Lineage Society

Researching Revolutionary Service in France

The American Revolution wasn’t just fought in the boundaries of the modern United States. It was truly fought around the world. The Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution recognize that fact by allowing membership based on ancestor’s support of the American cause, no matter where they were located. That includes France.

How did France support the American cause? The country did so politically, militarily, and economically. A treaty was signed between France and the new United States in 1778. A 1936 article indicates 2112 French soldiers died in the support of the American cause. As the US State Department notes, France also kept the Continental Army supplied between 1778 and the end of the War. Ancestors who offered support through any of these efforts would qualify for the Revolutionary War lineage societies.

Where do you begin finding evidence? The Daughters of the American Revolution and the French Society of the Cincinnati both keep extensive records. So to do the publications contained in the National Library of France. It’s worth beginning with this one:

Happy hunting!


Common Mayflower Society Questions: Why Hire a Professional Genealogist?

Thanks to the “Silver Books,” the Mayflower Society has a ton of information easily accessible. Most historians prefer to fill out the application forms themselves. Is there value to hiring help?

While you can definitely try to do an application yourself, there are a few reasons you might need or want to hire help. First, unless you connect to a very recent applicant, you are going to need to provide a number of birth, marriage, and death certificates. Do you know how to locate and order your grandfather’s birth certificate? A professional genealogist can be a huge time saver. Second, tracing a Mayflower family’s movements can involve multiple states or multiple countries. Some Massachusetts families ended up in Nova Scotia. Unless you have wide research experience, a professional genealogist will likely be able to trace the family far more quickly and easily than you could. In short, help can save you time – and often money, by avoiding the waste of going down the wrong line.

Want help? Contact us.

Lineage Society

Common Mayflower Society Questions: Can I access old applications to see what’s on file already?

Lineage society applications sometimes contain research goldmines. There’s the attestation from someone that died decades ago or the Bible family record that’s gone missing. The old Mayflower Society applications are no different. But how do you access them?

  1. FamilySearch and the New England Historic Genealogical Society have announced a partnership to digitize General Society of Mayflower Descendants applications. Part of the database is already live on American Ancestors.
  2. Many applications have yet to be digitized, but there is a way to search what’s on file for your line. Submit a lineage match request. The results will tell you what portion is already on file and provide you instructions for order the applications in question.

Happy hunting!

Lineage Society

Common Mayflower Society Questions: What marriage records do I need to provide?

All lineage societies require some documentation of births, deaths, and marriages (if they happened). In most cases, the society requires only the record of the marriage that produced the child. The Mayflower Society is a bit different : in general, you will be asked to provide all marriage records for the “line carrier.”

Who is the “line carrier”? The line carrier is the person whom the person lines through. Say the Mayflower passenger is on your grandfather’s mother’s side. Your grandfather is the line carrier. You’ll be expected to provide copies of any and all marriage records he might have.

Does this mean you’ll only need to provide your grandmother’s marriage certificate to your grandfather? Maybe. There are two additional factors to consider:

  1. What does the member society request? Some historians will ask for all marriages for both spouses.
  2. Did your grandmother change her name again? If a woman’s death certificate is in a different married name, it’s generally best to get a copy of all marriages prior to death, just to document the name changes.

Need help? Contact us.

Lineage Society

Common Mayflower Society Questions: Who do I contact to start my application?

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants is made up of 53 member societies. There is a member society for each of the 50 states, one for Washington D.C., one for Canada, and one for Europe. Prospective members are required to apply through the member society.

Thankfully, the GSMD keeps a list of member society contact information. You can access that list here:

Things to know before contacting the local society:

  1. You should know your likely Mayflower line. GSMD does not have the resources to find a pilgrim for you.
  2. The amount of help available to complete your application will vary by the society. In most cases, you’ll be expected to provide at least the birth, death, and marriage certificates for the recent generations. In most cases, you’ll be expected to provide any information not already on file.
  3. The GSMD will not to do your application for you. If you are unable to do it yourself, it may be time to consider professional help.
Lineage Society

Common Mayflower Society Questions: Is it too late to get a 2020 number?

The 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower is 2020, and many are celebrating with Mayflower Society membership.

Is it too late to get a 2020 number if you apply now?

Maybe. Covid-19 has pushed processing dates back. As of early June 2020, application review time was averaging about 7 months. That may speed up as the Mayflower Society is able to bring more staff onsite.

The short version: if you want a 2020 number, get your application in now – and realize you may be getting your number in early 2021.

Need help with your application or have questions? Contact us.

Lineage Society

Researching African American patriots

African American “patriots” – the term used by the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution to describe individuals who supported the American cause during the American Revolution – are underrepresented among the verified DAR and SAR ancestors.


  1. Many African American patriots served as Continental line soldiers, as opposed to militia soldiers. This changes where their records were stored. Militias were handled locally; the Continental line records are stored federally. This difference in storage means that someone researching a region rather than a specific name is likely to miss a Continental line soldier.
  2. At least locally in New England, many African American patriots – particularly soldiers – ended up in unmarked graves, due to a combination of systemic racism, poverty, and disability resulting from their long military service. If you’re looking for a gravestone indicating military service, you may not find one. That means the soldier is less likely to be recognized as a patriot.
  3. These lineage societies have had a history of racism, most notably DAR’s 1939 refusal to allow Marian Anderson to use their performance space. They are working hard to address their pasts and fully recognize the service of all patriots. DAR, for example, just announced an initiative to support further research. But, change is unfortunately slow, and much more work is needed to fully recognize the commitment of these men and women.

So, what can be done to change that?

  1. Some of the changes have to be made by the lineage societies themselves. They need to make themselves visible to all communities, just not the ones they’ve traditionally reached. Some chapters are making an effort to do that. However, if you see a need, feel to free reach out. You may be educating a chapter or helping them accomplish a goal that they’ve had and not known how to fulfill.
  2. If you know your ancestry, think about membership. Are you descended from one of these men or women? If so, please think about joining. You’ll be promoting change in a positive way. Even if you’re not interested in membership, please share your ancestor’s story. DAR and SAR both have ways of publicly recognizing the service of patriots separate from membership.
  3. If you don’t know your ancestry, don’t give up! There are active projects working to trace the descendants of patriots, including patriots of color. If you know your family was from a specific region, be sure to connect with the local DAR or SAR organization. They may be able to help.

We’ve only touched the tip of a very complex topic. If you have questions about the application process or DAR/SAR recognition of African American patriots, please contact us. We’ll be glad to share resources, and we’d love to do more posts!

Lineage Society

Common DAR + SAR Questions: Do my ancestors need to be from England or Scotland?

Not at all! The Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution requirements demand only that ancestors supported the American cause during the American Revolution.

That means the qualifying ancestors extend well beyond England and Scotland. Here are the few more common options:

  1. Spanish: The Daughters of the American Revolution actually has a task force addressing Spanish support of the War.
  2. French: Deb Duay has a great website covering French-Canadian patriots.
  3. African-American/Native American: The Daughters of the American Revolution has a publication with information on African-American and Native American patriots.

In short, if your ancestor was in the colonies or in an area that supported the American cause and they supported the American cause, there’s a good chance they’d qualify.

Questions? Contact us.

Lineage Society

Common DAR and SAR questions: Does the ancestor need to have my last name?

This questions come up enough to surprise me: do your Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution ancestors need to share your last name?

There’s a simple answer: no. While choosing a qualifying ancestor with your last name is a great way to honor your heritage, you can choose any ancestor in your family tree who meets the qualification requirements for DAR and SAR. And they do not need to be a direct female line or male line ancestor.

Have fun hunting!

Contact us with questions.

Lineage Society

Common DAR + SAR questions: Do all your ancestors need to be married?

Yes, lineage societies have historically required that your ancestors be legitimate – that their parents must be married – and some lineage societies still do.

That being said, the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution are not among them. They require “proof” that the child is the child of the parents, not that the child is the product of the married parents.

If you’re confused, don’t worry. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. If the child’s parents were married, expect to be asked for documentation of marriage. In some older lines, it might be the only way to document the child’s mother, as birth records often only included the father’s name.
  2. If the child’s parents were not married, that should not be an issue, provided that the birth certificate lists the names of the parents. Expect to be asked to provide a note explaining the circumstances, just so the genealogist knows not to look for a marriage record.

Want to learn more about DAR or SAR applications? Read more on our blog.

Have a question we haven’t answered? Contact us.