GSV Writing Prize 2024

The GSV is pleased to announce details of its 2024 Writing Prize competition.

Sponsored by

GSV's Writing prize donated by Ancestry

Purpose of the Prize

  • to encourage the writing of family history
  • to provide an opportunity for recognition and publication

  • to publish the winner in the GSV's Ancestor journal as an example of quality family history writing


The competition is open to GSV members and all members of GSV Member Societies. Individuals may submit only 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 plus a DNA test kit. A prize of a 6-month subscription to Ancestry Worldwide Membership 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 2024 issue of Ancestor.

At the judges’ discretion, a runner-up may be selected.

At the Ancestor Editorial Team’s 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 original work of one author (entries co-authored by two or more individuals will not be accepted)
  • be the author's own original work
  • not have been previously published in any format, or be under consideration or accepted by any other publication
  • be between 1200 and 2400 words (not including title, image captions, endnotes and sources)
  • contain appropriate citations of sources

In accordance with Ancestor publishing policy, articles of historical fiction will not be accepted.

A 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. Images taken from the internet are often unsuitable for print reproduction and may not be out of copyright.

Before you enter the GSV Writing Prize

We recommend you read the Ancestor Guidelines for Authors at, and ‘Tips for writing an article’, Ancestor, volume 35, June 2020 pp26-27.

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


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

  • interesting
  • well written
  • thoroughly researched and 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 Ancestor 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

Please click here for entry form

Submit your article as a Word document, together with your entry form by email to

  • OR on a USB stick to the front desk at the GSV (retain a copy as USBs will not be returned).
  • Hard copy will not be accepted except by prior arrangement (contact GSV on +61 3 9662 4455)
  • Use a plain font, e.g. Times New Roman or Calibri, 12 point.
  • Number your pages and include the article title in the header.
  • Do not put your name on the pages of the article.
  • If submitting images, send them in separate jpg or tiff files scanned at 300 dpi. Do not include images in the text.
  • In your article, include the title and, if images are submitted, the image number and caption for each image.

Before submitting your entry, please ensure that you have:

  • read and complied with the conditions of entry
  • filled in the competition entry form
  • checked your article word length
  • numbered the pages and put the title in the header
  • checked that your name does not appear in the article
  • Scanned any images being submitted at 300 dpi, and saved the as separate jpg or tiff files
  • ensured that any images submitted are sent separately as jpg or tiff files scanned at 300 dpi
  • included the title of your article, image number and caption for each image submitted
  • obtained permission to use any images that are not your own or in the public domain. 

Closing Date

The closing date is 4.00 pm on Friday 30 August 2024 and articles received after this time will not be considered.

Judges’ report 2023 GSV writing prize

The judging panel of the 2023 Writing Prize consisted of Cheryl Griffin FRHSV, as guest judge, Joy Roy FGSV, as President’s nominee, and three members of the Ancestor Editorial Team, Emma Hegarty, Tina Hocking and Martin Playne. The competition was administered by Sue Blackwood, who received all the entries and sent them on anonymously to the judges.

The panel met once (on 9 September), to select the winner. As there were only four eligible entries this year, the judges decided that there would not be a runner-up award.

The judges found all entries interesting and admired the work put in by the authors in researching and writing their ancestor’s stories. The stories covered a variety of settings of time and place, and included accounts of immigrants, settlers, and research journeys, mainly set in Victoria and Britain. Some incorporated DNA analysis as well. In selecting their topic, all entrants took into account the wider audience for articles in a journal such as Ancestor.

The winning story - ‘The Ancestor Box’ by Anne Prince - uses a family heirloom to continue a generational family history. A wedding gift to the author’s 3x gt grandmother, this wooden writing case contained a wealth of oral history in the form of family correspondence and notes, when it came into the author’s possession. Taking up where her mother left off, the author set out on her own genealogical journey. This is a reflective piece, written in conversational style, in which snippets of the family story are interspersed with well selected quotes from the family correspondence, together with the author’s own recollections of the mother’s forays into archival research. A well-researched and referenced piece, this was a unanimous selection by the judges.

All authors had potentially interesting stories, but in some cases were not able to translate the material into a well-written account. Most entries contained material worthy of further development and eventual publication, however facts alone will not necessarily make an interesting story.

Combining traditional research and DNA analysis yielded additional verification for some entries, while the utilisation of lesser-known resources opened up fresh avenues of inquiry.

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 maintained focus, a good ending, and an individual author’s voice were also in evidence in the better articles.

The research component of the criteria was greatly improved this year, and the entrants were to be commended on their referencing. It is important that references enable the reader to follow the research trail.

Finally the judges also stress the importance of carefully reading the terms and conditions before entering any writing competition.

We thank all the entrants for their efforts and wish them success in continuing the important work of documenting their family history. The Ancestor Editorial Team hope that all GSV members will consider taking part in the Prize next year.

From the Ancestor Editorial Team

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


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

2022    Ian Penrose: Finding Emma: a story of my Lutheran ancestor

2023    Anne Prince: The Ancestor Box


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