About The Mayflower Society

Mayflower II and Shallop

About The Mayflower Society

In 1876, while America was celebrating its centennial, many Americans became interested in perpetuating the memory of their ancestors who helped found our country. To commemorate the courageous, steadfast spirit and contributions to American democracy of the Mayflower Pilgrims, several states in the northeast began to mobilize. The first Society of Mayflower Descendants was established in New York City on December 22, 1894 as a society for lineal descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims. Three more states followed in 1896: Connecticut on March 7, Massachusetts on March 28, and Pennsylvania on July 1. Delegates from the existing Societies met in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to form the General Society of Mayflower Descendants on January 12, 1897.

Mayflower Societies quickly formed across the nation. The first state to be chartered by the General Society was Illinois in 1897. Almost 10 years later, in 1906, Colorado was the first state west of the Mississippi to be chartered. 

The General Society purchased the Edward Winslow House in Plymouth in 1941, and the house became the Society  headquarters in 1960, serving as a symbol of unity. By 1963, all 50 states and the District of Columbia had established Societies. Canada followed 17 years later in 1980, and the Society of Mayflower Descendants in Europe and the UK was recently chartered in 2016. Australia is the newest Member Society.

While nearly half of the 102 Mayflower passengers who arrived on the shores of Massachusetts died during the first winter, 26 families of passengers are known to have left descendants. Since its founding, the Society has welcomed over 100,000 members who could prove Mayflower descent and has an ever-growing number of members across the globe.

The Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, 1620

Our Mission

The General Society of Mayflower Descendants is committed to research on the lineal descent of the Mayflower Pilgrims and education about the Pilgrims who traveled aboard the Mayflower in 1620. The Society provides education and understanding of why the Mayflower Pilgrims were important, how they shaped western civilization, and what their 1620 voyage means today and its impact on the world.

Our Vision

To be the leading organization perpetuating the memory of the 1620 Mayflower Pilgrims through excellence in research and the preservation of family history.

Our Values

  • Preserve and maintain the highest genealogical standards proving the lineal descent from the 1620 Mayflower Pilgrims. 
  • Engage and promote new Pilgrim scholarship, research, and publications.
  • Instill a passion for history and awareness of the Mayflower Compact and the Pilgrim story through education. 
  • Support our Member Societies and encourage the establishment of new Member Societies which share our mission and vision and promote the interests common to all. 
  • Protect, preserve, and interpret our historic properties.

Mayflower Society Quick Facts

Quick Fact #1

The Mayflower Society, or General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Quick Fact #2

Our international headquarters is on the campus of the historic Mayflower Society House in downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Quick Fact #3

Membership requires proof of direct lineal descent from one of the passengers who traveled to America on the Mayflower in 1620.

Quick Fact #4

We operate a genealogy research library at our Plymouth headquarters and publish the GSMD Silver Books, tracing descendants of the Mayflower pilgrims.

Quick Fact #1

The Mayflower Society, or General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD), is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Quick Fact #2

Our international headquarters is on the campus of the historic Mayflower Society House in downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Quick Fact #3

Membership requires proof of direct lineal descent from one of the passengers who traveled to America on the Mayflower in 1620.

Quick Fact #4

We operate a genealogy research library at our Plymouth headquarters and publish the GSMD Silver Books, tracing descendants of the Mayflower pilgrims.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to a few common questions. Click a question to reveal the answer.

If you don’t see your question here, please reach out to a contact of the Member Society in your area.

Plymouth Rock pavilion

Photo by Gerald Peters

Yes. Members of the Mayflower Society must have proven their descent from a direct lineal ancestor (not the sibling of, for example).

The fees to join include an application fee and dues to the Member Society. Each Society sets its own dues so exact fees cannot be published here. Additionally, the cost to obtain vital records varies widely from state to state.

You must be 18 years old to apply for membership in The Mayflower Society. Some member societies allow for Junior Life Members prior to age 18. In these instances, a regular application needs to be completed and approved. Those under 18 cannot vote or hold office.