Daughters of the American Revolution
What: Service organization dedicated to historical conservation, education, and the promotion of patriotism.
Who: Females over 18 directly descended from any rebel participant in the American Revolution.
Founded: October 11, 1890
Number of Members: 168,000
Motto: "God, Home, and Country"
Daughters of the American Revolution is an organization composed of direct female descendents of Revolution veterans. Based in Washington DC, DAR has become a significant contributor to scholarships, memorials, museums, and restoration projects.
Daughters of the American Revolution was founded on October 11, 1890, by a group of women with familial ties to the Revolution. Worried that American history and American artifacts were fading and in disrepair, these women created DAR to help educate the population and better preserve historical items for the future. Along with creating the society, the founders also built a library to house, display, and protect the relevant historical treasures of its members.
In 1896, as DAR was incorporated by Congress, they also founded a library of genealogical papers and historical documents. Originally, this was primarily to verify membership in the society. However, by 1900, the Library was opened to the public and served mainly educational purposes.
Later on, as DAR grew in size, it provided funds, training, and women in many wars. In the Spanish-American War, the Daughters trained nurses and donated to the navy. In WWI, nurses who did not qualify for government pensions had their pensions financed by DAR. Also, money was donated to several destroyed villages in Europe. In WWII, the organization gave care packages to thousands of soldiers and the use of all its facilities to the Red Cross.
After WWII, DAR participated in several environmental projects and also successfully petitioned Congress to make the week of September 17-23 to be Constitution Week.
For all its service, however, DAR has had some ties to a segregationist past and allegations of racial discrimination haunt it to this day. In 1939, African-American singer Marian Anderson was prevented from performing at DAR's Constitution Hall. Outraged, Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the society and arranged for Anderson to perform at the Lincoln Memorial in front of 70,000 people. DAR later apologized for the incident and invited the singer to perform several benefit concerts in Constitution Hall. The organization soon instituted an anti-discrimination policy, but even today doubts have been raised about the inclusiveness of DAR. The Genealogical Library has been accused of concealing the records of black revolutionaries in order to deny membership to their African-American descendants. The Daughters nearly lost their tax-exempt status as they fought a legal battle to exclude Lena Santos Ferguson, a black woman, from membership in the 1980s. While Ferguson was eventually given entry, the reluctance of DAR in yielding up the genealogical records of allegedly black patriots has cast a pallor of doubt over the entire organization.
Now encompassing over a hundred thousand members in 3000 chapters, DAR has refocused on education, patriotism, and severing its ties to racial inequality. It distributes pamphlets on the proper care and display of flags to schools across the country. It also publishes a citizenship manual along with classes and support for new citizens. Care packages are distributed to active American soldiers worldwide through the outreach program, Project Patriot. According their website, over 55,000 hours of volunteer work are donated to veterans each year by DAR members. Substantial sums were donated to a fund to finance a monument to black Revolutionary War soldiers. Also, the organization runs several schools for troubled or handicapped children and offers over $150,000 of scholarships to highschoolers each year.
Daughters of the American Revolution Website