52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

In January 2014, I issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. The premise: write once a week about a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, a research problem — any that focuses on that one ancestor. The next week, write about a different ancestor. In 52 weeks, you’ll have taken a closer look at 52 people in your family tree… and maybe learned a little bit more about them in the process. (Oh, yeah, and hopefully develop a regular writing habit in the process!)

How can you participate? Easy:

1. If I included you in the Week 1 recap, I have you in Feedly (my current favorite blog reader). If I didn’t list you, leave your blog in the comments below.

2. Blog about a specific ancestor. If you want that post to be included in the weekly recap (published on Wednesdays), be sure to include “52 Ancestors” in the title, such as “52 Ancestors: #1 Adah Young Johnson.”

3. The weekly recap is published on Wednesday. If you want the post to be in that week’s recap, please publish before Tuesday at 8:00pm (Eastern). And by “publish before Tuesday at 8:00pm Eastern,” I mean “Please feel free to publish long before Tuesday night at 8:00. Try Tuesday at 8:00am…  or Monday… or the Friday before…” ;)

4. If you happen to be on Twitter or Google Plus, please use the #52ancestors hashtag.

5. Enjoy :)

Common Questions:
“But I didn’t start with Week 1.” “I’ve missed a week.” “I don’t know 52 direct ancestors.”

The point of 52 Ancestors is to write, not to enforce a bunch of guidelines. Feel free to start whatever week you want. Skip a week if you need to. (Catch up later… or not. It’s up to you!) Include collateral relatives if you want; I’m not going to check if it’s an actual ancestor or a collateral. It’s up to you.

“But I don’t know who to start with/write about next.” This is probably the most common question. My answer — if you’re truly stuck, print out an ancestor chart, close your eyes, and put your finger on someone random.

Links to Weekly Recaps

Links to Amy’s 52 Ancestors

Blogs in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge

172 thoughts on “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

  1. Pingback: 52 Ancestors: #1 Gard Witherell | My People in History

  2. Debbie Biggs

    I just learned about this challenge today . . . . . and I already had posted my first week’s ancestor—kind of had my own challenge going, but am excited to join yours! I edited my title to reflect the 52 weeks.
    Thanks for posting the challenge! This will be such a help in getting me to write the bios I have intending to write for far too long!

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      That is so awesome! I hope that you enjoy your blog and that it nets you lots of new-found cousins :-)

      Reply
  3. Debbie Hilliard

    Thanks for prompting me to start a blog and write stories about my people!

    pasttimesofanativetexan.blogspot.com

    I am late this first week but I have posted my first ancestor story.

    Reply
  4. Linda Schreiber

    Thanks for starting this! The ‘push’ was something I needed. I had actually set up a rough blog a week or so ago, and was figuring out how to start. This works!
    And it is *so reassuring* that many do not have lots of photos, or perfect layouts…. And some of those are the best stories. Don’t think I would have had the courage to jump in without being able to read things in the recap. Thanks for that.
    And, no, I haven’t included the blogsite…. It will still probably be blank by Tuesday night :) But I will.
    And I may start out by “breaking the official rules”, with a couple of collaterals. My two favorite aunts never had children, but their husbands had siblings. I would like to add life to the stories of these two women that no descendant will search for. And one of their husbands’ collaterals will someday wonder who these people were. I would like to tell them.

    Reply
    1. Judy Phillips

      Linda, I am also planning to “break the rules” a bit by doing stories of a few of the young ones who died young, and never had a chance to live a full life. These are my family, too.
      Looking forward to a great year.

      Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Debbie — if you have a blog, leave a comment with a link to it. I’ll be happy to add your 52 Ancestor posts to the weekly recap.

      Reply
  5. Kirsty Williams

    Hi Amy,
    I’ve been thinking of starting a blog for a while, and having come across your 52 ancestors challenge, you’ve given me the motivation I needed, and I have now created my own blog. I’ve set up the page and written my intro blog, and now I just have to choose which ancestor to start with, and write a blog about them.
    Thank you

    Reply
  6. Pingback: 52 Ancestors: #2 John Witherell | My People in History

  7. Cara Britton

    I am brand new to the blogging world and still trying to figure things out. This challenge excites me and gives me direction. I am really looking forward to the experience

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Welcome to the 52 Ancestors challenge and to the wonderful world of blogging! BTW, I love the name of your blog!

      Reply
  8. Angela Reed

    What a great idea!!! I have been trying to write about some of my ancestors the past few months of last year so now this gives me more impetus to continue doing so and expand the project even further. I have never started a blog but will be adding information to my Family Tree Maker file and my Ancestry.com tree.

    Reply
  9. Denise Lemon Knapp

    I’ve added a tag for the 52 ancestors in 52 weeks posts and wrote the first one today. While writing the story of Edward White, I was forced to do more intensive research and learned a few things I hadn’t known before, so this challenge is a blessing. Thank you for this!

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      You’re welcome! I know what you mean about looking deeper. I got some insight on an ancestor while I was working on my post for Week 2.

      Reply
  10. Linda Schreiber

    Well, I guess I met deadline after all. Sort of spooky, actually…. Must mean that this is not **work**, which I surely would have postponed today. Just might be something that I really want to do! And hitting “publish” the very first time is undoubtedly the hardest. Maybe I’ll get started on next week….

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Congratulations on posting your first article! You’re right — hitting “publish” the first time is the hardest. :)

      Reply
  11. Helen

    I love yor blog title, and wish it were mine! Lol It speaks to me because genealogy, my addiction too, is all about stories I can hardly wait to join this challenge and read all the stories! Please count me in. Helen

    Reply
  12. Debbie Hilliard

    Thanks for this great idea! I left a comment for Ancestor #1 – James Augusta Trevathan and have now completed #2 – Harvey David Trevathan. My family is loving this also – more interesting than just a family tree with names, dates and places.

    Reply
  13. Barbara Murphy

    52 Ancestors- #1. Martha Anderson

    I just love this idea it will make me really get consistent with my blog posts. I have been blogging for a couple of years but not on any schedule.

    Reply
  14. Angela Reed

    What a wonderful first week’s post Amy. I read it through, and I can feel your joy and excitement when you received the letter from the “Stranger”. How wonderful it is when we can share this sort of information.

    Thank you for sharing.
    Angela

    Reply
  15. Angela

    Yes, ask questions – lots of questions. How I wish I had asked my grandparents questions. Mother was the family historian and I just heard her talking to family and saw her writing letters by the dozen it seemed but now I have so many questions I would love to ask my grandparents – if only their possessions could talk! My great grandmother on my Mother’s side was alive for many years while I was growing up and oh how I wish I had asked her questions too. Take photos of family now and family gatherings and scan or collect as many photos as you can and write on the backs of the photos who is who and where and when taken. About 5 years before my Mother passed away we went through all her old photos and wrote on the backs of them all that she knew – some are still without information but at least we got some identified.
    I have not started a blog – I’m not sure how to start one but I am writing in my family treemaker files information about a family member each week.
    Angela

    Reply
  16. Angela

    I love your posts, thank you for sharing them. Your use of the maps in the narrative is especially very effective.
    Angela

    Reply
  17. meghan

    I just discovered this challenge today and have begun a new blog to help me along my path to better understanding all this random info I’ve discovered about my ancestors. I’m excited to see where this 52 week journey takes me!

    Reply
  18. Jennifer Shoer

    Hi Amy, I have finally begun to post for your 52 Ancestors challenge. My week 3 is your week 1, but I am going to leave the numbers off so that I don’t get confused! :) Thank you for providing us with the motivation to get our stories written! Jennifer

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      I have your blog listed in Feedly; just include “52 Ancestors” somewhere in the post’s title and I should be able to find it for the weekly recap. I don’t feel comfortable adding the posts from last fall to the recaps, as part of the goal with this challenge is to write more.

      Reply
  19. Jodie Mansuy

    I am a bit late but I think I have everything caught up now and good to go. My first three weeks are up they are:
    Week 1: http://thelatenightgenealogist.blogspot.com/2014/01/ancestor-1-james-s-ross.html
    Week 2: http://thelatenightgenealogist.blogspot.com/2014/01/ancestor-2-odessa-stewart.html
    Week 3: http://thelatenightgenealogist.blogspot.com/2014/01/ancestor-3-mary-reynolds.html

    Thank you for all your work on this project I have really enjoyed it so far and am looking forward to the rest of the challenge.

    Jodie

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Glad you’re enjoying it! I have you listed on the blog list. If you could include “52 Ancestors” in the titles of your future posts, that will help me see them so I can include them in the weekly recap. Thanks1

      Reply
  20. Angela

    Thank you for sharing your mysteries with us – hopefully we will all learn more as we solve some of them… I have mysteries and brickwalls to overcome as do many of us.

    Reply
  21. Pingback: Blog to preserve | Your Blog Coach

  22. Pat

    Your 52 Ancestors Blog has inspired me to write, even though writing creates a lot of anxiety! I have created a new blog Called “Book of Ancestry: 52 Ancestors” with just one post, “52 Ancestors: #1 Joseph K Snyder” and working on my second post. My Blog and Post both have “52 Ancestors” in the Titles, but was not included in either your week2 or week3 updates. Could you please include my Blog Posts into your weekly updates. Thanks!
    This is my blog address: http://iamabeachcomber.blogspot.com

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Hi Pat! I’ve added your blog to the list here on the site and to my list on Feedly. I’ll have your posts in next week’s recap.

      Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Wonderful, Charity! I’ve added your blog to my Feedly list and to the list of blogs that are participating.

      Reply
  23. Cathy WG

    You’re on! This is right up my alley. The desire to learn my ancestors’ stories led me to Ancestry.com a few years back. My tree today doesn’t span seven centuries, like my husband’s, but I hope to find as much detail as possible about the lives of those who came before my parents and grandparents. How did they live? What drove them?

    Thank you, Amy, for issuing this challenge, and best wishes to all who’ve taken it up. Whether or not we tell stories of fifty-two individuals over the course of the year, we all come out winners.

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      “Whether or not we tell stories of fifty-two individuals over the course of the year, we all come out winners.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, Cathy!

      Reply
  24. Angela

    What interesting letters – your writing and the letters have opened up a vision into their lives. Thank you.
    Angela

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Welcome! Just to clarify — you don’t need to name your blog “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” You just need to use “52 Ancestors” somewhere in the title of the posts that you want included in the weekly recap. I’d recommend choosing a name for your blog that reflects who you are and what your blogging is about.

      Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Thanks, Yvonne! Just a reminder – put “52 Ancestors” somewhere in the posts’ titles so I can spot them for the weekly recap.

      Reply
  25. Cathy WG

    Sorry to bother, but each post is headlined “52 Ancestors: [person's name]” – hope this works for you, Amy et al. Just in case, these links should go to the entries. Should….
    #1: http://purslaneforever.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/john-thomas-woods-1888-1967/
    #2: http://purslaneforever.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=51&action=edit
    #3: http://purslaneforever.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/79/
    #4: http://purslaneforever.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/john-f-woods-hq-detachment-512-military-policeman-bn/
    #5: http://purslaneforever.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/ellen-oconnor-marshall-1866-1936/

    Reply
  26. Andrew Greene

    I am already trying to do one genealogy post a week; I prefix these as “Genealogy:”, so I hope my not using “52 Ancestors” won’t break things. (Also, the post I put up tonight was more personal than most, so I didn’t put “Genealogy” in the title.)

    But anyway, my blog is at http://530nm330hz.livejournal.com/ if you’re interested.

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Welcome, Andrew! Maybe you could put “(52 Ancestors)” at the end of the post titles? It really is the only way I’ll know which posts are supposed to be part of the challenge (and included in the weekly recap). Thanks!

      Reply
  27. Beth Gatlin

    What a great idea! I haven’t been posting to my blog regularly, but this is an incentive to get me to write more. If I want to catch up eventually, can I have two posts in a week at times, both listed? I have posted my first of the 52 ancestors, and started with my biggest brick wall.

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Welcome! Feel free to post as many each week as you want if you want to get caught up. No requirement to do so, though! The main thing is the writing, not stressing out about having a certain number of posts. :)

      Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Welcome, Lisa Anne! I have “Skeletons in the Closet” listed on the “participating blogs” list and in Feedly (the blog reader I use). Just be sure to include “52 Ancestors” somewhere in the title of your posts so I can see which ones should be included. BTW, Loved the story about your great-grandfather!

      Reply
  28. Beth Gatlin

    Great blog name! “Unusual” family stories are very interesting. I have a whole flock full of black sheep in my family tree, and will be writing about some of these ancestors throughout the 52 Ancestors Challenge.

    Reply
  29. Angela

    I love your blog and you are doing a great job with your genealogy. Putting your “T Do”list at the bottom is a great idea too; it helps to keep those “T Do” things in mind – I know I forget mine and need to make a list and print it out I think. If I may suggest one thing, when you do your oral history interview with your grandfather – record it. Ideally a video would be great but that could make your grandfather uncomfortable, so even voice record it. I did this with my parents and now not only do I have their oral stories but I have their voices recorded forever. My Mother passed away in 2009 and my Dad in 2011. I only wish that I had been so involved in my family history when my grandparents and even my great grandmother were still alive when I was in my teen years.

    Reply
  30. Lisa Anne Taylor

    Unfortunately my all my grandparents have been dead for many years. I only got to know 3 of them. My granddaddy Taylor died when my daddy was a teenager & before he married. I’ve heard so many stories from both sides of the family that I’m afraid of losing those that I do remember. That’s why I loved your blog idea so much. I’m able to get down the stories that I remember and then as they are proved/disproved I can add that information to the blog.

    By the way wordpress is having some problems with their site. I published 2 more blogs & they were there 15 mins. ago & now are gone. Also it duplicated my blog site. So I have 2 sites known as Skeletons In The Closet. Also a few people have had trouble getting the site to open. Hopefully they’ll have everything corrected soon.

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      That is awesome, Nan! Don’t stress out about getting “caught up” — the important thing is to write something. As I’ve told others who have “started late,” anything you write is more than what you had before! I just read your first post; I think you’re off to a great start!

      Reply
  31. Myra Vanderpool Gormley

    I’m easily confused — especially when it comes to numbers. After all I wear a t-shirt that says “How to do Math” — 1. Write down the problem. 2. Cry.

    Anyway. What is the upcoming number of the challenge (that ends Tuesday, Feb. 4)? 5 or 6?????

    Thanks.
    Myra

    Reply
  32. Linda Albert

    Hi Amy,

    I have taken up the challenge! I actually started a couple of weeks ago but did not notify you.

    This challenge sure has made me look at things differently, I find myself asking lots of questions, such as why did they move to a different city, how did they meet, did they re-marry because they had a family to look after.

    Here is the link to my first blog ever!

    http://myacadianroots.blogspot.ca/

    Reply
  33. Cheryl Biermann Hartley

    I got a late start, but I have two posts so far. I hope I can do this! Everyone is always asking, what will you do with all of your research if no one cares after you are gone? I hope that by converting my research to stories, someone will care. Thanks for coming up with a great idea!

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Welcome, Jennie! I’ve added your blog to the list of participating blogs and to my list on Feedly. I’ll start including your posts with next week’s recap. I hope you enjoy the Challenge!

      Reply
  34. gilliedog2014

    I started to write out the information about one of my ancestors (well the couple really) and have become so involved in their story that I can’t let it go. I’m learning about the life they left behind in Scotland and their voyage to New Zealand and what they encountered there. I have such admiration for their courage to set out to a brave new land half way across the world in a small ship and not really knowing what they would find or what the journey would be like – and all this with a 4 month old daughter!

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Isn’t it amazing how certain ancestors will reach out and almost demand that you find their story?! I can’t imagine making the trek from Scotland to New Zealand with a 4-month-old!

      Reply
  35. gilliedog2014

    The voyage took 4 months too! I have been reading some accounts of voyages around the same time as my ancestors went and some of the conditions sound horrifying. Stench from latrines, bad drinking water after being kept in barrels for months, personal hygiene and of course illnesses which went through the ship’s passengers and crew. No wonder so many children died – I am happy though that my ancestor survived and arrived aged 8 months. This was all in 1842 and the ship they traveled on was the Duchess of Argyle one of the two first immigration ships to New Zealand.

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Welcome, Pat! I’ve added your blog to the list and also to Feedly. Thanks for putting “52 Ancestors” in the title of your blog post — that really helps me see which posts are supposed to be part of the challenge.

      Reply
  36. Marianne Handler

    Love this idea! Have a few pages on my blog. One is “Creating the past for future generations” Would it be OK to add the heading to this existing page. It has two scrapbook pages included on it.
    Marianne

    Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Hi Marianne! Sorry I didn’t respond sooner — it’s been pretty crazy around here the past few days. The goal of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is to write more, not necessarily to go back and rename things that would fit the theme. Let me know if you want to participate with future posts and I’ll add your blog to the list. Thanks!

      Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Thanks for letting me know, Heather. I’ve updated the participating blog list and my list on Feedly.

      Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Welcome, Kalen! Sorry for the delay in this response. I don’t know why I didn’t see your message sooner. I just read your first 52 Ancestors post and look forward to seeing more!

      Reply
  37. Pingback: May I Introduce To You . . . Patricia (Dever) Greber | GeneaBloggers

    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Welcome, Karen! Thanks for joining the Challenge! I’ve added your blog to the list and to my blog reader. I have to admit I liked the reference to Ohio in your August Siebel post :-)

      Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Welcome! I have you added to my Feedly list (where I keep track of the participating blogs) and will add you to the list here momentarily. I hope you enjoy the Challenge!

      Reply
    1. Amy Johnson Crow Post author

      Welcome! Be sure to include “52 Ancestors” in the title of your posts that you do for the challenge so I can include them in the weekly recap. I look forward to reading about your ancestors!

      Reply

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