September 4, 2014

The One Where I Feel Incredibly Honored

Last week I received some exciting news from the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE). ISFHWE encourages “excellence in writing and editorial standards in genealogical publishing,” and to promote that goal they host an annual Excellence-in-Writing Competition. I submitted entries in the “Columns” and “Published Articles” categories for this year’s contest. After I sent them in, I tried to put the whole thing out of my mind for awhile. That is, until this message from Tina Sansone, the competition coordinator, showed up in my inbox:

Dear Shelley,
Congratulations! You have won the following in the ISFHWE “Excellence in Writing” competition:
1st Place Columns: Shelley K. Bishop, “The Legacy of Mary Comfort Eberhard”
2nd Place Articles: Shelley K. Bishop, “Turning Forests into Farms: The George Clark Family of Licking and Delaware Counties, Ohio”

Woohoo! I’m thrilled, to say the least, and so honored to have won awards in two categories. A hearty congratulations to all the other award winners. As I look over the names on the ISFHWE announcement, I’m humbled to be in such great company.

Like many genealogists, I write primarily to share and preserve what I’ve learned from researching my ancestors. At the same time, I try to find universal themes within my family’s story that might strike a chord with a wider audience. But it’s hard to know if I’ve succeeded in doing that or not until something like this happens. When it does, it’s oh-so-rewarding.

"The Legacy of Mary Comfort Eberhard” first appeared here, as a post on A Sense of Family, on February 6, 2013. It grew out of my desire to share some of my grandmother’s stories about her mother, coupled with fascinating information I found in an old dairy company newsletter. Telling the stories of our female ancestors, who generally show up in fewer official records than men, can present special challenges. Digging into home sources such as letters, baby books, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and keepsakes—some of which may be held by other relatives—can lead to neat discoveries about their lives.

“Turning Forests into Farms: The George Clark Family of Licking and Delaware Counties, Ohio” was originally published in the Winter 2013 issue of the Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly (Vol. 53, No. 4). It traces one branch of my family tree through four generations, beginning with their 1811 arrival in the Ohio frontier. Weaving information from early land office registers, deeds, vital records, agricultural censuses, newspapers, cemeteries, and other records together with social history sources like county histories, published memoirs, and maps, I show how the family’s growth echoed—and was tragically affected by—the times they lived in.

ISFHWE will be publishing all the articles they awarded prizes to in future issues of Columns, their quarterly newsletter. You can become a member and read them all for just $20. I know I’m looking forward to some excellent reading in the coming months.

Thank you to ISFHWE and its judges for this recognition. Thanks also to the Ohio Genealogical Society for publishing my work, and to all my blog readers. It’s a pleasure to be writing for you. Now, what story should I work on next?...


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  1. Replies
    1. Appreciate the kind words, Tessa! Thanks for reading.

  2. Replies
    1. That means a lot to me, Karen. I always enjoy the stories you share on your blog.

  3. Congratulations, Shelley. They are well-deserved awards!

    1. It's wonderful to have the support of a kindred spirit, Nancy. Really appreciate it!

  4. Shelley, That's fantastic! Congratulations! A well deserved honor!

  5. Shelley,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. Congratulations! I have family from Ohio and I will be looking into that membership, too!

  7. Shelly, Congratulations.I have enjoyed following your blog. I have nominated you as One Lovely Blog Award.

    1. Thank you, Fran! I'm glad you enjoy following my blog.


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