The Mayflower Descendant was created by George Ernest Bowman, the founder of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants and the father of Mayflower genealogy. The first issue appeared in 1899 and stopped with Volume 34 in 1937, four years before Bowman died. The journal was a quarterly published annually. It was not published in 1926 to 1929, and 1936. The Depression forced the Society to cease the journal that it had been sending free to all its members. Bowman also edited Pilgrim Notes and Queries from 1913 to 1917 as an adjunct to the journal that was published eight times a year and included much of the same material as the journal (some journal serialized articles were carried here).
The focus of the journal was the transcription or abstractions of original records that were not available to the general public. Many important documents have been preserved in text and photographs within the pages of the journal. Some of the first critical analyses of genealogical problems were discussed and some of them solved.
Alicia Crane Williams revived the journal in 1985. The new journal was published in an 8-1/2" by 11" format. Williams continued abstracting a wide variety of important documents to help researchers of Mayflower lineages. She also added compiled genealogies for families in southern New England. She edited the journal as two 96-page issues until Volume 48 (1998).
Scott Andrew Bartley took over as editor of the prestigious journal with Volume 49 (2000). Bartley resumed the standard journal size of 6" by 9" format. Bartley has continued the fine work of Williams which maintains the highest quality of genealogical scholarship. New features include "Seen Elsewhere" that notes Mayflower noteworthy articles in other journals and an extensive book review section that highlights works covering New England - Maritimes - New York resources, colonial subjects, and indexes-guides-abstracts of statewide records. Also, many corrections and additions to the Mayflower Families series, the "Silver Books," are found here. He edited the journal through Volume 59 (2010).
Caleb H. Johnson is the current editor starting with Volume 60 (2011). He has long been active in historical and genealogical research that focuses on Plymouth Colony. With that expertise, the journal will focus on these areas on new research, corrections to the Mayflower Families series, and "Seen Elsewhere." He has created a team of contributing editors (Jeremy Dupertius Bangs and Simon Neal) and assistant editors (James W. Baker, Scott Andrew Bartley, and Alicia Crane Williams) to help create the best journal possible.
Comments by other editors ...
"The Mayflower Descendant is essential for New England research. Its subject matter is far
"[A]n essential journal for Plymouth Colony, Cape Cod, and Mayflower families,
"Begun in 1899 ... this venerable journal is published twice a year and focuses
To ORDER your subscriptions or get back issues (v. 35  to present), download the form here.
To learn more about articles appearing in the journal since 2000 with links to full text to some articles, see the Contents page.
To view the indexes to published issues, see the Index page. [a future link]
To see a listing of all reviews alphabetically by author, see the Book Reviews page.
The journal is made up of articles submitted by readers like you. Have you solved a sticky problem that had nothing in print to help or, perhaps, corrected an often repeated error in print or online? If so, we want to hear from you. Please consider sharing your discovery with others through writing an article for the Mayflower Descendant. Do not worry if you have never written an article before. The editors are here to assist you through the entire process. To learn more, please read the page regarding submissions and writing style: Guide to the Mayflower Descendant Style. If you have further questions, contact the editor.
The "old" Mayflower Descendant volumes, v. 1  to v. 34 , were reprinted in softcover by Heritage Books [some hardcovers may be available]. Many volumes are still available on their website.
The Mayflower Descendant, v. 1  to v. 34 , were also scanned, indexed, and published on CD. This CD is no longer available. The New England Historic Genealogical Society is scanning and reindexing these older volumes. Their database access is by subscription. Visit their website for more information. From this website's contents page, you can find a list of articles from v. 35  to v. 48  with links to download the individual articles as printable pdf files.
© Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, 2012
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Page updated 13 July 2012