Researching Your Mayflower Lineage
To learn if you descend from a Mayflower passenger, the best first steps are to explore your family’s lineage. Tools such as Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org can be of great use, but use caution! Not every link to another generation has been carefully examined by previous tree builders – beware the child born before his parents or the daughter born to a five-year-old mother!
It’s best to use online resources as clues, not proof. Many times, though, you will find that generous genealogists have posted important vital records of your ancestors including birth, marriage and death certificates. If you can confirm these are your ancestors, use those as building blocks in your path back to a potential Mayflower passenger.
Vital records are your golden ticket in beginning your family genealogical journey. Many can found online or can be ordered from the county or state in which the event occurred. For Mayflower Society purposes, you need not order “certified” copies; certificates marked “informational” or “for genealogical purposes” are acceptable and may cost less.
Build your family tree one generation at a time being careful to confirm the link to parents as you go. This can be especially challenging for women whose maiden names were not recorded on Census records or other documents. If your family helped establish a new county, they may be featured in a historical book or a family genealogy book. Many of these can be found, in full, online, but be forewarned, not all are acceptable and each must be reviewed carefully.
The Mayflower Society publishes a series of genealogical reference tools referred to as the “Silver books” because of their distinctive silver-colored cover and binding. Generally speaking, these volumes detail the critical data for each generation from the Mayflower passenger and down five or six generations. Visit the Silver Books page to learn more about these important works!
Below are links to other helpful tools. Please feel free to reach out to a Member Society Historian with questions or to seek help. You’ll find contacts by state and country on our Member Societies page.
Ready to Learn About Gathering Your Documentation?
Please watch this helpful video before your begin gathering your documentation to prove your lineage to a Mayflower passenger. It includes tips about what will be expected from you, what will not be accepted and how best to help your Member Society Historian prepare your complete application.