New England Historic Genealogical Society - Founded 1845
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Researching Your Mayflower Ancestors: Part III: Published Sources: Mayflower Families Through Five Generations and other books published by the Mayflower Society
Alicia Crane Williams
Documenting families and proving lineages has always been a serious impediment to membership growth in hereditary societies. The first documented publication of Mayflower-related families was begun in 1899 by George Ernest Bowman of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants when he created the periodical, The Mayflower Descendant (hereinafter MD), which quickly became an industry standard (and is still being published today). However, the periodical format can only present bits and pieces in random articles, rather than complete family accounts.
In the 1930s the General Society of Mayflower Descendants published a volume (updated in the 1950s to two volumes, and a third series was begun in 1980 but never completed) titled Mayflower Index (hereinafter MI), which presented an alphabetic listing of names of Mayflower descendants and their spouses linked by a numbering system that allowed the reader to follow backward from any individual to the Mayflower ancestor. The names in the MI were taken from the lineage papers of the society with the implication that the lineages were acceptable and documented, despite the Society’s then practice of “grandfathering” papers – no documentation was required for the most recent three generations of each lineage. The MI, itself, gives no documentation or even dates of birth, marriage, or death, and the numbering system is often confused with the numbering system of the lineage papers (each of which is assigned a General Society number and a State Society number). Despite appearances, it is not possible to take the numbers from the MI and directly locate the lineage papers relevant to the individuals in the book.
In 1960 the concept of a documented genealogy on each of the Mayflower families was developed into what became known as the “Five Generations Project” (hereinafter “5G”). “Prime Researchers” were chosen for each of the families and given the responsibility of documenting and writing a complete genealogy on the first five generations of descendants (with the birth of the sixth), which would then be edited and published. These books would contain complete and accurate information on each family and relieve applicants of the need to document the first five generations of their lineage papers.
It took fifteen years to produce the first volume in the series, and today, 45 years later, the series is still incomplete, although something has been published on each family. The overwhelming size of the project led to a revamping in the 1980s. Initially, the books were all published in hard cover (in a silver color, thus the books are referred to as the “silver books”) called Mayflower Families Through Five Generations (hereinafter MF), but the expense of hard cover publication and the need to publish frequent updates and additions led to a series of paper cover books (in pink, referred to as the “pink pamphlets”) called Mayflower Families in Progress (hereinafter MFIP). The MFIP volumes allowed the authors and editors to publish “as is” versions of the genealogies and receive feedback, updates and corrections before publishing the more final version in hard cover, although revised editions of the hard cover books have also been done. Further confusion is caused by the fact that each Prime Researcher was allowed to present their family in a manner of their choosing (resulting, for example, in some multi-volume families being divided by child, others by generation). The combined result is a headache for researchers trying to wend their way through the various editions and volumes of silver and pink books.
In addition, in recent years the MFIP series has been expanded to include families whose original immigrant did not come on the Mayflower, but who married (or had children or grandchildren marry) a Mayflower passenger – Robert Bartlett, Richard Church, Philip Delano. Several works of vital records or other source material have also been published.
To make a long story short, we will list the current publications for each Mayflower family. You may find citations to these works on Mayflower lineage papers and in other publications that may refer to earlier editions and therefore may need to refer to the index of the version in hand when using these volumes (and remember that frequent new editions will make the current citations obsolete in turn). Another quirk is that the society uses page numbers when citing from the MF books, but numbers of individuals when citing from the MFIP pamphlets. All of these books are available from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, P.O. Box 3927, Plymouth, MA 02361; www.mayflower.org.
MF 16, Part 1, second printing with addenda and errata, 2002: first four generations of all children of John Alden MF 16, Part 2, 2002: fifth generation of daughter Elizabeth (Alden) Pabodie, includes addenda and errata to Part 1 MF 16, Part 3, 2004: fifth generation of sons John, Jr., Joseph, and Jonathan, includes addenda and errata to Parts 1 and 2
[Part 4, scheduled for release in 2006, will contain the fifth generation of daughter Ruth (Alden) Bass, and Part 5 will contain the fifth generation of daughter Rebecca and son David; descendants of Sarah (Alden) Standish are covered under the Standish family.]
MF 17, 1998: five generations; supersedes earlier MFIP editions.
Robert Bartlett of the Anne
MFIP, 2nd ed., 2000: four generations; Robert Bartlett married Mary, daughter of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren, so this pamphlet duplicates information in MF 18, Part 1 and 2 (see Warren, below), but provides an individual volume on the Bartlett branch of the Warren family.
MF 21, 2001: five generations; supersedes earlier version published in MF 5 (with Winslow)
MF 22, 2004: five generations; supersedes earlier MFIP editions.
MFIP, 3rd ed. 2000: four generations
MFIP, 1999: Jonathan2 fifth generation descendants
MFIP, 2001: Patience2 fifth generation descendants
MFIP, 2003, Love2 fifth generation descendants
MF 7, 2nd ed., 2002: five generations; supersedes earlier MFIP editions.
MF 15, 1997 (with More): five generations; supersedes earlier version published in MF 2.
MFIP,1998: four generations; Richard Church married Elizabeth, daughter of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren, so this pamphlet duplicates information in MF 18, Parts 1 and 2 (see Warren, below), but provides an individual volume on the Church branch of Warren descendants.
MF 12, revised ed. 1999: five generations
MFIP, 5th ed., 2000: four generations updates the MF volume above.
Philip Delano of the Fortune
MFIP, 2002: four generations
MFIP, Part 1, 5th and 6th generations, 2004: (family numbers 198-367)
MF 11, Part 1, 1996: five generations through Edward2 and John2
MF 11, Part 2, 1996: five generations through Thomas,2 Samuel,2 Desire,2 and Elizabeth2
MF 11, Part 3, 2000: five generations through Isaac,2 Joseph,2 and Mary2
all supersede earlier MFIP editions
MF 9, 1996: five generations, supersedes earlier version in MF 1.
MF 4, 2nd ed., 1995: five generations; supersedes earlier MFIP editions.
MF 10, 1996: five generations, supersedes earlier version in MF 1.
MF 6, 3rd ed., 2001: five generations; supersedes earlier MFIP editions.
MF 23, 2005: New – first four generations of all Howland children. This is the first volume on the Howland family to be produced by the General Society. Previously, two volumes were independently produced by Elizabeth Pearson White and published by Picton Press: John Howland of the Mayflower, Volume 1 through Desire2 Howland and Volume 2 through John2 Howland, both of which are available through the Mayflower Society.
MF 15 (with Chilton), 1997: five generations; supersedes earlier version in MF 2.
MF 8, 1994: five generations; supersedes earlier MFIP editions.
MF 19, 2000: five generations; supersedes earlier version in MF 2
MF 20, Part 1, 2000: first four generations of all Samson children; supersedes earlier MFIP editions.
MF 20, Part 2, 2005: fifth generation descendants of son James2 Samson and daughters Dorcas (Samson) Bonney, ---
- (Samson) Hanmore, Hannah (Samson) Holmes, and Elizabeth (Samson) Sprout
MFIP, 4th ed. 2002: four generations supersedes MF 3 for these generations
MFIP, Part 1, 5th and 6th generations, 2000: (numbers 230-349), supersedes MF 3 for these families
MFIP, Part 2, 5th and 6th generations, 2002: (numbers 350-464), supersedes MF 3 for these families
MFIP, Part 3, 5th and 6th generations, 2003: (numbers 465-551), supersedes MF 3 for these families
MF 3, 1980: five generations, but has been superseded through page 238 by all of the above, and future MFIP pamphlets will eventually completely replace the MF 3 volume.
MF 14, 1997: five generations; supersedes earlier MFIP editions.
MF 18, Part 1, 3rd ed., 2004: four generations of all Warren children; supersedes earlier MFIP editions.
MF 18, Part 2, 1999: fifth generation of Mary,2 Anna,2 and Elizabeth2
MF 18, Part 3, 2001: fifth generation of Abigail,2 Nathaniel2, and Joseph2
MF 13, 2nd ed., 2002: five generations; supersedes earlier version in MF 1.
MF 5, 2nd ed., 1997 (with John Billington): five generations; supersedes earlier MFIP editions.
There is inevitable “cross over” among these volumes where descendants of two passengers have married but their descendants may be continued only in one volume. For example, Myles Standish’s granddaughter, Sarah Standish, married Benjamin Soule, a grandson of passenger George Soule. The Soule descendants are continued in the Soule MF and MFIP volumes, but not in the Standish volume. On the other hand, Myles’s son Alexander Standish married John Alden’s daughter Sarah, and their descendants appear in both the Standish and Alden MF volumes (although in the Alden volume only for four generations).
Unfortunately, no master index to all volumes is available, but it is well worth the time for researchers in search of Mayflower connections to check their list of ancestors against all the individual volumes.
The scholarship published in the Mayflower “5G” volumes is the best available at the time of publication, but ongoing research may disprove or add lines, or the line may be circumstantial or suggested pending further research. The fact that any particular line appears in one of these volumes does not guarantee acceptance by the Historian General for the purposes of membership.
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