13 June 2012

Lineage societies

Lexington (MA) Minute Man statue
As genealogists, we’re all about finding connections to people and places. If you have ancestors fit certain criteria, it’s worth it to investigate these lineage societies, either to join them yourself or to look up your ancestor’s membership papers or lineage.

These groups may offer its members access to unique library collections, digital and manuscript archives, publications, events, educational opportunities, research help, and/or museums. Some hold membership applications for past and present members and/or research notes for their ancestors. The collections depend upon the goals of that individual society.

Below, you’ll find links to some lineage/hereditary societies:

General Society of Mayflower Descendants: Founded in 1897, GSMD’s mission is “committed to education and lineage research on the journey of the Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower in 1620 and their lineal descent. The Society provides education and understanding of why the Pilgrims were important, how they shaped western civilization, and what their 1620 voyage means today.”

Winthrop Society, Descendants of the Great Migration: Membership is open to “all men and women of good character and proven descent from one or more passengers of the Winthrop fleet, or of others who settled in the Bay Colony and down east before 1636. We also welcome the efforts of any others who bring with them the fruits of any research that furthers the appreciation and understanding of seventeenth-century Massachusetts Bay and New England.” The society covers the Massachusetts Bay Colony, not Plymouth Colony.

Order of the Founders and Patriots of America: Membership is open to “any man of the age of 18 years, of good moral character and reputation, and a citizen of the United States, who is lineally descended, in the male line of either parent, from an ancestor who settled in any of the colonies now included in the United States of America prior to May 13, 1657; and one or all of whose intermediate ancestors in the same line, who lived in the period of the American Revolution, from 1775 to 1783, adhered as patriots to the cause of the colonies, shall be eligible for membership in the Order.” Founded 1896.

National Society, Daughters of the Founders and Patriots of America: “Eligibility in the Society requires an unbroken paternal line of either the applicant's father or mother, going back to a founder who arrived in one of the Colonies between May 13, 1607 and May 13, 1687, and in this unbroken line, an intermediate patriot ancestor who, by personal service in a civil or military capacity or by other acts proving his unfailing loyalty, assisted in establishing American independence during the Revolutionary Period, 1775 to 1784.” Founded 1898.

National Society, Daughters of the American Colonists: Founded in 1920, DAC has a threefold mission: “Patriotic, Historical and Educational; to make research as to the history and deeds of the American colonist and to record and publish the same; to commemorate deeds of colonial interest; to inculcate and foster love of America and its institutions by all its residents; to obey its laws and venerate its flag—the emblem of its power and civic righteousness.”

National Society New England Women: Founded in 1895, membership is “open to women who can prove lineal descent from a man or woman born in New England prior to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, or in Nassau or Suffolk County, Long Island, prior to 1700.”

National Society Sons of Colonial New England: Founded in 1985, SCNE is open to any male “18 years of age or more, who can prove lineal descent from a person born prior to July 4, 1776, in any of the New England colonies.”

National Society, Sons of the American Revolution: Founded in 1889, SAR is a fraternal and civic society composed of lineal descendants of the men who wintered at Valley Forge, signed the Declaration of Independence, fought in the battles of the American Revolution, served in the Continental Congress, or otherwise supported the cause of American Independence. 

National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution: Founded in 1890, DAR is open to any woman who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution.

General Society War of 1812: Started by veterans of the war, the national society was formed in 1894. Membership is open to “any male person above the age of twenty-one (21) years, who participated in, or who is a lineal descendant of one who served during the War of 1812, in the army, navy, revenue-marine, or privateer service of the United States.”

Descendants of Whaling Masters: Founded in 1974, membership is open to descendants and relatives of whaling masters and crew.

For other hereditary societies, visit the Hereditary Society of the United States

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