Remember how fun it was to make new friends? You shared glue with a girl once and all of a sudden you were invited to her birthday party for the next decades? Your parents organized play dates, you met other kids on your local soccer teams and school was full of potential friends. But then, after high school or college, things got hared. Was it okay to be friends with colleagues at work? Did you want to be? Are you still close to your college friends or have you spread yourselves far and wide? Are you and your high school friends all in different stages of life–some of you single in the city, some married with two kids? Well, trust me, I know that post-grad friend making is exhausting. It can be confusing, hard to maintain, and awkward at times.
BUT—these are ways to save yourself the struggle. Adult social organizations–like Junior League, Daughters of the American Revolution, The Deltas, League of Women’s Voters, etc–are great ways to get to know your community, make new friends who share your basic interests but will represent a diverse field–and you can give back to the world in unique ways.
This is the beginning of a new mini-series on some of these social organizations that can help young women find friendship and community post-grad, and today we’ll be talking about the Daughters of the American Revolution, a social and volunteer-based group for women who can trace their lineage back to people who gave aid to the American cause during, you guessed it, the American Revolution.
I spoke to four women who are members of the DAR around the country. Their answers are below!
How long have you been a member of this organization?
“5 years total, active for 18 months”
What initially drew you to this organization?
“I love America history and America. I was fascinated with the American Revolution as a kid after reading the Felicity American Girl books! I was really proud to find out that I’m the ancestor of someone who fought for our country”
“I first became interested in DAR because of my passion for genealogy and American military history.”
“I am a huge lover of history, philanthropy, and genealogy. I love how DAR combines both and seeks to promote patriotism, educate, and preserve American History. I met with a local chapter leader and she helped me with my application and introduced me to the chapter. The first time I met all of these women, I knew that DAR was something special and that these women truly loved this country.”
“Honestly, my grandmother did the genealogical research and I didn’t know much about the organization beforehand. But when I graduated college, and moved to a new city, I was looking for ways to not only make friends but also find camaraderie, do service, and grow. Luckily, there are DAR chapters EVERYWHERE. “
What are the requirements for membership?
“Being a woman, 18 and the descendent of someone who fought in the American Revolution as a patriot. “
“To join DAR, you must be able to prove you are a direct descendant of a Revolutionary War patriot using vital records.”
“In order to be a member, you have to prove that you have a direct link to an ancestor who fought in the American Revolution or died for the cause. In addition to that, you have to be 18 years or older. “
“Your must prove your lineage to someone who aided in the American Revolution. It doesn’t have to be just soldiers though! If you don’t know about genealogy, each chapter has a registrar and a lineage research committee who can help you get started! It is a LOT easier to go in if you’ve had a family member go in before–check with grandparents, aunts, etc. “
What was the application or membership attainment process like?
“You have to be able to prove that your a descendent of someone who fought in the American Revolution. For me it was fairly easy to track because it was all well documented already. But for some it can be a more difficult process, it’s much easier with online genealogy though.”
“The application process took me over a year because I was missing proof of a generation in the line of my revolutionary patriot. The proof was found with the help of my chapter’s registrar who worked creatively–even driving five hours round trip to a graveyard–to get the last piece of documentation I needed to join DAR.”
“There are multiple different avenues that you could take and, since everyone’s genealogy is different, the application process is different for every prospective daughter. In my case, I had already traced my family back to the war and found a documentation piece for every generation leading up to it to prove that they were all related. My chapter also helped me find a few more pieces of information that would be help to “prove” my genealogy. From then, my chapter helped me to send it in to Nationals for them to approve. Once I got approved, I was eligible to join a chapter. If you haven’t done any form of genealogical research, DAR has genealogists who will do all of the work for you and will help to prove you’re lineage. There is an application fee, which is $75”
“The paperwork can be kind of confusing at first, but it’s pretty straight forward. You must prove who you came from for each generation back to the Revolution. This includes birth certificates, death records, census records, etc. You also must prove your patriot’s service–though lots are already in the system. It’s really cool to dive through history like that!”
What’s your favorite part about being a member of the organization?
“Being around other women who love America as much as I do and are proud to be american. “
“DAR is filled to the brim with smart, passionate, and thoughtful women who want to make a positive impact in the world and share an interest in American history.”
“There are so many things about DAR that are incredible but I’d have to say the women that I have met through it. I have met friends of all ages and many of them have become mentors and dear friends of mine. Everyone considers themselves a “daughter” or a “sister” and they all seek to lift each other up and are all down for the cause.”
“I love the different things my DAR chapter does to stay active–from drinking boxed wine at meetings to making care packages for veterans for Valentine’s Day to touring museums and hearing lectures from cool people. We are a really young chapter, comparatively, and super active, so I love that I’ll never be bored within my chapter.”
What is your favorite event that you’ve participated in as part of this organization?
“My initiation was really cool, I haven’t gotten to do much since COVID hit and most of our members are older “
“Some of the highlights are greeting WWII veterans at the WWII Memorial followed by brunch at a historic hotel, chartering a bus trip to the American Revolution Museum in Philadelphia, and preparing meals for DC’s in-need populations.”
“I attended the Arizona State Conference in 2019 and it was incredible. The weekend was filled with events, presentations, speakers, and galas. Every night you got to dress up and attend a big dinner and one night there was a gala. On the night of the gala, all of the debutantes were presented and it was the highlight of the night. “
“Oooh, that’s a tough one! In general, I really enjoy our book clubs–we pick great books! But I also really enjoyed playing DAR Jeopardy at one of my first meetings–I had so much to learn, but it was so cool. “
If you could give one piece of advice to a new member, what would it be?
“That heritage is important and you should be proud to be an ancestor of someone who fought to create our country. “
“The advice I would give to a new member is to attend as much as you can and introduce yourself to everyone.”
“Take your time finding a chapter and make sure you find one that is the best fit for you. Every single chapter is different and you want to be able to find your home. In addition to that, I would really take your time in finding out what you want to get involved in. There are hundreds of different ways you could help and it is super easy to take on too much, take it from me who signed up for 3 committees/positions in my first month. Pick a few things that you are super passionate about and go from there!”
“Be involved! Don’t just attend meetings. Volunteer for a community, take the Members Course, and let your regent know you’re interested in being active and they’ll find ways to use you!”
What are the financial costs associated with membership?
“My application was $130 I believe and our annual dues are $30”
““The cost of membership is around $90 annually for chapter, state, and national dues. All chapter events are free. State and national conferences have fees, but fees are waved if you volunteer as part of a junior member program. “
“Every chapter has different dues ranging from $10-50 depending on where they hold their meetings, events, etc. There are also state fees, which usually aren’t that much and national dues. Per year, membership is usually around $90-$150 total.”
“Membership fees vary by state and chapter, and National Dues have been increasing regularly, but in total last year, I paid about $85 in dues fees. Most events are free, though some ask for a small donation to an organization or cause. “
What are the time commitments associated with membership? How often are you involved?
“You can be as involved or uninvolved as you’d like. We had monthly meetings (pre COVID) no more than a few hours a month. “
“I attend events two to three times per month. In addition, I hang out with fellow members weekly. “
“It is completely up to you on how much you want to get involved! If you just want to attend meetings, many chapters have formal meetings once a month and some sprinkle in some fun volunteer or social activities as well. If you end up signing up for a committee or an executive board position, you will have to spend a little more time on that per month. “
“You can truly be as involved as you want. Some members never come to meetings. Some come just to meetings. And some serve on board and therefore put in more time, and some attend every single event we have! It really ranges, but at most you can usually attend like one or two activities a week and do as much work on your supplemental, committees, etc as you’d like!”
How has the organization shaped you as a young woman? Have you made friends in the organization? Has it changed your relationship to your city?
“I’m the youngest person in my chapter by FAR. But it’s given me the opportunity to connect with women I likely wouldn’t have met other wise. I’d really like to get more people closer to my age involved.”
“DAR has helped me build a network of driven, professional women who share my appreciation for the history of Washington, DC. Because of DAR, I always have a friend who is eager to join me in attending preservation, philanthropic, and educational events. DAR gives me a sense of ownership over our nation’s capitol from the cleaning of memorials with fellow members to DAR’s headquarters next to the White House. Our ancestors laid the figurative stones for this city and our country founded on individual freedoms and liberty.”
“This organization has given me so many tools, mentors, and opportunities for me to grow as a women. The people that I have met have made the biggest impact on me and have been huge supporters of mine. I joined when I first moved to Arizona and then when I move to Texas and it gave me an instant sense of belonging and an instant way to connect with people. Each chapter has a unique story or reason of purpose and, many times, there is some sort of historical connection with the name of the chapter to the city that it was formed in. It has given me many more opportunities to learn about the state that I was living in and has helped me to appreciate and love each state’s history. “
“My DAR chapter has definitely made me feel more grounded in the city! I’m friendly with lots of our regular attendees, and enjoy how “adult” I feel participating in our events. It’s also helped me curate a love of history even further, introduced me to great books, and shown me unique service opportunities I’d have never known about otherwise. “
Were you in a sorority in college?