Daughters of American Revolution Preserve History

Article excerpt

Women were not allowed to engage in politics or enlist in the military at the time of the American Revolution, but that didn't stop them then or now from being an integral part of history.

During the fight for freedom, women raised money for the cause, boycotted British goods, made warm shirts for the troops, nursed the wounded, delivered messages across battle lines and provided food and shelter to soldiers at Valley Forge.

Today, service continues to be a cornerstone of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. DAR is based on preserving American history, promoting education and supporting patriotic endeavors. The organization was incorporated by an Act of Congress in 1896, and today has 3,000 active chapters in the United States and internationally. The DAR preserves local landmarks and historic structures across the country.

The National DAR Headquarters in Washington, D. C., houses one of the nation's premier genealogical libraries, a collection of American decorative arts including quilts, and an early American collection of manuscripts. Its Constitution Hall is a location for many large events.

Illinois has 110 active chapters with many resources and volunteer projects. According to the Illinois DAR site, ildar.org, members donated more than $1 million to the Statue of Liberty restoration and the World War II Memorial. The group also conducts genealogy workshops throughout the state and houses its extensive genealogy library at the Brehm Memorial Library in Mt. Vernon.

The Perrin-Wheaton Chapter of DAR is one of six in the DuPage area. Others are in Naperville, Glen Ellyn, Downers Grove, Elmhurst and Hinsdale. Members may select the chapter that is their best fit and may consider meeting times and activities.

Membership into the nonprofit and nonpolitical volunteer organization is restricted to women who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution.

If that sounds incredible, consider that there are 105 members in the Wheaton chapter. Going back 235 years in research is possible.

"It is amazing to me, too," said longtime Lisle resident Linda Wingstrom. "I started the way experts tell you to, with myself, and worked backward to find my ancestors."

Wingstrom said that many people know their first few generations consisting of their parents, grandparents and maybe even great-grandparents.

From there, Wingstrom encourages persistent digging through any and all records you find such as census, church records, wills, deeds, cemetery details and tax records. The first U. S. census was in 1790. From 1800 to 1840, the census included only the name of the head of the household. Starting in 1850, reports started enumerating everyone in a household by name.

"If you find ancestors who were in this country at the time of the revolution," Wingstrom said, "then you will be successful. …