What is the Daughters of the American Revolution? The Daughters of the American Revolution is a nonprofit, nonpolitical women’s volunteer service organization. We are the largest female lineage society in the country. Our common bond is our direct descent from Patriots of the American Revolution — any woman, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, who can prove this lineage, is eligible to join.
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded on October 11, 1890 as a lineage-based membership service organization for women. (There is a Sons of the American Revolution - SAR, and a Children of the American Revolution - CAR.) The first DAR chapter was organized on October 11, 1890, 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. 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. 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. Our chapter is named after a local Patriot woman named Kate Barry from Walnut Grove. She helped her husband and father during the war and also was a scout and messenger for General Daniel Morgan.
In addition to installing markers and monuments, DAR chapters have purchased, preserved and operated historic houses and other sites associated with the war.
Since then more than 950,000 women have been members. Currently we have about 185,000 members in 3,000 chapters throughout the nation and some in foreign countries.
Education, especially education in American History, is very important to the DAR. They offer scholarships on National and State levels and some local chapters also provide scholarships. It's worth it to look into DAR scholarships for your daughters who are approaching college.
The DAR supports two schools in the Appalachian region:
Tamassee DAR School is a private 501c3 non-profit children’s home and family service organization offering multi-faceted programs to serve children and families with a variety of needs. Our programs and services include seven child care homes that serve up to 8 – 10 residential children, a Middle School Academy program, an After Care Program for reunified families and students enrolled in college or living independently, and a Day Care Program serving infants, toddlers and after school children in the community. Tamassee DAR School was founded by the South Carolina State Society DAR and is located in Pickens County, SC. It was accepted as a National Project by the National Society DAR in 1921. Since that time, thousands of children have received a loving home, an excellent education and the love of a professional caring staff. Being so close to our chapter, this school is a focus in our chapter.
Kate Duncan Smith (KDS), founded on Gunter Mountain by the Alabama DAR in 1924, is a day school, kindergarten through 12th grade, serving an area of 100 square miles. Enrollment averages 1,300 students yearly. Special emphasis is placed on responsible citizenship, academic achievement, and horticultural and computer skills. Preparation for college and vocational training are important parts of the curriculum.
There are also DAR approved schools that receive support from the NSDAR:
Hillside School, Inc.
Hindman Settlement School
and 2 schools that educate Native American children: Bacone College and Chimawa Indian School
I've been a member of the National Societies of the Daughters of the American Revolution since 2002.
When we moved back to Spartanburg, SC, I transferred to the Kate Barry Chapter. I've been a member since 2006 in my current chapter.
It had been a goal of mine to get the evidence I needed to be able to join the DAR and I did it! In order to be considered you have to be able to prove that you are directly descended from an American Patriot who fought for, or otherwise aided, the American cause during the American Revolution.
Each chapter has a Registrar. The Registrar can lead you and help you in finding proof and filling out the forms. The requirements are very exacting and filling everything out correctly on their forms is important. The Registrar can guide you. The fee for application is $75 but you add an additional $40 for a chapter fee so it's $115. Our chapter ByLaws will shadow the National and State ByLaws. In those ByLaws will be the criteria for becoming a member usually including visiting the chapter so many times so the members can meet you and then being voted in and finally getting your paperwork done and submitted.
Start by making a family tree using a pedigree form. You will need to know dates and places for birth, marriage, death. You will need to have evidence for this person, the relationship, and the dates.
Once you've filled out your pedigree sheet back to a qualifying ancestor, start collecting hard copy evidence. For instance, birth/death/marriage certificates (including yours and your parents), census records, land records, will records,,, whatever you need to prove each person existed and proof of their relationship, as well as, their dates of birth/marriage/death.
Do what you can. When you've got to a stopping place, it's time to contact a chapter and seek out the Registrar. You can locate the chapter nearest to you on the NSDAR website. Most of the chapters will have their own chapter website. But National also has a Membership Interest Form you can submit online (or print and mail) and National will get the information to the chapter. Believe me, every chapter is eager for new members. Once you initiate contact, they will do their best to help you. If, for some reason, you don't hear back, keep trying.
There is the National Society of the DAR. It is generally a conservative group but we are non-political. There is an annual membership fee for National. It will be added to your annual membership dues.*
The NSDAR has a whole block in Washington, D.C. just a block away from the White House. The formidable building was built in 1929 and was made an historical landmark in 1985. The block includes three adjoining buildings, two of which are Registered National Landmarks: DAR Memorial Continental Hall (built 1905), DAR Constitution Hall (built 1929), and the Administration Building (built 1920, 1950). The buildings include a genealogical library for research, records storage, staff offices, DAR museum and an auditorium where they host the annual NSDAR Continental Congress. The concert hall can seat 3,700 people.
The annual Continental Congress is a convention. National, State and Chapter DAR leaders meet at the DAR National Headquarters for a week during the summer to report on the year’s work, honor outstanding award recipients, plan future initiatives and network. Those in attendance include over 3,000 delegates representing the Daughters from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and many international chapters. The week-long convention consists of business sessions, committee meetings, social functions, and is topped off with formal evening ceremonies: Opening Night, Education Awards Night and National Defense Night. These evening ceremonies, held in the historic DAR Constitution Hall, mix pomp and circumstance with touching award presentations, special speakers and musical entertainment. There are traditions and protocol to follow. The appropriate dress for the evening events is formal and the ladies wear white gloves. White gloves are worn by members at formal DAR events. (But if you happen to be without white gloves, you are still welcome.) This year's Continental Congress was the week of July 4th and it was the 125th anniversary of the Continental Congress so it was something special. I wish I could have gone this year.
The National level officers are:
President General - She is elected to the highest office of the Society by the DAR Continental Congress. The President General serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Society and holds one three-year term in office. Each President General carries forward her vision and goals for the National Society while managing and overseeing Society policy as well as initiating special National projects.
And eleven executive officers:
First Vice President General
Recording Secretary General
Corresponding Secretary General
Organizing Secretary General
A National Board of Management, a body composed of the Executive Officers, 21 Vice Presidents General, and 53 State Regents, set policies.
Our current President General is Ann Dillon. The goal of the President General’s Project for the Dillon Administration is to continue moving forward in commitment to promote the DAR as we volunteer in our communities and in our nation. The concerns she is addressing during her tenure are:
- Restoring and improving the NSDAR complex of historic buildings
- Supporting chapters through membership and community service promotions
- Advancing technological and financial accounting capabilities that serve to reinforce the Society’s promotion of history, education and patriotism
- Designing tools and techniques to increase public recognition of DAR’s service and contributions to the Nation including, but not limited to, funding Special Projects Grants
- Furthering the financial stability of the Society through the promotion of established development programs and prudent investment strategies
- Moving forward in service to God, Home and Country, we renew our commitment to promote the founders’ vision through education, historic preservation and patriotism.
After the National level, each state has a state level DAR organization. Our South Carolina NSDAR is based in the state's capitol, Columbia, S.C. We have bi-annual conventions called the Spring Conference and Fall Forum. These events include evening banquets, committee meetings, meetings, voting, addressing issues, networking, fundraising, and leadership seminars. Each SC chapter sends delegates to these events. There is an annual state membership fee which will be added to your annual membership dues. *
Our SC DAR Executive Officers are:
State Vice Regent
State Recording Secretary
State Corresponding Secretary
State Organizing Secretary
State Assistant Treasurer
State Director District I
State Director District II
State Director District III
State Director District IV
State Director District V
State Director District VI
When I was new in the DAR, I had the opportunity and privilege of attending a Continental Congress in Washington, D.C. I've also been able to attend a Spring Conference in Columbia, SC just last year. I plan on going again this year. The dress is less formal. I would say something appropriate for church or going out nice although there will be some in evening wear with white gloves.
The State Regent right now (2015-2018) is Diane Taylor Culbertson. South Carolina NSDAR was founded on 10/11/1890. In February of 1892, the National Society appointed Rebecca Pickens (Mrs. John E.) Bacon as State Regent of South Carolina. At the same time, Mrs. Bacon appointed Malvina Sarah (Mrs. Clark) Waring as Regent of Chapters. She successfully organized two chapters in 1894 and was confirmed as State Regent of the South Carolina State Society in 1898. By the end of her term, the SCDAR had 10 active chapters. We have 71 chapters and over 4,500 members today. We also are proud to have the Tamassee DAR School in our state which was organized in 1919.
South Carolina Daughters participate in naturalization ceremonies, flag presentation and flag programs, literacy programs, school events with Junior American Citizen clubs and contests, and give ROTC DAR Good Citizens and Good Citizenship Medals. They plant trees, shrubs and flowers for the environment. They recycle. They conduct American History Contests and give American History Teacher Awards. They give scholarships. They place historical markers honoring people, buildings, and sites which remind us of our ancestors who fought for the freedoms we now enjoy.
South Carolina Period Room in the NSDAR Headquarters in Washington DC depicts an early nineteenth century bed chamber with its summer textile covering. The SCDAR are custodians of the Battleship South Carolina silver service. The battleship, The U.S.S. South Carolina, was christened on July 12, 1908. On board was a sixty-six piece silver service with each piece being a work of art, in that it depicted the fruit, flowers and foliage native to our State. The General Assembly allocated $5,000 to purchase this Silver in 1907. We were given custody of the service in 1921.
The competition between states within the DAR is what keeps projects going. Whether it be fundraising, the number of hours served, or who spearheads a successful project, competition drives the chapters. The projects are all worthy in historical value or in human value. After all we are not only a genealogy society but a service society as well. I am not a competitive person so it seems a little silly sometimes to compete over who raises the most money for the President General's latest project. But I realize that the projects are good projects and I'm glad they are able to raise the money, the concern and the volunteers to do whatever projects the DAR works on. You just have to realize you are dealing with human beings and so there is always some measure of competition, one-ups-manship, petty politics, pride and ego involved. But when you look at the bigger picture, all the projects are worth supporting. So I overlook that sort of stuff and keep myself out of it.
Another thing that plays into the competition are the "points". Your chapter is always looking for ways to add "points" each year to their chapter's totals. The goal is to at least have the same number of points as past years but you really want to do better each year. You gain recognition as you maneuver your chapter into higher levels based on the point system. Each individual member can contribute points by filling out a service questionnaire. You get points for flying an American flag at your home; for participating in any history related activities, re-enactments, history fairs, commemorative events. If you recycle, if you volunteer to help veterans, if you subscribe to the NSDAR history magazine, etc. you get points. Your chapter also can do things that add points. If they have special speakers on history, the Revolution, Women's Issues, Veteran's Issues, etc you get points. Last Fall our chapter had a picnic at a local American Revolutionary battlefield called Musgrove Mills. They were having their Patriot's in Petticoats day so we actually doubled our points by going to Musgrove Mills and taking advantage of it being an historical event and it being a women's historical event! So, as you visit a chapter, don't be surprised to hear them talk about "points". As you rack up points, you and your chapter get certificates of recognition and awards, etc. A Chapter Regent doesn't want to be the Regent that let the chapter lose points and slip to a lower level on the point system. Also, there is some competition between chapters and current Regents versus former Regents. I've never seen this personally as our ladies don't lose their perspectives. But I've heard of it.
After the state level, you have districts. And within the districts, you have your local chapters. Our chapter is the NSDAR Kate Barry Chapter. The Kate Barry Chapter was organized October 1, 1901. Margaret Catherine "Kate" Moore was born in 1752 to the Moores who built the Walnut Grove Plantation in Moore, SC. She married Andrew Barry in 1767 at the age of fifteen. The two settled in Spartanburg County across the Tyger River, about two miles from Walnut Grove. Kate Barry was an excellent horsewoman, and she was very familiar with the wilderness and Indian trails around her plantation, Walnut Grove Plantation.
When the Revolutionary War broke out in 1776, Kate volunteered for the cause as a scout for patriot bands in the area. Her scouting operations were carried out mostly in the portion of Spartanburg County drained by the three Tyger Rivers. Her husband, Andrew, her brother, Thomas Moore, and several brothers-in-law were members of the patriot forces. It was not unusual for Kate to mount her horse, ride to the patriots' encampment, and warn her husband and the troops of impending danger. In the winter of 1781, Kate acted as a voluntary scout for Daniel Morgan, and she gathered patriot bands to send on to him. Her husband, Andrew, was a soldier under the command of General Pickens in the victorious Battle of Cowpens. For her efforts to increase the number of American patriots at the Battle of Cowpens, Kate Barry earned her reputation as the Heroine of the Battle of Cowpens.
Our chapter officers are:
Our current Chapter Regent is Barbara VanDahm (2016-2019). We have about 50 members. Our chapter meets for luncheons once a month. We try to support the Tamassee DAR School, active servicemen/women, military veterans and helping to forward American History in our classrooms. Our chapter gave a $700 scholarship to one of Tamassee's deserving young ladies last year.
I'm very proud and happy to be a member of the Kate Barry Chapter and I call these ladies my friends.
There is an annual membership fee for the chapter. *
* This amount is decided and voted on by the membership. State dues are decided on during the conventions on the state level. National dues are decided and voted on in the annual Continental Congress on the national level. Let's say that National dues are $30/year, State dues are $10/year and chapter dues are $40/year. You would write a check for $80/year to your chapter and the Chapter Treasurer would send the National and State their part of the dues. You must pay these dues on time and have them into National and State on time. Even if you decide you no longer want to be a member, don't just quit paying your dues and showing up at the meetings! Write a formal letter to your Chapter Regent and copy to the Chapter Registrar stating that you are resigning. Without that letter, you won't be considered as leaving in "good standing" with the Chapter. Later, if you want to come back, you would be welcomed back but you would have to pay an extra small fee for getting "back into good standing". So if you decide to resign, write that letter. That will keep your name in good standing and will save you that extra fee if you want to join up again.
If you are a Daughter in good standing* with your chapter at the time of your death, your family can add the National Emblem to your gravestone. When I joined the DAR, I got my Mother and Sisters to join too and my Mother was really excited to be a part. But she has Alzheimer's Disease now so she can't attend and doesn't remember it. If I had not kept her membership up and paid her dues for her I wouldn't be able to get a marker on her gravestone. I could have written the above mentioned letter of resignation on her behalf but I just pay her dues so we can get her a marker when the time comes. But make sure your family knows this stuff because too many times, in a situation like this, the spouse or children just quit paying the dues and don't realize how it affects their mother's membership. Many of our members joined because their mothers and grandmothers were members and they, themselves, have now been a member for 50 years! Having that marker on their gravestone really stands for something and it would be too bad if, in their decline, they stopped paying the dues.
What is a typical chapter meeting like?
We begin by calling the meeting to order and going through our ritual. Every chapter does this ritual. We stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance and the pledge to our state flags. We recite the American's Creed and some may recite the Preamble to the Constitution as well. The Chaplain will have a reading with member response and then repeat the DAR prayer.
Different members are assigned to do a Flag Minute, Native American Minute, National Defense Minute, Constitution Minute and American History Minute. This is where we read a blurb that has something to do with those subjects. Someone also reads the President General's monthly letter to the Daughters.
When addressing the Chapter Regent, we should use our good manners and call her Madame Regent. As a group, members are referred to as Daughters.
Someone will introduce our special speaker and they have about 30 mins to do their presentation. A thank you gift or notice of a donation in their honor will be presented. Then we eat our lunch (or dinner, depending on whether you attend a morning group or an evening group).
After eating we will discuss business and have reports from the officers. This is the time when we do discussion, voting, deciding on policies, making plans, etc. As the meeting winds down, we adjourn.
When you become a member of the NSDAR, you are allowed to wear THE PINS. It is not necessary for anyone to buy and wear pins but I'm very proud of my pins. I guess it's my way of showing off my hard work to be a member and to be active in membership. But it's not a necessity to being a member. In my chapters, I've never seen women be snobbish about their pins.
If you are a member you can at least get the National emblem, the chapter bar and your ancestor bar(s) on a ribbon. You order these pins and ribbons from Hamilton Insignia. The National emblem is a charm that hangs off the bottom of the ribbon. The chapter ribbon has the name of your DAR chapter and is pinned on the ribbon. The ancestor bars have your Patriot's name etched on it and is pinned to the ribbon.
I guess the pins would be synonymous with Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts getting pins for their sashes. The longer I'm in the DAR, the more I treasure the pins. It represents the hard work you did to prove your ancestry, as well as, the hard work you do within your chapter (or state or national). I have a chapter bar, 3 ancestor bars, states bars (NC and SC where my ancestors served), an officers bar (I've been our chapter's secretary for quite a few years now) and my National emblem.
In order to get a pin, you have to prove you are eligible for it. I can't just order any old DAR pin from Hamilton Insignia. I have to prove I am a member, that those are my proven ancestors, that I really have been an officer in my chapter, that I really belong to that chapter, etc. And the pins are not cheap. Mine are all gold filled pins and you are still looking at probably about $700 in pins. You can also purchase them in 14kt gold and I'm guessing it would be several thousand dollars for a strip like mine. But my little ribbon of pins is NOTHING compared to some of the women who have been active a lot more than I have and for a lot longer. They have dozens of proven ancestors and held multiple offices. They can be wearing a chest full of pins!
What kind of pins can you get besides the Basic Insignia, Chapter bar, Ancestor bar? Pins by State (or overseas), National Level, State Level, Commemorative Events, Donations, President General Project, School Board, Social Clubs (like the Cameo Club which is made up of DAR members who are mother/daughter pairs), Volunteer Service Pins, and pins for Years of Service. There is a protocol for how you place the pins on the ribbons and how you wear the ribbons and pins.
In summary, the DAR provides the opportunity to…
- contribute to important service projects
- honor and preserve the legacy of Patriot ancestors
- make lifelong friends
- participate in unique social and service-oriented programs within your community
- discover programs that appeal to your interests
- gain valuable leadership experience
- establish a network of contacts in your community and around the world
Well, I've covered about all you need to know to get started in the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. If you are interested in history, genealogy, service projects that help veterans, active servicemen(women), education, historical preservation... then you've come to the right place.