Lineage Society

Am I allowed to join a lineage society with a new ancestor?

There are many incorrect answers to this question floating around…

In most cases, the answer is yes. The Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution prefer that you use someone who is already on file. It’s simply for ease of verification, as it gives the verifying genealogist less to review. They will allow you to add someone new as long as you can document that person to meet their standards.

There are some societies that believe they’ve identified all qualifying ancestors. If you want to add a new ancestor to one of those society’s rolls, be sure you can thoroughly document that the person meets their standards. Otherwise, focus on connecting to an identified ancestor.

Lineage Society

Do I need to have an identified ancestor before joining a society?

If you’ve been invited to be considered for lineage society membership, it can be tempting to jump in feet first – but that’s not always a good idea. You may want to take some time to learn your family history and/or identify likely lines before proceeding. Here’s why.

Some societies, such as the Society of the Cincinnati, limit membership to one member per qualifying ancestor. If you want to have a true chance at membership, you need to have identified a likely ancestor. That way, it’s possible for the society to confirm if the line is or is not available. If not, you’ll be able to look for other options without wasting too much time.

Others simply require an ancestor meet specific qualifications. That being said, no matter how much you want to join the society, they can’t accept you if your family doesn’t meet those qualifications. It’s better to know that before you’ve spent time, money, and energy.

Need help tracing your history? Contact Charter Oak Genealogy.

Lineage Society

What’s the etiquette for joining an invitation only lineage society?

While some lineage societies welcome applications from any interested individual who meets their requirements, many require that an invitation be extended before they will consider an individual for membership.

How do you proceed if you’d like to be considered?

  1. First, be aware that there is a process for consideration and not everyone is accepted. Patience makes the process much easier.
  2. Next, talk to your friends and network. If you know someone who is already a member, they can initiate the review process. A network approach is ideal, as some local organizations are overwhelmed with requests and will not accept direct approach.
  3. If you don’t know an existing member, it is acceptable to contact the organization’s public email or phone, explain your interest, and ask how you might be considered for membership. Many organizations have a method to add “direct approach” prospective members.
  4. Whatever procedure you are given, follow it. It may require that you submit a biography, meet with members individual or attend a large group meeting. Each organization has a set procedure to deal with the volume of requests. Adherence to that procedure makes everyone’s life easier.

Do you need help navigating the process? Contact us.

Lineage Society

Was your ancestor an officer? More resources for researching the American Revolution in France.

If your ancestor was an officer, consider reviewing the site of the Society of the Cincinnati in France. With officer biographies, histories of the Revolution and more, the Society’s website can be an aid to your research. And who knows – if you’re a male descendant from a French officer, you may even be eligible for membership!

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!

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!