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

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

Three Must-Find Sources for Mayflower Applications

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants has the same document requirements as the Daughters of the American Revolution, right? Wrong. Here are three sources you must find as you’re working on your application.

  1. The Silver Books entries for this line: DAR and GSMD both require you to use what’s already on file, but that information is stored in different locations. GSMD uses the entries from the Silver Books. It’s a good idea to review them when you’re starting out to be sure your line makes sense and is believed to be accurate. There’s a lot of incorrect information out there. You do not need to make copies. The historian will add the details (or make them available to you to add) when your application is prepared.
  2. Vital records: The Daughters of the American Revolution only (currently) requires vital records for the first three generations (applicant, parents, and grandparents). The General Society of Mayflower Descendants requires vital records for the entire period they were legally demanded. Some historians may ask for records from an even earlier period in which vital records were recorded but not required by law. If a record cannot be found, be prepared to get a no record found letter from the clerk, recorder, or archives.
  3. Additional marriages: DAR only requires documentation of the marriage that produced the child and any that may have caused the woman’s legal name to change. GSMD expects all marriages for the person the line runs through (line carrier). Some historians may ask for all marriages for the couple. Be prepared.

Lineage Society

5 Sources to Avoid Using for Mayflower Society Applications

Are you home researching for fun? While now is a great time to start working your application for the General Society of Mayflower Descendants – and you might even get a 2020 join date if you apply now – there are a few sources you should avoid.

  1. Family trees and pedigree charts: We see a lot of these when doing Mayflower applications! Unfortunately, they’re not considered “documentation” of your Mayflower line, as they really just tell us that someone thought you were related to Mayflower passenger. They don’t tell us where that information came from. Treat them like hints and go find the original source.
  2. Ancestry ThruLines: It’s exciting to get a notification from Ancestry DNA that you might be related to a Mayflower passenger. But don’t turn it in as proof. ThruLines uses a combination of DNA and family trees to identify possible common ancestors. As a result, it has the same issues as family trees.
  3. Unsourced family genealogies: Have the same last name as a family who traveled on the Mayflower? You must be related, right? Not always! Some older family genealogies linked together unrelated people of the same surname so they could claim Mayflower ancestry. Don’t assume they were right. Find the documents to check.
  4. The 1850 census: This is a common issue with a lot of lineage societies. The 1850 census doesn’t list how people in the household were related, so it can’t be used to “prove” parent-child relationships.
  5. Daughters of the American Revolution applications: I’m not really sure why this question comes up so often, but no, GSMD does not take DAR applications, even if your DAR ancestor is in the GSMD line. The only society besides DAR that takes DAR applications is SAR. Use the citations from the DAR application and find the original sources.

Happy hunting!

Lineage Society

I just found a Mayflower passenger in my tree. How do I join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants?

Step one: slow down! Unfortunately, a lot of people want to be Mayflower descendants. So there are a lot of wrong trees.

Your next step is to check the older generations and see if they’re accurate. You can likely do that for free at your local library. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants (or connected family groups) publishes a collection called the Silver Books, which compiles all the known information on the first few generations of Mayflower descendants. Some go up only to five generations. Others – in progress – may go much further. If your line doesn’t match what’s in the book, it’s likely not correct. (There may be people missing from the Silver Books, but that chance isn’t high.)

If you’ve confirmed the first few generations, your next step is to see what Mayflower has on file. Yes, there’s a fee – but it’s cheaper than buying a bunch of certificates you won’t need. We discussed Lineage Match in a previous post.

And then it’s time to contact the historian in your state and begin ordering what you need…