Is there anything more American than the DAR?
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, with more than 170,000 members, is one of the largest women’s organizations in the United States.
Don’t let the white-gloved, tea-sipping stereotype fool you. DAR supports education, historic preservation and patriotism through service to active military, veterans and new citizens.
Members are as young as 18, and many are involved, well-educated and accomplished women. They encourage good citizenship by recognizing outstanding students and community members and sponsor the time-honored history essay contests for students. They collect comfort items for VA hospitals and mark historic properties for future generations.
DAR grew out of the late-nineteenth-century fervor of the Colonial Revival after the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia. Millions attended and suddenly the art and architecture, personal possessions, and histories of our founders became American treasures to preserve.
The period was one of national divide not so unlike our current time. First Lady Caroline Harrison and others sought a way to unify Northern and Southern ladies who shared a common heritage through the War for Independence. On Oct. 11, 1890, four women representing New York, Illinois, West Virginia and Kentucky met in Washington, DC and elected Mrs. Harrison as their first President General.
Like so many ladies before me, I set out to find my own American patriot in the aftermath of the American bicentennial of 1976. I joined the John Hoyle Chapter of DAR three years later, having documented my lineage to Wilkison Lane, a soldier from Bedford, PA.
Since then I’ve proven my descent from six more Revolutionary War ancestors and have served as a state chairman and chapter regent.
I’m currently chapter registrar, helping prospective members to complete their paperwork. The challenge is to prove direct descent from a person who served the American Cause either through military service or public service such as contributing supplies or treating the wounded. The documentation process can involve sleuthing through Bibles, wills, church records, books, vital records and more.
The society, headquartered in Washington, DC, maintains a renowned library and museum open free to the public. DAR Constitution Hall is a world-class performance venue.
DAR is growing, by the way. The year 2013 saw 13,906 members were added to the rolls, an all-time record. Members are women who can prove direct lineal descent from a patriot who aided the American Cause from 1775 to 1782. Members join without regard to race, religion, creed or ethnic group.
Our 103-member chapter now has ten prospective members working on their papers.
As registrar I’ll help host a prospective members’ tea on April 2 at Maple Grove. If you or anyone you know is interested in DAR, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.