Colonial Dames 17th Century is one of the few lineage societies which has heraldry at the core of its objectives.
Heraldry is the practice of designing, recording, granting and studying armorial bearings, coats of arms and heraldic badges. The precursors of heraldry are found in ancient times including Romans who decorated their shields as a way of identifying their military units. While it is difficult to determine where and when heraldry began, it became common in the High Middle Ages when distinguishing devices on surcoats (coats of arms) and shields replicated images that were already used on banners and seals. A formal system of rules developed into ever more complex forms of heraldry to ensure that each knight's arms were unique.
Although heraldry is nearly 900 years old, it is still in use. While many cities in Europe have their own coats of arms, personal heraldry is awarded to an individual not a family. Colonial Dames 17th Century members trace their heraldry through a proven ancestor to whom arms were granted or confirmed in the past.
The Society has one of the largest collections of Coats of Arms in the country at our National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. It continuously adds to its extensive coats of arms collection, maintaining the original lineage provided by members during the application process.