17 December 2008

In ten words or less

I have been planning to enter a genealogy "contest" for several years now. It's a research and writing contest. My aunt has been on my case to write something for this contest since I first mentioned it. It would be a good idea to gather some information while my aunts and uncles are still around to tell the stories, but I haven't even thought about the contest for a few years.

Then genealogy always has a way of getting a grip on me. This time, my cousin is making a trip to Ireland to research some family lines. The branches we share in common are the lines I know little about. The family lived in Maryland for some time, but for some reason, no one wants to look there despite (probably) knowing the name of the church and the county my great-great-grandparents were married in. The marriage record could potentially provide the elusive names of my great-great-great-grandparents and then, if this generation contains the the immigrant ancestor, really give my cousin something to look for in Ireland.

But, in digging through my records, I came across the information on the contest. Aside from being busy raising kids and not having time to devote to writing a genealogical and biographical history, I don't know if I actually can write it. Not if I have to play by their rules.

I come from a big Catholic family. Nearly every branch has been Catholic at the time of immigration, probably back to when St. Patrick evangelized Ireland. The rules of the contest state that you have to include three to four generations in 4,000-10,000 words. Every person has to be documented (birth, marriage, death) along with their spouse, all children and their spouses. Any fact stated that isn't common knowledge has to be documented. To omit the slightest detail will be a huge black mark on your entry.

"Do not underestimate the importance of selecting the right family to submit to the contest. Since the length of the entry must be between 4,000 and 10,000 words it will be difficult to stay within these confines if a progenitor with many children is chosen. Most contestants find it difficult to stay under the upper limit if the progenitor or any of his children has very large families. Confining your efforts to a smaller number of individuals allows for greater creativity in presentation, analysis, and the conclusions drawn."

Yikes. That requirement is nearly, if not completely, impossible for me. The past few winning entries have an average of about a dozen people in their three generations. A dozen people! I have more than that in one generation if you consider spouses, three times that if you add the next generation. They might as well just say, "Catholics should not even bother to submit an entry."

The other thing about this contest is they want to see oodles of research to show you are able to draw on a huge variety of resources and distill it all down into a good, concise story. I used to work in Research & Development so this isn't a daunting task, but one of the past winners had over 200 footnotes in their entry, another had nearly a 100. That's a HUGE number of citations. I think if I had ever turned in a paper or report with that many notes, the recipient's head would've exploded. But, that's what they are looking for, so that's what I shall do, if I only could find the "right (non-Catholic) family" to document.


Jackie Parkes said...

Fabulous picture!

swissmiss said...

LOL! Somebody else's fabulous family. I'm supposed to inherit many of my family's photos when my aunt dies, so in the meantime here's a pic an internet search provided.