Lineage Society

DAR’s updated DNA policy: what does it mean for you?

The Daughters of the American Revolution recently announced that they will begin accepting autosomal and mitochrondrial DNA. See https://www.dar.org/national-society/genealogy/dna-and-dar-applications and https://blog.dar.org/dar-begins-accepting-autosomal-dna for details. What does it mean for you?

If you can document your entire line back to a qualifying ancestor “on paper,” little to nothing will change. DAR will continue to verify applications in the way that they have always done.

If you have an adoption or other case of “not expected parentage” more than three generations into the line, nothing will change. You can make a case using y-DNA in combination with documentary evidence.

The big change comes if you have a case of adoption or other “not expected” parentage in the first three generations. For those generations, you are now allowed to submit autosomal DNA evidence and/or mitochrondrial DNA evidence in combination with your documentary evidence to make a case. Be aware, this is far more complex than just handing over a list of your DNA matches.

You will need to test or have access to the test kits of the individuals who share enough DNA in common with you to make your case, whether that is a series of likely first cousin matches or a half-sibling. Those individuals will need to sign permission to share their DNA results with DAR and upload their kits to the DAR group on FamilyTreeDNA. You’ll be asked to complete a form with their signatures, an indication of how they connect to your common ancestor and what you are trying to prove by DNA. With that form, you’ll also need to submit documentary evidence.

DNA cannot stand alone. If you choose to use DNA, be sure that all arguments are adequately documented and supported with “paper” evidence. Above all, be sure to obtain consent from your matches. To turn in results without permission is an ethical violation.

Lineage Society

Researching Revolutionary Service in France

The American Revolution wasn’t just fought in the boundaries of the modern United States. It was truly fought around the world. The Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution recognize that fact by allowing membership based on ancestor’s support of the American cause, no matter where they were located. That includes France.

How did France support the American cause? The country did so politically, militarily, and economically. A treaty was signed between France and the new United States in 1778. A 1936 article indicates 2112 French soldiers died in the support of the American cause. As the US State Department notes, France also kept the Continental Army supplied between 1778 and the end of the War. Ancestors who offered support through any of these efforts would qualify for the Revolutionary War lineage societies.

Where do you begin finding evidence? The Daughters of the American Revolution and the French Society of the Cincinnati both keep extensive records. So to do the publications contained in the National Library of France. It’s worth beginning with this one: https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5525402h.texteImage.

Happy hunting!

Lineage Society

Researching African American patriots

African American “patriots” – the term used by the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution to describe individuals who supported the American cause during the American Revolution – are underrepresented among the verified DAR and SAR ancestors.

Why?

  1. Many African American patriots served as Continental line soldiers, as opposed to militia soldiers. This changes where their records were stored. Militias were handled locally; the Continental line records are stored federally. This difference in storage means that someone researching a region rather than a specific name is likely to miss a Continental line soldier.
  2. At least locally in New England, many African American patriots – particularly soldiers – ended up in unmarked graves, due to a combination of systemic racism, poverty, and disability resulting from their long military service. If you’re looking for a gravestone indicating military service, you may not find one. That means the soldier is less likely to be recognized as a patriot.
  3. These lineage societies have had a history of racism, most notably DAR’s 1939 refusal to allow Marian Anderson to use their performance space. They are working hard to address their pasts and fully recognize the service of all patriots. DAR, for example, just announced an initiative to support further research. But, change is unfortunately slow, and much more work is needed to fully recognize the commitment of these men and women.

So, what can be done to change that?

  1. Some of the changes have to be made by the lineage societies themselves. They need to make themselves visible to all communities, just not the ones they’ve traditionally reached. Some chapters are making an effort to do that. However, if you see a need, feel to free reach out. You may be educating a chapter or helping them accomplish a goal that they’ve had and not known how to fulfill.
  2. If you know your ancestry, think about membership. Are you descended from one of these men or women? If so, please think about joining. You’ll be promoting change in a positive way. Even if you’re not interested in membership, please share your ancestor’s story. DAR and SAR both have ways of publicly recognizing the service of patriots separate from membership.
  3. If you don’t know your ancestry, don’t give up! There are active projects working to trace the descendants of patriots, including patriots of color. If you know your family was from a specific region, be sure to connect with the local DAR or SAR organization. They may be able to help.

We’ve only touched the tip of a very complex topic. If you have questions about the application process or DAR/SAR recognition of African American patriots, please contact us. We’ll be glad to share resources, and we’d love to do more posts!

Lineage Society

Common DAR and SAR questions: Does the ancestor need to have my last name?

This questions come up enough to surprise me: do your Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution ancestors need to share your last name?

There’s a simple answer: no. While choosing a qualifying ancestor with your last name is a great way to honor your heritage, you can choose any ancestor in your family tree who meets the qualification requirements for DAR and SAR. And they do not need to be a direct female line or male line ancestor.

Have fun hunting!

Contact us with questions.

Lineage Society

Common DAR + SAR questions: Do all your ancestors need to be married?

Yes, lineage societies have historically required that your ancestors be legitimate – that their parents must be married – and some lineage societies still do.

That being said, the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution are not among them. They require “proof” that the child is the child of the parents, not that the child is the product of the married parents.

If you’re confused, don’t worry. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. If the child’s parents were married, expect to be asked for documentation of marriage. In some older lines, it might be the only way to document the child’s mother, as birth records often only included the father’s name.
  2. If the child’s parents were not married, that should not be an issue, provided that the birth certificate lists the names of the parents. Expect to be asked to provide a note explaining the circumstances, just so the genealogist knows not to look for a marriage record.

Want to learn more about DAR or SAR applications? Read more on our blog.

Have a question we haven’t answered? Contact us.

Lineage Society

Common DAR + SAR application questions: why hire a professional genealogist?

Do professional genealogists work on applications for the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution? Is there value to hiring a professional genealogist when I can do the work myself?

Yes.

And it depends on your goals.

You can definitely do the work yourself (and it’s a great option if you can and want to) but it’s fairly common to get stuck part way through the process. There’s a relationship you can’t document or a vital record you can’t figure out how to obtain. While the society may be able to help, a professional genealogist may have knowledge or resources the society may not. More than once, we’ve been able to get around brick walls or find a missing document that a local volunteer just couldn’t reach.

And there are occasions where you just can’t do the work yourself. A small child (or grandchild) at home, an ill family member, a busy job are all very valid reasons for not having time to complete an application. DAR and SAR aren’t set up to order almost every single certificate for you and do all the research. We are.

Want to learn more? Check out our lineage society applications page or contact us with questions.

Lineage Society

Common DAR + SAR questions: Will the Daughters of the American Revolution help with my application?

The simple answer is yes, the Daughters of the American Revolution will help with your application – but you may have to ask for it.

The DAR has a couple of different systems for offering help, and each chapter participates differently.

  1. On the chapter level, your chapter registrar may do research, or the chapter may have a genealogical research committee.
  2. On the state level, the state registrar or genealogical research chair may hold help sessions. A state application team may be available to help with difficult applications.
  3. On the national level, there is a few places the registrar can go to ask for help.

Things to know:

  1. The local registrar’s job is to do your application paperwork, not research. Not every registrar has the time to do research or has chapter committees available to assist, so it’s appropriate to ask for a referral to someone that can help with research if needed.
  2. You will have the best experience if you try to do some or most of the work yourself and come to DAR when you truly need help. Help programs are set up to deal with you getting stuck, not to trace your whole line.
  3. Don’t be surprised if you’re not allowed to see a completed application until you sign. Researchers are trying to ensure that their help goes where it was intended – to complete your application.

Questions? Contact us.

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Common DAR + SAR application questions: Grandma’s or Grandpa’s papers

Are you working on your Daughters of the American Revolution or Sons of the American Revolution application? Since Grandma or Grandpa was a member, it’s going to be easy, right?

Maybe.

The answer to the question of “can you use a family member’s papers to join DAR or SAR?” is always yes. But the answer of “to what extent” is going to vary.

Why? Because the standards used by the society have changed since Grandma or Grandpa submitted. They’ve changed in the last two or three years. If the original application doesn’t meet modern standards, you’ll only be able to use it as a hint.

How do you know? Ask for help. You won’t be able to tell on your own. We’d be glad to take a look. Your registrar should also be able to tell.

Questions? Want help. Contact us.

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Common DAR + SAR questions: Indexes

The “SSDI” (Social Security Death Index) or other index seems to have the vital records information you need to make your case for your Daughters of the American Revolution or Sons of the American Revolution application – and it would save you money. Can you use it?

Nope, sorry! While index files were once allowed by DAR and SAR, they haven’t been for the last several years. You’ll need to use the information on the index to order a copy of a vital record instead.

However abstracts with indexes, such as Connecticut’s Barbour Collection and Rhode Island’s Arnold Collection are currently be accepted. This is a common point of confusion, so be sure to discuss in detail with your registrar.

Have questions or need help? Contact us.

Lineage Society

Common DAR + SAR application questions: Family Bibles

That family Bible is a goldmine, tracing your family back decades and recording crucial dates of birth, marriage, and death. But can you use it for your Daughters of the American Revolution or Sons of the American Revolution application?

It depends. There are a few things you need to confirm:

  1. Do you have the title page of the Bible (with the publication date) or other evidence of it? It was common for families to recopy old information into new Bibles, which can introduce mistakes.
  2. Does that the publication date occur within the lifetime of the individuals mentioned in the Bible? A couple who received a Bible as a wedding present could fairly accurately (at least to the best of their knowledge) enter their birth information and the names of their parents. They’re far less likely to accurately enter the birth information of their grandparents.
  3. Does the handwriting and ink fit the period? Families held on to Bibles for generations and may have added or changed dates over time. (Multiple styles of handwriting or “hands” can also indicate a change in scribe.) If you note changes, use with care.
  4. Does it actually answer your question? If you are seeking to prove a parent-child relationship between individuals in the Bible, but the Bible doesn’t actually state relationships, find another source!

Have questions? Contact us!