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GSV Writing Prize 2022

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The GSV is pleased to announce details of its 2022 Writing Prize Competition.

Purpose of the Prize

  • to encourage the writing of family history
  • to provide an opportunity for recognition and publication
  • to publish the winner as an example of quality family history writing


The competition is open to GSV members and all members of GSV Member Societies.  Individuals may only submit one entry.

Members of the Ancestor Editorial Team, the judges, GSV staff and the winner of the previous year's prize are not eligible to enter.

The Prize 

We are very pleased to announce that Ancestry™ is again generously sponsoring the competition with a first prize of a 12-month subscription to their Worldwide Membership and an Ancestry DNA test kit.
A prize of a 6-month Ancestry™ subscription for the runner-up may also be offered at the discretion of the judges.


Announcement and Publication

The winner will be announced at the GSV's Annual General Meeting in October and the winning article will be published in the December 2022 issue of Ancestor journal.

At the judges' discretion, one or more of the submitted entries may be published in subsequent editions.

Conditions of Entry

The article should:

  • have a family history/genealogy theme
  • be the author's own original work
  • not have been previously published in any format, or be under consideration or accepted for publication by any other publication
  • be between 1200 and 2400 words (not including title, image captions, endnotes and sources)
  • contain appropriate citations of sources
  • separate bibliography is not required

Accompanying images are desirable but are not part of the judging criteria.  Up to four high resolution images (minimum 300 dpi) may be submitted.  Images must be in the public domain, or the author's own, or have the owner's permission to publish.  Please see the advice on the Ancestor Journal tab under Submitting an article – Images and captions

Before you enter the GSV Writing Prize

We recommend you read the Ancestor Guidelines for authors.

Entrants are reminded that articles should be targeted at the Ancestor readership.


The winning article will be that which, in the opinion of the judges, is the most:

  • interesting
  • well written
  • thoroughly researched
  • appropriately referenced

Entries will be judged anonymously by a panel consisting of:

  • three members of the Ancestor Editorial Team
  • the President (or a past or present member of Council nominated by the President, who is not a member of the Editorial Team or the Writers Circle)
  • one other judge who is not a member of the Ancestor Editorial Team, the GSV Council, or the GSV Writers Circle

The judges reserve the right not to award the prize if the entries are not considered to be of sufficient merit, or there are insufficient entries.

The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

How to enter

Submit your article as a Word document by email to writingprize@gsv.org.au or on a USB stick to the front desk at the GSV. Use a plain font, preferably Times New Roman, 12 point. Number your pages and include the title in a header. Do not put your name on the pages of the article, but include a separate cover page with your name and other details (see below). Do not include images with the text but send them in separate jpg or tiff files scanned at 300 dpi. Include the title of the article and a caption for each image. Hard copy will not be accepted. As USBs will not be returned, please be sure to retain a copy.

Closing Date

The closing date is 4.00 pm on Friday 26 August 2022 and articles received after this time will not be considered.

The cover page should include

  • Author’s given name and surname
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • GSV member number or name of GSV Member Society and membership number of that society
  • Title of article
  • Word length
  • Declaration that it is the author’s own original work and has not been previously published in any format and is not under consideration by any other publication
  • Captions for images supplied
  • Declaration regarding the images – in public domain, or the author’s own, or by whose permission they can be published
  • Permission to publish the article and the images in Ancestor
  • Permission to publish the author’s email address

Winners of the GSV Writing Prize

The Prize was first awarded in 2013
2013    Kath McKay: Finding Shakespeare in family research
2014    Anne Cavanagh: Elizabeth and the doctor elope: the story of Elizabeth Ware
2015    Marilyn Fordred: Every photo tells a story     
2016    Emma Hegarty: Finding Mary Jane
2017    Helen Pearce: Thomas Owen: the skeleton in the family’s closet
2018    Helen Pearce: Daniel Elphinstone: his son’s secret exposed
2019    Louise Wilson: Masters of the road
2020    Brian Reid : ‘Tom were the naughty lad’
2021    Susan Wight: The mystery of the extra Booth Hodgetts

Judges’ report on 2021 - GSV writing prize

The judging panel of the 2021 Writing Prize consisted of Cheryl Griffin, the guest judge, Joy Roy FGSV, the President’s nominee, and three members of the Ancestor Editorial Team, Barbara Beaumont, Sue Blackwood and Tina Hocking. The competition was administered by Leonie Elliss, who received all the entries and sent them on anonymously to the judges. The panel met twice (on 6 and 20 September), first to establish a short list, and secondly to select the winner and runner-up.

There were fourteen entries. The judges found the entries interesting and admired the work put in by the authors to tell the story of their ancestors. The stories covered a wide variety of settings of time and place and included accounts of immigrants, convicts, missionaries, research journeys and family tragedies in what were all essentially Australian stories. Some authors used novel approaches, such as introducing fictional elements or relating their ancestors’ lives to literature.

The research component of the criteria was generally well covered, but the standard of referencing ranged widely. Most authors attempted a coherent structure, including an introduction and conclusion, but some entries contained material that did not advance the story.

The most successful stories engaged the reader’s attention from the start, and used analysis, interpretation and contextualising to enrich their tale rather than presenting a string of facts. A clear focus and an individual author’s voice were also in evidence.

The winning story is ‘The Mystery of the extra Booth Hodgetts’ by Susan Wight. This story deftly deals with the author’s original knowledge of the four Booth Hodgetts in her tree, then leads us on her research journey to solve the mystery of the extra Booth Hodgetts. It is clearly written and explained, and serves as a model of how to go about dealing with anomalies thrown up by our research.

The runner-up is ‘The secret life of Mr Crisp’ by Bernard Metcalfe. The title and the opening quotation entice the reader to want to know about the secret life of the apparently model family man and citizen. The author has uncovered much that was hidden from his family during his lifetime.

We thank all the entrants for their work, and wish them success in continuing the important work of documenting their family history.

From the Ancestor Editorial Team

We thank historian Dr Cheryl Griffin for being willing to act as our Guest Judge and for participating so helpfully in the assessment process. We also thank Ms Joy Roy FGSV for representing the GSV President in the judging team again and contributing her considerable knowledge of family history and editing.



Date last updated: 12 April 2022 @ 11:56