Two holidays—Flag Day on June 14th and Independence Day on July 4th—commemorate the American Revolution and the creation of the original “Stars and Stripes.” So summertime reminds genealogists of their Revolutionary roots—and often sparks an interest in joining a patriotic lineage society that honor those who played a role in the founding of the United States.
The largest societies for descendants of these patriots are the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) for women and the National Society Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) for men. Both organizations have chapters in every state, as well as other countries. To become a member, an applicant must show lineal (direct bloodline) descent from a patriot who supported the cause for American independence from Great Britain between the years 1775 and 1783.
While every DAR or SAR membership application is different, most can be completed in four general steps:
1. Establish a direct-line pedigree to an ancestor who lived during the Revolutionary War and supported the American cause.
This involves documenting birth, marriage and death information for each generation of the lineage, beginning with the applicant and his or her parents. Continue working back, one generation at a time, to the Revolutionary War era. You’ll also need to provide evidence of the parent/child relationship to link each generation to the one before.
2. Identify and document the ancestor’s specific act of patriotism.
This could have taken the form of military service, civil service or other patriotic activity. For example, a patriot may have provided supplies to the troops or signed an oath of allegiance to new governmental bodies. In many cases, previous society members have documented your ancestor’s deeds.
3. Locate and contact your DAR or SAR chapter.
Local and state chapters offer valuable help for prospective members. They can answer questions about the application process, suggest resources for lineage and patriotic service research, and provide connections to others who share an interest in history, genealogy and service. To find a chapter, click on the Join button on the DAR or SAR website. Then fill out a request.
4. Complete and submit an application with supporting documentation.
Each society has its own application form and guidelines. Staff genealogists at the society’s national headquarters review and approve applications. Again, the assistance of an experienced chapter registrar is invaluable to facilitate the process.
Both the DAR and SAR offer additional resources to assist prospective members. The DAR features an array of free online databases in its Genealogical Research System (GRS) and associated resources. The DAR Library in Washington, DC, offers a huge collection of books, periodicals and in-house databases for researchers. Likewise, SAR operates the SAR Genealogical Research Library in Louisville, Ky. Both libraries offer online catalogs and are open to the public. Learn more about these resources in the “Using DAR.org to Research Early American Ancestors” webinar.
To learn more about researching patriots in your family tree, see the July/August 2019 issue of Family Tree Magazine. In it, you’ll find detailed tips using a variety of resources that can help document your ancestor’s patriotic service, with national and state-by-state links. Use it to chart your course to a successful DAR or SAR application. The issue also includes a guide to unexpected details in vital records, plus tips for rescuing photos from magnetic albums.