Membership Criteria

Hereditary members of the Society of the Cincinnati are qualified male descendants of commissioned officers who served in the Continental Army or Navy and their French counterparts. Most American hereditary members belong to the Constituent Society of which their ancestors were members or the Constituent Society in the state in which their ancestors’ military units were organized.

Eligible Officers

The Institution of the Society of the Cincinnati, adopted in 1783, specified that admission was open to commissioned officers in the Continental and French service who had served to the end of the war, who had resigned with honor after a minimum of three years’ service as a commissioned officer, and the sons of those who died in service. It also provided for the admission of commissioned officers who had been involuntarily separated from the army in a reorganization involving the merging of two or more units, known then as Derangement.

The list of eligible officers who are not currently represented in the Society of the Cincinnati can be found here. Membership in the Society is open to descendents of these officers or, if the line has died out, a sibling.

Note that the person must have served as a commissioned officer in the Continental Army or Navy or their French counterparts. Service as an officer in a state militia did not qualify for admission to the Society of the Cincinnati.

Eldest Qualified Male Descendent

In today’s Society, each commissioned officer is represented by a single male descendant of good moral standing, who remains a Hereditary Member for life, with the right of succession in that family line until extinguished.

For those lines of descent that are not currently represented, the State Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania will consider application by the best qualified male descendant of good moral standing, as follows:

  1. Following the principles of primogeniture, the Society will give preference for membership to the line of the eldest male descendant.
  2. In those cases where the eldest male line has been extinguished, descent through a collateral male or female line will be considered.
  3. In cases where no living descendant remains, membership can be offered to descendants of a sibling of the commissioned officer.

If you are interested in applying, please review our Genealogical Requirements.


To us, membership means more than having the right ancestors. We are looking for members who will be engaged with the work of the Society: Protecting the legacy and principles of the heroes of the Revolutionary War, promoting good works, and practicing good fellowship among our members. Regular participation in or financial support of the activities and programs of the Society is expected of our members.

Joining in the work and experiencing the fellowship of the Society is the whole point of being a member.