Is this what you think of when you think of the DAR? You’re only about 1/10th correct… but NOT for the reason you probably think! Image credit: Larry Gottheim

MythBusters: Tell me what you think you know about the Daughters of the American Revolution, also known as D.A.R.

Does the name conjure up certain images… a sea of grey hair, perhaps? Tables of tea cozies and scones? Knitting needles, reading glasses and a dusty old family tree?

Well, my friend, you might want to update your files!

With 3,000 chapters worldwide, and 179,000 members, the Daughters of the American Revolution is the largest women’s service organization in the world — and perhaps America’s best kept secret.  Sure, in general terms, DAR is dedicated to exactly what it has always supported: promoting historic preservation, education, patriotism and honoring the patriots of the Revolutionary War — but that doesn’t even begin to cover the depth of community service the organization provides to our community and across the country — largely without any fanfare.

Vietnam Veterans Recognition June 7, 20142

Patriotism: Vietnam Veterans Remembrance and Recognition luncheon held June 7th, to thank the men and women who served during the Vietnam War era (50th anniversary). l-r: Elaine Sholty, Veterans Committee Chairman, Jesus Quintana, Disabled Vietnam Veteran.

Naturalization Ceremony 2013 72

Supporting New Patriotism: Federal Naturalization Court, July 3rd conducted by Judge Sarah Evans-Barker. The DAR provides American flags to all new citizens, and has Scouts and children present the flags and welcome the new citizens ( 3,000+ flags per year statewide). At this court, DAR brought homemade cookies and lemonade as well. DAR member Mary Pat McElhiney gave flags for distribution to children.

In 2013 alone, the total hours of service donated to communities by DAR chapters was 4,760,314 and their goal is to top 10 million hours in the next three years.”

Across the nation, DAR has launched or supported a wide range of critical initiatives ranging from…
– supporting veterans’ welfare – to – gathering books for literacy programs
– mentoring immigrants – to – mailing care packages to active duty military personnel
– conducting free lineage workshops – to – establishing and awarding college scholarships to high school students
– supporting homeless shelters – to – “manning” crisis hotlines or serving as poll workers.

Bell Cemetery 2013 Aug 22

DAR and Historic Preservation: Historic Bell Cemetery in Perry Township is undergoing a two year restoration (graves identified, stones cleaned, repaired, reset) by members, working with the Township Trustee. DAR member Kandy Kinker lovingly restoring a grave marker.

John Mitchell Ceremony State Historian Vicki Voris, State Regent Jeanie Hournug, SAR2

Historic Preservation: DAR members marking graves of Revolutionary War soldiers (McVey Cemetery in Warren Township, John Mitchell grave; l-r Victoria Voris, INDAR State Historian, Jeanie Hornung, INDAR State Regent, David Betzner of the SAR (Sons of the American Revolution).

Local schools, museums, hospitals, community programs, charitable organizations and cultural initiatives all benefit from active DAR support every year. But… who are these apparent superwomen among us?

Membership consists of any woman, 18 years or older, who can prove lineal, bloodline descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence. A prospective member must provide documentation for each statement of birth, marriage and death, as well as of the Revolutionary War service of her Patriot ancestor. That might sound daunting, but DAR volunteers from chapters throughout the country stand by to provide assistance!

“Don’t believe for a second that, just because your closest ancestors came from another country, you can’t be related to someone with Revolutionary War service,” stated Elizabeth R. Gruber,  member of one of the seven Indianapolis Metro-area DAR chapters. “We have made some surprising connections as we delved into peoples’ genealogies.” In point of fact, HI readers might be quite interested to know that members of the Caroline Scott Harrison Chapter of DAR in Indianapolis, where Gruber serves as Regent, provide free genealogy research assistance on Wednesdays at the Indiana State Library from 1:00 – 4:00 pm.

Feb meeting guest speakers

Guest speaker 1st person presentation at the February chapter meeting, “Mary Bateman Clark – Woman of Color and Courage”, (Eunice Brewer-Trotter).


Elaine and Scott at Harrison Home2

Education – Bringing history to life: “Caroline Scott Harrison” at the Harrison Presidential Site (l-r Scott Sholty as Civil War soldier. and Elaine Sholty as Caroline Scott Harrison)

Members of the Caroline Scott Harrison DAR Chapter, which was named for Indianapolis resident and first President General of DAR, and U.S. President Benjamin Harrison’s wife, also take great pride in their quest to protect historic artifacts that are uniquely local. Working in close cooperation with the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. located on North Delaware Street, the Caroline Scott Harrison DAR Chapter locates, collects and preserves items with a link to the Harrison family — ranging from furniture to fabrics, and Caroline Scott Harrison’s own artwork, usually in the form of floral painted china.


Click to enlarge this close-up of the lacework on a gown owned by Caroline Scott Harrison.


Click to enlarge a flag from the Harrison era, preserved by the CHS DAR.

Take a look around Indianapolis and almost every history- or civic-minded activity has been touched by a member of a DAR chapter. It is both honorable, and a little unfortunate, that these acts of everyday heroism go largely unnoticed… unsung service to our past, present and future.

Special thanks to:
Elaine Sholty, INDAR State Public Relations Chairman
Vanessa Burkhart, Caroline Scott Harrison Chapter, NSDAR Public Relations Chairman

2 responses to “Friday Favorite: Service, Unsung”

  1. Rebecca Bandy says:

    What a wonderful story about the DAR ! I am DAR and very proud of our motto. GOD …HOME…and COUNTRY. Thank you, maybe more women will come forward and acknowledge their Revolutionary ancestors. You can learn more about DAR at this site….

    Thank you again ….

  2. Lisa Lorentz says:

    Thanks, Rebecca. I have been impressed (blown away, actually) with the organization’s total volunteer hours, and with how many ways their mission is being carried out. I hope the message resonates with non-members who may have an outdated or mistaken impression of the DAR. I think the phrase, “It’s not your grandma’s DAR,” is on point. The DAR certainly supports historical perspective, but there’s no denying that its energy is fully engaged in community needs at present, and in planning for the future.

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