Knowledge Base Detail

How to Become a Member

Eligibility and Process for Membership:

Membership to the John Dunham Society is open to all individuals provided that they can prove a direct descendancy from Deacon John Dunham through any of his children by either wife (Susanna Keno/Kenny or Abigail Barlow):

John Dunham and his wife, Susan (Kenney), had three children as listed in the Zevenhuysen (Netherlands) Census on 15 OCT 1622, they were:
  • John Dunham Jr.,
  • Humility Dunham, and
  • Thomas Dunham
John Dunham and his wife, Abigail (Barlow), had eight children, they were:
  • Samuel Dunham,
  • Jonathan Dunham,
  • Abigail Dunham,
  • Joseph Dunham,
  • Hannah Dunham,
  • Persis Dunham,
  • Benajah Dunham, and
  • Daniel Dunham  

Membership is also available for children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews of members as long as they can prove their relationship to a member's confirmed and approved descendancy. 

A.  First and foremost, membership REQUIRES documentation to prove your lineage.  Documentation is the only acceptable proof for membership.

B.  The John Dunham Society has established an order of priority to help you understand and collect acceptable documentation to prove your lineage to Deacon John Dunham.  The order is as follows:

Primary Documents - include copies of OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT vital records of birth, marriage, and death certificates. This is the 1st standard to prove your lineage.  Be prepared to obtain the vast majority of lineage proof from these documents.  An Index Record showing a list of names of persons born, married, or deceased is not an official record, instead you need to obtain the individual birth, marriage or death record listed in the Index.  Copies of OFFICIAL birth, marriage and death records/registrations MUST be submitted for all birth, marriage and deaths after the year 1900.  Copies of approved lineages from pilgrim ancestral societies such as the Mayflower Society, and other approved pilgrim societies (Brewster, Warren, etc.) are acceptable.

When all attempts to locate primary documentation on an event have failed, then (and only then) should you provide secondary documentation on a specific event.

Secondary Documents - include copies of approved publications (published books) of family lineages, newspaper articles announcing birth, marriage, and/or deaths.  Newspaper or journal articles that contain family lineages, in whole or in part (of the lineage).  Photos of headstones that list married couples or children as being buried in a particular location. Family bible records showing births, marriages or deaths (and divorces). Census reports of the United States, or other country, as long as they are in legible English or professionally transcribed. Secondary documents ARE NOT USED ALONE to prove an event and a single event MUST be corroborated by at least one other separate SECONDARY document for each birth, marriage or death event. You cannot use separate year census reports to prove a birth date. Secondary Documents are the 2nd standard to prove your lineage.

In order to support your case for proof of lineage, you may also provide "Other Documents" to assist in proving an event (birth, marriage, or death). "Other documents" can range in type and acceptability.  "Other Documents" are neither primary or secondary and will be used ONLY in the support of secondary documents.  All "Other documents" are subject to acceptability by the historian on a case-by-case basis.

Other Documents - Other approved documents that support the applicant's lineage (not presented as either primary or secondary) such as, but not limited to Mason's membership records, etc. can be provided to support secondary documents.  AGAIN, OTHER does not mean ONLY - "Other documents" ARE USED TO SUPPORT SECONDARY DOCUMENTS.

C.  Each membership application and associated documentation that is submitted will be validated for the correct and appropriate lineage and then must be reviewed and approved by our Society Historian.  Final membership approval will then be made by the Director of the John Dunham Society.  After final approval, a certificate suitable for framing will be issued to new Society members.
The John Dunham Society founders have agreed that we will not accept the following documents alone as primary proof of lineage:

  • Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) membership certifications.  NOTE: If you were able to obtain certification through these organizations, then you should request from SAR/DAR all the official government birth, marriage, or death records they used to prove your lineage in SAR or DAR.  Send those documents AND your SAR/DAR approved membership along with your John Dunham Society Membership Application.  The SAR/DAR approved membership form (the form that lists your entire lineage back to a Revolutionary War participant) will be treated as a Secondary Document.  Keep in mind that all documents submitted to the John Dunham Society must still follow the guidelines above relating to Primary, Secondary, and Other documents.
  • No pages contained within Isaac Watson Dunham’s "Dunham Genealogy: Deacon John Dunham of Plymouth, Massachusetts 1589-1669 and His Descendants" (1907) will be accepted as this book has been largely discredited by many genealogists as being poorly written, confusing, difficult to use, and often erroneous.  You can use it as a general guide in collecting your Primary Documentation, but nothing more. So again, please do not submit any pages from this book as they will not be accepted.

Membership Application:

Once you feel that you are reasonably sure of your ability to prove your ancestry by way of documentation to Deacon John Dunham, please contact our Historian through our contact page and request a Membership Application Form.  We will email you a Membership Application Form and also request you submit the non-refundable $40.00 membership application fee through your choice of credit card (via PayPal) or personal check.  No application(s) will be started until the application fee is processed. 

Our Historian will begin the genealogical review of your submitted lineage upon receipt of all the necessary documentation you provide via regular postal mail.  The entire process takes about one to two months.  Processing may take longer if there are unprovable documentation issues (documents such as family bible records), at which time we may ask you for additional proof to confirm any family members that are in conflict with current lineages or otherwise unsupportable through our documentation requirements.

Membership Application Fee:

The membership application process is the most important and time-consuming part of gaining membership.  Your certified lineage may take several weeks to several months to complete.  The staff of the John Dunham Society, including the Historian, are part-time positions held by current members.  Research is conducted against our lineage databases to verify all documents. The membership application fee is $40.00 and is NON-REFUNDABLE (Hover mouse here to find out why). Once approved for Society membership, you will receive a certificate suitable for framing.  Your payment of $40 includes a one-year membership for those individuals under the age of 60, and a life-time membership is granted out of respect to our elders above the age of 60. Above/below age 60 will be determined according to the member's date of birth and the date of final approval of membership.  Prior to the end of your one-year membership you will receive an email (as long as you keep your email up to date) reminding you that your membership is about to expire.  At that point you may chose to renew your membership (see below "Extending Your Initial One-Year Membership").

Youth (child) Membership:

Children of Current Members:  Biological parents, who maintain a current and active membership in the John Dunham Society, may wish to obtain a membership for any of their biological children.  A child, for membership age purposes, is an individual under the age of 18. The process for Youth Membership is that the parent requests from our Historian an application showing the child(ren)'s birth information, then submits the application for membership along with a copy of the parent's current approved approved John Dunham Society lineage document.  The child(ren)'s birth certificate/records are not required.  Membership for an approved child(ren) will continue until the child(ren)'s 21st birthday, at which time notification will be made by email and U.S. Postal mail  (as long as the member has maintained a valid email address and home address in our records) that their membership is due for expiration, at which time they (the Youth Member) can decide themselves about renewal.  Again, this application process requires that you submit a copy of your approved lineage along with an application for your child(ren) and the $20 application fee. Children of Past members:  Past members are defined as those members who have not opted into either the Five-Year or Lifetime membership listed below PRIOR to their original one-year membership's expiration.  Past members may also submit an application for their biological child(ren) up to their 18th birthday for a $35.00 application/membership fee.  Membership for an approved child(ren) will continue until the child(ren)'s 21st birthday at which time they (the Youth Member) will be notified by email and U.S. Postal mail  (as long as the member has maintained a valid email address and home address in our records) that their membership is due for expiration, at which time they can decide themselves about renewal. Past members need only submit a copy of their previously approved lineage documents and a copy of their child(ren)'s birth certificate and the $35 application fee.

NOTE:  Membership/application fees are per child.