Daughters of the American Revolution

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Daughters of the American Revolution
National Society Daughters of the American Revolution
Constitution Hall.jpg
DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC
AbbreviationDAR / NSDAR
MottoGod, Home, and Country
FoundedOctober 11, 1890; 130 years ago (1890-10-11)
February 20, 1896 (incorporation)
FounderMary Desha, Mary Smith Lockwood, Ellen Hardin Walworth, and Eugenia Washington
FocusHistoric preservation, education, patriotism
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., United States
Key people
DAR President General
PublicationAmerican Spirit Magazine, Daughters Magazine
AffiliationsChildren of the American Revolution

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is a lineage-based membership service organization for women who are directly descended from a person involved in the United States' efforts towards independence.[1] A non-profit group, they promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism. The organization's membership is limited to direct lineal descendants of soldiers or others of the Revolutionary period who aided the cause of independence; applicants must have reached 18 years of age and are reviewed at the chapter level for admission. The DAR has over 185,000 current members[2] in the United States and other countries.[3] Its motto is "God, Home, and Country".[4][5][6]


The Founders of the Daughters of the American Revolution sculpture honors the four founders of the DAR.
Julia Green Scott in 1913, DAR President General

In 1889 the centennial of President George Washington's inauguration was celebrated, and Americans looked for additional ways to recognize their past. Out of the renewed interest in United States history, numerous patriotic and preservation societies were founded. On July 13, 1890, after the Sons of the American Revolution refused to allow women to join their group, Mary Smith Lockwood published the story of patriot Hannah White Arnett in The Washington Post, asking, "Where will the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution place Hannah Arnett?"[7] On July 21 of that year, William O. McDowell, a great-grandson of Hannah White Arnett, published an article in The Washington Post offering to help form a society to be known as the Daughters of the American Revolution.[7] The first meeting of the society was held August 9, 1890.[7]

The first DAR chapter was organized on October 11, 1890,[8] at the Strathmore Arms, the home of Mary Smith Lockwood, one of the DAR's four co-founders. Other founders were Eugenia Washington, a great-grandniece of George Washington, Ellen Hardin Walworth, and Mary Desha. They had also held organizational meetings in August 1890.[9] Other attendees in October were Sons of the American Revolution members Registrar General Dr. George Brown Goode, Secretary General A. Howard Clark, William O. McDowell (SAR member #1), Wilson L. Gill (secretary at the inaugural meeting), and 18 other people.

The First Lady, Caroline Lavina Scott Harrison, wife of President Benjamin Harrison, lent her prestige to the founding of DAR, and served as its first President General. Having initiated a renovation of the White House, she was interested in historic preservation. She helped establish the goals of DAR, which was incorporated by congressional charter in 1896.

In this same period, such organizations as the Colonial Dames of America, the Mary Washington Memorial Society, Preservation of the Virginia Antiquities, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and Sons of Confederate Veterans were also founded. This was in addition to numerous fraternal and civic organizations flourishing in this period.


The DAR is structured into three Society levels: National Society, State Society, and Chapter. A State Society may be formed in any US State, the District of Columbia, or other countries that are home to at least one DAR Chapter. Chapters can be organized by a minimum of 12 members, or prospective members, who live in the same city or town.[10]

Each Society or Chapter is overseen by an executive board composed of a variety of officers. National level officers are: President General, First Vice President General, Chaplain General, Recording Secretary General, Corresponding Secretary General, Organizing Secretary General, Treasurer General, Registrar General, Historian General, Librarian General, Curator General, and Reporter General, to be designated as Executive Officers, and twenty-one Vice Presidents General. These officers are mirrored at the State and Chapter level, with a few changes: instead of a President General, States and Chapters have Regents, the twenty-one Vice Presidents General become one Second Vice Regent position, and the title of "General" is replaced by the title of either "State" or "Chapter". Example: First Vice President General becomes State First Vice Regent.[11]

Historic programs[edit]

The DAR chapters raised funds to initiate a number of historic preservation and patriotic endeavors. They began a practice of installing markers at the graves of Revolutionary War veterans to indicate their service, and adding small flags at their gravesites on Memorial Day.

Other activities included commissioning and installing monuments to battles and other sites related to the War. The DAR recognized women patriots' contributions as well as those of soldiers. For instance, they installed a monument at the site of a spring where Polly Hawkins Craig and other women got water to use against flaming arrows, in the defense of Bryan Station (present-day Lexington, Kentucky).

In addition to installing markers and monuments, DAR chapters have purchased, preserved, and operated historic houses and other sites associated with the war.

DAR Hospital Corps (Spanish-American War, 1898)[edit]

The U.S. military did not have an affiliated group of nurses to treat servicemembers during wartime. At the onset of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the U.S. Army appointed Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee as Acting Assistant Surgeon to select educated and experienced nurses to work for the Army. As Vice President of the DAR (who also served as NSDAR's first Librarian General), Dr. McGee founded the DAR Hospital Corps to vet applicants for nursing positions. The DAR Hospital Corps certified 1,081 nurses for service during the Spanish–American War. DAR later funded pensions for many of these nurses who did not qualify for government pensions. Some of the DAR-certified nurses were trained by the American Red Cross, and many others came from religious orders such as the Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Mercy, and Sisters of the Holy Cross.[12][13] These nurses served the U.S. Army not only in the United States but also in Cuba and the Philippines during the war. They paved the way for the eventual establishment—with Dr. McGee's assistance—of the Army Nurse Corps in 1901.[14]

Textbook committees[edit]

During the 1950s, statewide chapters of the DAR took an interest in reviewing school textbooks for their own standards of suitability. In Texas, the statewide "Committee on Investigations of Textbooks" issued a report in 1955 identifying 59 textbooks currently in Texas public schools that had "socialistic slant" or "other deficiencies" including references to "Soviet Russia" in the Encyclopedia Britannica.[15] In 1959, the Mississippi chapter's "National Defense Committee" undertook a state lobbying effort that secured an amendment to state law which added "lay" members to the committee reviewing school textbooks. A DAR board member was appointed to one of the seats.[16]

Other historic accomplishments[edit]

  • The DAR Museum was founded in 1890 as a repository for family treasures. Today, the museum contains over 30,000 historical relics that form a collective memory of the decorative and fine arts in America from 1700–1850.
  • The DAR Library was founded in 1896 as a collection of genealogical and historical publications for the use of staff genealogists verifying application papers for the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Shortly after 1900 the growing collection was opened to the public and has remained so ever since.
  • During the Spanish–American War, DAR purchased a ship's tender for the USS Missouri to be used as a hospital launch for transporting the wounded from shore to ship.
  • To help with the war effort during World War I, DAR loaned its National Headquarters land to the United States. The federal government used the land to erect a temporary war office building that provided office space for 600 people.
  • After World War I, DAR funded the reconstruction of the water system in the village of Tilloloy, France, and donated more than $130,000 for the support of 3,600 French war orphans.
  • DAR provided materials for sewing, wood, and leatherwork to the immigrants detained for processing on Ellis Island. This helped to alleviate the depression and anxiety of these men and women who were strangers in a new land.
  • [17] In 1921, DAR compiled and published the "DAR Manual for Citizenship." DAR distributed this guide to American immigrants at Ellis Island and other ports of entry. To date, more than 10 million manuals have been distributed.
  • From November 1921 until February 1922, world leaders met in DAR Memorial Continental Hall for the Conference on Limitation of Armaments, a groundbreaking meeting for peace.
  • The Americana Collection, founded in the early 1940s, brought together rare manuscripts and imprints previously scattered among the holdings of the DAR Museum and DAR Library. Today, the collection flourishes from more than 60 years of actively seeking out and acquiring artifacts that reflect a unique image of our nation.
  • DAR raised thousands of dollars to assist in the re-forestation project of the U.S. Forest Service during the 1940s.
  • During World War II, DAR provided 197,000 soldiers with care packages and sponsored all 89 crews of Landing Craft Infantry ships.
  • During World War II, the use of the DAR buildings was given to the American Red Cross. A children's day nursery was set up in the basement of Constitution Hall for enlisted men's wives who had to go to work.
  • The tradition of celebrating the Constitution was started many years ago by the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1955, the DAR petitioned Congress to set aside September 17–23 annually to be dedicated for the observance of Constitution Week. The resolution was later adopted by the U. S. Congress and signed into Public Law #915 on August 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.[18]

Contemporary DAR[edit]

There are nearly 180,000 current members of the DAR in approximately 3,000 chapters across the United States and in several other countries. The organization describes itself as "one of the most inclusive genealogical societies"[19] in the United States, noting on its website that, "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".[19] The current DAR President General is Denise Doring VanBuren, a former public relations executive from New York.


Membership in the DAR today is open to all women, regardless of race or religion, who can prove lineal bloodline descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving United States independence.[1] The National Society DAR is the final arbiter of the acceptability of the documentation of all applications for membership.

Qualifying participants in achieving independence include the following:

The DAR published a book, available online,[20] with the names of thousands of minority patriots, to enable family and historical research. Its online Genealogical Research System (GRS)[21] provides access to a database, and it is digitizing family Bibles to collect more information for research.

The organization has chapters in all 50 U.S. states and in the District of Columbia. DAR chapters have been founded in Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Education outreach[edit]

The DAR contributes more than $1 million annually to support six schools that provide for a variety of special student needs.[22] Supported schools:

In addition, the DAR provides $70,000 to $100,000 in scholarships and funds to American Indian youth at Chemawa Indian School, Salem, Oregon; Bacone College, Muskogee, Oklahoma; and the Indian Youth of America Summer Camp Program.[23]

Civic work[edit]

DAR members participate in a variety of veteran and citizenship-oriented projects, including:

  • Providing more than 200,000 hours of volunteer time annually to veterans in U.S. Veterans Administration hospitals and non-VA facilities
  • Offering support to America's service personnel in current conflicts abroad through care packages, phone cards and other needed items
  • Sponsoring special programs promoting the Constitution during its official celebration week of September 17–23
  • Participating in naturalization ceremonies

Exhibits and library at DAR Headquarters[edit]

The DAR maintains a genealogical library at its headquarters in Washington, DC and provides guides for individuals doing family research. Its bookstore presents scholarship on United States and women's history.

Temporary exhibits in the galleries have featured women's arts and crafts, including items from the DAR's quilt and embroidery collections. Exhibit curators provide a social and historical context for girls' and women's arts in such exhibits, for instance, explaining practices of mourning reflected in certain kinds of embroidery samplers, as well as ideals expressed about the new republic. Permanent exhibits include American furniture, silver and furnishings.

Literacy promotion[edit]

In 1989, the DAR established the NSDAR Literacy Promotion Committee, which coordinates the efforts of DAR volunteers to promote child and adult literacy. Volunteers teach English, tutor reading, prepare students for GED examinations, raise funds for literacy programs, and participate in many other ways.[24]

American history essay contest[edit]

Each year, the DAR conducts a national American history essay contest among students in grades 5 through 8. A different topic is selected each year. Essays are judged "for historical accuracy, adherence to topic, organization of materials, interest, originality, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and neatness." The contest is conducted locally by the DAR chapters. Chapter winners compete against each other by region and nationally; national winners receive a monetary award.[25]


The DAR awards $150,000 per year in scholarships to high school graduates, and music, law, nursing, and medical school students. Only two of the 20 scholarships offered are restricted to DAR members or their descendants.[26]

Segregation and exclusion of African Americans[edit]

In 1932 the DAR adopted a rule excluding African-American musicians from performing at DAR Constitution Hall in response to complaints by some members against "mixed seating", as both blacks and whites were attracted to concerts of black artists. In 1939, they denied permission for Marian Anderson to perform a concert. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the organization. In her letter to the DAR, Roosevelt wrote, "I am in complete disagreement with the attitude taken in refusing Constitution Hall to a great artist... You had an opportunity to lead in an enlightened way and it seems to me that your organization has failed." As the controversy grew, the American press overwhelmingly backed Anderson’s right to sing. The Philadelphia Tribune wrote, "A group of tottering old ladies, who don't know the difference between patriotism and putridism, have compelled the gracious First Lady to apologize for their national rudeness." The Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote, "In these days of racial intolerance so crudely expressed in the Third Reich, an action such as the D.A.R.’s ban. . . seems all the more deplorable." At Eleanor Roosevelt's behest,President Roosevelt and Walter White, then-executive secretary of the NAACP, and Anderson's manager, impresario Sol Hurok arranged an open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a dignified and stirring rendition of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee." The event attracted a crowd of more than 75,000 in addition to a national radio audience of millions.[27] The DAR officially reversed its "white performers only" policy in 1952.[28] In 1977, Karen Batchelor Farmer (now Karen Batchelor) of Detroit, Michigan, was admitted as the first known African-American member of the DAR.[29] Batchelor's admission as the first known African-American member of DAR sparked international interest after it was featured in a story on page one of The New York Times.[30]

In 1984, Lena Lorraine Santos Ferguson, a retired school secretary, was denied membership in a Washington, D.C. chapter of the DAR because she was black, according to a report by the Washington Post.[31] Ferguson met the lineage requirements and could trace her ancestry to Jonah Gay, a white man who fought in Maine.[31] When asked for comment, Sarah M. King, the President General of the DAR, told The Washington Post that the DAR's chapters have autonomy in determining members.[31] King went on to tell Washington Post reporter Ronald Kessler, "Being black is not the only reason why some people have not been accepted into chapters. There are other reasons: divorce, spite, neighbors' dislike. I would say being black is very far down the line....There are a lot of people who are troublemakers. You wouldn't want them in there because they could cause some problems."[31] After King's comments were reported in a page one story, outrage erupted, and the D.C. City Council threatened to revoke the DAR's real estate tax exemption. King quickly corrected her error, saying that Ferguson should have been admitted, and that her application had been handled "inappropriately." DAR changed its bylaws to bar discrimination "on the basis of race or creed." In addition, King announced a resolution to recognize "the heroic contributions of black patriots in the American Revolution."[32]

Since the mid-1980s, the DAR has supported a project to identify African Americans, Native Americans, and individuals of mixed race who were patriots of the American Revolution, expanding their recognition beyond soldiers.[33] In 2008, DAR published Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Patriots in the Revolutionary War.[20][33] In 2007, the DAR posthumously honored Mary Hemings Bell, a slave of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, as a "Patriot of the Revolution". Since Hemings Bell has been honored as a Patriot, all of her female descendants qualify for membership in the DAR.[34] Wilhelmena Rhodes Kelly, in 2019, would become the first African-American elected to the DAR National Board of Management when she was installed as New York State Regent in June.[35]

Notable members[edit]

Living members[edit]

Deceased members[edit]

Daughters of the American Revolution monument to the Battle of Fort Washington, erected in 1910. The approach deck of the George Washington Bridge, New York City was built above it.


A memorial to the Daughters of the American Revolution's four founders, at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated on April 17, 1929. It was sculpted by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a DAR member.[52][53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "How to Join". Daughters of the American Revolution. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  2. ^ Continental Congress membership report
  3. ^ Daughters of the American Revolution. (2013). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from library.eb.com
  4. ^ Maslin Nir, Sarah (July 3, 2012). "For Daughters of the American Revolution, a New Chapter". The New York Times Company. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  5. ^ Plys, Kate (July 4, 1991). "I Had Luncheon With the DAR". Sun-Times Media. Chicago Reader. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  6. ^ "The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum." Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum - Marian Anderson. N.p., n.d. Web. May 23, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  8. ^ Contributed. "DAR honors Real Daughters of the Revolutionary War buried in Redlands". Redlands News. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  9. ^ National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution 1991, p. 22.
  10. ^ National Bylaws of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. pp. 26, 36.
  11. ^ National Bylaws of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. p. 12.
  12. ^ "Daughters of the American Revolution: Did You Know?". Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Ed. Feller, Carolyn M. and Debora R. Cox (2016). Highlights in the History of the Army Nurse Corps. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of Military History. p. 5.
  14. ^ Gessner, Ingrid (2015). "Heroines of Health: Examining the Other Side of the "Splendid Little War"". European Journal of American Studies. 10-1, Special Issue: Women in the USA: 1–20 – via OpenEdition.
  15. ^ "Feb 21, 1955 Issue | Texas Observer Print Archives". issues.texasobserver.org. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  16. ^ United States Congressional Serial Set. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1962.
  17. ^ "NSDAR Web page".
  18. ^ "Daughters of the American Revolution". Daughters of the American Revolution.
  19. ^ a b "DAR History". Daughters of the American Revolution. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  20. ^ a b "Forgotten Patriots Book". Daughters of the American Revolution.
  21. ^ "DAR Genealogical Research Databases". services.dar.org.
  22. ^ "DAR Supported Schools". DAR. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
  23. ^ "Work of the Society: DAR Schools". DAR. Retrieved July 29, 2009.
  24. ^ "Literacy Promotion". DAR. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
  25. ^ "American History Essay". DAR. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
  26. ^ "Scholarships". DAR. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
  27. ^ "Exhibit: Eleanor Roosevelt Letter". NARA. February 26, 1939. Retrieved October 8, 2006.
  28. ^ Kennedy Center, "Biography of Marian Anderson" Archived January 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  29. ^ "Karen Farmer" Archived December 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, American Libraries 39 (February 1978), p. 70; Negro Almanac, pp. 73,1431; Who's Who among Africans, 14th ed., p. 405.
  30. ^ Stevens, William K. (December 28, 1977). "A Detroit Black Woman's Roots Lead to a Welcome in the D.A.R.; Black Woman's Roots Lead to a Welcome in D.A.R". The New York Times.
  31. ^ a b c d Kessler, Ronald (March 12, 1984). "Sponsors Claim Race Is Stumbling Block". Washington Post. p. 1.
  32. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1984/04/18/dar-chief-says-blacks-application-handled-inappropriately/f6bc0b72-4619-4ca9-8544-3c48ef3f2102/ “Washington Post” April 18, 1984
  33. ^ a b "Forgotten Patriots". Daughters of the American Revolution.
  34. ^ American Spirit Magazine, Daughters of the American Revolution, January–February 2009, p. 4
  35. ^ "Daughters of the American Revolution Welcomes First Black Woman, Wilhelmena Rhodes Kelly, to National Board". Black Christian News Network One. Retrieved November 28, 2019.
  36. ^ "Kent State Stark - Kent State University". www.stark.kent.edu.
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Dazzling Daughters, 1890–2004". Americana Collection exhibit. DAR. Retrieved October 8, 2006.
  38. ^ "Walter Burdick Chapter: Gallery". Walter Burdick Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad Binheim, Max; Elvin, Charles A (1928). Women of the West; a series of biographical sketches of living eminent women in the eleven western states of the United States of America. Retrieved August 8, 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  40. ^ Moss Scott, Rose (1929). "Pierre Menard". Daughters of the American Revolution. Illinois Printing Company. p. 109.
  41. ^ Musser, Ashley; Dutton, Julie (February 11, 2016). "Illinois Women in Congress and General Assembly" (PDF). Springfield, Illinois: Illinois Legislative Research Unit. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
  42. ^ Daughters of the American Revolution (1905). The American Monthly Magazine. 28 (Public domain ed.). R.R. Bowker Company.
  43. ^ Hunter, Ann Arnold, A Century of Service: The Story of the DAR, p. 63
  44. ^ "GRABEEL, GENE". Richmond Times-Dispatch. February 15, 2015. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  45. ^ Revolution, Daughters of the American (1923). Lineage Book. The Society. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  46. ^ "Rossiter: Poppy lady's legacy lives on". Archived from the original on May 25, 2015. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
  47. ^ "Elizabeth Morse Funeral To Be in De Soto Tomorrow - 12 Jan 1948, Mon • Page 17". St. Louis Post-Dispatch: 17. 1948. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  48. ^ a b Johnson, Anne (1914). Notable women of St. Louis, 1914. St. Louis, Woodward. p. 188. Retrieved August 17, 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  49. ^ Daughters of the American Revolution (1901). Lineage Book. The Society. pp. 18–.
  50. ^ "The Four Founders". Daughters of the American Revolution.
  51. ^ "Maryly VanLeer Peck". Florida Women's Hall of Fame. Florida Commission on the Status of Women. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  52. ^ "Founders Memorial". Daughters of the American Revolution. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
  53. ^ "Daughters of the American Revolution, Founders statue at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney located in James M. Goode's Foggy Bottom area". Retrieved November 15, 2014.

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Further reading[edit]

Independent accounts
  • Hunter, Ann Arnold. A Century of Service: The Story of the DAR. Washington, DC: National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (1991).
  • Simkovich, Patricia Joy. Indomitable Spirit: The Life of Ellen Hardin Walworth, Washington, DC: National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (2001). (The life story of Ellen Hardin Walworth, one of the NSDAR founders.)
  • 125 Years of Devotion to America, Washington, DC: National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. DAR publication that includes reflections, prayers and ceremonial excerpts to capture material about the DAR and its members' service.

External links[edit]