Why do I want to join a lineage society?

Your family’s told you over and over that you qualify for the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Mayflower Society (or another lineage society)… but you’re not entirely sure it’s worth it. Here are a few of the reasons it might be:

You love history: While your love of history might make friends or family roll their eyes, you’ll be in good company at the average lineage society meeting.

You want to honor your ancestors: Has your family passed down an incredible story about one of your ancestors? Would you love to share it, but no one outside your family seems to care? By putting a new ancestor on file with a society, you can ensure that their story is recognized.

You want to ensure your family history is preserved: Are you questioning whether your family will preserve your genealogy research? Most lineage societies now store the application and supporting documentation on some form. It’s a valuable benefit, especially for your grandchildren who later decide they want to join the society.

You need a scholarship: Most lineage societies offer some form of scholarships. Some, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, offer scholarships to the general public (although DAR offers some scholarships only to members and their family members.) Others, such as the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, require a family member be a member.

You want to build a network: The larger societies, such as National Society Colonial Dames of America, the Sons of the American Revolution, or the Society of Colonial Wars, have branches all over the country. It’s a built in “family”, connections that can prove key as you’re trying to establish yourself in a new location.

What is a lineage society?

Also called a hereditary society, a lineage society is an organization that defines its membership by their relationship to an ancestor meeting a certain set of qualifications.

Most lineage societies are service organizations and believe that in uniting to honor their ancestors, they can make a difference today. Some are focused specifically on historic preservation and maintaining their ancestors’ legacy. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants states its mission statement as:

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants, GSMD, is committed to research on the lineal descent of the Mayflower Pilgrims and education about the Pilgrims who travelled aboard the Mayflower in 1620. The Society provides education and understanding of why the Mayflower Pilgrims were important, how they shaped western civilization, and what their 1620 voyage and its impact on the world means today.

Other societies have a wider mission. The Daughters of the American Revolution defines itself as ” a non-profit, non-political volunteer women’s service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America’s future through better education for children.”

Societies exist for those of many different ancestries. With groups such as Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage and National Society Descendants of American Farmers, there is sure to be a group that matches your ancestry and your goals.