Are you familiar with lineage society applications? As genealogists, we might be spending a lot of time researching a family line that has already been completed. In this way, we might be trying to reinvent the wheel, or at the very least, wasting our time on families that are well documented. In this article, we look into the hidden resource and treasure trove of clues in lineage society applications.
What’s a Lineage Society?
Many genealogical and historical societies have what is termed as “lineage societies” within their groups. A lineage society is a group of individuals who have met the criteria of directly linking themselves to a specific ancestor with evidence to prove it. There are First Family Societies, Victorian Family Societies, Civil War Societies, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and many more. For generations, family historians have been completing the necessary pedigrees and collecting proof to join these societies. Their work can be a hidden resource for our own family history research.
What can be found in a lineage society application for genealogy?
Each lineage society and organization will have different criteria, but most are very similar. The applicant will fill out a pedigree chart starting with themselves and move back through time. On a separate sheet, they are generally required to show proof of all births, marriages, deaths, and even divorces. This includes names, dates, and places.
For all pieces of data, a record is typically required. When the necessary record is not available, the applicant is required to find a substitute record or provide other evidence of the relationship or event. In many cases if not all, the applicant is instructed to include copies of all records, including birth and death records, censuses, pension papers, family Bible pages, family letters, and other unique findings.
How do I find a copy of lineage society applications for genealogy?
I have found applications on both the county and state levels. In other words, if your family lived in Paulding County, Georgia since 1850, perhaps a long lost cousin decided to apply for a First Family of Paulding County Lineage Society. If your family has been in Ohio since 1803, maybe one of your distant relatives applied to the First Families of Ohio lineage society.
Either way, you will need to contact the county or state historical or genealogical society directly. In some cases, an index of lineage society surnames will be included on the society webpage. Remember, lineage applications are quite lengthy and you will not likely find them online in their entirety. For this reason you may need to plan to visit the historical or genealogical society to view the application.
When you arrive at the historical or genealogical society, ask where the applications for lineage societies are kept. You will likely search an index by surname. Keep in mind you have many surnames in your family tree. Do not forget the collateral family lines. Even if your direct male ancestor has no record on file, perhaps a great, great-grandmother’s father is.
Once you have located an application you are interested in, you may be asked to pay a fee for a volunteer to look up the information and make a copy of it. Sometimes, if you are a member of the society, these fees are waved. You can also avoid extra fees if you visit the repository yourself and ask if you can take pictures of the application with your smartphone.
How can I become a member of a lineage society?
I would suggest completing a county level lineage society application first. Once you have done so, you can sometimes use the exact same paperwork for a state lineage society.
Enlist the help of others. If you have never filled out lineage society paperwork, talk to someone who has. Ask questions and take your time.
Lineage society paperwork can usually be downloaded to your computer from the society’s webpage. You can try Googling something like “Shelby County Ohio Lineage Society” or “Ohio Lineage Society” and see what pops up.
Tips for Filling Out Lineage Society Applications
- When filling out the paperwork, print out two blank copies.
- Fill in the information with a pencil first, then go back with pen.
- In some situations, the society has the option to fill out the application online. In these cases, print out one copy and fill it out with pencil first. Then, go back and type in the information.
- Be ready to pay a fee. There is typically a fee for applying to a lineage society. The cost varies but is usually between $15.00 and $40.00.
- Now wait patiently. The process of acceptance can be quite lengthy. After you have submitted all the necessary paperwork and proof, a committee will review it. They are checking your sources to ensure that they are correct. You will be notified if there is any problem with your application.
Once you have been approved, there is usually an induction ceremony held in honor of those newly accepted into the lineage society. Inductee’s will often receive a certificate and recognition for their hard work. Take pride in this great accomplishment, it isn’t easy!
Your application is then filed at the society and shared with other members. In this way, you are sharing your genealogy with potentially hundreds of relatives even long after you are gone.
Lineage society applications can be a hidden resource not often utilized. If you don’t find your ancestor then maybe that is just one more reason you should be the first to join a lineage society!
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