Lineage Society

Avoid Common Lineage Society Mistakes: Know What Documents You’ll Need to Provide

Family trees? Ancestry ThruLines? A family genealogy?

Lineage societies have rules about records you can and cannot submit as supporting documentation. Knowing what those rules are can save you significant time and frustration.

Check with your specific society before proceeding, but here are a few general rules.

  1. If a vital record (birth, death or marriage certificate or record) exists, do your best to acquire a copy. Some societies will allow the substitution of abstracts, such as the Barbour Collection; some will require the originals. Photocopies are fine. Do not submit originals, as they will likely be destroyed.
  2. If a vital record does not exist, acceptable substitutes can include:
    • Obituaries
    • Deeds
    • Military records, including draft records and pension files.
    • Church records
    • Family Bibles (Be sure to include the cover page. Entries must be made by someone who would have experienced the event. A birth 200 years before the publication date will not be accepted.)
    • Gravestone images.
    • DNA under certain limited circumstances.
    • And more.
  3. Some documents and sources should be avoided except in limited cases. Such as:
    • Family histories and genealogies without citations to sources.
    • Ancestry ThruLines
    • Family trees.
    • Local histories that do not provide citations to sources.
    • Lineage applications from other societies
    • DNA (Unless it meets the society’s requirements.)

Wondering if a source will or will not be allowed? Your first resource is the society itself. Have questions? We’ll be glad to help. Contact Us

Lineage Society

What does a lineage society application cost?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a straightforward answer to that question. The cost depends on what society you join, where you join that society, and what portion of the lineage you need to document to complete your application.

Smaller societies may charge you only a lifetime application fee of several hundred dollars or less. Essentially, they’re charging you to review the application and to off set their activities fee by a small amount.

Larger, decentralized societies (the Mayflower Society is a prime example) vary their fee by the location you apply. Even though they may send the application to one place to be reviewed, these societies hold their resources locally. As a result, the fee you pay will vary based on local needs.

Larger centralized societies generally have a standard application review fee but will also charge local dues. This allows them to standardize where they can and then still meets the needs of the local organizations.

And then there’s the cost of the documents for your application. (More to follow…)

What does this mean for you? If there’s a budget concern, it’s best to ask about fees going in. Most societies are glad to clarify. They don’t want to shock you – or put in the time only to find you can’t pay the necessary fees to complete your application.

Lineage Society

I’ve finished all my paperwork. I’m about to turn in my Sons of the American Revolution Application. What else should I do?

It can seem like a huge relief. You’ve done the hard work of locating your documents, filling out the application, and signing the check. You’re done, right? Technically, yes.

But there are things you can do now that will save you time down the road. Applications do get misplaced, as much as we’d like to claim otherwise. You may decide you want to join a different society using the same line or submit a supplemental application that includes some of the same people. Make the right choices will cut your long term stress.

  1. Make copies of everything. Make a copy of your application form file. Make copies of all supporting documentation. (If you don’t want to keep paper, scan them.) This will save you from hunting down documents later if something disappears.
  2. Organize everything by generation. You are generation 1 in most societies; your parents are generation 2. If you store your paperwork by generation, it’s just a matter of recopying the file, rather than organizing everything again.
  3. Store it someplace you can find it again! This work will do you no good if you misplace your files. Be sure to store your work someplace that you can locate it again.

Need help organizing? Contact Charter Oak Genealogy.

Lineage Society

Common DAR + SAR questions: Will the Sons of the American Revolution help with my application?

Starting a new application can feel a little scary. Both DAR and SAR have built in programs to help, but they look a little different.

You can safely ask for help on your Sons of the American Revolution application from two people:

  1. Your point of contact: This may be the state registrar, the local registrar or someone else. Be aware of two things. First, they may not be able to help. Explain what you’re looking for, and ask if they can assist or if they can refer you to someone who can. Second, if they can help, you need to have realistic expectations. Their job is not to gather all the needed paperwork for your application. They’re simply there to offer advice.
  2. A genealogy assistant: SAR genealogy assistants are able to assist with research in a limited way. Again, they’re not there to do the application for you. But they can help with a hard to prove link or tell you where to look.

In short, yes, SAR will help with your application. Just remember that their job is not to do your application. If you’re not hiring professional help (see our future post), it’s yours. They’re just there to assist!

Have questions? Want to hire help? Contact us.

Lineage Society

What documents do I need to provide for a Mayflower Society application?

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants – the Mayflower Society – has among the lineage world’s most strict requirements about the documents that need to be provided in an application.

Here are the basic guidelines:

  1. The Silver Books and previous applications should be used to document any generations already on file.
  2. If a vital record could exist for the other generations (ie. the event happened after the state start recording vital records), you need to provide it.
  3. If you cannot provide it, you’ll need to get a “no record found” letter from the office that issues vital records. (That might be the county recorder, the town clerk, the state vital records office, or another office.)
  4. If the spouse the line runs through (the “line carrier”) was married more than once, you’ll need to document all marriages.
  5. For generations where vital records do not exist, you can substitute other documents to document birth, marriage, and death. Probate files, gravestones, deeds, and military records are acceptable options.
  6. Uncited family genealogies and/or local histories should not be used as the only documentation in any generation.

Questions? Contact us.

Lineage Society

What records do I have to have for a lineage society application?

We get it, you want to get into the lineage society – whether it’s DAR, SAR, the Mayflower Society or something else – quickly. But there are records that you will need to have, so it’s time to think about how to order them. Here’s the list of the most common requirements.

  1. Civil death records (where they exist): You’re going to be required to get them for at least the three generations (CDA and DAR) and may be required to provide them going much further back, if they exist. If you’re doing a Massachusetts Mayflower family, expect to be asked for civil death records going back to the 1600s.
  2. Civil marriage records (where they exist): See the above.
  3. Civil birth records (where they exists): See the above except for DAR. DAR currently allows you to submit just the civil death and marriage record, provided the civil death record lists parents’ names and the date and place of birth.

So in short, you need to begin by ordering any civil birth, death, and marriage records that might exist for your family. (And begin early, as it can take up to three months to receive a record.)

How do you do that? The state vital records office website is usually a good place to start. Read carefully, as requirements can be complicated.

Don’t want to wait months or want help? Contact us.