Fearless Females Blogging Prompts Back for 2024

Welcome!

Get a Jumpstart on Your Blogging for Women’s History Month

In March 2010, I launched a series of 31 blogging prompts for celebrating and honoring the “fearless females” in our family trees. Many bloggers participated and I was asked if I planned on running them again. I’m happy to say that this series is still going strong and is back for a 13th year.

Badge graphic courtesy of Denise Levenick; edits by Lisa Alzo

So, to mark National Women’s History Month, I’m listing the 31 prompts below.

Also, you can download the free badge above to use on your blog to indicate your participation. [A special thanks to my friend and colleague, Denise Levenick, The Family Curator, who created the original version of this badge especially for me for the 2016 edition of Fearless Females].

It is a perfect time to start writing about your female ancestors.

[Group of young women reading in library of normal school, Washington, D.C.]Library of Congress, (Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer.); REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USZ62-100288 (b&w film copy neg.) DIGITAL ID: (b&w film copy neg.) cph 3c00288 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c00288]

Prompts

Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month

You can choose to do some of the prompts, or all of them–there’s no pressure–it’s meant to be a fun exercise to focus on the women and make sure their stories are told!

March 1 — Do you have a favorite female ancestor? One you are drawn to or want to learn more about? Write down some key facts you have already learned or what you would like to learn and outline your goals and potential sources you plan to check.

March 2 — Post a photo of one of your female ancestors. Who is in the photo? When was it taken? Why did you select this photo?

March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.

March 4 — Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.

March 5 — How did they meet? You’ve documented marriages, now, go back a bit. Do you know the story of how your parents met? Your grandparents?

March 6 — Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.) If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother or grandmother, or aunt (a scarf, a hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)

March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

March 8 — Did one of your female ancestors leave a diary, journal, or collection of letters? Share an entry or excerpt.

March 9 — Take a family document (baptismal certificate, passenger list, naturalization petition, etc.) and write a brief narrative using the information.

March 10 — What role did religion play in your family? How did your female ancestors practice their faith? If they did not, why didn’t they? Did you have any female ancestors who served their churches in some capacity?

March 11 — Did you have any female ancestors who died young or from tragic or unexpected circumstances? Describe and how did this affect the family?

March 12 — Working girl: Did your mother or grandmother work outside the home? What did she do? Describe her occupation.

March 13 — Moment of Strength: share a story where a female ancestor showed courage or strength in a difficult situation.

March 14 — Newsmakers? Did you have a female ancestor who made the news? Why? Was she famous or notorious? Did she appear in the social column?

March 15 — Write a six-word memoir tribute to one of your female ancestors.

March 16 — If you could have lunch with any female family member (living or dead) or any famous female who would it be and why? Where would you go? What would you eat?

March 17 — Social Butterfly? What social organizations or groups did your mother or grandmother belong to? Sewing circle, church group, fraternal benefit society or lodge? Describe her role in the group.

March 18 — Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.

March 19 — Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?

March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.

March 21 — Describe a tender moment one of your female ancestors shared with you or another family member.

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

March 23 — Create a timeline for a female ancestor using your favorite software program or an online timeline generator such as OurTimelines. Post an image of it or link to it.

March 24 — Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your female ancestors? Who? What is it?

March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

March 27 — Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?

March 28 — Do you remember your mother’s best friend? Your grandmother’s? How and where did they meet? How long were they friends? What activities did they share?

March 29 — Create a free Fold3 Memorial Page or a Genealogy Trading Card at Big Huge Labs for a female ancestor. Some of you may have created your own card back in September 2009 following Sheri Fenley’s post over at The Educated Genealogist. This time, the card is for your female ancestor. Tell us about who you’ve selected and why and then post a link to what you’ve created.

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

March 31 — Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).

BONUS: Take all of your postings and turn them into a memory or tribute booklet for future generations.

Post an entry on your Blog when you have created your tribute. Tell us how you did it (what format, how you printed it or digitized it, etc.).

Copyright, 2024, Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved

Preserving a Female Ancestor’s Photographs with Vivid-Pix Memory Station

Are precious details about the lives of your female ancestors hidden in old family photographs?  Most of us have bins or boxes of treasured memories just waiting to be uncovered and shared. 

Photo of Sr. Mary Camilla Alzo
Photo of my aunt, Sister Mary Camilla Alzo 

As a long-time genealogist, I have been researching the maternal lines in my family tree for more than 30 years. I wrote my book, Three Slovak Women as a tribute to my maternal grandmother and mother. Along the way I accumulated quite the collection of photographs, documents, and memorabilia. Since 2019, I have been on a mission to sort, scan, and share digital copies of the prints with my relatives.

Since March is Women’s History Month, I have decided to focus on the pictures that depict some of my female ancestors. But, where to begin?

With hundreds of photographs to process, I realized what a monumental task I had ahead of me. I needed a system to make things easier. I decided to follow a four-step process:

1. Sort – Organize photographs by family and then by date or event when possible.

2. Scan – Digitize the photographs using a scanner and correct any problems or imperfections using software (see below for details).

3. Store – Initially save the digital images to my computer (then move to an external hard drive with backup to cloud storage). 

4. Share – Share digital copies of the images with my cousins and other interested relatives.

I won’t bore you with the details of the sorting process, but I usually set aside an hour or two each week to go through the boxes and bins, sort the photos by family and then year/event where possible, and make sure they are put into archival safe storage boxes. The bigger decision for me was how to approach the scanning and storing. While I have a very nice Epson flatbed scanner to do the job, lifting the lid up and down is a bit cumbersome. And using my smartphone did not seem like the best option either. 

Enter the Vivid-Pix Memory Station

Recently I was given the opportunity to try out the Memory Station [affiliate link]. This is a combination of a Fujitsu ScanSnap SV600 + Vivid-Pix RESTORE software. In the bundle, Vivid-Pix includes FileShadow cloud archive if desired, providing storage for 1,000 images for free and additional fee for more storage).

The ScanSnap was easy to set up (I use it with a Windows laptop but it works with Mac too). I created a folder called ScanSnap Scans on my computer. I followed the instructions outlined on the Vivid-Pix website to get the best resolution and other specifications for saving the scans as high-quality JPEG image files. The ScanSnap allows for continuous scanning and for image correction if so desired. Each scan takes just a few seconds and can be done with either a simple press of the “Scan” button on the unit, or by clicking on the SCAN button in the ScanSnap software. Before I began the scanning process, I downloaded and installed the Vivid-Pix RESTORE software [affiliate link] – just $49.99 for a one-time fee and the ability to install on 2 computers (Mac and/or Windows). RESTORE is on sale this month, just $39.99 during the month of March, 2022 and they also offer a trial to fix 10 images for free. 


I tried out the Memory Station on a treasured scrapbook of photographs that belonged to my father’s sister, Anna, a Roman Catholic nun (she changed her name to Sr. Mary Camilla after taking her vows) who lived in Victoria, Texas most of her life. I called her “Auntie.”

I previously wrote about this scrapbook in a March 8, 2010 blog postThe album pages are falling apart and many of the photographs are faded, so I knew this was the perfect scanning project.  With the ScanSnap I could scan multiple photos, benefiting from the overhead scanner on these delicate items, and the ScanSnap separates them out so I can name them. 

Once scanned, the photos can be imported into Vivid-Pix RESTORE to restore the images with 1-click. There is also an option to fine-tune with easy controls. Below is a sample scanned photo of my Auntie and her two sisters (Betty and Helen) taken on Easter Sunday in 1941 in Duquesne, Pennsylvania. 

Photograph scanned with MemoryScan (not cropped)


The Vivid-Pix software adjusted color, contrast, lightness and sharpened the original photograph. As people have different perspective on “keeping age” (fade), less fade (or even back to the original black and white photo), below is the original and the 2 variations. [Note: I left the original photo on its black album backing but can crop the images as desired.]

My goal for this March is to scan the entire photo album and then create a digital version that I can share with others. I will likely share some of the results here on the blog as I work through the process.

Want to know more about the Memory Station?  Click here for more information.

Copyright 2022, Lisa A. Alzo

All Rights Reserved.


[Thank you for supporting The Accidental Genealogist by purchasing any products mentioned above, which are a part of the income stream for my writing/genealogy business].



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Fearless Females 31 March 2016: Mini-Profile

The prompt for 31 March 2016 is to is write a mini-profile of the female ancestor of your choice.

March 31 — Pick one female ancestor and write a mini-profile (500 words or less).

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

I decided to write a profile for my grandmother’s sister, Anna Fencsak Bavolar.

Anna Fenscak Bavolar



Anna Fencsak Bavolar was born on May 15, 1893 to Ilona and Mihaly Fencsak in Freeland, PA. She arrived in America in 1911, and was matched for marriage to George Bavolar by her sister, Mary Ceyba. Not long after the birth of her first daughter, Mary, Anna returned to Slovakia to care for her mother, who was ill and now re-married to Mihaly Zelenak. During that time Anna experienced conflict with her step-father who was a possessive person and did not want Anna there looking after her mother. Ilona died in 1917, but World War I delayed Anna’s return home until 1920. Anna and her husband eventually had four more children. Anna’s son George was killed trying to jump on a moving truck.

Anna died in 1959 from “myocardial infarction,” and “congestive heart failure.”

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

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Fearless Females 30 March 2016: Words of Wisdom

The prompt for 30 March 2016 is to share any words of wisdom you received from your mother or another female ancestor.

March 30 — Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

Lisa Alzo with Anna Alzo, 1999

My mother taught me to believe in myself and that just because someone else had more money, more advantages, or more opportunities that I shouldn’t feel they were better than me, or that this made me less of a person. She also taught me not to give up just because something seemed difficult or impossible to accomplish. Mom was a very smart woman and while at the time I couldn’t understand the lessons or principles she was trying to teach, I can truly appreciate them now.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

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Fearless Females 26 March 2016: Education

The prompt for 26 March 2016 is to write about a female ancestor’s education.

March 26 — What education did your mother receive? Your grandmothers? Great-grandmothers? Note any advanced degrees or special achievements.

[Note: Portions of this post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

My mother graduated from high school but did not go to college (her parents could not afford it). Mom was very smart and good at math. But she went to work after high school and after she married my father worked part time. I think she sometimes regretted not being able to go to college, and she worked very hard to make sure I was able to, and was so proud that I went to graduate school to earn my M.F.A. degree.



My grandmothers each had what was likely the equivalent of an 8th grade education, but by no means were they unintelligent women. They were at a disadvantage being immigrants and, but somehow they managed their households, raised their children, were able to hold down jobs speaking very little English.


Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved
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Fearless Females 25 March 2016: Women and Children

The prompt for 25 March is to describe a female ancestors interactions with her children.

March 25 — Tell how a female ancestor interacted with her children. Was she loving or supportive? A disciplinarian? A bit of both?

My mother was loving and supportive, but also taught me to have respect for others, especially my elders. My mother was strict but I always knew she loved me and had my best interests at heart. 

Me with my mom, Anna



Now that I am adult I can really appreciate my mother’s style of parenting. I also thank her for always believing in me and supporting my goals. She was my role model, especially with the way she cared for her own parents. I followed in her footsteps, caring for her and my father during their respective illnesses. My mother taught by example.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

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Fearless Females 24 March 2016: Shared Traits

The prompt for 24 March 2016 is to list and physical or personality traits you share with a female ancestor.


March 24 — Do you share any physical resemblance or personality trait with one of your female ancestors? Who? What is it?

I inherited fine hair and fine eyebrows from my paternal grandmother–this trait appears to run on her side of the family. My three aunts had fine hair and eyebrows too. 

Elizabeth Alzo


###


In terms of personality, I tend to take after my mother. She was a generous lady who always tried to see the good in others even if they were not always good to her. I think in many ways, however, that I am tougher than my mother because I don’t let people take advantage of my good nature.  I also have inherited my mother’s “worry” gene. I tend to imagine the worst and often worry about things that are beyond my control. I have been trying to do better in this area.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

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Fearless Females 22 March 2016: This is “Her” Life

The prompt for 22 March is to imagine that a movie is being made about one of your female ancestors and to describe what the story would be and to select the actress you imagine starring in the role.

March 22 — If a famous director wanted to make a movie about one of your female ancestors who would it be? What actress would you cast in the role and why?

[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]

I could only hope for a chance to bring the life stories of my grandmother and mother (from my book, Three Slovak Women) to the big (or even small) screen.

Anna Alzo



I never really thought about who would play my grandmother in the movie version, but I have thought many times that I would like to see my mother portrayed by Catherine Zeta- Jones .


Copyright, 2016, LIsa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved
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Fearless Females Blog Post: 20 March 2016: Elusive or Brick Wall Ancestor

The prompt for 20 March 2016 is to write about an elusive female ancestor in your family tree.


March 20 — Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information.


I’ve actually been pretty fortunate that my female ancestors have been fairly easy to trace. This is in part due to the excellent collection of microfilmed records available from the Family History Library –church and census records from my ancestral villages in Slovakia. I would like to learn a bit more about my great-grandmothers if possible. In particular, I’m hoping to learn more about my paternal grandfather’s mother, Borbala Manovsky Alzo.

Borbala Manovsky Alzo



I know very little about her so hope to find out whatever I can. She died in 1961–the same year (just a few months apart) as her son (my grandfather), and I thought this was an interesting coincidence. I have her marriage record thanks to my cousin. I also have some pictures from her funeral. From family I learned that she had several sisters so I’d like to learn more about them too. I am in the processing of doing more research and am hoping to obtain a copy of her death record from Slovakia, and hopefully will be able  to find some other documents, as well.

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

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Fearless Females 18 March 2016: Shining Star

The prompt for 18 March 2016 is to write about talented female ancestors in your family tree.


March 18 — Shining star: Did you have a female ancestor who had a special talent? Artist, singer, actress, athlete, seamstress, or other? Describe.


[Note: This post originally ran during the Fearless Females series in March 2010]


I always said that my mother should have opened her own bakery. She was a great cook, but she had a real talent for making cakes, cookies, and other desserts. Her specialty: Lady Locks–dainty puffed pastry with creme filling. She made them for every wedding, baptism, graduation, and other special event in our family and they would disappear from the cookie table in a flash! Making these cookies requires patience and precision and I remember watching my mother labor for hours–working to get the dough just right before wrapping it around the special pins, and then after they came out of the oven would carefully fill each one using a pastry bag, and then delicately coat them with powdered sugar from her “magical” powdered sugar can.

Anna Alzo (right) with her cousin Mary, baking cookies for a family wedding.


They weren’t just cookies–they were works of art!

Copyright 2016, Lisa A. Alzo
All Rights Reserved

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