The General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) was established in 1897 when 27 delegates from the first four US State Societies met in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Today the General Society is made up of 54 Member Societies with almost 30,000 members. By applying for membership through the Australian Society of Mayflower Descendants, you become a member of the General Society and receive the benefits of both.
Family Societies are organisations run by Mayflower descendants with a focus on a particular Pilgrim family and their lineage. Many descendants become involved with a Family Society in addition to being a member of the General Society.
The Mayflower is a single ship that links four nations, spans 400 years of history and connects millions of people.
Mayflower 400th Anniversary Sites
In 2020, an ambitious program of commemoration events was planned in UK and Leiden to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower's vogage. While most events have been postponed due to Covid-19, the anniversary websites contain a wealth of fascinating historical information and photos.
While you're there, read the 'Mayflower Stories' about the voyage, legacy and impact of the Mayflower passengers - from the beginnings of the Separatist movement in England, to the colonisation of New England and modern-day celebrity descendants. Also take a look at the interactive map with individual pilgrim profiles for an insight into the different types of people who made the journey on The Mayflower - is your ancestor there?
Wikipedia describes the Mayflower ship’s structure, history, voyage, passengers, crew and later history with many useful links for further research.
History.com Search for Mayflower topics on the History Channel website and you'll find much about the pilgrims' culture and impact on history, including the origins of Thanksgiving, the Mayflower Compact, and the difference between puritans and pilgrims.
Pictured left: In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies.
AmericanAncestors.org, the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, contains more than 1 billion searchable names from America and other countries, plus over 30 types of official records (from births to burials) and specific Mayflower research databases which are free to Mayflower Society members. It's a great resource for family history research and learning about genealogy.
Wikitree aims to connect us all on a single world family tree and will help you collaborate with distant cousins on common ancestry.
Ancestry.com offers a DNA test to help you discover more about your ethnicity and your living relatives. It enables you to contact others whose DNA you share and build a family tree.
Findagrave.com, the world's largest gravesite collection, allows you to find the graves of ancestors and create virtual memorials.
For Australians looking to research their family history in Australia, visit our Australian Research Resources page.
Other Descendant Organisations
Several Australian Mayflower descendants are also members of these organisations:
Fellowship of the First Fleeters, a fellowship of the descendants of those who arrived in Sydney Cove with the First Fleet on 26 January 1788. The Fellowship is headquartered in Sydney and has around 20 Chapters throughout Australia.
Daughters of the American Revolution, a non-political volunteer organisation dedicated to promoting patriotism and preserving American history. Membership is open to women who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution. There are chapters in Sydney and Melbourne.