New England Historic Genealogical Society and General Society of Mayflower Descendants Announce Database Collaboration

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) has partnered with General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) to bring new searchable databases created from authenticated Mayflower Pilgrim genealogies and from 50 years of published Mayflower passenger scholarship from the Mayflower Quarterly. GSMD members will enjoy generous discounts on new memberships in New England Historic Genealogical Society, the founding genealogical organization in America.

Known as the "Silver Books" because of their distinctive covers, the Mayflower Families Through Five Generations series from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants meticulously documents the first five generations of descendants of Mayflower passengers who arrived in 1620. This essential resource has previously been accessible only in print format. As a result of this partnership, the fifth generation portion of these will be available online on AmericanAncestors.org for use in family history research by members of both organizations.

The "Silver Books" series is comprised of 31 volumes, of which the fifth generation of each will be brought online as a database as the digitization is completed. 50 passengers on the Mayflower are known to have living descendants, however, the “Silver Books” treat the 25 families that left American descendants.


Partnership to Include Digital Indexing of Mayflower Quarterly

As an important additional element of the historic partnership between the two organizations, NEHGS will also undertake indexing of content published in the first fifty years of the Mayflower Quarterly—A Journal of Pilgrim History and Genealogy in Colonial New England. GSMD published this predecessor to the current Mayflower Journal from 1935 through 2015. Fifty volumes of the Quarterly, those issues published between 1935 and 1984—Volumes 1 through 50—are to be indexed by article title and by the names included in them. They will be made available as page images on AmericanAncestors.org.

Updates concerning availability of these new databases to be offered exclusively by NEHGS may be found in announcements in the weekly e-newsletter of NEHGS, The Weekly Genealogist, or by registering at dbnews.AmericanAncestors.org.

Membership Benefits

NEHGS and GSMD are both member-based organizations. Benefits of discounted annual membership subscription fees will be offered by NEHGS to all active members of GSMD, as the two entities collaborate on these historic projects. With a growing collection of more than one billion online records on its website AmericanAncestors.org, original scholarship, and unique educational resources, NEHGS offers tools and expertise needed to uncover and document the many Mayflower Pilgrim and related ancestral stories that the GSMD has diligently celebrated for more than 100 years. Its commitment to research on the lineal descent of the Mayflower Pilgrims and to education about them— how they shaped western civilization, and what their 1620 voyage means today—will be advanced through this new partnership with NEHGS and its more than 220,000 constituents worldwide.

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and GSMD Partnership Project FAQs

Key information about the digitization projects resulting from the recent agreement between NEHGS and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD)

  • Q: What is the focus of the project?

    The project is focused on providing a full family index of all the fifth-generation descendants of the Pilgrims who came on the Mayflower in 1620.
  • Q: What will be included in this project?

    NEHGS will post images from the “Silver Books” for all fifth-generation descendants with a complete index including: birth, marriage, death, and deeds for these descendants, their spouses, and children on AmericanAncestors.org. NEHGS will also create indexes on content within the first fifty years of issues of the Mayflower Quarterly (1935 through 1984) for all article titles and names included in that publication and post images on AmericanAncestors.org.
  • Q: What kinds of records will be searchable in the index?

    The “Silver Books” provide biographical and genealogical information on the Mayflower Pilgrim descendants. The index will provide records that include: Baptism, Birth, Marriage, Marriage Intentions, Deeds, Death, and Burial Records. Page images for these individuals will be provided so the biographical information can be read, downloaded, or printed.
  • Q: How expansive is this project?

    This database will involve 31 volumes of the “Silver Books” comprising about 11,800 relevant pages. Our preliminary calculations indicate that the index will have about 7,750 fifth generation descendants, along with their spouses and children. The actual record count will not be known until the indexing is completed, but more than 150,000 birth, marriage, death, and deed records in total are estimated.
  • Q: How will this database be rolled out?

    American Ancestors will create one database for the Mayflower “Silver Books,” and, as the indexes are completed for each volume, they will be made available. We expect this part to begin during the summer of 2017. The entire “Silver Books” project will be completed sometime in 2018. The Mayflower Quarterly indexing work will start after the “Silver Books” are completed. This portion of the project is expected to take up to 18 months to complete.
  • Q: How can I find out when these volumes are available?

    NEHGS will announce each new volume via the Database News blog and email provided by the AmericanAncestors.org Web team. NEHGS will also include updates in our weekly e-newsletter, the Weekly Genealogist.
  • Q: Will access to this database help me with applying for membership to the Mayflower Society?

    Yes. If you can trace ancestry to one of the indexed descendants in this new database, you can be certain that that person will be accepted by the state chapter of the Mayflower Society, when the appropriate application is submitted.
  • Q: Can NEHGS help me with a Mayflower Society application?

    Yes. The Research Services division of NEHGS can provide all services required, including exploration of any individual’s relationship to a Mayflower Pilgrim, documenting it as required for the appropriate state chapter of the GSMD, and completing the full application with records and citations. For more information, visit Research Services: Lineage Society Applications.
  • Q: Does American Ancestors have other databases with Mayflower passenger information?

    Yes. These include: The Mayflower Descendant: A Journal of Pilgrim Genealogy & History, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620—1633 series, Plymouth Church Records 1620-1859, and Barnstable, MA Probate Records 1685-1789.