A professional genealogist can help you apply to lineage societies. Joining is a time-honored way to honor your heritage and document your family history research. But it’s not easy! Here’s why even experienced genealogists may want to hire a professional to help with the process.
Thanks to Legacy Tree Genealogists for supplying this guest blog post.
Applying to lineage societies
Do you have an ancestor who lived in Colonial America when the Revolutionary War was fought, or perhaps earlier in Jamestown, Virginia? Does your ancestry extend back to New England when the Mayflower arrived? If so, there are various lineage societies you could consider joining:
state pioneer societies, ethnic societies, Civil War societies, and many more.
While each organization has different requirements for their lineage society application, most have the same principles: prove a connection from yourself to the person of interest by use of vital records (where available). Where not available, other documentation that proves family connections can be used. (DAR now also accepts DNA evidence.)
You may not know that most societies allow you to “piggy-back” on applications they have previously accepted. Let’s say your second cousin Steve already joined a society based on your common patriot (or pioneer) ancestor, Alexander Smith. You would just need to provide documentation proving your connection to your parents, your relevant parent’s connection to his/her parents, and your relevant grandparent’s connection to your common great-grandparents, who were already mentioned in Steve’s application. You may then be able to reference Steve’s application for the remainder of the lineage going back to Alexander Smith.
Overall, this may sound like a simple process. But it often takes quite a bit of work because the records needed to prove each generational link are not always readily available–and sometimes they just don’t exist at all.
Why get help when applying to lineage societies
Below are five ways that a professional genealogist can help you apply to lineage societies:
1. Help you determine how to apply. As we mentioned, each lineage society has different requirements, so you’ll want to be sure you know what they expect in order to be as efficient as possible in gathering documentation. A professional can help you determine exactly what documentation is required and locate contact information for those with whom you need to work to submit your application.
2. Identify where your research should stop and start. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, as the saying goes. If your lineage ties into one that has already been acceptably documented by another member of the society, you should use it! A professional genealogist can help you identify any previous lineage society applications that have already been approved for your lineage. This single step can save you a lot of time and money.
3. Organize your information. A professional genealogist can work with you to determine what documentation you already have and what you will need to order. They can help you order copies of missing vital records or find acceptable substitutes in archives, libraries, and online.
4. Conduct in-depth research as needed. Many times, at least one ‘problem’ generation requires in-depth research, circumstantial evidence, and a proof summary in order to make the connection. A well-written proof summary explains how all the circumstantial evidence fits together to support the generational link, and often aids the applicant in obtaining membership when not enough concrete documentation is available (or when it conflicts). This often involves delving into land records, tax lists, probate records, and other more obscure sources to find any and all clues and pieces of information that can be used to tie two generations together. It can be a time-consuming task. A professional genealogist can do this efficiently and thoroughly.
5. Compile and present all records to the lineage society for admittance. You’ll be the one to present or submit your documentation, but professionals can help you get it all ready so that you’ll be as prepared and organized as possible.
Save time and money when applying to lineage societies
A well-prepared lineage society application often shortens the waiting period to be accepted into a society because it is easier to verify and follows the rules of the society. If an application is poorly prepared, it can take several submissions before acceptance into the society is granted. And of course, the lineage society determines what they will and will not accept as proof, so there’s never a guarantee. They may request additional information, and then you have to go back and keep digging! But since professional genealogists have experience working with the various societies and know what types of documentation are usually accepted, working with a pro can make the application process to a lineage easier, more efficient, and in the end, more rewarding.
If you have an ancestor in your lineage who may qualify you to join a lineage society, experts at Legacy Tree Genealogists can help you gather your documentation and prepare your application. They are the world’s highest client-rated genealogy research firm. Founded in 2004, the company provides full-service genealogical research for clients worldwide, helping them discover their roots and personal history through records, narratives, and DNA. Based near the world’s largest family history library in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, Legacy Tree has developed a network of professional researchers and archives around the globe.
Contact them today to discuss your options–and your ancestors. EXCLUSIVE OFFER for Genealogy Gems readers! Receive $100 off a 20-hour+ research project from Legacy Tree Genealogists with code GEMS100. Offer good through December 31, 2017.
The FGS Webinar Series on Society Management has just been announced and it’s starting soon. This new free webinar series is focused on the leadership and management of non-profit societies. If you belong to a genealogical society you’ll want to let your leadership know about this opportunity from the The Federation of Genealogical Societies. Read on for more from FGS.
FGS Webinar Series Details
Press Release: July 12, 2017 – Austin, TX.
The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) announces the launch of their Society Management webinar series, scheduled to begin July 20, 2017. This series of free events will bring a much-needed aspect to the array of learning opportunities currently provided in the genealogical community, focusing solely on the leadership and management of non-profit societies.
The series will begin July 20, 2017 at 7:00pm central with a presentation by Fred Moss discussing The Open Death Records Initiative. The August session will feature David Rencher, CG, presenting on the best practices – and challenges – surrounding The Nominating Committee.
Each month thereafter will feature a new and interesting topic, ranging from recruitment and volunteer management to technology, publications, and working with your local tourism board. Registration will be necessary, and regular updates will be shared via the FGS Voice blog, FGS Voice Newsletter, and social media. Webinars will occur every 3rdThursday of the month.
Registration for the July program can be found here.
Speakers interested in presenting topics should contact Jen Baldwin, Education Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Support for Genealogical Societies
Finding affordable quality programming is probably one of the biggest challenges genealogy societies face.
Genealogy Gems for Societies is an annual premium subscription service just for genealogical societies and groups* (such as libraries). This is a cost-effective way for your group to provide quality family history video presentations by internationally-renowned speaker Lisa Louise Cooke at your regular meetings.
With a society subscription, your group may show video recordings of Lisa’s most popular classes! This applies to group presentations for a single location, one video per event–but with more than a dozen 50-60 minute videos, several more 25-30 minute videos and a growing number of quick video tips (4-15 minutes), you’ll have plenty of video classes to show all year long! Click here to see a full list of videos available to societies. (Videos are not for individual use by society members.)
In addition, society subscribers receive:
Permission to republish articles from our extensive article archive in your society newsletter (your editor will LOVE this feature!)
10% discount for your society on live seminars by Lisa Louise Cooke
10% discountcode for your society members to use in the Genealogy Gems Store (details will be sent to your society membership email address after purchase)
BONUS: exclusive digital PDF ebook of a collection of Lisa’s most popular articles from Family Tree Magazine!Share this in the members-only section of your group’s website (or if you don’t have a members-only section, your Programming Director may keep it and enjoy).
All of this costs only $199.00 a year—about the cost of one typical webinar! Click here for more details and ordering information.
Please support your local genealogical society or group by sharing this post with them by email or social media. Thank you! You’re a Gem.
Genealogy is growing dramatically in popularity. Multiple television shows depict family history discoveries, and the use of DNA to help folks climb there family tree has become mainstream. If genealogy is so popular, why is genealogy society membership declining, and how can we slow hat trend?
Genealogy societies have traditionally been centered around genealogists coming together in person, sharing research success stories, and learning more about how to find the records and stories of elusive ancestors.
These days though it’s easy to get distracted by by online research and perceived short cuts. The newest generation of researchers started their search not in a library, but on a computer keyboard. The problem is that they often don’t know what they are missing when it comes to what genealogy societies have to offer.
One solution: show them the value with video!
Create Video Magic with Animoto
(Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Thank you for supporting the Genealogy Gems blog!)
One of my favorite video creation tools is Animoto because it helps you creates incredibly professional-looking videos in a shockingly short amount of time. And most importantly, Animoto requires no more technical skill than clicking, dragging, and dropping with a mouse.
Rather than seeing the Internet as the enemy of your society, embrace it and put it to work for it. Online video is terrific tool for:
Building your membership
Providing genealogical educational information
Sharing events with those who are unable to attend in person
just to name a few ideas.
See It for Yourself
Last year I had the pleasure of presenting a full day genealogy seminar in Fresno, California. Turning photos of the day into a video that could be used to build membership was a breeze With Animoto. I selected a design, uploaded my images and added text to help make the case. Here’s an example of a video I created for the Fresno Genealogical Society.
Getting the Word Out
A video like this can spread the word and reach prospective members in a variety of ways. Here are just a few ideas for how a genealogy society can grow membership using video to achieve their engagement goals:
Download the video from the Animoto website and show it at your next meeting so visitors can envision reasons to return
Embed the video your society’s website (just copy the code from Animoto and paste it on your webpage and the video will appear in a convenient video player)
Share the video on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram to not only get views, but provide a super simple way for supporters to share it which will get your society more exposure.
Keys to Video Success
Just a bit of planning can deliver great results. Here are my recommendations for how a genealogy society can grow membership and achieve promotional video success:
Keep it short – it took just 1 and 1/2 minutes to convey the answers to the who, what, where, and why questions folks may ask when considering a genealogy society in the Fresno area
Let images do most of the talking – there’s no need for being verbose if you have energetic imagery that convey your ideas.
Highlight the benefits – the big question potential members have is “why should I bother joining a genealogy society? Make sure you answer that question in your video
Tell them at the beginning and end how to find you – repeating your website address and keeping it on the screen long enough to jot it down gives them what they need to contact you. And after all, that is the goal of your video.
How to Create Your Genealogy Society Video
We have lots of how-to video creation resources for you here at Genealogy Gems. Click here to find step-by-step instructions for creating videos on Animoto, and to see more examples of the role that video can play in your family history.
More Resources Reveal How a Genealogy Society Can Grow Membership
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) accepts limited DNA evidence to prove descent from a Revolutionary War veteran. In my opinion, the DAR DNA policy is a little too limited. Here’s why–and what you can do.
Membership to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has been a holy grail for U.S. genealogists for 125 years. With its requirement of proof of a “lineal bloodline descendant from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence” in three categories: birth, marriage, and death, as well as proof of Revolutionary War Service, membership is exclusive to those with an iron-clad paper trail.
That is, until 2014, when the DAR added DNA evidence to its list of acceptable documents proving a relationship to a Revolutionary War ancestor.
What does the DAR DNA Policy Accept?
The DAR only accepts one of the three forms of DNA testing which is the Y chromosome test, or YDNA. The YDNA traces only a direct paternal line, making it a great choice when trying to link living males with their Revolutionary counterparts. This YDNA is basically passed unchanged from generation to generation, making the modern day holder of the YDNA the proud owner of possibly exactly the same YDNA that fought the Redcoats. That’s pretty cool, don’t you think?
The DAR recently announced that to further help those wanting to use their YDNA as part of their application, they have formed a project at Family Tree DNA, the company that provides the YDNA testing. Projects are absolutely the best way to get the most out of your YDNA testing. There are surname projects, location projects, haplogroup (deep ancestral group) projects, and even special interest group projects, such as this one for the DAR.
While the results of the testing are only available to members of the group, the statistics page gives us an idea of the scope of this project. They currently have 1,242 total members and what looks to be about 430 YDNA tests completed (though it is admittedly difficult to tell based on the chart online.) This means if you think your paternal line may be a candidate for the DAR, you can have a representative of your line tested and compared to the group. If you find a match, you will have relative certainty that you do connect to that Patriot, and can then be more confident in your traditional research in pursuit of the necessary paper connections.
Though, in all honesty, they have made the YDNA process difficult enough. Let’s say that you are actually able to trace down multiple generations to find a direct male descendant of your Revolutionary guy to be tested, an individual who is, the DAR mandates, “sharing your maiden name or your mother’s maiden name,” and you convince that unassuming relative to give up his saliva, you still are only half way there. The DAR guidelines also state that you have to have a second individual who is “a descendant of the same Revolutionary War ancestor through a different unbroken male lineage that has been previously proven on a DAR application…” (I added the emphasis here.)
A Practical Example of the DAR DNA Policy
OK, so let’s say you are a genealogical whiz and, let’s face it, you were lucky, and you find two such candidates and have them tested.
Well, the DAR tells us that those two men must match EXACTLY on the 37 YDNA markers tested. Now there is no telling when that YDNA might experience a mutation. So to me it seems a little unfair to require perfection. So it is possible, that even after all the work of finding the right guys to be tested, the test itself may work against you, as even one difference is enough to keep this YDNA off of your application, at least for now.
So while I applaud the DAR for using YDNA testing at all, and for spearheading a special interest project at Family Tree DNA, the reality is that the limitations of direct paternal line genealogy and the requirements of testing make it unlikely that very many will be able to take advantage of the YDNA in their DAR applications.
However, there are a few things you can take away from this article now:
First, collect those DNA samples whenever you can, especially for key relatives, like your paternal line and the oldest living generation (whose DNA is less likely to have experienced any mutation.)
Second, keep your research paper trail strong. Nothing in the near future of the genetic genealogy industry tells us that distant relative connections (like to your Revolutionary War ancestor) will be provable by DNA alone.
And third, definitely look at crowd-sourced studies for your particular DNA. Those surname, location, haplogroup, and special interest group projects I mentioned from FTDNA are just some of the ones that might help your research—or that you could use to help someone else’s. I’ve talked about these studies before: click here to read about them.
My Complete DNA for Genealogy Research Guide Series
I am Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, and the author of a series of genetic genealogy quick guides. My guide called Y Chromosome DNA for the Genealogist is the perfect tool to help guide you through the testing and analysis process. Click here to learn more about this guide and here for all of my guides, or click here to learn more about my series of how-to videos, also available to Gems fans for a special price.
Thanks for sharing this post with your genealogy friends who do DNA research (especially those who may have Revolutionary War ancestors!)
Those whose ancestors lived in the Old Northwest Territory of the U.S. are eligible to join a new lineage society.
The Ohio Genealogical Society, one of the largest state societies in the country, recently began accepting applicants for its new lineage society, Society of Families of the Old Northwest Territory. Here’s a quick Q & A with OGS president Margaret Cheney:
Q: Why did you create a Northwest Territory lineage society?
A:“The Northwest Territory was an important part of the history of the mid-western states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the part of Minnesota east of the Mississippi River. [This lineage society allows] more people to honor those ancestors of British, French and Native American heritage who were in the Northwest Territory before states were formed. Many of those individuals created lasting legacies that should be recognized….This will be a unique society honoring the very earliest of residents in the Northwest Territory.
Q: Why should Ohio host it?
A: Ohio was the first state formed from the Northwest Territory in 1803. It seemed fitting that the Ohio Genealogical Society form this lineage society.
Q: Is this society open to those who aren’t members of the Ohio Genealogical Society?
Q: Some people may think of lineage societies as elitist and perhaps outdated. What would you say to that?
A: All of our ancestors made a contribution to the growth of their communities whether it was at a local, state, or national level. We do our genealogical research to remember our ancestors and learn their stories in addition to knowing who our ancestors were. The lineage societies of the Ohio Genealogical Society encourage these stories to be told and preserved. To respond to the idea that lineage societies are outdated: the society roster will contain a crowd-sourced, richly-documented database of Northwest Territory residents and their descendants. That actually sounds pretty cutting-edge to me.
Q: What are the benefits of applying for a lineage society membership?
A: You are telling the story of your ancestors. You are preserving their history and contributions to the society and culture of their times. This is your lasting legacy to future generations. By having your application approved, it is saying you have done your research, you have documented your research, and you have sourced your research. There can be no question that your ancestors are yours. It is knowing that you did your research the right way. In addition, you are presented with a certificate for the lineage society you are joining along with a medal or pin. And, it is knowing that the past is secure for the future.
Congratulations to these genealogy volunteers, who have been elected as board members for the Federation of Genealogical Societies. If your own society could use a boost, keep reading!
The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) recently elected volunteer board members who will start a new term on January 1, 2016. FGS is an organization that links the genealogical community by helping societies and researchers strengthen and grow through online resources, FGS FORUM magazine, and its annual national 4-day conference.
FGS President D. Joshua Taylor says, “I am looking forward to welcoming these old and new faces to the FGS Leadership team. FGS would not be able to fulfill its mission without its terrific volunteers who give so much of their time and energy to the organization.” The lineup of new and re-elected FGS officers and directors is:
Ed Donakey (Utah) — Vice-President of Development
Janice A. Fritisch (Illinois) — Director
Caroline M. Pointer (Texas) — Vice-President of Membership
Shellee A. Moorehead (Rhode Island) — Treasurer
Richard L. Cassell (Washington) — Director
Mark Olsen (Utah) — Director
Cari A. Taplin (Texas) — Director
FGS recently partnered with us here at Genealogy Gems to share our new Genealogy Gems for Societies memberships. Genealogy Gems for Societies provides societies with top-quality, affordable programming, and newsletter content. For a full year, member societies receive a license to show any or all of Lisa’s Premium videos at their society meetings. They have permission to reprint content from more than 1000 articles from our website in their newsletters, too!
Genealogy Gems for Societies gives society volunteers much-needed support to help them attract and retain members. Other benefits apply, too–and FGS member societies get a discount! Click here to learn more about Genealogy Gems for Societies.