Saturday, September 6, 2008
Americans are known for being proud of their heritage and history. Among some of the oldest and proudest organizations are those that tie our personal genealogy to national historical events. For example, the Mayflower Society for descendants of the pilgrims who landed in Massachusetts in 1620. Or, the Sons of the Confederacy for descendants of the men and women who fought with the South during the U.S. Civil War. Or the Daughters of the Mormon Pioneers for descendants whose ancestors crossed the American plains in the 1840s and 50s to settle the Utah Territory.
One of the larger and perhaps most distinguished ancestral organizations in the U.S. is the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, or the DAR. According to the organization's website, "Any woman 18 years or older--regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background--who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution, is eligible for membership." The DAR was founded in 1890 and today boosts more than 165,000 members in 3,000 chapters in the U.S. and overseas.
The DAR's threefold mission is "historical preservation, promotion of education, and encouragement of patriotic endeavor." In addition, members of the DAR volunteer more than 60,000 hours annually to schools and veterans organizations around the country. The DAR is located on 17th Street NW within view of the White House and includes a museum with more than 30,000 artifacts and objects from pre-Industrial America, a concert hall--Constitution Hall--that is available for events throughout the year, and a library described as a "premier genealogical research center...ranked the third most important of national institutions based on the uniqueness of sources."
If you're interested in the American Revolution and this era of American history, the DAR is the place to visit when you're in Washington. As a personal aside, when I was a wee thing, my father took a job one summer filming historical documents for the DAR in their building on 17th Street.
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 08/08