Have you ever considered joining a lineage society? Many of them, unfortunately, appear old-fashioned and outdated to the current generations. That’s very often not the case and membership is well worth pursuing, both for self-education and meeting new virtual distant cousins.
I have to mention that the outset that many of us are eligible to join multiple societies and membership in most of them isn’t cheap. There is the application fee plus yearly dues and possibly other miscellaneous items, like magazine subscriptions, if the society offers one.
On the positive side, belonging brings access to the “members-only” section of many websites, where genealogical treasures might be found.
Two of the best known American lineage societies are the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.
Probably the society with the most difficult requirements to meet is The Order of the Founders and Patriots of America. (One must have a male line ancestor who settled in the colonies before 13 May 1657 and whose descendant with the same surname (same paternal line) gave service in the American Revolution AND the (male) applicant is a descendant of that male line through either parent.
However, they are but three lineage societies in a sea of hundreds, based on some type of American lineage.
Here are a few of the more unusual societies:
Flagon and Trencher – Did you have a colonial ancestor who was a tavern keeper? If so, this is the society for you!
Associated Daughters of Early American Witches – An ancestress of mine – Elizabeth Scripture – is on their list. Increase Mather wrote about her odd case.
United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada – Did you know that you are eligible to join the UEL if you can prove descent from an American Loyalist? There is one caveat, though – Americans can only be associate members because allegiance to the Crown must be given.
Descendants of Whaling Masters – If one of your ancestors was a seafaring man – a whaler – this society and its ties with the New Bedford (Massachusetts) Whaling Museum, might be one to look into.
Order of Daedalians – Members and/or ancestors are/were commissioned or warrant officers in the U.S. military serving as aviators.
Descendants of the Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Kings of Britain – My mother always said she wanted to join this one! It’s URL is royalbastards dot org, for short!
National Society of the Descendants of Textile Workers of America, Inc! – This one is new to me. My grandmother was one of those immigrant textile workers in the early 20th century.
Sons and Daughters of the Colonial and Antebellum Bench and Bar 1565-1861 – Members have ancestors who worked as lawyers or judges up to the time of the Civil War.
The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick (for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland) – Membership of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick is open to any citizen of the United States, born in Ireland or of Irish lineage, who is of good moral character and aged at least 18. It’s 248 years old!
Registry of Infamous and Famous Relatives in American Families – This one is more modern and you’ll have to read the membership qualifications and who they don’t accept if you are interested.
The Hereditary Society of Teachers – The name is self-explanatory.
Society of Descendants of Lady Godiva – Thanks for Suzanne, who commented below and alerted me to this society.
Besides the societies I’ve spotlighted, most states have pioneer descendant societies, there are a multitude of groups honoring military achievements, along with ethnic, religion-based and surname organizations.
Where do I stand in terms of lineage society memberships? Personally, I belong to only one lineage society and that is because I believe in being an active member to whichever organizations I belong. As a member, I’ve served at both the chapter and state levels. In spite of being asked and courted to join other lineage groups, I’ve declined, but only because I had no interest in being an active member. It’s something that you might want to consider if thinking about joining, given the costs.