The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded on October 11, 1890, during a time that was marked by a revival in patriotism and intense interest in the beginnings of the United States of America. Women felt the desire to express their patriotic feelings and were frustrated by their exclusion from men's organizations formed to perpetuate the memory of ancestors who fought to make this country free and independent. As a result, a group of pioneering women in the nation's capital formed their own organization and the Daughters of the American Revolution has carried the torch of patriotism ever since.
The objectives laid forth in the first meeting of the DAR have remained the same in over 100 years of active service to the nation. Those objectives are: Historical - to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men and women who achieved American Independence; Educational - to carry out the injunction of Washington in his farewell address to the American people, "to promote, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge, thus developing an enlightened public opinion…"; and Patriotic - to cherish, maintain, and extend the institutions of American freedom, to foster true patriotism and love of country, and to aid in securing for mankind all the blessings of liberty.
Since its founding in 1890, DAR has admitted more than 800,000 members.
NSDAR maintains institutional archives of correspondence, meeting minutes, photographs, and other records of historical interest to the Society. For information about our Archives and access policy, click here.
Archives Exhibits Online
The Four Founders
Decidedly not ladies of leisure, the four founders of the DAR were anything but traditional. Two were single and two were widowed, and all four were working women who supported either children or extended family.
From its outset and beginning with its founders, the Society's ranks have included uncommon women who achieved uncommon goals. They include First Ladies and firsts in their field, actresses and adventurers, artists and authors, reformers and humanitarians, educators and engineers, doctors and nurses, and even pioneers in space. While their accomplishments are as diverse as their professions, all of them have been brave women who often performed heroic acts and shared a sense of purpose and pride, and an undaunted pursuit of their ideals.
- DAR Museum was founded in 1890 as a repository for family treasures. Today, the museum contains over 30,000 historical relics that form a collective memory of the decorative and fine arts in America from 1700-1850.
- The DAR Library was founded in 1896 as a collection of genealogical and historical publications for the use of staff genealogists verifying application papers for the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Shortly after 1900 the growing collection was opened to the public and has remained so ever since.
- The U.S. Army appointed DAR member, Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee, as Acting Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army, in charge of nurses. She organized the DAR Hospital Corps, Army Nurse Corps, and served as NSDAR's first Librarian General.
- The DAR Hospital Corps certified 1,081 nurses for service during the Spanish-American War. DAR later funded pensions for many of these nurses who did not qualify for government pensions.
- During the Spanish-American War, DAR purchased a ship's tender for the USS Missouri to be used as a hospital launch for transporting the wounded from shore to ship.
- To help with the war effort during World War I, DAR loaned its National Headquarters land to the United States. The federal government used the land to erect a temporary war office building that provided office space for 600 people.
- After World War I, DAR funded the reconstruction of the water system in the village of Tilloloy, France, and donated more than $130,000 for the support of 3,600 French war orphans.
- DAR provided materials for sewing, wood, and leatherwork to the immigrants detained for processing on Ellis Island. This helped to alleviate the depression and anxiety of these men and women who were strangers in a new land.
- In 1921, DAR compiled and published the "DAR Manual for Citizenship." DAR distributed this guide to American immigrants at Ellis Island and other ports of entry. To date, more than 10 million manuals have been distributed.
- From November 1921 until February 1922, world leaders met in DAR Memorial Continental Hall for the Conference on Limitation of Armaments, a groundbreaking meeting for peace.
- The Americana Collection, founded in the early 1940s, brought together rare manuscripts and imprints previously scattered among the holdings of the DAR Museum and DAR Library. Today, the collection flourishes from more than 60 years of actively seeking out and acquiring artifacts that reflect a unique image of our nation.
- DAR raised thousands of dollars to assist in the re-forestation project of the U.S. Forestry Service during the 1940s.
- During World War II, DAR provided 197,000 soldiers with care packages and sponsored all 89 crews of Landing Craft Infantry ships.
- During World War II, the use of the DAR buildings was given to the American Red Cross. A children's day nursery was set up in the basement of Constitution Hall for enlisted men's wives who had to go to work.
- The tradition of celebrating the Constitution was started many years ago by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). In 1955, the DAR petitioned Congress to set aside September 17-23 annually to be dedicated for the observance of Constitution Week. The resolution was later adopted by the U.S. Congress and signed into Public Law #915 on August 2, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.