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Sunday, October 4, 2015

5 Tips for lineage society applications

In the last few years I have applied to several lineage societies.  I started on this odd passion to verify my research through organizations because I wanted to prove to the rest of my family that my grandmother was correct.  We did have ancestors on the Mayflower.  We did have Revolutionary War patriots.  We did have family who helped shape and form our country.  She was not, as many people thought, crazy and making it all up.

By putting my own research to the test I realized how much fun it was to prove to a society that my information was correctly sourced, documented, and thought out.  It is such a thrill!  Now I am helping others with their applications through my business.  It seems I get the same great feeling helping others as I do by completing my own work.

Which lead me to this post.  My 5 tips to help you get ready to submit an application to the society of your choice.  I hope they help!

1.       Find a society that means something to you
I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have a vested interest (or well, any interest) in something I am not going to participate as often or really want to do things with the group.  While it is cool to wear the ribbons, sashes, medals, and whatnot for an organization I strongly feel that you should want to be an active member of the group before you join.  Maybe you like their education mission.  Perhaps it is their outreach programs.  Or it could be their stance on a historical issue.  Whatever is the reason, it should be more than collecting another ribbon.

2.       Understand the application requirements and procedures
This is the main reason applications take forever or are rejected by a society.  Please, please, please make sure you understand the process, the application, and what you have to do before you start to submit anything.  Most groups will have you work with someone who is the person in charge of new applications.  Get to know them.  Bake them cookies.  Do what they tell you to do.  They are there to get you IN the organization.  So, do all you can to help them.  Ask and answer questions.  Get them the papers needed (even if you think they should have everything they need) in a prompt fashion.  Let them know how the process of getting documents is going.  Ask them for help even.  Most are very enthusiastic genealogists and love doing research too.

3.       Organize your paperwork by generations
This may seem like a no-brainer but the easiest way to keep your information for an application packet organized is by sorting them by generations.  However you want to do that is up to you.  I like to paperclip each generation together.  A friend of mine takes a large hanging file folder and places a regular file folder for each generation in it.  For my folders I place a check list on the inside with what documents I need for each generation.  As I collect those documents I check them off.  That way it is very easy to see at a glance what I do and do not have.

4.       Create full source citations
You will never get away from source citations.  Ever.  Many societies have a very specific way they want the sources cited, so be aware of that before you write on any documents you turn in.  What I tend to do is ask the person I am working with if they would like me to place citations on the papers.  If they say no I create a source citation list that I include with the application packet.  That way when they do the final paperwork and create the societies specific source citations they have all the information available to them at their fingertips.

5.       Make transcripts of all handwritten documents
Yeah, I know.  Transcripts are a pain.  However, you want someone to love you quickly and for years?  Make a transcript of all the handwritten documents you turn in.  Many societies require that a transcript be submitted for all documents that are handwritten.  Some don’t, but they like it if there is one.  Take some time, make a transcript.  Besides, you never know.  You could find a new clue to your family that you didn’t see before!


  1. Thanks for these tips! So far, I've only joined DAR. But, there are other societies I plan on joining.

    1. You are welcome! There are lots of societies to choose from so take your time. I went a little overboard. I am in 3 with an application into a 4th and eyeing another 6. That may not happen though. There is only so much time, and money.