An applicant to the Society of Mayflower Descendants is required to provide documentation to show beyond a reasonable doubt that a bloodline exists between the applicant and a passenger on the MAYFLOWER voyage which terminated at Plymouth, New England, December 1620. Standards of evidence have been designed to accomplish this objective.

Membership in the Society is granted to those who provide proper documentation of their family line. Final approval of membership is through the Maryland Society and the State Historian, but is granted only by the Historian General of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The application process can be facilitated by carefully reading and following the instructions. It is requested that the application process be completed within 18 months.

Each lineage paper must stand on its own and meet current proof standards. If an application is based upon a line previously filed by a relative, the new application must update the available documentation and achieve the current standard of proof.

Filling in the Form:

  1. The  WORKSHEET will be partially completed using references contained in the Society’s files.
  2. Fill in the remaining generations. Give full names, dates, and places when possible. Please try not to use abbreviations.
  3. Dates should be written with the day in numerals and the month in letters – e.g. 12 Oct. 1788 or 1 Feb 1678/9.
  4. Places should include the city, town, or village, and the state or province. If a town or township is not known, list the county and state.  International locations should take the city, state/province, country form.

References and Documentation:

For Birth, Marriage, and Death events on or after 01 Jan 1900 it is very important that you provide a certificate of birth, marriage/divorce and death for you, the line carriers, as well as for the spouses of the line carriers if those exist. Referencesmust provide proof of parentage of the line carrier, we realize that information about full dates and places of every birth, marriage, and death may not be possible to obtain, but the line carriers in each generation must be connected to the previous generation.

For Birth, Marriage, and Death events before 01 Jan 1900 other types of reference are acceptable.

In all cases, two copies of each reference must be submitted (one copy is filed with the Maryland Society and one copy with the General Society in Plymouth). Please make all copies on paper measuring no less than 8 1/2” by 11” or A4. Please do not submit original documentation.

Please do not make any marks on or additions to any documents or photocopies of documents. Especially, do not highlight any part of a document. Please do not staple documents; they slow the review process and must all be removed before they are assembled for Plymouth.

Be sure to make one additional copy of all documents for your own records. All documents sent to the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Maryland (Maryland Mayflower Society) become the property of that Society or of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants and will not be returned.

Copies and Certificates:

Birth, marriage, death certificates, or final decrees – two photocopies of the certificate must be filed with the worksheet. If there is a question about the documentation, or if the copies are not legible, we will request to see the actual certificate.  Copies need not be certified.

Published works – In the case where you are using published work, please include two copies of the referenced page, along with two copies of the title page showing the name of the book, the author or compiler, and date of publication.

Unpublished sources – When you use these types of references, such as family Bibles, gravestones, church or town records, manuscripts, etc., please submit two copies of each page or photo of the gravestones for example. In the case of Bible records, two copies of the relevant pages as well as two copies of the title page showing the date of publication should be sent, and the names of the original and present owner should be given.

The Internet – It is now a very useful tool for searching for genealogical information, especially for census records, historical newspapers, cemetery records, and local history documents. Undocumented family records and lineages will not be accepted. However, such family records may provide you with avenues or clues for further research. Recommended sites include:, and

Other Mayflower Society Papers:

Maryland Society Papers – You will not need to supply copies of documentation already filed with the Maryland Society. Just cite the State number(s) and, when possible, the name of the person who originally filed the papers.


PRIMARY records are made at the time of an event or by a reliable witness to the event. Sources for primary records:

  1. Birth, marriage, and death records. (They need not be certified copies)

Each birth certificate must be a “long” form, showing the names of the parents and preferably also showing the birthplaces of the parents. (“Short” form certificates, which give only the place and date of the event, cannot be accepted.) Marriage and death certificates should include full information from the original records.

  1. Family records such as Bibles, letters, diaries.

These records must be identified as to author and present owner. Photocopies are preferred to hand copies. If information is hand-copied from a family record, it must be a notarized as a true copy of the original.

  1. Church and town records.
  2. Probates and deeds.
  3. Federal and State census records – copies of original census only, not transcriptions or summaries.
  1. Published vital records including the “Vital Records to 1850” series for Massachusetts towns.
  2. Periodicals and genealogies containing references for sources of information.

For example: The Mayflower DescendantMayflower Families Through Five GenerationsThe New England Historical and Genealogical RegisterThe American Genealogist. All of these should be available at most libraries with genealogical collections.

SECONDARY sources which may be used to supplement primary material are:

  1. Compiled genealogies (books and articles), histories, biographies, which give further information.
  2. Newspaper articles, obituaries (with name of newspaper and date).

CIRCUMSTANTIAL evidence is considered only when it has been demonstrated that all reasonable attempts to locate primary and acceptable secondary evidence have been exhausted.

LETTERS NO RECORD FOUND: If you receive a letter from an authority that indicates it has search for a record and failed to find it, please include two copies of that correspondence with your application documentation.  The existence of such a letter changes the rules of evidence applied to the application.

UNACCEPTABLE examples for sources are:

  1. Mayflower Index Numbers: these are not to be used as references – they do not constitute documentation. These numbers merely refer to the names on papers filed with the General Society and are not indexes to the documentation used to support those papers.
  2. DAR Patriot Indexes, and Indexes and Indexes to any other lineage papers (including State Society Mayflower Lineage Books
  3. International Genealogical Index (IGI)
  4. Copies of lineage papers that been submitted to any other lineage societies
  5. Genealogical compendiums, such as “Virkus”
  6. Family group sheets and pedigree charts. This includes individual Family Tree Maker type files.
  7.  Information from family web pages on the Internet. (See previous note on Internet usage.)
  8. Who’s Who (only considered when no other source of information is available)
  9. Social Registers
  10. Social Security Death Index (SSDI) or other records collection Indexes found on the Interne – If a death certificate or death record can’t be obtained (SSDI gives no Genealogical information), then a “No record found” letter should be provided from the issuing records office.


If you have difficulty filling in your worksheet or collecting documentation, we recommend that you complete as much of the form as possible and submit it with the documentation you have located. Once we have had a chance to see your material, we will let you know what else is needed.

Abbreviations commonly used:

  • g.s. photo = gravestone photo
  • B/C = Birth certificate
  • M/C = Marriage certificate
  • D/C = Death certificate
  • Bapt/C = Baptismal certificate
  • VR = Published vital records of town listed as place of event.
  • (yr)FC(State) = Federal census (example: 1930 FC MD)
  • PR = Probate record
  • MD = The Mayflower Descendant
  • MF =  Mayflower Families Through Five Generations
  • MFIP =  Mayflower Families In Progress
  • MQ = The Mayflower Quarterly
  • NEHGR = New England Historical and Genealogical Register
  • NGQ = National Genealogical Society Quarterly
  • TAG = The American Genealogist

A note on worksheet preparation

Having completed some of these worksheets myself, I found it helpful to do a coversheet for each generation setting out the documents I used and describing them in some detail. I did this because I found it a helpful way to organize my work and because the GSMD final product is not easy to understand and I wanted anyone else (like my children, for example) consulting my copy of the application to be able to understand it easily.

Sending us such coversheets with your completed application and its 2 sets of documents will also make it easier for us to understand it and thus speed the final preparation of the application.

An example of such a coversheet listing documents and describing them follows.

Generation 8: Zipporah Tracy and Caleb Bishop


  1. Zipporah Tracy b. 13 January 1770 the daughter of Ebenezer Tracy and Mary. Source: Norwich V/R 1659-1848, Part I, p. 399; Tracy Genealogy p. 118 (This latter source gives birth date as 21 July 1769).
  2. Zipporah Tracy d. 22 July 1819. Sources: Ct. DAR GRC s1-v102 Cemetery Records, p. 68, (Their children surviving to adulthood are not listed here.), and Tracy Genealogy, p. 118.

Cemetery record identifies her as the wife of Caleb Bishop and the daughter of Col. Eleazer Bishop (Eleazer is probably a transcription or typographical error for Ebenezer in view of V/R entry cited above as well as secondary source).

  1. Zipporah Tracy married Caleb Bishop at Lisbon Connecticut on April 21, 1791. Source: Barbour Collection 1:7 Index p. 239;

Tracy Genealogy p. 118, and and Henry F. Bishop, The Genealogy of Samuel and John Bishop, Brothers, (Brooklyn, NY: Eagle Press) 1901, pp. 13 and 23.

  1. Caleb Bishop b. 20 March 1764, He was the son of Ruben Bishop and Hannah. Ruben m. Hannah Bishop on 18 Feb. 1761. Sources: Norwich V/R 1659-1848, Part I., p. 390, and The Genealogy of Samuel and John Bishop, Brothers, 1901, pp. 13 and 23.
  2. Caleb Bishop d. 20 December 1842, Ct. DAR GRC S1-v102, p. 68; and Tracy Genealogy, p. 118, also The Genealogy of Samuel and John Bishop, Brothers, 13.
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