Sunday, September 30, 2012

What Not to Submit for a Lineage Application

In most lineage society guidelines and rules there are definite do's and don'ts included.  Some are a bit obscure, but overall they are definitive.

What should you submit:
Actual documentation of the fact you are stating. This would include as many original documents that you can find.

What you shouldn't submit:
Abstracted indexes, written biographies (unless proving dates), personal family histories, published family histories, and internet information (unless it is an original record and it is sourced).

The purpose of a lineage application is to document and prove your relationship to your ancestor's. As genealogists, we want the best proof argument we can provide.

With the addition of so many records on different websites today, it is very easy to succumb to that abstracted index of information we find.  However, that abstracted information should lead us back to the original record. The original record is always the best proof document. Remember, an abstract may not always retrieve all of the information found in that document.

If you live far away from your research area, try using local genealogical societies for research assistance. Local libraries in the area may also help you.

When I receive an application to review that only has three original documents in a stack of paper one inch thick, I'm not sure if our organization is expressing our wants clearly to potential applicants, or if the applicant is taking the "easy" route and using the quickest and easiest methods that they feel will accomplish their goal.

Joining a lineage society means that you are documenting your lineage through the best documents and resources that you can find to do that. It is always amazing to me that so many records exist pre-1800 that allow applicants to really put together an interesting and complete application.

In effect, you are documenting your research skills. You are leaving behind a lasting legacy for future generations to know their individual pasts as well. You want that legacy to be the best resource for those in the future.

The judges of lineage societies are usually willing to answer questions of applicants and help point them in the right direction. If you have a question, please don't hesitate to ask.


  1. This is a timely post for me. Just this month, I'm revisiting my goal to apply (on behalf of my husband's family) for the First Families of Ohio designation. It will take tackling one obstinate link in our family line where there is a lack of documentation (in that county). However, with the suggestions you've already provided, I'm hoping this time to overcome!

  2. Jacqi - Good luck with that obstinate line! I have the same problem with one of my husband's lines as well. If you have any questions please feel to contact me at