Basic Lineage Research

To start your research, you must locate the appropriate vital records for generations 1 to 3 or 4, and then continue to locate proof for each successive generation. Where government issued birth, marriage, and death records are available, they should be ordered. As you locate each record, place a check in the box  to the left. This will help to ensure you have proof of all dates and locations, along with parentage, to support each generation.

Note:  You may use abbreviations:  BC = Birth Cert;  DC = Death Cert;  MR = Marriage Rec;  TS = Tombstone

Gen #1 - You and Your Spouse 
 BC - yours (long form showing parents' names)
 BC - your spouse’s (long form showing parents' names)
 MR - yours 

Gen #2 - Your Parents
 BC - your father's (long form showing parents' names)
 BC - your mother's (long form showing parents' names)
 MR - your parents
 DC - for each parent who is deceased (long form showing parents' names)

Gen #3 - Your Grandparents
 BC - your grandfather's (long form showing parents' names)
 BC - your grandmother's (long form showing parents' names)
 MR - your grandparents
 DC - for each grandparent who is deceased (long form showing parents' names)

Gen #4+ - for each successive generation identify proof of each birth, marriage, death, and parentage. Repeat this list for each generation from Gen #4 to your ancestor or to a proven application paper.
 birth dates & locations for both male and female ancestors 
 marriage date & location
 death dates & locations for both male and female ancestors
 connection to the parents of each generation 

Stay organized with your research by using the Lineage Worksheet (click link) to keep track of the documents that you have found, along with names, dates, and locations for each of the ancestors in your lineage. Identify the document(s) that connects each generation.

Documentation Tips

As you begin to gather your documents, it may help to keep a working copy of your application nearby. It's important that you follow the standards and guidelines for preparing your application. For example, the following elements of the document must be clearly formatted:
  • Dates:  document as dd mmm yyyy (e.g., 15 Mar 2015)
  • Locations:  document as city, county, state (e.g., Summit, Union Co, NJ)
  • Abbreviations:  BC = Birth Cert;  DC = Death Cert;  MR = Marriage Rec;  
    TS = Tombstone
When gathering proof documents, remember to avoid staples, paper clips, and sticky notes. Never use a highlighter pen on copies of your proof document, since this will only darken the text when photocopied. Use a red pen to underline important names, dates, and locations. 

Lineage Society Links

Lineage Societies continue to change and fine tune their requirements for application preparation. It is important to follow the latest guidelines and find a local chapter that will sponsor your application. 

Helpful Links for Locating Proof Documents

To prove your lineage, the goal is to locate original sources recorded at the time of the event. However, even with an exhaustive search that may not be possible. In such cases, multiple forms of indirect evidence may suffice. The determination of the suitability of evidence can only be made on a case-by-case basis. The list of sites below offers some of the many options for locating your missing proof documents. An exhaustive search may require you to look at these sites, in addition to local city, county, and state archives, court houses, and other repositories.

Original Sources providing Primary Information:  
Seek to find direct evidence from original sources, recorded at the time of the event by an informant with first hand knowledge of the event.
Other Sources:  
Extracts, abstracts, and transcriptions of original sources may be able to prove a fact. Use secondary information (that which was not recorded at the time of the event) with caution. Likewise, authored works can be fraught with errors and should be used for clues to locate the original sources.

Helpful Videos for Learning How to Locate Proofs

The DAR offers several video presentations for completing lineage papers. These videos are owned by the DAR, but available for public viewing on YouTube. Their principals for documenting lineage papers applies to most lineage societies.

DAR - Documenting the First Three Generations

Source: "Documenting the First Three Generations," NSDAR Video on YouTube ( : accessed 28 Dec 2016)

DAR - Supporting Documentation

Source: "Supporting Documentation & Citations," NSDAR Video on YouTube ( : accessed 28 Dec 2016)

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