Mayflower Research

My Approach

A quick outline of my approach to researching Mayflower ancestry, an approach which is designed to meet the demanding standards of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD).

According to the Mayflower Society’s 2015-16 Annual Report, a typical Mayflower application has 13 generations in it.  Each generation has a married couple, each with birth and death events, as well as a marriage, giving 5 events per generation.  Each event typically has 1 to 5 source citations.  So it is not uncommon to have an application with 200 or more pieces of information.

My recommended approach is designed to save time and money. I perform initial research using readily-available printed sources to establish plausibility, get early feedback from the GSMD on the proposed lineage with a Preliminary Application, and only then progress to the more time-consuming tasks of collecting “proofs,” once we’ve established that there is a reasonable likelihood of success.

Focus on High-Potential Lines

Perhaps you already have a line in mind, direct from you back to a Mayflower passenger.  If so, we can focus immediately on that line.  But even if you haven’t already identified a specific line of descent, I can help you with the following approach:

  • From your existing family tree, select high-potential lines to research further
    1. Does your family tree already show a name of a known Mayflower family? Don’t limit yourself to the surname.  A middle name of “Winslow” might be a clue that this name could appear as a surname on the mother’s or grandmother’s side if you push back another generation or two.
    2. Does your family tree show a connection to Plymouth Colony?
    3. Do you have a family tradition of a particular relative being a Mayflower descendant?
  • Trace your high-potential lines far back enough to intersect with the Silver Books coverage, say back to 1750.
  • If there is an apparent match, submit a Preliminary Application to your state society. This only requires the names for each generation and does not require source citations.  For a nominal fee ($25) the state society will compare your preliminary information with information they already have from approved applications, and tell you which generations you have that require additional proof.  This can be a great time saver, especially if you find that someone else has already documented a portion of your lineage.
  • Based on feedback from Preliminary Application, either proceed with obtaining documentation for that line, or continue research on your family tree to identify a different high-potential line.
  • Prepare and submit membership application.
  • As a bonus, research for a Mayflower application will take you through the Revolutionary War generations, and it is very common to end up with a Qualifying Ancestor for Daughters of the American Revolution, along with documentation of that lineage.

How I Can Help

Some clients want to do most of the work themselves and just tap me to document a particularly challenging generation.  Other clients are happy to have me do the entire research and send them an application ready for their signature.  And, of course, there is everything in between.

If I can be of assistance, with the above or with any similar project, please let me know. I am happy to receive your inquiries and prepare a free, written proposal and estimate.

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