Most everyone has heard of the DAR – Daughters of the American Revolution started by Flora Adams Darling in 1890 in Washington, D. C. After the American Centennial celebration in 1876 there had been renewed interest in American history yet over the next 15 years all the history-minded clubs created were male oriented such as first organization of descendants of Revolutionary War patriots which started in San Francisco, California in 1876. This early group evolved into the Sons of the American Revolutionary Sires.
By 1883 a New York society group formed the Sons of the Revolution under the leadership of John Austin Stevens to be more of a society club. It was William Osborn McDowell of New Jersey who felt there needed to be more a group of descendants of Revolutionary patriots. So on April 30, 1889 in New York, the Sons of the American Revolution was born. This date represented one hundred years since President George Washington’s first inauguration. William McDowell became the first member.
It was October 11, 1890 when a new organization was established with 18 ladies to be known as the Daughters of the American Revolution – whose purpose was to see that the history of those military and civilian men and women that aided in securing American independence be preserved and recognized. With this new organization, a much greater interest in genealogy was brought about. Flora was one of the founding members and served as its historian.
Both organizations grew quickly in membership because they did focus on descendants of patriots. The Sons of the American Revolution by an act of Congress in 1906 received an official congressional charter. Its membership is open to any male who can prove lineage bloodline descent of a person who assisted in securing America’s independence. That included individuals who served in the American military, representatives in the Continual Congress, anyone who had signed the Declaration of Independence, those who had signed an oath of allegiance to the patriotic cause, or those who had supplied food, equipment, weapons or other necessaries to the patriotic cause.
Over the next 120 plus years, some 175,000 male descendants have been members of the SAR (Sons of the American Revolution). As members documented their lineage all of that information has been saved. Going back to 1889 National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution has held safely a vast collection of genealogical reference material. For years the headquarters were in Washington, D. C., but needed to expand, so a new building was constructed in Louisville, Kentucky to serve as the headquarters.
Their collection today consists of family histories, state genealogy materials, federal censuses, Revolutionary War pension applications, and CD collections, with the SAR library separating materials based on individual states. Other activities the SAR is involved include historical research, raising funds for local scholarships and educational awards, and especially the preservation of sites and documents related to the American Revolution.
Some of the famous individuals who have belonged to the SAR include: Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, General Douglas MacArthur, Florida Governor Lawton Chiles, General John Pershing, Harry Truman, Jimmy Stewart, Governor Thomas Dewey, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Senator Barry Goldwater, William R. Hearst, and Norman V. Peale.
If you are interested or know a family member interested in belonging to SAR, the link which explains the details of becoming a member are on the SAR site, just scroll down. Also, those who have the subscription to Ancestry.com the SAR applications covering 1889 to 1970 are available to examine. This would be one method to find any lineage connected with your family tree. Use also the resources in the SAR and the DAR headquarters’s libraries to further your family research.
Photos: SAR Logo; present-day descendants-members of the SAR.
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