Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
Heritage societies, also known as lineage or hereditary societies, are groups of people bound by a common historical context or event. National and international societies are commonly divided into local chapters, each of which may undertake or participate in certain projects. Membership is typically restricted to those who can prove a direct line of descent to a common ancestor. One of the most widely recognized societies is the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Heritage societies not only provide fellowship and a common interest for members, but also serve individual communities and the world at large in a number of ways beneficial ways, through their research, publications, and museums.
Genealogists owe a debt of gratitude to heritage societies and other genealogical societies. Heritage societies conduct extensive original research within their range of interest and make that research available to the public through publications. Yet, society publications are an often overlooked resource in genealogy. Heritage society publications are often available for sale and can be researched at a number of libraries, and considerable information is now available on society web sites. In addition, many heritage societies host conferences and seminars, promote scholarship, civic duty, and patriotism.