Family History Writing Contest

    The winners of the first annual Family History Writing Contest were notified via email on March 25, 2024. Information about the second annual contest will be available soon.

    MPL Family History Writing Contest Rules

    Please read the rules and follow them closely. Double check your work before submitting. Please email Desiree Funston at with any questions regarding Family History Writing Contest.


    The contest is open to any amateur or professional genealogy/family history writer in the United States. A Social Security Number is required in order to claim prize funds.


    Your submission must be about a deceased person who lived in, came to, passed through or died in the State/Territory of Montana. It should not include any vital data about living people. It should demonstrate your ability to access, analyze and understand various types of records, as well as to cite sources.


    You may submit

    • a narrative genealogy of at least two but no more than four generations,
    • a proof argument that provides a solution to a family history problem,
    • a family history story, or
    • a biographical sketch.


    Submissions must be original (not previously published) works of non-fiction.


    • Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx file format)
    • 12-point, Times New Roman font
    • 1” margins
    • Single-spaced with two spaces between paragraphs
    • No more than 15 pages.
    • Do not put your name anywhere on your submission!
    • Center the title at the top of the first page.
    • Place sequential page numbers on each page.
    • Include a complete source citation for every fact (Evidence Explained format) as footnotes.
    • You are not required to number your narrative genealogy. If you choose to do so, please use the NGSQ Numbering System.
    • Include permissions for use of all photographs, artwork, and substantial portions of secondary sources.


    • Entries will be accepted via Submittable from 1 October 2023 to 1 March 2024:

    Review Deadline

    The Writing Contest Coordinator will review any submission received by 5:00 p.m. Mountain time on Friday, 16 February 2024 for formatting compliance. Contestants will then have until the final deadline to correct any formatting errors and re-submit.


    It is highly recommended that you submit your entry by the review deadline. Final submissions that do not meet the formatting requirements will be disqualified.

    Final Deadline

    Entries are due by 5:00 p.m. Mountain time on Friday, 1 March 2024.


    A panel of volunteer judges from the genealogy community, selected by the Writing Contest Coordinator, will anonymously review the entries. The judges will score each entry against the official scoring rubric. An entry must receive at least 30 out of 40 points to be eligible for a prize. Judges will not provide feedback on any submission.  


    1st Place – $100

    2nd Place – $50

    3rd Place – $25


    Prizes are sponsored by the Friends of Missoula Public Library. Prizes will be issued in the form of a check. Winners must provide their Social Security Number to the Writing Contest Coordinator in order to receive a prize check.


    Missoula Public Library will publish all qualifying submissions under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0) license. Read more about the license here.


    Missoula Public Library will also upload all qualifying submissions to the Montana History Portal, which provides free and open online access to digitized resources that reflect Montana’s rich cultural heritage. 

    Recommended Reading

    Blanchard, Gill. Writing Your Family History: A Guide for Family Historians. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Books, 2014.


    Carson, Dina C. Publish Your Family History: A Step-by-step Guide to Writing the Stories of Your Ancestors. Niwot, CO: Iron Gate Publishing, 2015.


    Finley, Carmen J. Creating a Winning Family History, rev. ed. Arlington, VA: National Genealogical Society, 2010.


    Gendler, Annette. How to Write Compelling Stories from Family History. Nana’s Books, 2019.


    Kempthorne, Charley. For All Time: A Complete Guide to Writing Your Family History. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1996.


    Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd ed. rev. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2017.

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