The Dusty Genealogist
Is There a Lineage Group That IsThe Right Fit for Me?
There appears to be a resurgence in joining historical and lineage groups. More and more people are interested in their people of the past and celebrating that interest by becoming members of such groups as the Daughters or Sons of the American Revolution; the Society of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick; the Saint Andrews Society for our Scottish friends; the Sons of the American Legion for recognizing military service of ancestors serving during WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam; the Son of a Witch, or reenactment groups for the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War; or the Society for Creative Anachronism.
Lineage and historical groups want you, the descendent, to identify your ancestors who would have actively participated in history. Initially, this does sound a bit odd. Lineage groups are not designed to be socially elite or exclusive. The “puff-puffness” of being a member is no different than being a member or any sorority or fraternity, or any other organization. Becoming a member of these groups indicates that you have a family member who during his or her lifetime did something memorable or honorable.
If you want to be a reenactor in any timeline, you are generally expected to “be someone.” By that, I mean you’re expected to be or act as a specific member who actually participated at that time in a certain way. Your ancestor, by luck or disaster, participated in something that currently others want to identify with, recognize, or emulate.
The Daughters or Sons of the American Revolution recognize members who supported or defended the new government of the United States of America. If your ancestors were here in America at the time of the American Revolution, chances are they contributed in some manner. Whether they were fighting or not, they paid taxes to the new government, bought dog licenses, and/or sold produce, animals, ammunition, or liquor to the revolutionary soldiers.
Life during a revolution is fluid. If you are just trying to stay alive and go about your business living at that time, you ancestor probably participated in some beneficial way with the new government. It doesn’t have to be a big benefit. If your ancestors were true loyalists, chances are they moved to Canada.
If your ancestors weren’t in America yet, they could not have been involved in the Revolutionary war. I met a Revolutionary War reenactor whose ancestors were recognized as patriots during the revolution. She wanted to join a reenactor group. The group had plenty of patriots. They needed reenactors on the other side. She volunteered to play the wife of one of the commanding British generals. She learned all kinds of things and new information. She found that the opposition were just people who thought they were doing the right thing to stop the rebellion.
Don’t get me wrong, she is thrilled that her ancestor helped to win the revolution for the United States. My point is she and her family had a good time participating in that particular activity once or twice a month. She got to experience a bit of her ancestors’ life. All of these lineage or heritage groups are exclusive because you can’t be a member if your ancestor was not alive at that time. Slaves whose owners participated in the American Revolution or the Civil War conducted their work to support our revolution or the Civil War. Latinos who loaded ships in the Louisiana and Texas ports supported our war efforts. People in Europe supported our war efforts. Joining the Daughters or the Sons of the Revolution is a big thing. It took a whole country to support the revolution and we would not be Americans today without many friends from foreign lands.
It is an honor to participate in any of these groups by honoring your ancestor. There are men’s groups, women’s groups, and organizations that recognize crafts and trades such as ship builders, millers, pipefitters, taverns, etc.
If you want to join a lineage or heritage group, you have to prove you are the descendant of your ancestor who would make you eligible to join the group. With the advances in genealogy, these groups want more advanced genealogical proof. Genealogical proof is available. Instead of just guessing that these ancestors are yours, you will be required to show proof they are yours. Much information is available on the computer. Other documents may require a minimal fee to obtain documents form government offices.
If you think you might be interested in a lineage or heritage society, please check out the following websites: <www.lineagesocietyofamerica.com> or <www.hereditary.us> which gives groups from A-Z. You can also check out Wikipedia for a list of hereditary and lineage organizations. See what sounds interesting to you, and then please check out the selected society’s website. Look for their membership requirements. If you have been doing genealogy for some time, you know your ancestors. What would they be eligible for? What are you interested in?
Next, contact the group. Some people are afraid that they won’t qualify for the group. Don’t be afraid. When you contact the group, you may be directed to a registrar. The registrar is your best friend, especially if your family and the registrar are in the same physical geographical area.
Registrars are generally genealogists. More importantly, they may be genealogists working with potential members and their family groups. Rather inelegantly, I am trying to say that these people know your family name and others who may also be related to you in the local area where your family lived at the time they might have become eligible for membership. They can help you organize your research.
You may find that you are drawn to a group because it just sounds interesting. You may not have any ancestor who might be qualified. Contact that group anyway. They may have affiliate or associate membership. They may be a fun group to be associated with.
If you are a searcher or a hunter for your genealogy, there must be a plan or direction in which you are going, whether you knew it before or not. Check out the list of groups. There will more than likely be something that attracts your attention. If your genealogy is based on the investigation, there is likely to be an outcome you are seeking.
Maybe it is time to embrace a new direction in genealogy. Try something new. Most of these groups will not require that you join right away. As a prospective member, you will generally be afforded an opportunity to attend some meetings, meet the members, and attend some functions while determining your eligibility. Get to know them. See if it is a good fit. Some groups meet only quarterly. You may decide that you don’t like them but you learn of another group you might like better. Experiment. Enjoy your genealogy and your ancestors.
Bio: I am a Certified Genealogist and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I believe that the hobby of genealogy is fun, exciting, and very satisfying. Through researching genealogy, you may add skills, meet new friends, and gain new respect for those who have gone before you. You may reach me via email at ‘email@example.com’ with questions or comments. I thoroughly enjoy the hobby and hope that you will too. Print your photographs of family. Label your photos with a first and last name, an approximate date, and a possible location if known. Please look for a new book from this author to be released in 2018.
By Marjory Regan
|A brief bio of Marjory Regan: I am a member of the Williams Mills Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) and a “Certified Genealogist’ Thank you for your questions, comments, problems and successes. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think genealogy is a fascinating hobby; I hope you will, too. Get Started. Do something small every day, it all add up. Label the photos! First & Last names and approximate date of the photo. Do it for an hour while watching TV.|