The online research site American Ancestors, from the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), has just released the largest collection of authenticated Mayflower passenger genealogies ever online.
This database is a digitized version of the Mayflower Families Fifth Generation Descendants, 1700-1880, a series of books created by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants and featuring more than a half a million names of individuals who are known to have descended from those who took part in the pivotal voyage.
Also known as the Silver Books, this collection is the most respected and well-documented source for research on Mayflower ancestry available.
NEHGS says about the new offering:
This exclusive database offers meticulous documentation for the fifth generation of Mayflower families who arrived in 1620 and left descendants. You will find information for the descendants of John Alden, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, William Bradford, William Brewster, Peter Brown, James Chilton, Francis Cooke, Edward Doty, Francis Eaton, Edward Fuller, Samuel Fuller, Stephen Hopkins, John Howland, Richard More, William Mullins, Degory Priest, Thomas Rogers, Henry Samson, Myles Standish, John Tilley, Richard Warren, William White, and Edward Winslow.
They do also note that the George Soule Mayflower Families in Progress and the books for John Howland, from another publisher, are not included.
To see the full records for this collection, which include birth, marriage, death and deed information – as well as details on individual descendants’ spouses and children, you will need to be a member of the nonprofit NEHGS. Signing up is a simple online process and will give you access to 1.4 billion names from many early American collections.
The database can still be useful to you even if you don’t have a membership, however, since American Ancestors will allow you to search the collection for free – displaying names, as well as the book titles those names are found in.
To start a search visit this page and enter the information you know (such as the name of a great, great grandparent you suspect may be a Mayflower descendant). You will then see results like the ones below.
Remember that this collection deals with individuals who lived between 1700 and 1880, so search accordingly.
Note the book name on the right, this will tell you which individual your ancestor was potentially descended from.
Of course, it is difficult to determine if you have a match with only a name. Click on that name and scroll all the way down on the new page (on mobile) or look to the sidebar on this new page (on desktop) for a list of additional people found on that same book page.
These individuals, who are likely relatives of your ancestor, will give you a better idea if the entry is, in fact, your person of interest.
If you do find someone you think is a match it will be well worth it to sign up for membership to view the full record. The New England Historic Genealogical Society is a great organization to support and, as mentioned, you’ll gain access to a wealth of additional materials in addition to this collection.
Here is what you will see if you have a membership with the NEHGS. In this case we are presented with birth information, as well as parental details.
Additional information about Lewis and his relatives can be found on the associated, scanned book page.
Do also read the pages before and after a presented page for additional information, and remember that an ancestor could appear on more than one page, or in more than one book.
The cited sources at the bottom of each page also provide valuable clues and collections that could turn up new information about your ancestors. Some of these records can even be found online on the American Ancestors site.
For more help researching your Mayflower ancestry read our short guide on the topic here and also explore the NEHGS page for Mayflower research here.