Family History Villains

Family History Villains

Vector cartoon image of a robber in black pants and a striped jacket with a mask on his face with a sack of loot in his hand on the background of a ball of light on a blue background.


Family history villains, who are they?

How do we recognize them in our research?

An essential component of writing our family history stories is considering the allies and antagonists our protagonist ancestor encountered on their journey. It’s important to consider before you begin writing who will play a significant role in your ancestor’s story. Those other main characters usually come in the form of antagonists and allies.

Allies – will be those who help your ancestor to achieve their goals. They may offer assistance to your ancestor. No person goes through life alone, and one often finds support in a number of places.

Antagonists – will be those who stand in the way of your ancestor.

Keep in mind that not all opponents will take human form. Enemies can come in a variety of ways lets consider some of the options.


Man vs. Animal – Let’s be realistic, our ancestor mostly likely didn’t come up against Jaws or King Kong, but our ancestors indeed witnessed their fair share of wild animals. These wild animals brought devastation to their livestock and farms and livelihood.

Man vs Self – Most of our ancestors at some point in their life had to overcome internal struggles before they were able to achieve their goals. What human being does not fight with some inner demon at some stage in their life? Don’t overlook your ancestor’s personal struggles in their family history story.

Man vs. Setting – For our forefathers, the setting can be a major antagonist. This family history villain may come in the form of wilderness, the desert, an urban jungle or remote village that cuts them off from civilization.

Man vs. Society – Without a doubt our ancestors experienced considerable opposition imposed on them by societal standards. Primary examples include the Irish, Polish, etc., who were oppressed by their governments. Peasants oppressed by social class, there is no lack of religions that were oppressed and then one of the most prominent examples of man vs. society —  slavery.

Man vs. Technology – Don’t think it just us who deal with constantly changing technology. Your ancestor also saw changing technology and like many you, your ancestor as well may had great problems in accepting such changes.

Man vs. Weather – Mother Nature always manages to get in the way, and our ancestors were very much subject to the whims of the weather. While our ancestors didn’t experience Armageddon, they certainly may have faced their share of storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and winter conditions,  all played pivotal roles in our ancestor’s lives.

When it comes to the villain in your family history stories, don’t limit yourself to humans. Also, there may be more that just one antagonistic force within your story or even a single scene. Look for multiple hostiles  your ancestor faced. Although one hostile force will be your primary antagonist, our ancestors had no shortage of villains in their life.