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Inside this Issue

November/December 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
Champion of Change

By Lena Anthony  
Photograph courtesy of Ellen Houlihan
Volume 148, Number 6, November/December 2014, Page 4

Many people say it’s an honor just to be nominated, and that’s exactly how Ellen Houlihan felt when she learned that a respected colleague wanted to nominate her for the White House Champions of Change program, which recognizes everyday Americans making positive changes in their communities.

“I was literally speechless that he would consider me,” says Mrs. Houlihan, who was in the United States Military Academy’s (USMA) third graduating class that included women and now serves as vice chair of the board of directors for the West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG).

That speechlessness turned to jumping up and down in an airport parking lot when she learned that she, along with nine other women from around the country, had won for their service as female veteran leaders. This past March, they were invited to the White House for a panel discussion and ceremony in front of senior White House and Veterans Affairs staff, as well as local male and female veterans. The day also included a luncheon, which gave the 10 honorees a chance to connect.

“We could have talked all afternoon,” says the member of Lexington Chapter, Lexington, Mass. “There was this great synergy among us because we were united as women veterans but were all doing such different things, from owning our own companies to running nonprofits that help put veterans to work.”

Mrs. Houlihan’s service to the WPAOG includes supervising the overhaul of the organization’s bylaws and governance model, which hadn’t changed since the Civil War. In 2006, she also helped organize a professional conference celebrating the 30th anniversary of the admission of women to the USMA.

In addition to being among the first female graduates of West Point, she also became the first woman to assume various positions within the WPAOG, including the first woman elected president of her class, first female president of a local alumni club, and as vice chair of the board of directors, the first woman elected to a senior leadership role within the 50,000-member alumni association.

Her path to West Point wasn’t typical. A high school basketball player, she was recruited as an athlete. After graduating, she was commissioned in the field artillery and served as a platoon leader, motor officer and executive officer during three years of active duty at Fort Carson, Colo. She served an additional two years in the inactive reserves before transitioning to a civilian career. Today, she lives near Dallas and works for Raytheon Company, selling and marketing the company’s long-range precision sensor technology to U.S. and international military customers.

Her service in the Army spanned only a few years, but Mrs. Houlihan says that time continues to inspire her. “I often think of the sacrifices these young men and women and their families make for our nation,” she says. “I’m proud to have had the chance to lead and learn from some of those soldiers who work toward a purpose bigger than themselves.”

That idea of a larger purpose led Mrs. Houlihan to the DAR after moving to Lexington with her husband, Glen. At a gift shop she happened to meet a former Lexington Chapter regent who encouraged her to research her ancestry and become a member. After joining, she encouraged her mother and grandmother to join, too.

“DAR has been a wonderful way to learn,” she says. “Not only does our chapter provide educational opportunities for the community, but as a member, you also learn so much about the Patriots who fought for our freedom.”

In her free time, Mrs. Houlihan also enjoys golf and cycling. This summer, she completed a “European” cycling tour—without leaving Texas. She explains, “I rode my bicycle to Paris, Texas, and Italy, Texas.”

For more Today’s Daughters, please click here.

To nominate a Daughter for a future issue, e-mail a description to

National Treasures
A Divine Harp

Photography courtesy of the DAR Museum
Volume 148, Number 6, November/December 2014, Page 5

Browne and Buckwell of New York City made this gilt and fancy painted harp in the late 19th century. The founder of the firm, John F. Browne, was considered to be one of the best harp makers in New York City. After emigrating from London, Browne set up shop in the city in 1841 and won a gold medal for the best “double action harp” at the 1856 American Institute Fair, according to Musical Instrument Makers of New York: A Directory of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Craftsmen by Nancy Groce. Browne worked in New York until his death in 1871, and Edgar J. Browne (probably a son) and George Buckwell took over the firm.

The Texas State Society DAR donated the instrument.

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

More Articles

A Campaign for Thanksgiving by Rachel Tracy
As editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, Sarah Josepha Hale used the power of her pen to promote the recognition of Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

A Movable Feast by Jamie Roberts
Chef Walter Staib’s passion for early America’s culinary beginnings brings history to vivid light on his Emmy award-winning PBS television show, “A Taste of History.”

The Origins of the Purple Heart by Bill Hudgins
With its roots in the Revolution, the Purple Heart is regarded as our oldest military award, honoring those who were wounded or killed in defense of America.

The Women of Wyoming Valley by Lucy Jane King
The massacre in Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley reinforced the Patriots’ resolve and revealed the bravery of the women who helped their families to safety.


Spirited Adventures: Rapid City, S.D. by Jamie Roberts
In Rapid City, visitors discover a welcoming gateway to the beauty and mystery of the Black Hills and Badlands.

Visions of America: Historic Governors’ Mansions by Courtney Peter
From Delaware to Hawaii, we visit some of the nation’s most beautiful governors’ mansions for lesson in their states’ history.

Historic Homes: Richards DAR House Museum by Nancy Mann Jackson
Five Mobile, Ala., DAR chapters preserve the Richards family’s elegant Italianite-style home and its mid-19th-century treasures.

Our Patriots: “Old Kings Mountain” by Jeff Walter
After serving heroically in the Revolution, Isaac Shelby helped found the state of Kentucky and defended the new nation in the War of 1812.

Bookshelf reviews The Return of George Washington: 1783–1789  by Edward J. Larson

Plus: President General’s Message and Whatnot

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To Come in the January/February Issue:

The Genesis of Lineage Societies in America

Immigration Museums Trace Evolving National Identities

Black Kings and Governors of Early New England

Our Patriots: Edward Hand