Monday, June 19, 2006

DAR to the rescue!

Having retired from the library world a decade ago, I am still inclined to look for answers in books, instead of going on the Internet – at least some of the time. Now that's fine when the book is a dictionary, or a reference like Sunset's Western Garden Book. But if what I need is an encyclopedic work I don't have on hand – well, the Internet can certainly save a trip.

It used to be that one had to go to the Santa Rosa Library's Genealogy Annex, or Sutro Library in San Francisco to consult the DAR Patriot Index – but no more.

You probably know about the Patriot Index – a list of the Revolutionary War participants (from our side, of course) whose descendants have joined the Daughters of the American Revolution on the strength of that connection. If you think someone in your family might have served in some capacity in the Revolution, searching for him (or her) in the Patriot Index is a logical step. Of course, not every such individual is listed, just the ones whose descendants made the effort to track them down and provide acceptable proof to the DAR. Another matter to keep in mind is this – if the ancestor had several children (the usual case), the line of descent may come down to some distant cousin of yours – but hey! That means you've found another relative!

In early days, the lineages submitted to the DAR were not very thoroughly vetted, and membership applications based on them were therefore a bit suspect.. However, in recent years there has been a more exhaustive examination of proofs, and if you are considering applying for membership these days, you better have documentation that can meet quite rigorous standards.

But the good news for those of us simply wanting to check up on Revolutionary ancestry is that it can be done online, at the "DAR Patriot Lookup Service."

Here is how the organization explains it:
The DAR Patriot Index contains names of Revolutionary patriots, both men and women, whose service (between 1775 and 1783) has been established by the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution. Additional information available may include: dates and places of birth and death, name(s) of wife (wives) or husband(s), rank, type of service, and the State where the patriot lived or served. If pension papers are known to exist, that fact will be included.

If you find a name that fits, you will be notified and given instructions for obtaining a copy of the relevant membership application (not the supporting documentation, however). The current fee is $10. The website address is, and the lookup service is listed under "Features" on the main page.

There are more informational services offered online by the DAR, and I'll discuss those later.

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