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Rhode Island Society of Mayflower Descendants


Types of Evidence

Primary Source Evidence - examples

  • Vital Records (birth, marriage & death certificates or records; published vital records)
  • Wills and other Probate Records
  • Deeds and other Land Records
  • Military Records
  • Church Records
  • Court Records
  • Bible Records which state relationships (title page & name and address of current owner required)
  • Cemetery or Mortician's Records (created at time of event; usually useful for death info only)
  • Family Letters or Diaries (created by someone with first-hand knowledge of the subject matter)
  • Journals (created by someone with firsthand knowledge of the subject matter)
  • Town Council Records
  • Other primary source evidence: High quality books and periodicals ("Mayflower Families Through Five Generations," the NEHGR, TAG, Rhode Island Roots, The Connecticut Nutmegger, Anderson's "Great Migration" series, and other similar sources, including a small number of compiled genealogies) that incorporate or provide full clear references to primary sources such as those above may be viewed as containing primary source evidence. Each use of such a source will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Secondary Source Evidence - examples

  • Published Genealogies (vary in quality; evaluated on a case by case basis; may not be acceptable; title page required)
  • County and Town Histories (vary in quality; evaluated on a case by case basis; may not be acceptable; title page required)
  • Federal and State Census Records (considered circumstantial evidence if relationships are not stated)
  • Newspapers: obits, marriage announcements, bios, etc. (should include date and name of paper in margin)
  • Gravestone Photos (copies only; clear and readable; on letter-sized paper; used primarily for dates.)
  • Cemetery Records (created at some time after the event)
  • Affadavits (may be accepted if created by someone with first-hand knowledge of the subject matter and if primary source not available)

Circumstantial Evidence

Circumstantial evidence is that which does not state relationships, but leaves them to be inferred, or pieced together in conjunction with other evidence. This sort of evidence may be acceptable but should be thought of as a last resort. Further, the "circumstances" and associated reasoning put forth must appropriately incorporate primary sources.

Unacceptable Sources (not accepted, though may provide useful guidance) - examples

  • Mayflower Ancestral Index
  • State Mayflower Society Lineage Books
  • Lineage Papers Submitted to Other Lineage Societies
  • Genealogical Compendia (Munsell, Virkus, Mackenzie, Pittman, etc)
  • Family Genealogy Charts (pedigree charts, family group sheets, etc)
  • Family Search user-submitted information (familysearch.org)
  • The IGI (International Genealogy Index)
  • Who's Who (generally not accepted)
  • Family Genealogy Websites
  • Social Security Death Index
  • Social Registers
  • Short Form Birth Certificates (birth certificates must be long-form and must identify parents)
  • Unpublished Genealogical Manuscripts (generally not accepted. Evaluated on a case-by-case basis)
  • Vital Records Indexes 

Older Mayflower Society lineage papers

Standards of proof have varied over the years. While many older lineage papers are very well documented, some are not. Often, a line is found to be in need of updating. In such cases, new documentation will be required. All new applications must meet current documentation requirements and standards of proof.

Internet Sources

Material that has been abstracted or transcribed from various, otherwise available, sources is NOT likely to be acceptable. The original source, from which that information was transcribed or abstracted, should be obtained and submitted as documentation.