While the documentation requirements for these societies differ slightly, the general steps for obtaining membership are the same. (For more information about the SAR and DAR, and additional details about each step listed below, see http://sar.org and http://dar.org.)
1) Determine if you are eligible to join
This can seem like a daunting task! In order to join the SAR or DAR, you must be descended from a person who provided support to the American Colonies during the Revolutionary War. A common misconception is that the ancestor has to have actually been a soldier. This is not the case! Some examples of non-military service include farmers who provided food or supplies, men or women who donated money or goods to support the cause, nurses who provided care, and ministers who promoted patriotic acts. The difficulty is that not only do you need to prove your lineage back to that ancestor, which is usually 7-9 generations back, you also need to prove that they provided some kind of service. Also, the lineage has to be a direct blood-line, which means there can be no adoptions, no step-parents, no uncles, etc. However, you do NOT have to follow one surname all the way back. You can jump from paternal line to maternal line and back again as much as needed. What this means is that since most Patriot ancestors are 7-9 generations back, many people have anywhere from 64 to 128 ancestors who potentially provided some kind of service, which gives you a lot of options.
2) Find and contact your local SAR or DAR Chapter
While both the SAR and the DAR are National lineage societies, neither allows you to join the National Society without first joining your local or State chapter. It is recommended that you contact your local chapter early-on in the process because they will assign someone to your case, provide guidance about what is needed for your application, and help you prepare your application for submission.
3) Collect and organize your documentation
Once you’ve determined which line you will use for your application, you’ll need to collect all the required documentation to prove your lineage back to your Patriot ancestor. This is where the requirements for the SAR and DAR vary somewhat, and your local chapter representative will come in handy. They can tell you what kind of documentation they want to see for each generation on your application. While this step can also be a daunting task, it’s not always as bad as it sounds. Both the SAR and the DAR keep databases of lineages submitted by other members. If your Patriot has already had their service proven by someone else, you can purchase a copy of that application with its accompanying documentation and use it for your own application. It’s even better if the member who submitted the application shares common early generations with you, because then you’ll receive documentation for those generations as well, and you won’t need to collect as much documentation of your own.
4) Fill out and submit your application
Each lineage society has a specific application form that will need to be filled out, and each has spaces to include source citations for your documentation. It is fairly common to turn in your application and have it come back stating that you need additional documentation for certain generations. Don’t get discouraged! This can be a good thing, because it gives you an idea of how close you are to being accepted, and what kind of documentation they are still looking for. Applications are always submitted to the local chapter first, and they will take care of forwarding them to the State and National level. There are different fees associated with applying to each level (local, State, National), and these fees vary depending on the state you live in, so your chapter representative will help you determine how much you need to pay, and to whom. After that, the only thing left to do is wait! Applications can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months to be reviewed and accepted, but your chapter representative will contact you as soon as they hear back.
Once you are accepted to either the SAR or the DAR, you can give yourself a huge pat on the back! Not only have you proven you are descended from a Patriot who helped make the United States the amazing place it is today, but you’ll have learned a lot of history and details about your family in the process, and that information is priceless.
How can Legacy Tree Genealogy help you?
We can research your family tree to help you determine if you are eligible for membership, and then we can also help you obtain the documentation you’ll need to complete your application. While your chapter representative will provide you with guidance about what you need and help you fill out your application, they are generally not in a position to help you with the actual research. Since we have access to the largest collection of genealogical records in the world (at the Family History Library), and we also have professional genealogists on our team who have worked on lineage society applications for others, we can help you fill in holes in your family tree and find the documents you need.
Legacy Tree Genealogists, Inc. is a professional family history research company based out of Salt Lake City, Utah – near the famous Family History Library. We’re headed by Jessica Taylor, a BYU family history grad, genealogy guru, and mom of three (all girls). Our posts are written by Jessica or one of the fabulous Project Managers or Researchers on our TEAM (these people know their stuff!). We hope our posts are helpful to you. Feel free to CONTACT US with questions!