(+) Commentary: DNA and Lineage Societies

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

The Mayflower Society, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sons of the American Revolution, the First Families of Virginia, the Order of Descent of Ancient Planters, the National Huguenot Society, and the Flagon & Trencher (Descendants of Colonial Tavern Keepers) are but a few of the societies that limit membership to those who can prove descent from a person involved in a particular event or time period in history.

The rules for proving descent vary from one organization to another. Some lineage societies maintain very rigid guidelines in which the applicant has to submit documentation of each generation, showing birth information that proves the parent/child relationship of each ancestor. Others may be a bit more “relaxed” in the organization’s documentation requirements.

The societies with the most rigorous and genealogically demanding membership requirements often have published “accepted lines.” That is, these are lists of individuals of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries with proof already submitted that they are descended from a member of the original group. To be accepted as a member, the new applicant just needs to prove descent from someone in an “accepted line.” The documentation for earlier generations is accepted as “already on file at the society.”

These “accepted lines” are some of the most studied lines of descent available anywhere in the world of genealogy. The documentation of many of these accepted lines has been examined again and again by leading genealogy experts specializing in those records. One can believe that the error rate of “accepted lines” will be very low.

HOWEVER, nothing is ever perfect in genealogy studies. Errors do creep in occasionally, even amongst the world’s experts. In fact, simply because the experts are often the ones studying the most difficult genealogy puzzles, one can expect that occasional errors will exist.

I will suggest that a small percentage of these “accepted lines” are bogus.

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