American Indian Collection
The DAR has long had an interest in Native Americans, and its American Indians Committee, established in 1936, "provides financial assistance and educational aid to native American youth" through support of several schools and with a scholarship program. With this activity as background, the DAR Library established a special collection in 1987 designed to assist with Native American research using existing holdings and newly donated materials. It has continued to expand since its inception. Now numbering some 2,000 volumes, the American Indian Collection provides historical and genealogical information on first peoples across the United States.
While the focus of this collection is general history and culture, genealogical studies and guidebooks are becoming more numerous. Researchers will find histories of specific Native American nations, state studies, and materials on interactions with European and African settlers. There are six shelves concerning the Cherokee alone. In addition to the special collection itself, much information on Native Americans can be found throughout the collection under the states and their counties.
The American Indian Collection supplements another nearby gathering of materials on Native Americans, the Natural Resources Library at the Department of the Interior. This library is open to the public but does not circulate books. Its holdings on American Indians are quite extensive and contain many valuable materials for genealogical research.
As a major women's organization, the DAR has collected women's history materials for many years. In the late 1980s the Library began to develop an organized women's history collection using existing holdings and new publications. The assembled materials focus on the role played by women in the development of the United States, the women's rights movement of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and histories of women in the various states. Records relating to women in American history are found throughout the DAR collections. A natural focus of the American Women's History Collection is women's experience during the period of the American Revolution. Other books examine legal, cultural, and family ties in broad social context.
The DAR Library's file collection is a mixture of materials which have come with DAR membership applications, subsequent donations by DAR members, and items given by the public. Innumerable Bible records, family studies, pamphlets, and research notes are included. Numbering an estimated 5,400 folders, the richness and variety of the collection covers the entire United States and concentrates on the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries, with significant colonial records as well.
There are no published or in-house guides to the files, which grow by several boxes each month, but the simple arrangement in one alphabet within each division of the files by the names of Revolutionary War ancestors or family surnames makes for relatively easy retrieval.
Numbering some 20,000 typescript volumes, the Genealogical Records Committee Reports, as they are collectively called, comprise one of the most important and unique parts of the DAR Library's holdings. DAR members have gathered and submitted these unpublished compilations of Bible, cemetery, family, vital, county, town, church, and military records since the late 1910s. The pre-1972 books were microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah on nearly 3,000 microfilm rolls, but a greater number have arrived since this filming. Because the work of the Genealogical Records Committee is ongoing, users of the Library should expect to find new material throughout the year.
State DAR societies may also place copies of their reports in a library or libraries in that state. Frequently, these will be the state library, historical society, or a major public library. Sometimes there is a small State DAR library.
The DAR Library in Washington is the only research center owning nearly all of the Genealogical Records Committee Reports comprising the national set. Approximately 100-125 new books arrive each year. In-house indexes provide access to the contents of these volumes. A current project within the DAR Library seeks to enter the contents page of each Report into the cataloging record for that volume which appears in the Library's on-line catalog. These contents notes are searchable.
Approximately 96% of the nearly 20,000 GRCs have been scanned. The scanned GRCs can be viewed in the Seimes Technology Center, Room 108, using the Genealogical Research System (GRS). The scanned GRCs are not available for viewing outside of the DAR Building.
A growing manuscript library of identifiable collections of genealogical research materials is one of the lesser known components of the DAR Library. Frequently, boxes and folders of notes, documents, unpublished genealogies, and indexes arrive. Examples include the Anne Waller Reddy Collection of Virginia family research performed by a Richmond genealogist in the mid-twentieth century; a two-drawer card file containing data on the Oysterbank family of New England; a largely complete run of The Hartford Times (Connecticut) genealogical queries column, 1934-1964; and Lyman Chalkley's original annotated typescript for his three-volume publication Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, first published by the DAR in 1912.
An extensive collection within the Manuscript Collection is the supporting files and some documentation for Frederick A. Virkus' (editor) Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy which was collected by the Institute of American Genealogy in Chicago and published in seven volumes between 1925 and 1942. This material was once housed in the Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland. Subsequent transfers lead to its arrival at the DAR Library.
Access to the manuscript collection is through the on-line catalog.The National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) set directs researchers to additional manuscript sources beyond DAR holdings.
The Library often receives requests from individuals for information on a relative's research materials which "were given to the DAR." Very rarely does the staff find such a collection, but sometimes the search is successful. In the past no register of such manuscript donations was maintained, unfortunately, to help clarify such questions. A possible solution may be that the relative gave it to the local DAR chapter or state organization. They in turn may have donated it to a local genealogical or historical society. They may have kept the material for their own files. Such materials are unlikely to appear in indices to manuscript collections such as NUCMC. Researchers should exhaust all possible leads regarding such donations.
Some research notes and materials from individuals do exist on the shelves of the Library. In decades past, the staff apparently took such loose papers, bound them together, and added them to the collection as a volume. These materials appear in the catalog now as books.
With a functioning manuscript collection and proper donation procedures in place, the Library welcomes donations of research material. When such collections arrive, they are given a collection name (usually the name of the donor or compiler), accessioned, cataloged with subject tracings, and added to the Manuscript Collection for use.
In 2003, the National Huguenot Society (NHS) donated its books to the DAR Library. The resulting “National Huguenot Society Collection” of over 500 volumes supplements existing materials at the DAR on the role of French Protestants in the settlement and growth of the American colonies and the United States and on their European backgrounds.
Members of the NHS continue to donate materials to this collection or funds for the DAR Library to use for the purchase of Huguenot-related publications and sources. All items in the collection are cataloged and the records of these volumes appear in the online DAR Library catalog.
The “National Huguenot Society Collection” is available to all researchers coming to the library. Per the donation agreement between NHS and the DAR, members of the former society have free access to the DAR Library with presentation of a valid membership card for the period of ten (10) years from the date of the donation (May 2003), that is through May 2013.
A gathering of books on the men who have served as President and Vice President of the United States and on the First Ladies is available to researchers. In 1999, the lineage society Presidential Families of the America deposited their lineage papers with the DAR Library. These materials are housed in the Librarian General's office and are open to researchers.
Since the beginnings of the DAR Library in the 1890s, members and the public have donated small pamphlets, booklets, newspaper clippings, typescripts, and manuscripts. The diversity of this material covers all areas of the United States, many American families, and untold numbers of subject areas. The DAR Library staff began a project in June 2000 to catalog and arrange this material for the first time into the United States Ephemera Collection. "Ephemera," in library terms, may be defined to cover the vast array of "odds and ends" of information sources which defy easy placement on a bookshelf, in a microfilm drawer, or in an existing manuscript collection. The items in this collection appear in the main on-line catalog and should be requested at the reference desk.
The DAR Library owns about 1,200 volumes of the publications of the Historical Records Survey of the Works Progress Administration (later the Work Projects Administration). Because of the DAR's involvement at the local level in supporting the work of the W.P.A. during its lifetime from 1935 to 1942, the W.P.A. donated many of its publications to the DAR Library because of the work of DAR members in supporting the activities of the W.P.A.
The majority of the published volumes is in the series "Inventory of the County Archives." These inventories of county records list local records found in courthouses in the states at the time the survey was completed. Not all counties in every state have a published inventory. Even if a county of interest is not available, researchers may wish to review an inventory for another county as a representative example of the types of records which should be in any county in that state. Many of the publications have useful introductions and discussions of records and record-keeping practices.
Portions of other W.P.A series are available in the Library's special "W.P.A. Collection." These include inventories of federal records in the states, calendars of manuscript collections, guides to the records of religious bodies, and indices to a few newspapers. All are of potential value to genealogists and should not be overlooked.
Separate from the special collection of W.P.A materials, researchers will also encounter many transcriptions of records at the county level prepared by the W.P.A.'s Historical Records Survey. Several state sections, particularly Michigan, Tennessee, and West Virginia, include numerous such volumes. Once again, because of the DAR's local support for W.P.A projects, the DAR Library received many of these transcriptions which are very similar to the DAR's own Genealogical Records Committee reports.