Professional v. Volunteer: Do I need to hire help with my lineage society application?

Another one of those questions no one wants to ask: “Do I need to hire professional help with my lineage society application?”

First of all, what’s a lineage society? A lineage society is a membership based organization that determines membership based on the activities of an applicant’s ancestor. These societies are also referred to as hereditary societies.

As part of confirming that the applicant is in fact related to the ancestor, the societies typically request genealogical documentation of the family line. Generally that means vital records where they exist and other supporting documents – such as probate files, land records, and more – where they do not. Avid genealogists will often do the applications themselves.

What if you’re just getting started, don’t have time, or have hit a roadblock? You generally have one of two options: you can ask for assistance from the society’s volunteers or you can hire a professional genealogist. For example, more information on the volunteer options of the Sons of the American Revolution can be found here.

What are the common situations in which you should consider hiring a professional to assist with your application?

  • You don’t have time to finish your paperwork. This is the biggest reason I see people hire, and it’s an incredibly valid one. Researching your family and acquiring the documentation takes time and money. It’s a lot to ask of a volunteer. Smaller societies may not have the resources to do the application for you. A professional can.
  • You want to join multiple societies at once. It is possible to join multiple societies using the same ancestor. But that, at minimum, requires figuring out how to meet the requirements of those societies. A professional can help you streamline the process.
  • You’re stuck. Professionals often have significant training in the genealogy of a specific time period, region, or ethnic group. Think of the appropriate genealogist as the “expert” in that subject. Sometimes you just need an expert.

When do you not need a professional?

Some societies accept applications from other societies as supporting documentation. For example, SAR generally accepts DAR applications approved after 1 Jan 1985. (See, p. 16.) If you join using a parent’s or sibling’s application, you often only need an acceptable copy of their application and the documents for your generations. There’s no need to bring in help.

Questions? 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.

%d bloggers like this: