4 Reasons to Join Lineage Societies

Lineage Societies are member based organizations that honor a specific heritage or event. Membership is limited to those who can prove they are a direct descendent from an ancestor who meets specific criteria. Depending on the society, that benchmark might be crossing on the 1620 voyage of the Mayflower, serving in the Revolutionary War, being an early colonist of Jamestown, or even having royal blood.

photo courtesy of lineagesocietyofamerica.com

photo courtesy of lineagesocietyofamerica.com

There are hundreds of lineage societies. They generally fall into these categories:

  • war societies
  • old world societies
  • regional societies
  • colonization or early settlement

Some of the most well known societies include Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, and Society of Mayflower Descendants. Perhaps you have royal blood or a witch in your family tree? Then there are lineage societies for you too -  such as Descendants of the Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Kings of Britain and Associated Daughters of Early American Witches.

You can find an extensive list of lineage societies by category on Cyndi’s List or on Hereditary Society Community.


Top 4 Reasons to Join

#1 Honoring your Ancestors

When you join a lineage society you honor your ancestors and their contribution to a specific time and place in history. By completing application process, you will gain a fuller picture of your ancestor and your family’s story.

#2 Prestige

You aren’t just telling a “tall story” when you tell someone your ancestor signed the Declaration of Independence. If you are member of The Society of Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, you have a proven pedigree. Membership provides recognition and status. And besides the framed certificate you might hang on your wall, you can be proud of preserving your family’s past and passing that knowledge forward for future generations to enjoy.

#3 Philanthropy & Community

Most organizations participate in charitable endeavors, historic preservation, education, and community service. With a common history, you will be able to network with others who share a similar backgrounds and interests. You can exchange family history information and possibly make some new discoveries.

#4 Privileges

Many societies have libraries and facilities that are only available to members. Annual conventions, tours, and special invitations to events like the Society of Mayflower Descendants annual ball are nice perks.


How to Apply

It takes more than filling out a form to become a member of a lineage society. The application process can often be complicated and time consuming. Every society has different rules for establishing proof of your ancestry. Detailed research and documents will be required. The NEHGS webinar “How to Apply to Lineage Societies” has some excellent tips

In some cases, if another individual has joined the society under the same ancestor you can piggy back on their research. 

While you can apply to a Lineage Society yourself, the professional skills and patience of a genealogist can often help navigate the process.



Kimberlie Guerrieri