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.