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How to Join a Lineage Society or Heritage Organization

Tips for a Successful Application


If the paperwork to apply for lineage society membership sounds entirely too daunting there are several options available to you for help:

  1. Search through the application records of the society for information regarding your family. You may be pleasantly surprised to find a member who descends from the same ancestor and whose linage documentation can serve as the basis for yours.

  2. Contact the society's registrar or genealogical records chair too determine what types of aid (if any) which they offer. Many offer the services of volunteers who will help answer questions about the application process.

  3. You may hire the services of a professional genealogist, especially one who specializes in lineage society applications. The Member Directory of the Association of Professional Genealogists can be sorted by specialty, so you can easily find professional genealogists who specialize in lineage society applications

Sources of Proof for Documentation

Sources of proof for successful documentation of your lineage for a lineage society application usually include original records such as birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, deeds and other land records, and probate records and wills. Additional sources which may be considered acceptable for proof are federal census records, recent lineage society applications, and cemetery records. Family bibles and published county histories are sometimes considered acceptable, especially when supported by additional evidence. Ask yourself if the record explicitly states what you are trying to prove. A pre-1880 federal census record, for example, is not acceptable by itself as proof of family relationships as it does not state the relationship between individuals living in a household. An adult female living in a household may not necessarily be the spouse, and minors may not be the children of the adults.

Published family histories and family papers may not be considered acceptable as proof. Instead, follow up on the facts found in those papers in original records. Older lineage society applications may also not be considered as acceptable documentation as the standards of documentation and proof were not up to today's standards.

Tips for a Successful Application

  1. Follow the directions/guidelines specified in the application word-for-word, especially as they pertain to the format of your lineage documentation.

  2. Use genealogical format for dates (day, month, year)

  3. Label your documents with your name and a very brief summary of what they contain.

  4. Underline pertinent sections of documents (never use a hi-lighter)

  5. Number your documents and provide an outline or index.

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