What documents do I need to provide in a Daughters of the American Revolution application?

If you’ve identified a DAR qualifying line, it’s time to start gathering the documents. What do you need to provide?

It depends on what’s already on file. But here are the basics…

Rule #1 – if that generation or individual is already considered “proved” by DAR, do not send any documentation unless you have new information, such as an exact date of death.

Rule #2 – For generations 1-3, you must document birth, marriage and death using vital records (provided they exist) for both spouses. If a record does not exist, get a “no record found” letter from the office where the records should be stored. Be prepared to provided additional marriage certificates if the woman’s name has changed and the long form version of all birth certificates (the one that lists the parents). Caveat: if the death certificate lists date and place of birth and parents’ names, you may not need to provide the birth certificate.

Rule #3- For generations 4-patriot, you must provide some documentation of birth, marriage, death, and the connection between generations. Vital records are preferred and may be required where they exist. If they do not exist, other records are permitted. Deeds, probate files, pension files, and church records can all be used. Family histories without source citations generally cannot. You must document at least one complete date and place (birth or death) for each individual in each generation.

Rule #4 – For the patriot, you must document birth, death, and marriage using the best available sources. If it is not already documented, you will need to document service and residency during the War.

Questions? Feel overwhelmed? Contact us.

What records do I have to have for a lineage society application?

We get it, you want to get into the lineage society – whether it’s DAR, SAR, the Mayflower Society or something else – quickly. But there are records that you will need to have, so it’s time to think about how to order them. Here’s the list of the most common requirements.

  1. Civil death records (where they exist): You’re going to be required to get them for at least the three generations (CDA and DAR) and may be required to provide them going much further back, if they exist. If you’re doing a Massachusetts Mayflower family, expect to be asked for civil death records going back to the 1600s.
  2. Civil marriage records (where they exist): See the above.
  3. Civil birth records (where they exists): See the above except for DAR. DAR currently allows you to submit just the civil death and marriage record, provided the civil death record lists parents’ names and the date and place of birth.

So in short, you need to begin by ordering any civil birth, death, and marriage records that might exist for your family. (And begin early, as it can take up to three months to receive a record.)

How do you do that? The state vital records office website is usually a good place to start. Read carefully, as requirements can be complicated.

Don’t want to wait months or want help? Contact us.

Benefits of Membership: The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America – Local Meetings

No matter how much you’re interested, joining the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America can seem impossible when their property is across the state. Don’t write them off just yet!

While most societies do hold meetings at their property on a regular basis, a number have begun adding regional or local options to meet members’ needs. National Society of the Colonial Dames of America – Connecticut, for example, holds larger events at their property in Wethersfield. They also have smaller area groups that meet on a regular basis.

So if you have smaller children or traveling is not possibe, be sure to ask before writing off NSCDA as an option. They may be holding meetings only a town or two away.

I want to join SAR (The Sons of the American Revolution). How do I begin?

The Sons of the American Revolution is open to men 18 and older (younger men can be non-voting junior members in some locations) who are descended from individuals who supported the American Revolution. The requirements for ancestral service are similar to those of DAR: signing of the Declaration of Independence; patriotic service, such as giving money to support the cause; military service, including being a soldier; and civil service, including holding political office.

Like DAR, SAR does not require an invitation. You can express your interest in membership through a four step process outline on their website. You’ll note that step one is to determine eligibility.

What does that mean? You’ll need to be able to document births, marriages, deaths, and the connections between generations from yourself back to the ancestor. Unlike DAR, SAR only requires that this documentation be provided for the person through whom the line runs (“line carrier”). So, if the line is through your mother’s father, you’ll need to document her birth, death, and marriage, but not your father’s. You’ll also need to document the ancestor’s service and their residence during the War. Be aware: some registrars may insist that you follow the more stringent DAR documentation guidelines.

Are there any shortcuts? Yes, SAR is unique among the major lineage societies in that it accepts DAR “record copies” (copies of the verified application that can be ordered using DAR’s GRS) as documentation under certain limited circumstances. So if your mother just applied for DAR, you might be able to use her papers to join SAR.

What does the process look like? Once you have your paperwork together, it’s reviewed by the chapter registrar, who forwards the documents to the state registrar for review. Once the state registrar has completed review, it is forwarded to national for verification. If you can’t reach the local registrar for some reason, many state registrars can assist in completing the first steps.

Sound overwhelming? We can help. Contact us.

I’d like to join The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA). How do I start?

The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA) honors ancestors who supported the founding of the United States. Like other Colonial Dames societies, it requires both an invitation and documentation supporting the relationship between you and the ancestor in question. Yet, the unique structure of NSCDA means that the application process works a little differently than that of other societies.

In all cases, your first step will be to obtain an invitation. If you happen to have a friend or acquaintance that is a member, contact them directly, as they’ll be best able to proceed. If you do not, contact the local society. They may be able to invite you to a meet and greet and help to establish relationships.

Once that invitation is received and you have become a candidate, you’ll be expected to complete two forms. The first is called the “Line of Ascent.” The Line of Ascent lists all generations between you and the ancestor, allowing the society to quickly confirm that the line does or does not seem possible. From that Line of Ascent, the genealogist will create a draft application (often called the “blue papers” ). Plan to fill in that draft with your full ancestral line, including birth, death, and marriage, and resubmit it to the genealogist along with the documentation supporting that line.

While the paperwork is the same no matter where you apply, the NSCDA application process varies slightly by location. If you join from one of the original thirteen colonies, your application will be processed in house by that colonial society’s genealogist. If you join from another society, your line of ascent and application will be sent to your ancestor’s home colony for review. These different review methods mean that the speed of processing can vary.

Questions? Contact us.

I want to join The Colonial Dames of America. How do I start?

The Colonial Dames of America (CDA), one of the three groups referred to as “Colonial Dames,” is based in New York but has chapters in locations as diverse as Melbourne, FL and Rome, Italy. To see if there’s a chapter near you, visit https://cda1890.org/cda-chapters/. Although all chapters support the mission of the organization, each chapter has its own historic preservation activities and goals. Visit the chapter pages to learn more.

Membership in CDA is officially invitation only. If you know members, they become your first point of contact. If you do not have an acquaintance among the CDA membership, contact the chapter directly. They may be able to arrange a “meet and greet.”

Once you’ve obtained an invitation, you will need to complete a preliminary form describing your intended ancestor, followed soon after by a full application with supporting documentation. For this reason, it is best to have all paperwork in order before applying or as soon as possible upon receiving an invitation.

CDA does not accept paperwork from other lineage societies. Expect to need to document all births, deaths, and marriages up to the ancestor using vital records (where possible) and other appropriate sources.

Questions? Contact us.

Want to join the Colonial Dames? Which one?

If the time at home has you thinking about finally joining the Colonial Dames – like your friends have been urging – there’s one question you need to ask first. Which one?

There are three societies that go by “Colonial Dames.” All require an invitation but the difficulty in obtaining such an invitation varies by locale.

  1. The National Society Colonial Dames XVII Century ( XVII Century or variations thereof): Open to women 18 and older whose ancestors lived and served in the colonies prior to 1701. XVII Century has the broadest definition of service.
  2. The Colonial Dames of America ( CDA): Open to women whose ancestor served between the founding of Jamestown in 1607 and the battle of Lexington in 1775. Review the eligibility list at https://cda1890.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Ancestor-Service-Eligibility-List-3.5.2020.pdf.
  3. The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA): Open to women whose ancestors served before 5 July 1776 and had “distinguished” service. Qualifying service varies by colony.

Questions or want help with an application? Contact us.

I want to join the Society of the Cincinnati. How do I start?

Unlike the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, the Society of the Cincinnati does not accept just any ancestor with Revolutionary War military service as qualifying descendants for membership. For your ancestor to qualify you for the Society of the Cincinnati, they cannot have served in the militia or held a non-commissioned rank. They must have been commissioned, served in the Continental Army or Navy, and in most cases, have served for at least three years.

So, how do I know if my ancestor qualifies?

  • You know that you are either a direct descendant or a niece or nephew.
  • You’ve determined that they were of age to serve in the American Revolution. An officer is generally between their 20s and 50s. 30s and 40s is most likely.
  • You know that they lived in that area and that there is not another man of the same name who may have served instead.
  • You know that they served. Check Fold3 for Revolutionary War service records and pension files.
  • You know that they were an officer and served for the required period. Heitman’s Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army can help you confirm.

All conditions met? Contact the constituent society to see if the line is available.

The Society of the Cincinnati

Founded in 1783, The Society of Cincinnati is America’s oldest lineage society, and one of its least known. Per the Society’s “History” page, it was created to serve as support of the commissioned officers of the Continental Army. Since 1854, it has welcomed descendants of those who joined the society in 1783 and those who did not join but met the society’s standards for qualification.

Per the Society, qualifications are as follows:

The basic qualifications of membership are defined in the Institution of the Society of the Cincinnati, adopted in 1783. The Institution provided for the admission of commissioned officers in the Continental and French service who had served to the end of the war and those who had resigned with honor after a minimum of three years’ service as a commissioned officer. The Institution also provided for the admission of commissioned officers who had been separated from the army in a reorganization involving the merging of two or more units. The contemporary term for this was “derangement.”

In short, the following basic requirements must be met for an individual to considered a qualified.

  • The individual must descend from a commission officer.
  • That officer may not have served in the militia.
  • They must have either served to the end of the War or resigned after three years service.

The most constituent societies have an additional qualification: the line must be available. Membership in the Society generally passes by primogeniture, from eldest son to eldest son. If the line dies out or a descendant chooses not to pursue membership, a new line in the direct descent may lay claim to the line. If they do not, it becomes available to nieces or nephews of the qualifying ancestors. As a result, the Society remains competitive to join.

Applications while Home Bound

Do you have an application to the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sons of the American Revolution, the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the Colonial Dames, or another lineage society in process? Are you wondering how to proceed?

Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Don’t panic! You can still work on your application.
  2. If you have yet to gather all your documentation, keep researching. Many vital records offices and archives are still filling mail requests. Don’t forget to check FamilySearch to see if the required records have been microfilmed.
  3. Have all your documentation? Get it organized. Sort your supporting documentation by generation. Make a list of all your citations.
  4. Ready to submit? File the request with the historian or registrar. (Most are working by email from home.)
  5. Follow their submission instructions precisely. They may ask you to submit a digital copy or to mail to a different address so that it can be reviewed by genealogists working from home.
  6. Be patient! Societies are still reviewing. Things are just moving more slowly, since everyone’s working from home.