Do you have an ancestor that lived in Colonial America when the Revolutionary War was fought, or perhaps earlier in Jamestown, Virginia? Does your ancestry extend back to New England when the Mayflower arrived? If so, you may have heard that there are various lineage societies you could consider joining. The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), The National Society of the Children of the American Revolution (CAR), the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD), and the Jamestowne Society are some of the major lineage societies people join. However, there are others, such as state pioneer societies, ethnic societies, Civil War societies, and many more. For a list of some of the more common hereditary societies and brief overview of their requirements, see our previous blog post, Hereditary Societies & You. However, before submitting a lineage society application, consider hiring a genealogist to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible.
While each organization has different requirements for their lineage society application, most have the same principles–prove a connection from yourself to the person of interest by use of vital records where available, and where not available, use other documentation that proves family connections. Most societies allow the applicant to use previously accepted applications for admittance if they can prove how they tie into a person in the lineage. For example, if the lineage went from John Smith to Henry Smith to James Smith to William Smith to George Smith to Thomas Smith to Alexander Smith, with John Smith being the living person submitting the application and Alexander Smith being the patriot, and the applicant tied into this lineage with James Smith, he or she would have to provide documentation about themselves showing a connection to his or her parents, documentation on his or her parents and their connection to their grandparents and provide a copy of the lineage society application being used with member and National acceptance numbers.
Overall, this may sound like a simple process, but it often takes quite a bit of work because the records needed to prove each generational link are not always readily available – and sometimes they just don’t exist at all. This is where a professional genealogist can help. They can assist you with either a full or partial lineage society application. Many times there is at least one ‘problem’ generation that requires in-depth research, circumstantial evidence, and a proof summary in order to make the connection. A well written proof summary explains how all the circumstantial evidence fits together to support the generational link, and often aids the applicant in obtaining membership when not enough concrete documentation is available. However, it depends upon the lineage society to determine what they will and will not accept as proof, so there’s never a guarantee. They can always request additional information, and then you have to go back and keep digging!
Below are five ways that hiring a professional genealogist can aid in your lineage society application:
- Help you determine what documentation is required and locate contact information for the people you need to work with to submit your application. As we mentioned, each lineage society has different requirements, so you’ll want to be sure you know exactly what they expect in order to be as efficient as possible in gathering documentation.
- Identify previous applications that have been submitted for your lineage and determine where research should start and stop, saving you time and money. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, as the saying goes. If your lineage ties into one that has already been acceptably documented by another member of the society – let’s use it!
- Organize your information, working with you to determine what you already have or will need to order. We can obtain any vital record applications you will need for missing vital records, and help you obtain them.
- Conduct in-depth research and write a proof summary where needed for generations that do not have enough primary source documents to establish family ties. This often involves delving into land records, tax lists, probate records, and other more obscure sources to find any and all clues and pieces of information that can be used to tie two generations together. It can be a time consuming task, but since we know where to look, we’ll do it as efficiently as possible!
- Compile all your records and the records found through research to present to the lineage society for admittance. You’ll be the one to attend the appointment and present your documentation, but we can help you get it all ready so that you’ll be as prepared and organized as possible.
A well-prepared lineage society application often shortens the waiting period to be accepted into a society because it is easier to verify and follows the rules of the society. If an application is poorly prepared, it can take several submissions before acceptance into the society is granted. Since professional genealogists have experience working with the various societies and know what types of documentation are usually accepted, working with a professional genealogist can make the application process to a lineage society very rewarding.
If you have an ancestor in your lineage who may qualify you to join a lineage society, our experts can help you gather your documentation and prepare your application. If you’re not sure if you have a qualifying ancestor, we would love to look over your tree and find out! Contact us today to discuss your options!