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Twigs & Trees with Rhonda: Daughters of the American Revolution
by Rhonda R. McClure

May 24, 2001
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

The Daughters of the American Revolution are a pillar in the genealogical community. Much of what we use in the form of transcribed records is directly attributable to the DAR and the many projects they have spearheaded over the years.

I would hate to think how many indexes, transcribed cemeteries, and other valuable resources would not exist if we did not have the efforts of the DAR to fall back on. They have even undertaken the maintaining of certain historical edifices.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the DAR.

My First Experience with the DAR

It is possible that I was always destined to become a genealogist. I just chose to ignore the writing on the wall. However, my first experience with the DAR was when I was a small child.

About a block from my house was a recreation of the General John Stark home. It was maintained by the Molly Stark Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In order to help out in the house, it was necessary to be a member of this local chapter of the DAR. My grandmother joined the DAR so that she could be involved with this historical place.

I can remember going to the Stark House with my grandmother on many occasions. Growing up in school, it was not unusual for me to do reports on General John Stark, helped out by the information supplied in books and other items through the General John Stark home and the DAR chapter.

I live quite far away now, but I have some postcards of the house and my memories of that time, and a lifelong passion for history and genealogy. I owe this largely to my grandmother and also to the DAR.

What is the DAR?

The Daughters of the American Revolution is one of many lineage societies. These societies differ from general genealogy societies in that you must prove your eligibility in order to become a member. Each of these societies requires a different approach, though they all have some application form. The application forms are similar in that you must show your relationship from yourself back to the ancestor you are claiming under the rules of the lineage society.

Founded on 11 October 1890, the society was incorporated by an Act of Congress in 1896. Since that time their efforts on behalf of history and genealogy have been astounding.

The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution has a library in Washington, DC. It is open to the public and houses an impressive collection. You can search their library catalog online. Their collection houses 160,000 books on American genealogy and local history. They have 300,000 genealogical files and manuscripts and over 60,000 microfilms of census, military, and other records.

Joining the DAR

Joining the Daughters of the American Revolution is approached through the local level. You will need to find a member of your local society. Of course, this requires first locating your local society. The first step in accomplishing this is to visit the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution's Web site, and select their State and Chapters page.

The State and Chapters page includes links to those chapters with Web sites. This is not a complete list of the chapters. If you do not find a local chapter through this list, you may need to contact your local genealogical society. They often have the address, meeting times, and contact information for the local chapter of DAR.

You will also want to fill out the "Prospective Member Information Request Form" available online. This will mail specifically requested information to the National office and may also be of use in determining where and when your local chapter meets, thus facilitating the necessary step of contacting a local member.

When filling out the above mentioned form, be sure to include the information they request about the potential ancestor you think fulfills their eligibility requirements. Remember that it is not only soldiers who are considered to fulfill acceptable service. You will find a complete list of acceptable service on the main membership page.

In Conclusion

Be sure to spend some time reading about the society and their goals and activities when you visit the site for the National Society. This will give you insight into the driving force of the DAR. They really have been a moving force in genealogy and we, present day researchers, owe them a debt of gratitude.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at rhondagen@thegenealogist.com.

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