The Genealogy Scavenger Hunt Turns 1 Today!

announcements education Jan 01, 2022

๐ŸŽ‰ Not only am I celebrating the new year today, but I’m also celebrating the 1-year anniversary of the Genealogy Scavenger Hunt!

What is the Genealogy Scavenger Hunt?

Well, in May 2020 I decided to put together a week-long genealogy challenge to help my genealogy friends cope with the lockdown due to the pandemic. For each of the five days I put together a scenario and participants had to use the clues to find the records freely available online and then answer a set of questions. They’d email the answers to me and I’d let them know if they were correct (and if not, I’d give them another clue if necessary). Nearly 200 participated in that spur-of-the-moement challenge, and I was amazed by the feedback. Besides being a fun distraction, several people mentioned that they actually learned new things, such as a new-to-them record or free website. Many applied what they learned to their own research (some people even had some breakthroughs!!). The biggest takeaway for many was learning to slow down and really think about what the record is telling them. Some people even said that it reinvigorated their passion for genealogy! Huh, who knew it would have such an impact? ๐Ÿค”

In July 2020 I ran a 3-day version and received much the same feedback. Even though things were opening back up in the latter part of 2020, I kept getting emails asking when the next scavenger hunt would be and I had a ton of people on the wait list.

From July to September, I was working the final issue of FGS’s FORUM magazine before the NGS/FGS merger. Then I immediately went into working on the Research Planning Magic challenge as well as Genealogy Problem-Solving Academy (which at the time was solely a 6-week coaching-led program). When I finally came up from air in late November, I started to look at how I could continue to do the genealogy scavenger hunt.

To be honest, while it was fun for me to run it, it was difficult to keep up with the email correspondence during the week of the challenge. Because of that, I also had to limit the number of participants, which meant that some people couldn’t participate ๐Ÿ˜ข

Taking all of that into consideration, as well as some of the feedback (lots of people wanted to do the challenge monthly!), I decided to restructure the scavenger hunt into a monthly version available through a low-cost annual subscription that sort of runs on autopilot. Each month participants get a new challenge. Same as the earlier hunts, participants get a set of clues so they can located free online records and then answer a set of questions. But instead of emailing the answers to me, the answers are submitted via a form in the scavenger hunt hub. Once the answers are submitted, the answer key is unlocked. Plus, I provide a video demonstration showing how the records were found as well as how the answers were determined. In the video demo, I also throw in some additional tips and tricks related to the records and/or the websites used.

This new version started one year ago today. We’ve had 12 monthly challenges, covering records such as jail registers, US census mortality schedules, naturalization records, Irish church records, and even Daughters of the Republic of Texas Applications (because, yes, they’re freely available!). We’ve used free websites such as FamilySearch, the National Library of Ireland, the Arizona Memory Project, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Wisconsin Historical Society’s digital records, and

Here’s what Bill had to say about the new version of the scavenger hunt:

I love that the scavenger hunt is a great way to learn new techniques or refresh old ways of thinking without a major financial or time commitment. The hunt is focused on one topic, directed, and reaches a conclusion; but the learning and usefulness don't stop there, since Julie encourages us to use what we've learned and apply it to our own research. The bite-sized challenges are manageable, the techniques are universal, and the resources are applicable.

I’m giddy with excitement over what I have planned for 2022! I can’t wait to start putting the activities together, and I hope that everyone will find the records and websites useful for their own research.

Want to join the hunt?

If you answered “yes,” head on over to to sign up. For $47/year you’ll get a new challenge each month. Plus, to keep you moving forward on your own genealogy, I have a Take Action Prompt bonus that you’ll get each month. And, because I love over-delivering, you’ll also get a PDF copy of my Genealogy In Action Guide 10 Ways to Take Action in 10 Minutes or Less so you can find ways to fit genealogy into your busy life.

Take it from Karla, who said:

I find that I learn better through hands-on experience, so I joined the hunt to boost my research skills. Even though funds are tight, it’s worth the $ because I get to focus on specific sources, which helps me think outside the box and come up with new ideas for my own research!

๐ŸŽ‰ celebrate this 1-year anniversary, anyone who joins between today and 11:59 p.m. CST on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, will get an invitation to an “Ask Me Anything” session that will be held in February and March (you’ll have a few different options to choose from).

So what do you say?

Are you in?

Join today!

© Julie Tarr. This article was first published at Genealogy In Action; appearance of this article elsewhere, without my permission, violates copyright.