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Inside this Issue

September/October 2014

Today's Daughters
Glimpse into the lives and passions of the diverse group of women who comprise today’s DAR membership.

National Treasures
Take a step inside the DAR Museum for a closer look at its fascinating collection.

More Articles
Learn about the interesting historical articles from this issue.

To Come in Our Next Issue
Preview the exciting stories to be featured in the next issue of American Spirit.


Today's Daughters
An American Abroad

By Lena Anthony  
Photographs courtesy of Molly Roby
Volume 148, Number 5, September/October 2014, Page 4

To many Americans, serving one’s country brings to mind military service. But Molly Roby knows that’s just one way to serve. In 2012, Mrs. Roby and her husband, Seth, joined the U.S. Peace Corps, a volunteer organization established by the federal government in 1961 to promote world peace and friendship. They were posted to the West African nation of Ghana, where they began a two-year post as health, water and sanitation volunteers.

Serving in two separate communities in northern Ghana, they worked to educate locals about disease prevention caused by stagnant water and inadequate sanitation, as well as methods to promote health and hygienic practices. They also taught a variety of subjects to high-school students, helped start a half-acre school garden and educated the local youth about American culture, as well as other cultures around the world.

“We worked hard to break down a lot of stereotypes and show them that Americans are very diverse, but that we all have values and goals to promote peace and responsibility to others,” says Mrs. Roby, a member of Sleeping Ute Mountain Chapter, Cortez, Col.

If serving in the Peace Corps sounds like more than a full-time job, in some ways, Mrs. Roby says, it was. “We were on the clock 24 hours a day, seven days a week, not because we were expected to be working every hour of the day on a project, but because every moment we were responsible for our conduct as American citizens.”

One of Mrs. Roby’s proudest achievements during her time in Ghana was the creation of a student-led water and sanitation committee at the high school in Zabzugu. “It was a group of 10 committed, fantastic students,” she says. “We met regularly, and they came up with all of these wonderful projects on their own because they truly wanted to make a difference. We were there just to guide and give them training when they needed it.”

After the Robys left Zabzugu, one of the students involved kept the group going and expanded it on a community-wide level. “It was really hard leaving him because he was such an asset to us and really validated our service,” Mrs. Roby says. “Because of him, we know we left something behind.”

The Robys next moved north to Tamale where, in addition to their work with the local community, they managed the Peace Corps sub-office for volunteers in northern Ghana.

As Peace Corps volunteers around the world are expected to do, the Robys lived at the same level as the people in the villages they served. In Zabzugu, that meant fetching water from a borehole, cooking traditional cuisine using local ingredients such as yams, cassava and corn, speaking the local Dagbani language, and living off of a modest stipend.

One luxury they did enjoy was electricity. The couple would charge cell phones for villagers in exchange for local cheese, while a ceiling fan provided much-needed relief during the hot season, when temperatures in the late afternoon reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

They called home every other week, and letters would occasionally arrive from loved ones despite the unreliable mail system. For Easter, Mr. Roby’s mother sent him some dye in an Easter card, and the Robys hosted an Easter celebration and dyed eggs with some of the village youth. “It was fun to share American holidays, foods and traditions with the people,” Mrs. Roby says.

Now that she’s back home, Mrs. Roby says she has a greater understanding of what it means to be an American. “As a DAR member, we look at our ancestors and what they did to help found this country and the responsibility they felt to make sure the country is what it is today,” she says. “For me, Peace Corps goes along with that. I have this responsibility to be a global citizen because of the values I have as an American.”

For more Today’s Daughters, please click here.

To nominate a Daughter for a future issue, e-mail a description to americanspirit@dar.org.


National Treasures
Bird’s-Eye View

Photography courtesy of Mark Gulezian/Quicksilver
Volume 148, Number 5, September/October 2014, Page 5

Featuring sawtooth borders and hawk-like birds, the framed Tree of Life medallion of this 1820s New Jersey quilt reflects the ornithological passion of Edward Harris, for whom the quilt was made. The Harris family knew only that a member of his family made the quilt for Edward; the most likely candidates are his sister Sarah, known to have been a skilled needlewoman, and his cousin Mary Lang, whom he married in 1827. 

Edward began capturing and studying birds as a teenager. His scientific interest prompted an 1824 introduction to John James Audubon, of whom Edward became a good friend and a financial supporter. Audubon recognized Edward’s passion for birds of prey and honored him by naming the Harris’s Hawk, and two other birds, after him. The quilt’s birds are an artist’s pastiche of hawk and eagle characteristics, but were surely included as a nod to Edward’s interests.

This quilt, donated by Dorothy L. Darrach and Edward Harris Darrach Jr. in honor of Edward Harris, is similar in style to those popular in pre-1860 Maryland and Virginia. It will be featured in the upcoming DAR Museum exhibition “Eye on Elegance: Early Quilts of Maryland and Virginia.” The exhibit, opening October 3, 2014, will include more than 30 quilts from the DAR Museum collection, as well as private collections. “Eye on Elegance” focuses on quilts and their makers, who used the best imported fabrics in their creations. The exhibition also explores how popular regional quilt styles traveled with their quiltmakers throughout the country.

For more National Treasures, please visit the DAR Museum's Featured Objects.


More Articles
FEATURES

Visions of America: Historic Schoolhouses by Courtney Peter
Communities across the country are recognizing the significance of historic schoolhouses and working to preserve the lessons they can still teach.

The New Sweden Colony by Bill Hudgins
Although their mid-17th-century colony didn’t last, the Swedes who immigrated to America remained a viable ingredient to America’s rich blend of cultures.

Researching Your Scottish Ancestors by Emily McMackin
Since their arrival in the New World, the Scottish have deeply influenced many facets of American life. For the millions of Americans with Scottish bloodlines, researching that history has gotten a lot easier.

Construction in Colonial America by Nancy Mann Jackson
Bringing their tools and techniques with them from Europe, colonists used the materials available in the New World to gradually develop architectural styles and buildings that would become uniquely American.

DEPARTMENTS

Spirited Adventures: San Luis Obispo, Calif. by Lena Anthony
At its height, the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa served as a spiritual and commercial center. It’s still a cultural touchstone for the eponymous city that grew around it.

Genealogy Sleuth: 5 Ways to Use Pinterest for Genealogy by Maureen Taylor
The social media scrapbook is an increasingly useful tool for family history research and documentation.

Historic Homes: Gomez Mill House by Sharon McDonnell
Known as the oldest Jewish dwelling in North America, this 1714 New York home tells the stories of five of its historically significant owners.

Bookshelf reviews American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America by David O. Stewart

Our Patriots: American Warrior by Daniel S. Marrone
Nicknamed “Mad” Anthony Wayne for his fiery temper and military prowess, the Patriot led his troops in many important Revolutionary War battles

Plus: President General’s Message, Whatnot and Letters to the Editor

To purchase an issue of American Spirit, contact magazinesubscriptions@dar.org

To subscribe to American Spirit, visit Subscribe.


To Come in the November/December Issue:

The Origins of the Purple Heart

Sara Josepha Hale’s Campaign for Thanksgiving

Historic Homes: Richards DAR House Museum in Mobile, Ala.

Our Patriots: Isaac Shelby