Membership Eligibility


Thomas Sully portrait of four generations of the Alexander family, ancestors of Dames from Chapter X-Rome and Chapter I-Baltimore.


The Society of Colonial Dames of America shall be composed entirely of women who are descended from some ancestor of worthy life who within the period beginning with the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, May 13, 1607, and extending to, but not including, the Battle of Lexington April 19, 1775, served one or more of the thirteen original Colonies:


  • By holding public office in the government thereof;
  • By holding a commission in the armed forces thereof; or,
  • By otherwise serving one or more of said Colonies in the capacities specified in the Eligibility List


Membership in The Colonial Dames of America is by invitation only.

2019 Rededication of the restored Jamestown entrance gates originally donated by CDA in 1907


Thank you for your interest in joining The Colonial Dames of America. Please see below for frequently asked questions on membership eligibility and the membership process.


Q: I have ancestors from the Colonial era! Can I join the Colonial Dames?

Membership to The Colonial Dames of America (CDA) is by invitation only. Current members must propose prospective members to their chapter in order for the prospective members to be considered for membership. Membership is first a social process, followed by a lineage process.


Q: Where are CDA chapters currently located?

View the full list of chapters here.


Q: What are the lineage requirements? Do any ancestors from the Colonial era count?

Ancestors meet certain criteria to be considered eligible. To see a list of qualifying service that has already been approved for ancestors, please view the Ancestor Service Eligibility list by colony [PDF] or the list of Colonial Women of Distinction.


Q: A current member of the Colonial Dames wants to invite me. How do I become a candidate?

Each chapter has a slightly different process for proposing and accepting new members. In general, proposing a new member is a three step process:


  1. Prospective members attend one or more CDA events.
  2. Prospective members meet two or more members of their potential Chapter Board or Membership Committee.
  3. Prospective members have two letters submitted by current members on her behalf to the Chapter Board or Membership Committee.


After the prospective member has met the chapter’s requirements and a qualifying ancestor has been identified, the Chapter Board will review her letters and official vote on whether to accept her as a candidate. The proposer and seconder are the principal guides and cheerleaders through the entire process.


Q: I’m not sure if I currently know a CDA member. How can I connect further?

Reach out to your current network – you might find someone that is already is a member and is willing to propose you and guide you through the membership process.


Q: My relative is a Dame. Can they propose me?

Per CDA by-laws, neither the proposer nor the seconder can be related to the candidate or to each other. Your relative will likely have members in mind that you can meet and that will be happy to work with you on the membership process.


Relatives of direct lineal descent (i.e., daughter, granddaughter, niece, great-niece, sister) can be sponsored as Daughter Dames (age 25 and younger), which waives the proposing requirement.


Q: I’ve been accepted as a candidate! How do I become a member?

Once approved as a candidate by the Chapter Board/Membership Board, the process of membership will be taken over by the Chapter Registrar. She will guide you through the claims process, including filling out an Ancestor Approval Form and a Membership Application. Once the submitted forms are approved, you will be formally become a member.


If you have any additional questions about the membership process or membership eligibility, please reach out to your prospective chapter’s Membership Chair or Registrar.