:
No topic readily comes to mind?  Here are a few ideas, but papers are by no means restricted to these topics. Tell us about:
  • Your immigrant ancestor’s arrival in America - what prompted them to come, how/when did they get here, did they come alone or with a group, etc.
  • An ancestor’s contribution to their community - were they the village midwife or the local miller or blacksmith?  Were they instrumental in getting the railroad to come through their town?  
  • An uncovered truth about your ancestor - Was your great aunt a secret flapper?  Was their house a stop on the Underground Railroad?
  • A court case that changed your ancestor’s life - did they lose their land in a lawsuit?  Was their guardian convicted of stealing their inheritance? 
  • An event that impacted your ancestor directly -  did they live in Missouri when the New Madrid earthquakes hit?  Did they own a pub when Prohibition was declared?  Were they part of the 1889 Oklahoma Land Rush?
  • An ancestor that you can really connect with - do you share a profession or play the same instrument? Maybe you’ve both faced similar challenges? 
Contest Rules & Guidelines
1.  Paper must be written by an MVGS member; it shall not have been previously  published; although it’s okay to publish it elsewhere after the contest is over.  MVGS asks that you let us know though, especially if it has appeared in our newsletter.  Only one entry per person please [send that other entry to our newsletter!]
2.  Length may be no more than 3 pages (footnotes can be converted to endnotes & placed on later pages, as can your list of sources).
3.  Paper should be single-spaced, with double returns between paragraphs.  Use a 12-point font and submit your entry in either Word or Portable Document Format (PDF) format. MAC Pages is also acceptable.
4.  Submission may contain no more than 2 pictures.
5.  Include the paper’s title on all pages but no other identifying information.
6.  Make sure to check the paper’s content for, and delete any, identifying information such as your name, social security numbers, last names of the ancestor if it’s the same as yours, etc.
7.  IMPORTANT - To make sure your paper is anonymous to the judges, please make sure to delete any author information from your Preference selections. 
            On MAC Pages: open Pages, click on Pages in the tool bar, then click on Preferences and a box will come up.  At the bottom of the box is a line for Author.  Make sure it’s blank. 
            In PDF: go to Preferences and make sure the author box is blank.
            In MS Word:  their help documents say:  open Word, go to File>Info, right click on the author’s name, select “Remove Person.”
Criteria the papers will be judged on:
Topic - Paper puts “flesh on the bones” of an ancestor.  The story may or may not be dramatic, but the story must engage the reader and be interesting to a non-descendant. [This category earns double points]
Content - The main idea is supported by stimulating details.  The purpose is clear [ancestor was a n’er do well, or got themselves in a humorous mess, or was a pioneer, etc.].  The paper includes historical context; has vivid descriptions when appropriate. [This category earns double points]
Organization - The opening/closing grab the reader; the paper has a logical or chronological development.  Paper stays focused.
Voice - If written in the first or third person, reflects the character, attitude, and viewpoint of the ancestor.  Otherwise, reflects the author’s voice.
Mechanics - Grammar, punctuation, and spelling are accurate.  Paper has varied sentence structures and there are no run-on sentences.  Paper has citations.  Note - while citations are not judged on the expertness of their formats, citations are required to reflect the source of the information, when and where it was acquired or contained, etc.  New in 2020:  The paper shows evidence of good or capable research.
Point categories for each of the criteria are:
Exemplary - 5 points
Proficient - 4 points
Satisfactory - 3 points
Needs work - 2 points
Link to use for your submission:  Click HERE to submit your paper.