Cemetery records can support ancestral claims to a patriot.
Cemetery records can support ancestral claims to a patriot.

Membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, or DAR, honors a relative’s participation in the war that led to U.S. independence. Women join the DAR through one of the organization's 3,000 chapters that assist them in preparing their application. To become a "daughter" you must be at least 18 years old, prove you are descended directly from someone who supported the independence effort and pay an application fee and annual dues.

Getting Started

The DAR recommends that you begin with a simple family tree chart that links you to your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. For each individual on your chart, you need documents of proof such as birth or baptismal certificates that include parental names, death and marriage certificates. Once you have these generations documented, your genealogical research for membership can take one of two routes: building on the patriot proof from a relative who joined DAR or establishing your own patriotic link.

Daughter in the Family

Assembling your application and supporting documents becomes easier when one of your relatives was or is a "daughter," because your patriot ancestor's Revolutionary War service has been established. You need only prove your ancestral link to that patriot. In addition to your four most recent generations, extend your ancestry chart back to the patriot ancestor you have in common with another DAR member. DAR accepts census and cemetery records, tombstone photos with legible inscriptions, obituaries and Bible and court records such as probates and wills. At this stage of your membership campaign, contact a local DAR chapter or give the national office a completed a membership interest form so it can help you locate a local chapter. The registrar can forward copies of your DAR relative's application to help you finish your official membership application.

Finding an Ancestor

To discover a Revolutionary War patriot in your family, trace your ancestry back to a descendant who was living in the service period recognized by the DAR: April 19, 1775 -- the Battle of Lexington -- to Nov. 26, 1783, or the day the British withdrew from New York. You may have to do a lot of digging to prove your relationship to this individual and the service she rendered to the American independence cause. Acceptable types of service range from signing the Declaration of Independence to donating money or supplies. Debbie Duay, former lineage research chairman for the Florida State DAR Society, recommends checking DAR online resources, such as the DAR Patriot Index or ancestor database, to determine if your relative has been verified previously and the DAR descendants index to find a distant relative who was a daughter and whose application may be used to prepare your own. If your searches come up dry, you still have the opportunity to prove a new patriot with additional research.

Submitting Your Application

The registrar from the chapter you want to join will help you with your research. She will also ensure that you have all the documents you need, including copies of birth, marriage and death certificates, and any other information that proves your relationship to the patriot and his service such as copies of maps, wills and census, pension and cemetery records. The registrar then assembles your application and submits it to DAR's national headquarters in Washington, D.C., where a genealogist will verify all names, dates and places you list. Write your name, your patriot ancestor's name and the DAR chapter's name on the back of all duplicated documents that accompany your application. Keep copies of all papers you submit, as the application process may take several months. At the time of publication, the application fee is $75. Once approved, be prepared to pay national, state and chapter annual dues totaling $52 or more, depending on state and chapter membership fees.