In his report to the SCV’s National Leadership Conference Adjutant-in-Chief Steve Ritchie noted the following:
Adjutant Ritchie then announced what he claimed would be a controversial fact, that there is no national constitutional requirement for proof of lineage/descent from a Confederate veteran for membership in the SCV. The membership packet required at national SCV headquarters includes a completed application, a check and preferably a type written summary of the applicants information but no paperwork for descent documentation is required by national headquarters. Membership records are kept as hardcopies at SCV National headquarters. SCV National does no genealogy verification. The application requires camp officer signatures to substantiate membership satisfaction and camp requirements vary. Compiled service records are sometimes illegible or inaccurate and many were lost during the War especially when towns were burned and razed such as in Sherman’s march. Additional resources include the American Civil War Research database and Broadfoot’s records of Confederate veterans. UCV and pension records are additional resources. He highlighted that how an ancestor was separated or location of his burial may be unknown and don’t get hung up on those details when completing the application.
You have to wonder why this point was raised and whether it will lead to changes in recruitment policy on the local level. Dispensing with the lineage requirement in what is clearly the most vocal Confederate heritage organization would certainly make it easier to fill the ranks and even branch out to welcome the descendants of all those loyal black soldiers, who we can’t quite match up with wartime records. Apparently, we can blame Sherman for the lack of records. At the same time it could undercut the organization’s own claims to authority based largely on their lineal descent. We will have to see how this plays out.