If your ancestor was a member of a lineage society, that dream may be more real than you’ve imagined. While it’s not the case for every society, many store the applications and supporting documents of members – sometimes back to the society’s founding. Those older documents can be a true goldmine, containing family records that may not have survived to the present day. Applications can provide useful hints.
So how do you access them?
The General Society of Mayflower Descendants allows you to request the older verified applications via email. See GSMD Library – The Mayflower Society for details. (Check to make sure the application isn’t on FamilySearch first!)
SAR allows members of certain lineage societies to request application copies and documents. See Genealogical Copy Services – National Society Sons of the American Revolution (sar.org) for details.
DAR allows older applications to be purchased using the Genealogical Research System. Go DAR Genealogical Research Databases. Put in your ancestor’s name into the descendant search, and then click on the appropriate entry in the search results. On the next page, click on “Purchase Associated Record Copy” and follow the directions.