Friday, January 16, 2009


by Joan Young

As you research your family history, you may learn that your ancestors were:

Huguenot settlers in America:(,

Colonial American tavern keepers (,

American Revolutionary War patriots—(see: and,

Mayflower passengers (,

Slaves (,

Pirates (,

First settlers of Australia (,

or perhaps even Magna Charta barons (

While it is interesting to uncover this information, it can be even more rewarding to join a lineage or heritage society. Joining a society means having your application given an official stamp of approval by a society genealogist. This verification process indicates that the evidence you have used to support your application is sound and well-documented.

Joining a lineage society can be especially rewarding when the society has a local chapter where you can meet others with whom you share a common background and interest. Many societies have newsletters and educational programs.

How do you go about joining a lineage society?

1) First, locate a society you'd like to join. A good place to look is the "Societies and Groups--Lineage" section of Cyndi's List:


There you will find a linked index that provides access to the websites of various organizations whether your ancestor qualifies for an early American society, a first families and pioneers group of a specific locality, a military or war-related society, or some other interest group.

2) Check the requirements for membership for the society of interest to you and follow the procedures for applying listed on the society's Web page.

3) If you have questions pertaining to your eligibility write to a contact person listed on the Web page. Societies may have message boards where you can post a query or lookup request to learn whether your ancestor is already on a qualifying ancestor list. Some societies maintain a message board at RootsWeb:

No matter whether your ancestors were pirates, tavern keepers, or nobility, you may find that pursuing lineage or heritage society membership will prove educational and offer social opportunities to join with like-minded genealogists.

Previously published in RootsWeb Review: 14 January 2009, Vol. 12, No. 1.

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