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Twigs & Trees with Rhonda: Putting Your Research to the Test
by Rhonda R. McClure

August 16, 2001
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

One of the biggest tests of our genealogy is when we submit it to others for evaluation. This happens most often when you submit your lineage to one of the various lineage societies that exist.

For the purposes of this article, I am including not only well-known lineage societies such as the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Society of Mayflower Descendants, but also those pioneer programs supported by many genealogy societies.

Can your research pass the test?

National Societies

In the case of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a potential member must prove descent from someone who offered service to the American Revolution. This service did not necessarily have to be as a soldier since there were other ways to participate as well. For more information, interested parties should visit the DAR Web site.

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants requires that you prove descent from a passenger on the Mayflower. Additional information on this society can be found by visiting their Web site.

Proving Pioneers

In addition to these societies, many genealogical societies offer pioneer projects. These projects are designed to award individuals who can prove descent from an individual who was living in the state or county by a specified time. Two such programs are those offered through the Ohio Genealogical Society and the Florida State Genealogical Society.

Both of these programs require that you prove descent from an individual living in the state by a certain time. For those interested in Ohio, the individual had to be a resident by 31 Dec 1820. For Florida, the person had to be a resident prior to 3 Mar 1845, the date Florida achieved statehood.

Personal Experience

Having recently gone through the process, I must say that I found it to be a learning experience. As I put together my packet for submission to the Ohio Genealogical Society, I found myself having to pay close attention to my documentation. When submitting the work, you are required to document, and supply that document, for each of the dates and relationships listed in the application form. This is similar to the requirements of the other lineage societies.

Such an application forces you to evaluate your research. As you evaluate your research, it is helpful to pretend as though you were looking through another set of eyes. You will undoubtedly be harder on yourself and more critical of your research because you know that it is going to be honestly evaluated by someone else. Knowing this forces you, okay it forced me, to demand the best of myself in my research.

In Conclusion

Many states offer similar pioneer programs. There are also many other national organizations that require you to prove your descent from a qualifying individual. Some of them are related to the various wars, others may have to do with an occupation. Regardless of what the criteria, the important thing is in submitting your work for evaluation. It can be a learning experience.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at rhondagen@thegenealogist.com.

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