John Dunham Society


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 and grandchildren of members, as long as the member can prove the child's relationship to their confirmed and approved descendancy lineage record on file.  This is type of membership is youth membership and further details are located below.

A.  First and foremost, membership REQUIRES documentation to prove your lineage.  Birth, marriage, and death records are required for each individual in your lineage.  Documentation approved by the John Dunham Society is the only acceptable proof for membership.  It is extremely important that you follow our documentation policies outlined, in general, on this page and more specifically detailed in our page entitled Required Documentation and Guidance

IMPORTANT REQUIREMENT:    You must download (or otherwise save, AND READ) our Membership Application Submission ChecklistThe checklist contains mandatory requirements for submitting your membership application and the supporting documents to prove your lineage.  You must read this prior to making your application payment as the application payment is non-refundableSo please click HERE.

B.  The John Dunham Society has established an order of priority to help you understand and collect acceptable documentation in order 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 must obtain the individual's 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.  Genealogical "abstracts" are also accepted.  Copies of approved lineages from pilgrim ancestral societies such as the Mayflower Society, and other approved pilgrim societies (Brewster, Warren, NSSDP, etc.) are acceptable.  Read more about Primary Documents in our Required Documentation and Guidance.

NOTE: When all attempts to locate primary documentation on an event of birth, marriage, and death have failed, then (and only then) should you provide secondary documentation on a specific event (birth, marriage, or death).

Secondary Documents - include copies of John Dunham Society 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 visually show married couples and/or children as being buried together and showing that they are the husband, wife, child (son or daughter) of the person also buried at that gravesite. Family bible records showing births, marriages or deaths (and divorces), as long as you have the cover of that bible as well - not just a single page.  Census reports of the United States, or other country, as long as they are in legible English.  Secondary documents ARE NEVER USED ALONE to prove an event.  A single event MUST be corroborated by at least one other separate SECONDARY document from a separate source for each birth, marriage or death event. You cannot use separate year U.S. Census reports to prove a birth date.  Secondary Documents are the 2nd standard to prove your lineage.  All "Secondary Documents" are subject to acceptability by the historian on a case-by-case basisMake sure you read more about Secondary Documents in our Required Documentation and Guidance.

In order to support your submission 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.  Read more about "Other Documents" in our Required Documentation and Guidance.

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, 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 as primary proof of lineage (so please do not expect to use them for our purposes):

  • 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.
  • No "Index" pages from any book.
  • No Geneanet Community Trees Index references or printed pages.

For more information on acceptable documentation, please visit our Required Documentation and Help Page at Required Documentation and Guidance.

If you have any concerns about your lineage (meaning you are not at least 95% sure about your lineage back to Deacon John Dunham), you may want to request a preliminary review of your proposed lineage (optional).  There is no requirement for documentation and we can help you by determining if your purposed lineage is a possible path to certification and how you should proceed after the review is complete - Preliminary Review Form.

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 request our Membership Application Form - here.  We will email you a Membership Application form and then you can start gathering and arranging your documents for submission.  Do not send documents until you have all of them collected as per the "Document Submission Checklist", which we will send you after you request a membership application.  Once you have ALL of your documents collected and have completed filling out your membership application, you can begin sending your completed membership application AND documents to the email given to you when you requested the membership application.  If you want to send your documents via U.S. Postal mail, that is fine and an address will be provided to you in your membership application communication.  Please wait until you have sent us your membership application and documents and have been contacted by the Historian before submitting the non-refundable $60.00 membership application fee through your choice of credit card (via PayPal).  No application(s) will be started until the application fee is processed. 

Our Historian will begin the documenation review of your submitted lineage upon receipt of the membership application and all the necessary documentation you provided.  The entire process takes about one to two months. NOTE: Processing may take longer if there are missing documents, unprovable documentation issues (documents such as family bible records), documents that were stated as unacceptable, or documents that do not satisfactorily the connection of your lineage, 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 and other sources in order to verify all submitted documents.

The membership application fee is $60.00 and is NON-REFUNDABLE (click to find out why).

Once approved for Society membership, you will receive a certificate suitable for framing.  Your payment of $60 is for a life membership.

Youth (Child) Membership:

A child, for membership age purposes, is an individual under the age of 18.

Youth membership for children or grandchildren is a family-boosting effort that can serve many purposes.  It is always important that our children not only learn about history, but become part of it.  It is just as important that they learn about their own family history, especially since it goes back to the beginnings of America, OUR COUNTRY!  You have the opportunity to share your genealogical research and family history with your children by presenting them with their own lineage form and frameable certificate for their room.

The process for Youth Membership is similar to that of a regular applicant, with the difference being whether the parent has already been certified through The John Dunham Society or not, as the fees for processing are understandably different.  


1.  Children (or Grandchildren) of Members:  The current member contacts our Historian to request that a membership application be prepared for their child(ren) or grandchild(ren).  A $25.00 fee is required for each application/membership process.  During the process, we will request that you submit the appropriate documentation proving the youth's relationship to you (the member).  We will prepare the lineage/application form for your signature.  Upon completion and approval, we will mail you a certification of your child's lineage form and frameable certificate!

2.  Children of Non-Members:  This process will be the same as applying for a full membership.  A $60.00 fee is required for application/membership processing.  Please go to the top of this page for membership requirements.

NOTE:  Membership/application fees are per child.  If a grandchild request is made, then appropriate documentation is required for both parents (birth & marriage).   If you have questions about anything herein, please contact us through our Contact Form HERE and request a membership application.