What documents will I need to provide to join a lineage society?

Because lineage society membership is based on ancestry, all societies require applicants to document their relationship to the qualifying ancestor. But what does this actually mean?

You’ll need to document the births, marriages, deaths, connections between parents and children, and connections between spouses in every generation back to the qualifying ancestor.

What documents can you use to do so?

  • For the first three generations (you, your parents, and your grandparents), most societies will require that you provide civil birth, marriage and death certificates. If there were multiple marriages, documentation of those may also be required. (The General Society of Mayflower Descendants requires documentation of all marriages of the person the line runs through.)
  • Beyond that, requirements depend on the society. After the third generation, The Daughters of the American Revolution will allow the use of church records, probate files, or gravestone images (provided they are “period”) to document birth, marriage or death. Mayflower Society will generally require vital records as long as they exist. As long the source is original – ie. deeds, pension files, probate – it can generally be used in some capacity. Just be aware of what the source actually says: the 1850 census cannot be used to document relationships – as it doesn’t list them!

What documents can you not use?

  • With some rare exceptions, you cannot use the lineage society papers of another society to support an application in a new one. For example, the Daughters of the American Revolution does not take the papers of the Sons of the American Revolution. (That being said, under certain circumstances, SAR will take DAR’s applications.)
  • Most societies do not accept older local history books or family genealogies unless they are used in conjunction with original sources.
  • You cannot – in any circumstances – use family trees or family group sheets. If you have them, find the original sources.

Need help documenting a line? Contact us.

Published by Bryna O'Sullivan

Proprietor of Charter Oak Genealogy, Bryna O'Sullivan specializes in assisting clients with lineage society applications and with French to English genealogical translations.

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