I am trying hard not to make this a rant so I’ll let you know up front that I’m very frustrated with many of the lineage societies’ directions and interpretations of what they consider acceptable.
In the past year, I’ve completed a number of society applications for clients and myself. It seems each time there is something a society had a problem with that I couldn’t see was an issue. In the past month alone, I’ve had to have lengthy discussions with their genealogist over several sticking points.
I could certainly understand if the problem was lack of a record for proof of relationship. I could also understand if it was because the person could not have been in two places at the same time; in other words, analysis of existing records couldn’t determine which John Smith was the John Smith who would be a qualifying ancestor. If the application directions were completely disregarded, I could also understand a rejection. I cannot understand the following:
- Applying for membership that says “send proof of [military] service” and when more than one proof is sent, such as the enrollment application, pension application, 1890 veteran’s census, newspaper clippings, and family letters to two different organizations for two different U.S. wars and being told in one situation that the sources were “a little thin” and in the other, that a record that was housed at the National Personnel Records center were necessary. So, they never heard about the 1973 fire that destroyed the records they wanted? Makes you think twice of the level of genealogical understanding of the organization. How can a pension application, enlistment paperwork and veteran’s census be considered “a little thin?
- Applying for a designated individual and then being told that the ancestor doesn’t qualify because he was a nobleman and not royalty. Had to initially laugh at that one because one of the sources for this disputed ancestor was titled, “The Interim King.” I was able to obtain qualification based on the nobleman’s wife’s father but for the life of me, I don’t understand the difference between a nobleman serving as king and someone who inherited it from his father. The individual who inherited the title came from a line that at one point had the first ruler. What made that person royal? I just don’t understand. The organization has yet to explain it to me.
- Being told the application was being rejected because the year for sources was omitted. When I asked the application number that purportedly occurred I didn’t get a response. I always keep a copy and I couldn’t find anywhere where I missed a date. A week later I received an email that no further information was required. I understand people make mistakes but own up to it.
- Being told that your application was accepted and two weeks later receiving an email stating that your application wasn’t accepted. Huh? In that situation, the membership chair had obtained a list from the genealogist and assumed that names placed on the list had all been verified but evidently that wasn’t the case; the list was for everyone who had submitted an application. I understand errors happen but you’d think that the board would all be on the same page.
I’m not knocking lineage societies. I think they serve a tremendous purpose. Not only is there fraternity and hopefully, camaraderie, the ideals and promotion of the area of history they represent is important. They are also a wonderful place to save genealogical information and honor our ancestors. That said, I really wish they would get their act together.