With the final 2013 membership statistics now collected, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution recorded its most significant gain in new members in the history of the 123 year old organization. A record 13,906 new members were welcomed into the DAR in 2013. The previous record was set more than 90 years ago in 1921 when 13,805 women were accepted into the organization in that year.
As of Jan. 1, the official DAR membership count for 2014 is 177,049, a net increase of 3,529 members from the official membership count from the beginning of 2013.
“We are extremely proud of this new membership milestone,” stated DAR President General Lynn Young. “The growing membership of the Daughters of the American Revolution represents our organization’s relevance in today’s ever-changing world as we continue to passionately honor our heritage, focus on the future and celebrate America.”
The highest DAR membership totals peaked around the time of the United States Bicentennial in the late 1970s and early 1980s but this was followed by a steady decrease for many years. Starting in 2007, however, the DAR has seen an increase in total membership each year and the past three years have all ranked in the top five for years with the most new members accepted into the DAR. In the past seven years since membership began increasing, the DAR has gained a total of more than 14,000 in net membership.
Coinciding with our most recent gains in membership, seven years ago the Daughters of the American Revolution rolled out its Genealogical Resource System which is a free resource provided by the DAR to aid general research and to assist with the DAR membership process. The GRS is a collection of databases that provide access to the many materials amassed by the DAR since its founding in 1890. The GRS is the result of a multi-million dollar process launched by the organization to scan DAR genealogical resources and then use DAR member volunteers to go through and index and transcribe all of the old DAR applications, making them searchable online to the public.
Any woman 18 years or older who can prove lineal, bloodline descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence is eligible to join the DAR. Each DAR applicant must provide genealogical research that documents her lineage back to an ancestor from the Revolutionary War era. The application and source documentation must provide proof of relation for each generation going back to the Patriot ancestor, as well documentation for the Revolutionary War service of her Patriot. The applications, supplemental applications and source documentation of the more than 920,000 women who have joined the DAR since its founding, provide genealogical information for the public and those women wishing to become DAR members.
With genealogical resources more readily accessible through the GRS, as well as an increase in other online genealogical sources, many have found the process of collecting important historical documentation to prove lineage has become easier. As a result, the DAR membership application process has also become smoother. DAR Headquarters has also invested in updating workflows and imaging software making the internal application approval process more efficient.
Advancements in the DAR membership management software also allows DAR members to better track prospective members and assist them in the membership application process. Essentially, increased technology has empowered DAR members to be more efficient in recruiting new members.
At the core, DAR is a grassroots organization with members primarily recruiting women on the local level. In addition to increased technology, the growth of DAR membership can be attributed to DAR chapters making an impact in their local communities, illustrating how DAR is a meaningful and relevant organization that today’s woman should want to join, said officials. Prospective members see that DAR members are making a difference in their communities, contributing to a combined three million hours of community service around the world in 2013 alone. Many women also recognize that joining DAR is a way for them to honor and preserve their family history, because when their DAR application is approved, all of the genealogical family history that is included with it is conserved by the DAR for all future generations.
Close to 35% percent of the DAR membership represents those women who have recently joined in the past seven years of growth and 46 percent of the membership is women who have been DAR members for 25 years or more. That mix of new members and long-time members provides a blend of fresh ideas and initiatives as well as rooted traditions and history, said officials. The Daughters of the American Revolution continues to grow and look to the future while celebrating America.
There are five local chapters: Chickamauga, Nancy Ward, Chief John Ross, Judge David Campbell and Moccasin Bend.
To learn more about the DAR Genealogical Research System, visit www.dar.org/grs.
For more information about joining the Daughters of the American Revolution, visit www.dar.org/membership.