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The word, lineage means line of descent. In genealogy, it refers to one's line of descent from a single person. The term refers to the sons and daughters and all who follow in the direct line of a common ancestor. Where ancestry refers collectively to all ancestors, so does lineage refer collectively to all descendants. And where pedigree charts go back in time, lineage charts go forward in time. Many genealogy programs are designed to print lineages, showing all the descendants of a single ancestor.

A lineage society is the same as a hereditary or heritage society, in which membership depends on one's ability to prove a direct line of descent from a qualifying ancestor, i.e. Mayflower Descendants, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), etc. The purpose of published genealogies is to trace a the continuous line of descent from a single common ancestor.

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