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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vanessa Burkhart, Caroline Scott Harrison Chapter, NSDAR Public Relations Chairman