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Joining the Society


Anyone who can prove direct descent from at least one Indiana pioneer is eligible for regular or junior membership in The Society of Indiana Pioneers.

An Indiana Pioneer is one who lived within the present boundary of most Indiana counties on or before December 31, 1840.

However, if the Indiana Pioneer lived within the present boundary of one of the following counties, they must have lived there on or before December 31, 1850: Adams, Benton, Blackford, DeKalb, Fulton, Howard, Jasper, Jay, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lake, LaPorte, Marshall, Newton, Noble, Porter, Pulaski, Starke, Steuben, Tipton, Wells, White, or Whitley.

Membership application form

Download the Society of Indiana Pioneers Membership Application

The membership application is a fillable PDF form that may be completed on your computer and then printed (be sure to save the file periodically under a different name, perhaps the name of your Indiana Pioneer). If you manually fill in the application, please print or type plainly in black ink. Please do not use a highlighter on your documentation materials; underlining is preferred.

A separate document with instructions on completing the form is available here.

Mail the completed membership application, required documentation materials, and a check payable to the “Society of Indiana Pioneers” to:

The Society of Indiana Pioneers
attn: Genealogist
140 N. Senate Ave.
Indianapolis IN 46204-2207

If you are mailing a single application, the fee is $50.00, which covers the application fee and your first year’s dues. The application and required documentation will be checked, and additional documentation will be requested if necessary.

Other eligible pioneer ancestral lines may be added at any time upon approval of an additional application and payment of the required fee ($15.00 per additional ancestral line). Use the same membership application form (downloadable using the button above) and check the “Additional Line” box. The requirements are the same as those for the original ancestor. However, you do not need to send copies of documents already in Society files. Under “Proof,” give adequate reference to the previously approved ancestor(s) (for example, “Application of John Doe”).

Membership fees

  • Application fee (single ancestor): $25.00
  • Annual membership dues: $25.00
  • Additional ancestral lines (per ancestor): $15.00
  • Sustaining membership dues: $35.00
  • Life membership: $600.00
  • Junior membership dues (members under age 18): $10.00

A membership card will be issued upon acceptance of the application. If desired, a membership certificate (suitable for framing) showing the member’s name, their ancestor’s name, and the date of issuance may be purchased for an additional $15.00.

Documenting your application

All submitted documents must be readable. Send photocopies or certified copies. Please do not staple pages together; all documentation is scanned and filed with your application in the Society’s permanent files.

Please refer to the “Frequently asked questions” below for details on required documentation.

Note that pedigree (family tree) charts and family group charts are not sufficient. Use them as guides to your records and to help you find the documents needed to prove your statements.

Frequently asked questions

I have all my names, dates, and places. What do I need to provide as documentation, and why is it necessary?

Please start with your own generation and provide birth, marriage, and any death records that are necessary to document your own generation.

  • A birth certificate will confirm your birth date and also give an important link back to the previous generation.
  • Each previous generation should attempt to document the birth, marriage, and death of each generation. Keep in mind that it is also important to provide some type of linking document that ties that generation back to the prior generation.
  • Different types of documentation include:
    • Birth, marriage, and death certificates.
    • Wills and deeds are often used to document links between generations. The family relationship needs to be clearly proven.
    • Census records where relationships are defined as fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. Early census records (1850-1870) list family unit names but do not clearly give family relationships. If you use one of the earlier census records, it will be helpful to provide some other types of documentation.
    • Naturalization records, passenger lists, and coast records giving specific information are wonderful sources.
    • Family bibles are excellent sources when they have been filled in by the head of that family.
    • Obituaries can work as documentation when specific dates, names, and relationships are given. Please copy the obituary onto an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper so that it does not get lost. Also, note the name of the newspaper, the date of the obituary, and the town and state where it appeared.
    • Family history books and county history books will only be accepted if they are properly cited with their sources. Please contact the genealogist if you have a question about this type of documentation.
    • Tombstone photos are helpful to provide dates and possibly relationships. It is suggested that you copy the photo onto an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper so that it does not get lost. If it is hard to read, please type or write the information that is found on the tombstone.

If you have questions, feel free to contact the office, and your question will be forwarded to the genealogist.

If I have been previously approved by DAR, SAR, or some other lineage society, can I just send in a copy of my approved application?

While we recognize the stringent requirements for various lineage societies, we do request that applicants go ahead and make copies of the documentation that they used for a previously approved application and mail it in with their Society of Indiana Pioneer application. We are a small lineage society and would like to have our documentation available for future generations. You might think of it as placing your family history in multiple places for safekeeping. While we are very careful to keep recent generations private, it is wonderful when we are able to provide valuable information to someone starting their family research into their early ancestors. Think of it as making our society a repository of Indiana pioneer history.

Do I need copies of the original documents, or will transcribed records be sufficient?

Either one will be accepted. If you are sending a transcribed record, please include a copy of the title page so that it would be possible to find that record in the future.

Should I highlight the pertinent information?

Please do not use highlighter since, over time, it will fade, and when making digital copies, it makes the information hard to read.

  • It is helpful to have the important information underlined with a red pen or pencil. That way, the genealogist is certain to see the information that you have pointed out.

How do you like to see dates written?

The clearest way to write a date is the following: 31 Dec 1840.

If I have a relative who is already a member of the Society of Indiana Pioneers, do I need to locate all the documentation again?

No! Go ahead and fill in all the names, dates, and places for each generation, but in the source section for each generation, enter something similar to the following: “See the 2008 application of John Doe for ancestor Jane Doe.”

  • You will need to provide documentation for your own generation as described above, along with documentation for each generation back until you have “tied” into your relative’s approved application.
  • For example, if you have a grandfather who is a member and you would like to join, you would need to provide the birth and marriage information for your generation and the birth, marriage, and death information for the previous generation. Either the birth certificate or a death certificate for Generation #2 should then tie into your grandfather’s application since it would list parents.
  • Don’t forget to go ahead and enter the names, dates, and places for each generation back to the ancestor! That will help for future generations.

Why should I check the online Index of Ancestors on the Indiana Society of Pioneers website?

It is always a great way to get started! We continually update this Index, and if you are fortunate enough to find your ancestor listed, you may contact the office, and the genealogist will gladly check previous applications to see what type of information is available on your ancestor. Remember, this Society has been in existence since 1916, and with over 8,000 ancestors, there has been a large amount of information submitted!

Why should I encourage my family members and friends to join the Society of Indiana Pioneers?

That’s an easy one to answer! This lineage society is a wonderful way to pay tribute to our pioneer ancestors who braved the unknown wilderness for the prospect of providing a better home for their families. For a few members, their ancestors played a well-celebrated role in our state and have been recognized in many ways over the years. For the vast majority of Indiana pioneers, the recognition that they have received has been the knowledge that they worked hard and grew their families. The Society of Indiana Pioneers is a wonderful way to pay tribute to these ancestors of ours, well-known or not, and to make sure that their contributions to our wonderful state are not forgotten.

It is also important to consider our archives as a repository for Indiana genealogy. Your research and documentation will be preserved for future generations.

Where is the Society of Indiana Pioneers office located, and can I talk with someone in person?

We are located on the 1st floor of the Indiana State Library in the Genealogy room. We have a corner that is divided by filing cabinets on the south side of the room. The office manager is available on a part-time basis, usually Monday and Wednesday mornings. Please call (317) 441-8293 or email to check times. The genealogist is happy to assist you. Please call the office and leave a message. or send an email to set up an appointment.