When All You Need is a Little ‘Prompt’

Over the last two years I have been writing the biographies of my 8 great-grandparents (complete) and my 16 x Great-grandparents (one more to go!) and with this in mind, I have been looking ahead at where to go next with possible ‘themes’ for future blogs about my ancestors. So I did what I normally do in this situation, I threw the question of ‘what to do next’ over to you guys, for some inspiration and ideas and my ‘Genie Friends’ on #AncestryHour didn’t let me down, they come up with a staggering list of ideas!

Rather than let these ideas just disappear, I thought I would write a short blog, listing the ideas, plus some of my own, thrown in for good measure, to help if anyone is ever stuck for some inspiration. Hopefully some of these blogging prompts will appeal to you.

So as my friend Michelle quite rightly mentioned, there is a unique irony in the fact I put a request out for blogging ideas, which in itself has become the next blog!

i have listed the blogging prompts, in no particular order and of course you can use them in whatever way appeals to you, it’s your family tree after all and how you choose to represent it, is entirely personal to you, so without further ado, here is my little piece of motivation.

Why not write about the collateral lines, those ancestors not on your direct line who only play a ‘supporting role’ to the main cast. Remember that even those ancestors on the outlying branches of your tree have a voice and their stories should be told. It’s our duty to make sure that their voices are also heard.

Write about a family artefact or your favourite family heirloom. Last year I wrote two blogs based on all the wonderful family heirlooms that everyone’s shared with me.

Write your own story, in our rush to document the lives of our ancestors, we sometimes forget to actually tell our own stories. Your descendants will be grateful to you for telling your own story.

Document the lives of your migrant ancestors, we all have some migrant ancestors on our trees, but do we know the historical context surrounding the circumstances around their migration?

Write about a specific occupation or Industry. Maybe there are a number of family members from the same branch that all worked within the same industry or had the same occupation. Think about the history associated with this type of industry.

Why not write that book that you have always promised yourself you were going to write.

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Tell the stories of the siblings who never married and never had any decedents, the ones that just sit on your tree, alone with nowhere to go. These ancestors are easily overlooked because their direct lines stop with them.

Alternatively the siblings of your grandparents or great-grandparents. Your great Aunts and Uncles will have experienced different things to your grandparents and therefore will have a completely different story to tell.

‘The holy grail’ tell the stories of all 32 3 x Great-grandparents! (Will I be alive that long to finish that?) Only for the bravest of the brave!

Shared events from pivotal moments in history and how they effected one or two ancestors or maybe generically how they would have effected all your ancestors (World Wars for example). What would evacuation have meant to your ancestors and their families? What was rationing like? How did your ancestors cope between the wars during the Depression, when employment opportunities were scarce?

Write about the process of researching a challenging or tricky ancestor, how you overcame the obstacles. This could be a great article to share with others, a brick wall buster!

Are there any regular or unusual naming patterns on your tree? Do you know why? I have ten family members, all connected from one small Herefordshire village named ‘Thomas Wootton’. Do you have Scottish or Irish families that follow the traditional naming patterns?

We all have a collection of family history photographs, why not tell a story using visual imagery? An ancestors timeline represented in picture form.

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Women, often unsung heroes on your tree! They did not necessarily leave a big footprint behind in the actual records themselves, but their contributions are nonetheless important. What was working life for a typical Victorian housewife? How did they cope with poverty and the loss of so many children? Was your ancestor sent away to work as a housemaid or domestic servant? What was their daily working life like?

Why not start a One Name Study or a One Place Study.

Why not try a blogging prompt challenge such as the wonderful Amy Johnson Crow’s #52Ancestors. I completed the challenge in 2020. Blogging about a different topic every week for a whole year! Why not give it a go yourself!

#52Ancestors

You could join a writers club such as the wonderful Curious Descendants Club run by Natalie Pithers, this is a wonderful club, full of ideas to suit every level of experience which encourages members with fun writing challenges and gives you tuition to guide you through the whole writing process. Why not give it a try yourself, I am already a member.

Curious Descendants Club

Why not do a House History or even a Street History or a FAN club series. these have become extremely popular over the last few years, inspired by several TV programmes such as ‘A House Through Time’

Why not write a top ten stories from different ancestors on your tree, just one story for an individual rather than a whole biography, “my ancestor was a bank robber” for example. (He wasn’t by the way.)

So that’s just a few ideas to start you off with. Feel free to drop me a message with some of your own inspirational ideas and maybe this blog can act as a bit of a bloggers ‘Brain Dump’ for genealogical ideas!

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11 thoughts on “When All You Need is a Little ‘Prompt’

  1. Thanks, Paul – I will definitely bookmark this post for those occasional days when I’m stumped for a topic. In general, it’s the other way around – an embarrassment of riches, however from time to time I feel overwhelmed, so will refer back to your list 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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