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Have you ever wanted to be a member of the DAR?

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

OK. I have to admit that the thought of joining the DAR had never crossed my mind until my then-six-almost-seven-year-old son became obsessed with the musical, Hamilton. He desperately wanted to be able to prove that we had a Patriot in our lineage and preferably a Patriot who had actually fought under Alexander Hamilton himself! This was late 2016 and I was just back from a girls' weekend in Chicago with my two besties from high school. Before the trip, we had decided that we would each enter the lottery for Hamilton each possible time while we were in the Windy City and could go. We all got in late on Thursday night. We each entered twice on Friday with no luck. On Saturday morning, before we headed out for a day of sightseeing, we entered again. This time, "bingo," I had a winning entry for the matinee! That got two of us in with $10 tickets each so we all three split the cost of the third ticket on Stub-hub (over $300 total), so that we could all attend. When I got home from the weekend, I couldn't stop talking about the impact that the musical had on me and I definitely couldn't stop playing the music for my family. (For those of you who know the musical and are wondering about my sharing the lyrics with my six-year old, he and I discussed what were the "Hamilton words" which he could sing but never say, as well as which were the "Hamilton words" that he could not sing or say!)

When I checked it out, the DAR website said, "Any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal, bloodline descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence is eligible to join the DAR. She must provide documentation for each statement of birth, marriage and death, as well as of the Revolutionary War service of her Patriot ancestor." I didn't really think twice about whether or not I would be able to prove that I was eligible to join. Looking at the lines of just my 2x great-grandparents (which we all have sixteen of), all of these known family lines have been in America since 1838 at the very latest, with almost all of them coming here before the Revolution (my Fulkerson line even traces back to New Amsterdam in the 1600s, while my Goolsby and Rich lines both trace back to Virginia in the 1600s!) This was sure to be a fun, genealogical scavenger hunt to find my Patriot!

Fast-forward to me applying to be in the DAR. I contacted the local chapter here in Pasadena and started the process with the chapter registrars. While they do help with applications (and the ladies in my chapter were rock stars), the registrars typically won't do "heavy lifting" for someone who has not researched her family already. It is recommended to go to the DAR with a suggested Patriot and a good idea of how you are related (by the way, when I say "Patriot," there are Patriots who are male, female, Black, White, old, and young. It can be anyone with proven service on behalf of the Revolution). The registrars' main role is to review the research and records you are planning to submit to vet them and also to make sure you have the proper paper on which to print the application.

If you haven't really done any research (or haven't inherited any research) on your possible Patriots, I highly recommend seeking the services of a professional genealogist who can help you out. If we were to work together on this, I would take whatever information you have and evaluate its exhaustiveness (which is a main tenet of the Genealogical Proof Standard to which I am held) to see if it meets the standard and doesn't need to have any further work done. If it does need more work, I will start by bringing it "up-to-snuff," as we say in the south. The more information and records you are able to bring to the table, the smoother the process will be. For instance, when I was applying, I already had my maternal grandparents' death certificates, since my mother had them in her files, and I had my own birth and marriage certificates in my files. That meant that I wouldn't need to order these from the state and could focus on finding records that were already available to the public.

Regardless of how much research you have done or how little research you have inherited, I can work with it as long as you can at least name your parents. I hope you'll consider joining. I would love to chat with you about starting your application! Let me know if you are interested in the comments!

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