In the past we've had Weekly Topic Challenges. It's about time we start them up again, with a more concerted effort to attract quality questions and answers on specific topics.

But this time, it's going to be a monthly thing. Here's how it will work:

  1. Suggest Challenge Topics in the answers below. It's okay if the same or a similar topic has been used before. Take a look at previous topics to get an idea of what sorts of things have been proposed in the past.
  2. Everyone vote on the topics – you want your favourites to come to the top of the list.
  3. On the 1st of each month, the most popular topic will become the Monthly Topic. We will make a Meta post outlining the Challenge. Usually a specific tag will be proposed to be used on challenge questions. The Challenge begins.
  4. Ask questions on the Topic! Answer all the Topic questions! Be sure to vote on the best posts.
  5. At the end of the month, we'll tally up the questions posted during the challenge. The people with the most Topic question and answer votes will be awarded the highly-esteemed right to wear the imaginary Topic crowns, at least until the next month when they're begrudgingly handed over to the next Topic winners.

The first Monthly Topic Challenge started on March 1st, 2017, and was a complete debacle. Given the minimal interest I'll put off starting another one for a while. If you would like to see the Topic Challenges return, we need you to post and vote on ideas below.

If you have any questions or suggestions about the Topic Challenges feel free to comment below, ask another question in Meta with the tag, or bring it up in chat.

  • If anyone wishes to edit any of my answers here to try and make them more likely to trigger thoughts for new questions on Main or new suggestion answers here, please do not hesitate to do so.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Mar 3, 2017 at 21:00
  • 1
    A think "debacle" is being too harsh. I suspect most divorces amongst our ancestors have been too close to the present time to escape the privacy policy. That is certainly the case for my ancestors where I have already asked about the one suspected divorce which is ancient history. I'd like us to try another challenge.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Apr 1, 2017 at 21:05
  • @PolyGeo Ok, but let's get a topic that people really want, otherwise it's not going to be any more successful than the last. If we get to 5 upvotes on a topic here, I think that might be a good indication that there is enough interest to start another challenge on that topic.
    – Harry V. Mod
    Apr 1, 2017 at 21:48
  • A target of 5 votes before proceeding with a suggested topic seems fair.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Apr 2, 2017 at 6:56
  • @PolyGeo Is 5 votes a realistic target on Meta?
    – user104
    Apr 4, 2017 at 15:22
  • @ColeValleyGirl if four moderators (who are notified of each Meta Q or A) and just one other engaged user like and vote for an idea then 5 should be easy to get to. To try and engage more users I've set this to featured.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Apr 4, 2017 at 19:09
  • 1
    @PolyGeo, if it takes all 4 moderators to vote for something to float it to the top of the list, I question whether that represents true community interest... But I don't have an answer.
    – user104
    Apr 5, 2017 at 5:47

7 Answers 7


Let's look more closely at our ancestors' association with imprisonments.

We've probably all got them in our family trees either as a prisoner or as someone involved in removing their freedom? Do you have an ancestor who you think went to prison, and you lost the paper trail for them?

We only have 15 questions tagged – so there's plenty more to ask about the incarcerations in our family trees.


Military Ancestors : did your ancestors serve in the Army/Navy/Air Force/Mrines/Militia or other armed forces? Have you located their service records? War grave? Other information about their service? Do you have problems interpreting the information you have?

We have a lot of questions tagged and but that doesn't mean there aren't more questions to ask.


Occupations: Let's go beyond the usual records offered to us for genealogy, and explore our ancestors' occupations.

If you've already discovered websites or research guides that have been particularly helpful to you in your research, show off your work in a self-answered question.


Let's look more closely at our illegitimate ancestors and our ancestors' illegitimate children.

We probably all have them in our family trees? Have you been able to trace their parents? Was a bastardy bond arranged by their parish? Did their parents go on to marry? Did they carry their mother's or father's surname, or both? What impact did being born illegitimate have on their subsequent life?

We only have 10 questions tagged – so there's plenty more to ask about the illegitimate children in our family trees.


Immigration/Emigration : did your ancestors pack up their worldly goods and move to another country for good? Do you know how and when they travelled? Which ports? Which ship? Who travelled with them? Why?

This is a topic that's frequently asked about, but ripe for more questions.


Birth families: Is there a birth family in your tree that does not seem to be complete or perhaps seems astray in some other way?

Perhaps there's a gap of many years between children? I found an explanation for one of these in Establishing identity of Edmund Rouse of St Clement, Cabinet Maker, Private in Napoleonic Wars and Weaver?

Perhaps one of the parents seems to have changed names?

Maybe two children of the same name both seem to have survived into adulthood?

Whatever the anomaly, here's your chance to describe the members of what you think may seem to be a birth family and see if our community agrees with you, or has a new perspective.


Let's look more closely at our ancestors' association with enslavements.

Do you have slave ancestors or ancestors responsible for enslaving others?

We have no questions tagged – so there's plenty to ask about any association with slavery in our family trees.


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