I have heard from several applicants lately who were confused about some of the documentation requirements. Let me see if I can clarify what the Historian General wants from you.
1. The last three generations must be sourced with primary documentation. This means both the line carriers and spouses. If you have folk in these generations who were born before states kept vital records, then other primary records need to be found. If you have problems with these generations, please contact us for advice.
2. All other names, dates and events in your lineage should be sourced with primary documents if at all possible. You need to get birth, marriage and death certificates for all events since the state in which they occurred began requiring such documents (no one said this would be an inexpensive process). You may use secondary sources when primary cannot be found. I have had several applicants tell me “but I thought I only needed primary sources for the last three generations” - that is NOT true! You always want primary documentation if you can get it! This means real death certificates, not death indices. If there is an index, then there is a real document out there!
3. When you can only find secondary sources, you always want at least two for each fact (and more can be better). Census records are an excellent addition to any documentation, particularly when you can find the individual in the home of his/her parents. The 1900 census is also really helpful because it has a date of birth.
4. You do need to provide documentation of multiple marriages. This is particularly true for women and doubly so if she is the line carrier. It needs to be crystal clear to the Historian General that the Mary Smith who married John Doe and was the mother of the next person in your lineage, is the same person as Mary Rogers on her death certificate after she remarried. It the multiple marriages are in the last 3 generations, you need to provide at a minimum the marriage certificates and divorce decrees if applicable, and ideally the birth (and death) info on the additional spouses. For earlier generations, the marriage record may be sufficient.
5. You do NOT need to provide any additional documentation for the first five generations (sourced to one of the MF or MFIP books). You also do NOT need to send any documentation that we already have in another file.
The most important part of your documentation is proving that each line carrier is the child of the parents you list. If you can’t convince the Historian General that you have an unbroken line, your application will not be accepted.