Minnesota Genealogical Society

1385 Mendota Heights Road, Suite 100
Mendota Heights, MN  55120-1367
(651) 330-9312 • info@mngs.org

Writing Competition Frequently Asked Questions

How many categories are there in this competition?

There are two categories:

  • Problem-solving Research
  • Family Story

How many entries may I submit for this year’s contest?

You may submit only one entry.

May I submit an entry about a family other than my own?

Yes. You may submit an entry about your own family or any other family.

May I write about living people?

If you mention living people, either change their names or gain their written permission before submitting your entry.

Who are the judges?

The judges are experienced authors with genealogical writing and research backgrounds. Their identities remain anonymous. Similarly, the judges do not know the identities of the entrants.

How are the entries evaluated?

At least two judges review every entry and provide comments, which the Competition Coordinator forwards to the author. Judges select winning entries that demonstrate excellent storytelling and sound research, focusing on those which will interest Minnesota Genealogist readers. Entries are judged within (not across) each of the two categories, which have somewhat different criteria; see Category Requirements in the Rules document. Studying past winning entries will help new entrants learn what judges look for. See below for relevant citations to Minnesota Genealogist and how to obtain copies.

Can an author win the competition more than once?

Since the judges do not know the identity of entrants, it is possible for an author to win the competition even after winning in a prior year.

Are Minnesota authors given preference in judging?

No. The competition is open to authors from any geographic area, and to Minnesota Genealogical Society (MGS) members and non-members; members are not given preference in judging.

What do you mean when you refer to previous “publishing”?

The entry must not have been previously published in a book, journal, magazine, blog or other publicly accessible media. The manuscript may have been previously shared with family members. Similarly, winning entries may not be published or reprinted elsewhere for one year following the competition without the joint permission of the MGS and the author. They may, however, be shared with family.

What is meant by “judges’ comments”?

One of the aims of the competition is to help authors develop and improve their genealogical writing skills. The judges provide every entrant with comments intended to aid authors as they improve their work.

Where can I find examples of winning entries?

Winning entries are published each year in the Minnesota Genealogist journal, usually in the Winter issue, number 4.

The following list, in order by volume# : issue# (year), will point you to a selection of winning entries in each category. A review of these articles will help you understand what the judges look for in a winning entry:

Family Story
Problem-solving Research

Members of MGS may download the current year issues from the MGS web site:

The general public may download the issues from 1969 to the previous year at:

Not a member? Join today for immediate access to Minnesota Genealogist. Or consult back issues at the Minnesota Genealogy Center. Call for hours, or see the MGS web site. Contact information is below.

Many back issues are for sale from the web site under “Store,” or in person at the Center. Or, download a free sample issue of the journal from the MGS website: Publications > Journal-Past Issues

Is more writing help available?

Yes! An excellent source of help on writing for publication, especially for the Minnesota Genealogist, can be found on the MGS website:

Publications > Journal-Past Issues, scroll to “Tips for Writers

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