Membership – General Information
Over twenty million living persons have a Mayflower ancestor. If you believe that you may be one of those people, we encourage you to explore and claim that ancestry. ~ Perhaps a relative is already a member of The Mayflower Society. If so, it should be very easy for you to become a member, as well. ~ Perhaps family tradition tells of an ancestor who was aboard the Mayflower; or, you may know of a branch of your family that dates back to early colonial New England. If so, chances are that one of your family lines will lead back to 1620, the Plymouth Plantation, and one or more of the Pilgrims. Anyone who can document his or her descent from any of the Mayflower Pilgrims is invited to join the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Delaware. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) has four types of membership: Regular, Life, Junior Life, and Junior.
- Regular Members are those persons eighteen years of age or older who have submitted their lineage applicationfor membership, have had it approved by the Historian General in Plymouth, and have paid the applicable dues and fees to the Delaware Society. (The one-time, application fee is currently $100, subject to change; and includes the first-year dues. After the year of the application, annual dues are $30, again, subject to change.)
- Life Members are those persons who have become members (as above) and who have paid the applicable life membership fee to the Delaware Society (fees on a sliding scale determined by age).
- Junior Life Members are persons under 18 whose applications have been fully documented and approved. These young people cannot vote until they reach age 18 when their junior life membership automatically becomes a full life membership. (The fee is currently $600: 20 x $30, subject to change.)
- Junior Members are those persons who have not yet attained their eighteenth birthday and who have been sponsored by a blood member of their family who is currently a member of the Delaware Society. Junior members may retain their memberships until age twenty-five, but do not become Regular Members without first having their own application for membership approved by the Historian General in Plymouth and paying the applicable dues and fees to the Delaware Society. The current, one-time fee for Junior Members is $10.
These are the 51 Mayflower passengers from whom lines of descent can be traced –
Mary (Norris) Allerton
Mrs. James Chilton
Mrs. Edward Fuller
Samuel Fuller (son of Edward)
Elizabeth (Fisher) Hopkins
Joan (Hurst) Tilley
Researching Your Mayflower Ancestor
The search for facts about the people who connect you back to a Pilgrim ancestor can be both fun and satisfying. Thanks to our age of computers and information technology, much of the research can be done online. See the Genealogy page of this website for suggestions regarding some of the more popular genealogy websites. They are all good places to start. Often one or more “cousins” – perhaps people you do not even know – have done much of the research already, and have it posted on one of these genealogy sites. As your first step in the process, fill out a Preliminary Review Form. The General Society offices in Plymouth will communicate the information they find in their files to you and the Delaware Historian (if you have an address in Delaware or have specified Delaware as the chapter you wish to join).
The Research Process
While we are waiting for Plymouth to process your preliminary review (as your second step), you can get started on your Membership Worksheet; so download it and let the adventure begin. You will see on the worksheet that eventually you need dates and places for your ancestors’ births, marriages, and deaths; and, you will need documentation for these events. Help with this process will be found at the Documentation portion of this set of materials.
The oldest records are often the easiest, because the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in Plymouth has published books containing the genealogies of the Pilgrims in the “Five Generations Project,” a set of published official genealogies that record the first five generations of descendants of each of the pilgrims who left descendants. The Delaware Society maintains a set of these books and the Historian will use them to fill in the information needed for those first five generations on the application – plus the birth of the individual in the sixth generation.
- Facts for recent generations (all events after about 1900) are easily documented, generally, by obtaining copies of long-form or full-record birth, marriage, and death certificates from stateor county vital statistics clerks or, sometimes, even a web source.
- The records for the generations in between the first five and those after 1900 – the “tween generations” – can often be obtained through online research (such as the illustration of the birth record and the photo of the gravestone, both of which were found through online research).
Submit your Worksheet when it has all the information you currently hold, along with any documents you have not sent already, to the Delaware Society Historian. Do not wait until the return of the Preliminary Review response, or your completion of gathering of all documents. The Historian will review your materials and contact you regarding any clarifications or further certification that may be required. Then, when all the proofs are “gathered in,” the Historian will prepare the official, final-draft application and return it to you for your review and signature. When you have returned the signed application and fee, the Historian will sign and forward your application, along with your set of documents, to the Historian General (GSMD) for ultimate review and approval.