Research Tips

Getting Started with Mayflower Research

Genealogical and family history research can be a very satisfying activity. The thrill of discovering the names and histories of your ancestors is like no other experience. Part of what makes genealogical research so exciting is that, with the advent of modern information technologies, it has become easier than ever before. Computers, the internet, and various information storage and retrieval technologies have significantly increased the efficiency of doing research. However, while modern technological tools greatly facilitate this research, doing it can still be hard work, but the rewards are well worth it.

Requirements to Join the General and Utah Societies of Mayflower Descendants

To join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, you must document your direct lineage from one of the Mayflower passengers. This process might take considerable time—even with the use of modern technology—but don’t get discouraged. Your research may also be aided by information held by living relatives and others who have already researched your family lines.


Primary Documentation

It is critical that the documentation you submit to the Society for proving your direct lineage from a Mayflower passenger shows all the parent-child “connections” from the Mayflower passenger down through the generations to you. Documentation that demonstrates these connections, referred to as primary documentation, includes the following:

  • Vital records of birth, marriage and death
  • Church records and Bible records
  • Marriage bonds and licenses
  • Cemetery records
  • Probate records
  • Military or pension records
  • Deeds and wills
  • Mortician’s records
  • Contemporary family letters and diaries
  • Tax lists
  • Divorce records
  • Social security records
  • Published books and genealogies Secondary documentation may be used only after all efforts to find primary documentation have failed.

Secondary Documentation

  • County and town histories
  • Published family genealogies
  • Federal and state census records
  • Newspaper obituaries
  • Newspaper marriage accounts
  • Photos of gravestone inscriptions
  • Affidavits In some cases, a circumstantial “proof argument” might be required to prove a point in the lineage where no one document provides direct evidence of the relationship or identity.

Our state historian can assist when needed.

Unacceptable Documentation

  • Mayflower Index numbers
  • Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Patriot Indexes
  • Indexes to any other lineage papers
  • International Genealogical Index (IGI)
  • Lineage papers that have been submitted to any other hereditary society
  • Genealogical compendiums such as Virkus
  • Family group sheets, ancestral files and pedigree charts
  • Family web pages and other internet sources
  • Who’s Who
  • Social registers
  • Social Security Death Index (SSDI)
  • Unpublished handwritten or computer-generated genealogical compilations


Researching for the purpose of joining the Mayflower Society is your responsibility. As you conduct research remember that you are looking for original records, which constitute the proof of your Mayflower line. While they may be interesting and worth keeping, old family stories handed down through the generations, and faded notes jotted down by your relatives are not considered original records. Once your documents bring you within five generations of your Mayflower ancestor, the Silver Books, published by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, can usually supply the documentation required for the rest of your Mayflower line. Our Historian uses these books to verify the information you supply the Society on your application review form.

Let the research begin!

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