Mount Vernon Genealogical Society - Founded 1991
Founded 1991

1500 Shenandoah Road
Alexandria, Virginia 22308
  Charles Belfield First American Ancestor

MVGS Annual Writing Contest

Detailed Info about 2021 MVGS Writing Contest
We’re looking for short papers, no more than 3 pages, written by our members that tell the reader about someone in the author’s family tree. 
Entries are due by 10pm on 20 Aug 2021.  Please submit your entry to the contest coordinator via email to  Include your name, a reference to the writing contest, the paper’s title, and your phone number on the email.  Please make sure your name does not appear anywhere 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 will be presented at the MVGS general meeting on 19 Oct 2021 and the top 3 winning entries will appear in our MVGS Newsletter.  Please be aware that due to space limitations, footnote/endnotes may be left off of the version printed in the newsletter.
Some potential topic areas:
Can’t think of a topic?  Here are a few ideas, but papers are not restricted to them. 
            Tell us about an ancestor’s contribution to their community - were they the village vicar or the local miller?  Were they a Justice of the Peace?
            Did you uncover a secret about your ancestor? - Did they have a still during Prohibition? Did they run off to the Gold Rush and never return?
            Did a court case change your ancestors life?  Did they lose their land in a lawsuit?  Did they get kicked out of church for being too often drunk?
            Was your ancestor directly impacted by a major event?  For example, did the 1918 “Spanish Flu” epidemic affect them? Did they own a pub when Prohibition was declared?  Were they part of the 1889 Oklahoma Land Rush?
            Is there an ancestor you admire? Why you admire them?
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).  As endnotes, they don’t count against the 3 page total.
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 ensure 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.”
8.  Please note that the footnotes/endnotes appearing in the original entry may, or may not, be included in the newsletter versions of the winning entries, depending on space availability.
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.  The paper shows evidence of good or capable research.
Point categories for each of the criteria are:
Exemplary - 5 points [will be doubled]
Proficient - 4 points [will be doubled]
Satisfactory - 3 points
Needs work - 2 points