• Identify a Pennsylvania ancestor.
• Complete the application form.
• Assemble the supporting documentation.
• Prepare a check for the fee of $40 per application payable to GSP-FFP ($40 to be submitted with each individual application).
• Keep a complete copy of your application materials.
• Mail your application to:
First Families of Pennsylvania
Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania
2207 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Once an application is received in the GSP office, it is assigned to a Membership Committee volunteer for review. The volunteers are all trained in verifying lineage society applications. After completing their review, they notify the applicant with review results. If additional materials are needed, applicants are given the opportunity to submit it.
Applications may be submitted at any time during the year. However, only those received by 30 October are guaranteed to be reviewed before the next Annual Meeting in March of the following year. The submitted application and all supporting documents become the property of GSP.
The form is designed to present lineage information and source citations on the same line. Note that the final application form must be computer-generated or typed for legibility. Working versions may be handwritten if desired. You have two choices to print the First Families application form:
1. The first is a PDF document and can be opened and downloaded. You may save the form from your browser (use "Save Page"), if desired. This form can be displayed and printed by most browsers and by Adobe Reader. To use the form, print a blank copy, then fill it out by hand or typewriter. You cannot save additions to the .pdf form.
2. The second form is a RTF document which can be downloaded, and which allows you to type directly onto the form once you have saved it on your computer. If your word processor tells you that this form is read-only, save it under a different name.
The .rft form makes it easier to update your application, because you may save information added to the form and later revise it if needed. The form will print correctly in most word processing programs except WordPad. To use the .rtf form:
You also need to download the FFP Direct Ancestor Chart. As you are completing your application and moving from each generation to the previous one, complete the appropriate lines on this chart. This can be done by hand if you prefer. The chart will show you whether you have strong evidence that links each generation to the one before. Blanks on this chart will tell you that your application is not complete. Submit this chart with your FFP application.
First Families of Pennsylvania, Documentation and Application Procedure
1. Use full names when they are known, and always use the maiden names of female ancestors.
2. To avoid any confusion, dates should be written thus: 2 Dec 1860.
3. In all cases the best possible documentation should be submitted. Official civil records of birth, marriage and death should be used whenever possible. For the generations before civil birth and death records were kept, acceptable proofs include baptismal records, wills, and deeds or court records. Census records may be used to indicate place of birth and approximate birthdates; later census records also indicate relationships within the family.
4. Clear, readable photocopies or scans of all documents are required. Do not send originals. Do not use highlighter. Emphasize pertinent portions of the document by underlining them in red or placing arrows in the margin to draw attention to it.
5. Group the documents and fasten each generation together with a paperclip. Use staples only if multiple pages are part of a single document.
6. Mark each document with a citation that indicates its origin. Include copies of the title and publication pages of all published works.
7. The applicant’s name and address should appear on the reverse of every piece of paper submitted, along with the number of the generation that the document pertains to. Special emphasis should be placed on the document that proves the link between generations. In the more recent generations, this is usually the birth certificate. The document should be marked thus: “Generation 1, male, birth. Generations 1-2 link.”
8. Documents must state the fact that you say that they are proving. Sometimes multiple proofs are necessary for the same event in order to prove both the date and the place. For example, family Bible records may be considered primary evidence of dates, but they usually don’t mention places. Tombstones and cemetery records show the burial place and usually include birth and death dates, but they don’t prove the location of the birth or death.
9. County and church histories may be used to corroborate other documents. Printed family histories are usually not acceptable on their own, but they often contain clues that will lead you to the original proofs, such as deeds and marriage records.
10. Hand-written or computer generated family group sheets and family trees are not acceptable evidence.
11. Tombstone photographs must be accompanied by a transcription of the stone that includes the name and location of the cemetery. Photos of stones can often be found at www.findagrave.com.
12. Letters and diaries are acceptable if they state facts the writer could have known “first hand.” The identity of the writer and date of the document must be indicated.
13. Lineage papers from other societies are not considered documentation, but they do refer you to the original proofs.
14. Foreign language documents must include a translation signed by the translator.
15. Remember that not all proofs will be found on the Internet.
(Photo courtesy of Shamele Jordon; her Great-Great-Grandparents, Bertha and Henry Toomer.)