The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is led by the President General who is elected to the highest office of the Society by the DAR Continental Congress. The President General serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Society and holds one three-year term in office. Each President General carries forward her vision and goals for the National Society while managing and overseeing Society policy as well as initiating special National projects.
The publication, The Wide Blue Sash, features profiles on all of the DAR Presidents General from 1890-2013. While it cannot do justice to the dedication and toil of each President General, it is meant to give a glimpse of the background, character, leadership and accomplishments of those who have worn the wide blue sash as they represented and led the more than 930,000 who have been members over the past 123 years. Their leadership has allowed the NSDAR to become the largest female lineage society in the country and owner of a city block of historic and iconic buildings in Washington, D.C.
View this online slideshow in chronological order or choose individuals from the list below to learn about these accomplished leaders as well as the history of the DAR through highlights of their administrations.
“I am good for any amount of work.” True to her word, this quote from Mary Desha as she first appears in DAR history predicts her energetic commitment to the Society and reveals her faith in the value of hard work for its own sake. Miss Desha, National Number 4, was a member of Katherine Montgomery Chapter, Washington, D.C.
Miss Desha was born on March 8, 1850, in prosperous, antebellum Lexington, Ky. Her parents were Dr. John Randolph and Mary Bracken Curry Desha. She was descended from Katherine Montgomery, a dispatch bearer and wife of Isaac Bledsoe, a colonel in the Continental Army. She was the granddaughter of Joseph Desha, a private in the Revolutionary War, major general in the War of 1812 and governor of Kentucky in 1825. Miss Desha was well-educated and for a short time studied at what is now the University of Kentucky. The effects of the Civil War on border-state Kentucky impoverished her family. When the women were needed to provide an income, Miss Desha and her mother opened a private school in which they taught their friends’ children French, Latin and mathematics. Several years later, Miss Desha accepted a position in the Lexington public school system and remained there until she took a job as a government clerk in Washington, D.C., in the mid-1880s.
In 1888 Miss Desha accepted a teaching position in Sitka, Alaska. She found the living conditions endured by the Alaskan natives unacceptable, and her written protest to the government in Washington resulted in a federal investigation. She taught both American and Russian children and received some criticism for both her teaching methods and curricular content. Believing that such judgments revealed prejudice against Southerners, Miss Desha remarked that some people were offended because she wore a Confederate States of America pin. Her own preconceived notions were obvious, too, as she wrote home that “there are several people here who are very pleasant but the majority of the people are ill-bred, common western Yankees.” On balance, however, she enjoyed her time in Alaska and could not comment enough on its natural beauty. Calling the territory “magnificent beyond description,” Miss Desha wrote that she did not “believe heaven [would] be any more beautiful.”
She returned to Lexington in 1889 but shortly thereafter accepted another post in Washington as a clerk in the pension office. She later worked as a copyist in the Office of Indian Affairs and continued in the civil service until her death. Miss Desha remained unmarried all her life and, like many single women in Washington in this era, lived in the city’s boarding houses. According to the city directory, Miss Desha moved several times during the DAR’s early years and was partial to the portion of the city north of the Capitol building.
Intimately involved in the earliest planning stages of the National Society, Miss Desha was one of only six women who replied to SAR organizer William O. McDowell’s call to found a similar society of women descendants of patriots. She was present also at the meeting at Ellen Hardin Walworth’s home on August 9, 1890, when Miss Desha, along with Mrs. Walworth and Eugenia Washington, completed preliminary work on the DAR Constitution. They decided that DAR would be a national organization and that they would ask the first lady, Caroline Scott Harrison, to serve as the first President General. They proposed a Board of Managers with Miss Desha as Chairman, Mrs. Walworth as Secretary General and Miss Washington as Registrar General.
Miss Desha was elected Vice President General on October 11, 1890. Later, she was the first Recording Secretary General, and also served as Vice President General in Charge of Organization, Surgeon General, Corresponding Secretary General and Honorary Vice President General. In 1898 Miss Desha was appointed Assistant Director of the DAR Hospital Corps under Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee. In that capacity she helped process the applications of more than 4,500 women who aspired to serve as nurses in the Spanish-American War. She also took charge of supplying the 12 aprons that were provided to each nurse sent to the army by direct endorsement of DAR.
She never missed a night of work during her entire five months of service for the Hospital Corps. Leaving her office every day at 4 p.m., Miss Desha attended the Corps office every evening until midnight. Eulogizing her, Dr. McGee said, “When you crown the Founder, who has so lately passed from us, with a wreath of laurel, may one leaf of it represent her efforts in promoting the saving of lives of our soldiers in the Spanish War.” Miss Desha’s interest in the nurses did not end with the war. With the consent of the National Society, she sent to each chapter an appeal for contributions toward the monument to the Spanish-American War nurses which was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery in 1905.
Mary Desha died suddenly on January 29, 1911, likely of a stroke. Her fellow Daughters honored her memory with the first memorial service and the only funeral service ever held in Memorial Continental Hall. She was remembered for her absolute devotion to the Constitution and Bylaws of the Society and for her faithful, indefatigable service to the organization from the time she read Mary Lockwood’s letter in The Washington Post until her death. At the memorial service held in Memorial Continental Hall during the 20th Continental Congress, Mrs. Lockwood said, “She worked hard, and if there is any picture in my mind it is of Mary Desha with a bundle of papers in her hand that pertained to the Daughters of the American Revolution.”
Mary Smith Lockwood
“She is friendly to all progressive movements, especially so in the progress of women.” This quote from an acquaintance of Mary Smith Lockwood reveals her dedication to the work of women’s organizations. She was both the founder of the Washington Travel Club and, for a time, president of the Women’s Press Club. The widow of a Union soldier, she was a member of the Woman’s Relief Corps, auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic. She was active in the women’s suffrage movement and also held the position of Lady Manager at Large at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Mrs. Lockwood, National Number 27, was member of Mary Washington Chapter, Washington, D.C.
Mary Smith was born in Hanover, Chautauqua County, N.Y., on October 24, 1831. Her mother died when she was 4 years old and she became devoted to her elder brother to whom she dedicated her book Historic Homes in Washington: Its Noted Men and Women, published in 1889. About 1878 she moved to Washington, D.C, where she was the hostess of Strathmore Arms, which had previously been the home of senators, judges and other well-known Washington personalities.
In July 1890 after reading in The Washington Post an account of a meeting of the Sons of the American Revolution, Mrs. Lockwood wrote a reply to the editorial page noting the apparent presence of women at the meeting even as they were excluded from SAR membership. She wrote, “If this be the case, why do men and women band themselves to create a one-sided patriotism? If these were true patriotic women, why is not the patriotism of the country broad and just enough to commemorate the names of women also?—were there no mothers in the Revolution; no dames as well as sires whose memories should be commemorated?” The letter produced immediate results and inspired several women to create a patriotic organization of their own.
The formal organization of NSDAR took place at Mrs. Lockwood’s home on October 11, 1890. The DAR Constitution was signed and all national officers were elected. This meeting also established Washington, D.C., as the location of the Society’s national headquarters. Inspired by Mrs. Lockwood’s commitment to historic preservation, the Society resolved on October 18, 1890, to “provide a place for the collection of Historical relics which will accumulate … and for historical portraits, pictures, etc. This may first be in rooms, and later in the erection of a fire-proof building.” The movement to build Memorial Continental Hall developed from this resolution.
One who knew Mrs. Lockwood in DAR’s early days described her as follows:
She is physically slight, but strong, and rather below the medium height. She has firmness, strength and executive ability of a high order. An interesting face, with character written on the broad brow: and in the deep blue eyes of intellectual sweetness there is mingled a determination of purpose and firm resolve. Her hair, silvered and wavy, shades a face, full of kindly interest in humanity. Her voice has a peculiar charm, low-keyed and musical, yet sympathetic and far-reaching.
From the summer of 1890 until their deaths, all four Founders continuously served the Society in one capacity or another. During the Sixth Continental Congress in 1897, a resolution was introduced that named Mary Desha, Mary Lockwood, Ellen Walworth and Eugenia Washington as the Society’s founders. Although there was some discussion about whether or not to include Mrs. Lockwood among the Founders, she received her pin along with the others at the Seventh Continental Congress in 1898.
So devoted was Mrs. Lockwood to DAR that she attended Continental Congress mere months after her only daughter, Lillian M. Lockwood, died in 1909. She said, “I cannot live without my Daughters. I love them all and they will comfort me.” When speaking at Congress, it was Mrs. Lockwood’s custom to stand at the edge of the platform and address the members as “girls,” rather than “ladies” or “Daughters.” For their part, the Daughters thought of Mrs. Lockwood affectionately as “Little Mother.” After delivering a passionate, extemporaneous patriotic speech at the 27th Continental Congress in April 1918, 27 pages presented Mrs. Lockwood with 27 American Beauty roses. Declaring herself “overpowered” by the gesture, she admitted, “there are times when even little Mary gets rattled.”
Mrs. Lockwood served the Society as its first Historian General. She also served as Surgeon General, Assistant Historian General, Chaplain General and State Regent of Washington, D.C. At the time of her death she held the offices of Honorary Chaplain General and Honorary Vice President General. Ironically, Mrs. Lockwood had difficulty proving her DAR eligibility. Although she owned personal items that had belonged to her ancestors, it took almost a year to find the required documentary proof. She just barely qualified to become a charter member.
Mary Lockwood died in Plymouth, Mass., on November 9, 1922, and is buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Washington, DC. She is not only the last surviving Founder but also the only Founder buried in Washington. At her passing, the Society she helped found had grown to a membership of almost 140,000 women. She gave more service, for a longer period of time, than any other Founder.
In 1923, the 32nd Continental Congress adopted a resolution directing an appropriate memorial or monument be placed over each DAR Founder’s grave. That plan was found impractical, and later the idea of erecting a single memorial on the grounds of Memorial Continental Hall was substituted. A committee was appointed in 1926 and the sculpture by DAR member Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney was placed on the grounds and dedicated on April 17, 1929 during the 38th Continental Congress. Each year during Congress the President General, joined by the Executive Committee, places a wreath at the base of the monument in the most visible sign that DAR remembers and honors its Founders.
Ellen Hardin Walworth
In youth Ellen Hardin Walworth was considered a beauty, and when older she was described as “queenly.” Janet Richards, a charter member of DAR who was acquainted with all of the Founders, remembered sitting near Mrs. Walworth during one early meeting of the National Society. Miss Richards was very impressed with Mrs. Walworth’s “wise suggestions and authoritative manner, also by her tall and stately figure when she rose to speak.” Mrs. Walworth, National Number 5, was a member of Saratoga Chapter, New York, N.Y.
Ellen Hardin was born on October 20, 1832, in Jacksonville, Ill. She was the eldest of Colonel John J. Hardin’s and Sarah Ellen Smith’s four children. Her patriotic ancestry included veterans of both the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Her father, an attorney and former United States Congressman, was killed in 1847 while leading his regiment at the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican-American War. In 1851 Ellen’s mother married the Honorable Reuben Hyde Walworth, the last of the chancellors of New York, and the family relocated to Saratoga Springs.
In 1852 Ellen married Mansfield Tracy Walworth, a well-known fiction writer and her stepfather’s youngest son. The couple had six children during the first nine years of their marriage; two others were born later. Mr. Walworth proved unstable and violent, frequently erupting into rages that included physical assaults on his wife. At least one attack occurred while Mrs. Walworth was pregnant with the couple’s eighth child. They separated at least twice before Mrs. Walworth left her husband for good in 1871 after securing what she referred to as a “limited divorce.” Subsequently, a series of abusive and threatening letters that Mr. Walworth sent to Mrs. Walworth so disturbed their son, Frank, that he intentionally shot and killed his father in a New York City hotel room in 1873. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Taking up the study of law to secure Frank’s acquittal by reason of insanity, which she achieved in 1877, Mrs. Walworth earned her law degree at New York University. She was entitled to practice law both in New York and the District of Columbia. She also taught classes in New York on parliamentary law and the science of government.
To support herself and her children after her husband’s death, Mrs. Walworth opened a girls’ boarding school at her home in New York. The school was so successful that she eventually remodeled and enlarged the facilities. Mrs. Walworth operated the school for about 15 years until the cold northern climate affected her health and she relocated to Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Walworth was a prolific historian, author and suffragist. One of her earliest public efforts in the Washington area involved helping to raise the funds necessary to renovate George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, in Alexandria, Va. As an authority on the battlefields of Saratoga and as a trustee of the Saratoga Monument Association, she devoted herself both to the completion of the Saratoga Monument and to the erection of granite tablets to mark significant battlefield sites. She was also the author of both a visitors’ guidebook for Saratoga and an account of the Burgoyne campaign. In a speech at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, she was one of the first to urge the establishment of a national archives. Although she never joined a women’s rights group, she declared herself in support of “the advancement of women” and “always a Suffragist.”
In addition, Mrs. Walworth delivered or published papers for several of the organizations to which she belonged. These included the Arts and Science Field Club of Saratoga, the Shakespeare Society of Saratoga, the Society of Decorative Art of New York City, the Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Historical Society of New York and the Association of American Authors.
It was in Mrs. Walworth’s home at the Langham Hotel in Washington on August 9, 1890, that she, Mary Desha and Eugenia Washington met to establish the basic and preparatory outline of what would become the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. As the Smithsonian Report of 1890–1897 states, “The first step taken was to declare the basis of the society a national one, and the name of Mrs. Benjamin Harrison was proposed for president general.” The next day an application and a request to accept this post were sent to Mrs. Harrison. The three women also began writing letters and invitations to other women to accept appointments on the National Board of Management. In 1927 the District of Columbia DAR placed a memorial tablet outside the Langham Hotel to commemorate the location of the founding of NSDAR.
Mrs. Walworth served the Society as its first Corresponding Secretary General and was an Honorary Vice President General at the time of her death. She was the first editor of the official publication of NSDAR, American Monthly Magazine, serving from the spring of 1892 until July 1894. It was at her suggestion that the Society commissioned the portrait of Caroline Scott Harrison as a gift to The White House.
As director general of the Woman’s National War Relief Association in 1898 during the Spanish-American War, she was present at the field hospital at Fortress Monroe to meet the first wounded brought from Santiago. Mrs. Walworth’s duties included assisting with the distribution of supplies and the management of the nursing staff. Her daughter, Reubena, fell ill and died while nursing the wounded in the hospitals at Montauk Point, N.Y. Mrs. Walworth never fully recovered from Reubena’s death. She found comfort in close family connections, living with one of her sons in her last years.
Ellen Hardin Walworth died at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., on June 23, 1915, of an obstruction caused by gallstones. She was buried in Old Greenridge Cemetery in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. A memorial service was held in her honor at Continental Congress in 1916.
Eugenia Washington was of the immutable opinion that the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution must be a patriotic organization founded on service of its members’ ancestors. It is said that she opposed a proposal to make eligibility for DAR membership contingent on descent from officers alone. She advocated the democracy of service rather than the aristocracy of rank. Miss Washington, National Number 1, was a member of Dolley Madison Chapter, Washington, D.C. She later transferred her membership to George Washington Chapter, Galveston, Texas.
Miss Washington was born on June 24, 1840, near present-day Charles Town, W.Va. She was the daughter of William Temple Washington and Margaret Calhoun Fletcher, a great-niece of Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina and a great-great-niece of President George Washington. She was a direct descendant of Washington’s brother, Samuel. Her first ancestor to emigrate to the Colonies from England was John Washington in about 1656. She was educated almost exclusively by her father, who was a graduate of the College of William and Mary.
In 1859 Miss Washington’s father moved the family to Falmouth, Va., just north of Fredericksburg. Her mother died near this time, and her disabled father relied on his daughter to care for him. When the Battle of Fredericksburg was imminent in December 1862, Miss Washington wanted to escape quickly with her father to a place of safety but was delayed one full day because a wounded federal officer was brought to her door and placed in her care. The battle had begun by the time Miss Washington was ready to flee, and she and her father were caught on the battlefield. She found shelter for both of them in a small trench left by a cannon. Forced to remain in that spot all day, they witnessed the entire battle from their position. It is said that Miss Washington’s experiences that day inspired in her a will to assist women from both the North and the South in the worthy cause of preserving their shared heritage and that this was her purpose in helping to found DAR.
At the close of the Civil War, Miss Washington was offered a government position as a clerk with the post office department and she and her father moved to Washington, D.C. Miss Washington remained unmarried all her life and lived in a boarding house in Washington. Modest and domestic in nature, she once said that she was “never so happy as in [her] own home—when blessed with one.” Many of the places she visited frequently were located only a short walk from her residence. The homes of early DAR members Mary Lockwood, Ellen Hardin Walworth and Mary Cabell were just around the corner from Miss Washington’s home, while the rented DAR office spaces were just a few blocks distant.
Known fondly as “Miss Eugie,” Miss Washington was considered quite attractive and always received a great deal of attention wherever she went. The Washington Post published an account of a man who, on visiting the post office department one day, was immediately taken with Miss Washington’s appearance and became determined to meet her. Later, when he met her in the street, she gave him a look that expressed her disinterest in no uncertain terms.
Intimately involved in the earliest planning stages of the National Society, Miss Washington was one of only six women who replied to SAR organizer William O. McDowell’s call to found a similar society of women descendants of patriots. She was present also at the meeting at Mrs. Walworth’s home on August 9, 1890, when she, along with Mrs. Walworth and Mary Desha, completed preliminary work on the DAR Constitution. They also decided that DAR would be a national organization and that they would ask the first lady, Caroline Scott Harrison, to serve as the first President General. They proposed a Board of Managers with Miss Desha as Chairman, Mrs. Walworth as Secretary General and Miss Washington as Registrar General.
A tireless worker who was a stickler for accuracy, Miss Washington was remembered as conscientious and particular, with little tolerance for sloppy or casual attention to detail. Making her report as joint Registrar General with Mrs. A. Howard Clark at the First Continental Congress, she spoke out for careful record keeping. She was concerned that applications with incomplete information would prove to be of defective historical value. Charter member and prominent lecturer Janet Richards said of her, “Miss Eugenia Washington remarked to me after scanning my historic references, ‘I wish all applications were as clear and authentic as these. It would certainly save me a whole heap of trouble!’ This gratifying word of commendation is my earliest memory of our rather spicy first Registrar.”
Miss Washington suffered from eye trouble as the constant reading and evaluation of handwritten membership applications in her years as Registrar General took its toll on her vision. In 1895 she was invited to speak in honor of DAR Day at the Atlanta Exposition. Her failing eyesight prevented her from either writing or delivering her paper. Miss Richards assembled Miss Washington’s data into a paper titled “Our History” and read it for her on DAR Day.
Although she often spoke her mind without hesitation, Miss Washington’s complete devotion to DAR won her the love and respect of the members. Following the organization of the National Society, she served as one of two first Registrars General. Later she served as Secretary General, Vice President General and Honorary Vice President General.
Miss Washington’s interest in collecting and preserving American history from its earliest days never abated. She was a founder and the first President General of the National Society of Daughters of Founders and Patriots, which was chartered in Washington, D.C., in 1898.
The first DAR Founder to die, Eugenia Washington passed away at her home in Washington, D.C., on Thanksgiving Day, November 30, 1900.
Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell, Vice President Presiding, 1890–1891; President Presiding, 1891–1892
Mary Ellet, National Number 6, was born January 24, 1839, at Point of Honor, Lynchburg, Va., the home of her maternal grandfather, Judge William Daniel. Her mother was Elvira Augusta Daniel. Her father, the prominent civil engineer Charles Ellet Jr., built the first suspension bridge in the United States, over the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia, and the first bridge across the Niagara River below the Falls. He also invented the steam ram and commanded the United States ram fleet at the Battle of Memphis in the Civil War, where he was mortally wounded.
Mary was 9 years old when her father built the Niagara River bridge. During the early days of construction, she had the unusual experience of crossing the river not once, but many times, in the “iron basket” used to carry men and materials. Her father told her that she was the first “woman” to view the Falls from the bridge before its completion.
Mary Ellet lost both parents within a short time in 1862. At age 23, she took responsibility for the care of two younger children and an aged grandmother. Soon after the war, she married William D. Cabell of Norwood, Nelson County, Va., whose estate had been ravaged by the war. To support themselves, the young couple conducted a preparatory school, Norwood, for boys. By 1880, he, Mary and their six children had moved to Washington, D.C., where Norwood Institute became a seminary for young ladies.
Mrs. Cabell was among the 18 DAR organizers present on October 11, 1890. That day, she was placed in the chair and presided. Later the same day, she, accompanied by William O. McDowell, a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, called on Mrs. Benjamin Harrison to invite her to become “president” of the society. Mrs. Harrison agreed, because of Mrs. Cabell’s promise to do the heavier part of the work. Organization was not finished in one day. A week later, on October 18, 1890, at the Second Meeting for Organization, held in Mrs. Cabell’s home, the work was completed. That stately home at 1407 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., in Washington, D.C., then became the official home of the new Society for more than a year. There, the board met monthly.
In later years, discussing her part in organizing the National Society, Mrs. Cabell wrote,
I was not influenced by the refusal of the Sons of the American Revolution to admit women to their organization. Nor had I ever read the interesting story of Hannah Arnett … In Washington, where I lived, women in the same social circle but from different sections of the country looked coldly on one another. Another spirit, another creed, was needed. Women, who best conserve the old, might best promote the new. This was a task for Daughters of the American Revolution.
On February 22, 1892, after Mrs. Benjamin Harrison made history by welcoming the delegates and thereby making the first public address by a first lady, Mrs. Cabell presided at all sessions of the First Continental Congress. It was Mrs. Cabell who posed the gracious question to the Daughters at that First Congress: “What is your object: what do you propose; what good will you do; what is the use of such an organization? What does thou work?”
… as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, the building of a House Beautiful … the finest building ever owned by women … an enterprise which men and women will arise and call blessed because of its wide and spreading influence and the magnificent possibilities it offers to our sisterhood, the patriotic, home-loving and country-loving women of America.
At the Second Continental Congress in February 1893, Mrs. Cabell again presided, and was nominated for the office of President General. She declined because she did not consider herself prominent enough for that office. It was very early in the life of DAR, and Mrs. Cabell (and others) thought that the President General must be a woman of the highest official station in the nation’s capital. Mrs. Cabell nominated Mrs. Adlai E. Stevenson, wife of the vice president of the United States, who was elected.
Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell never wore the wide blue sash. However, in the role of Vice President Presiding, as permanent stand-in for Caroline Scott Harrison, she is credited with making possible the presidency of Mrs. Harrison. Although Mrs. Harrison promised to fulfill the duties of the office whenever possible, Mrs. Cabell agreed to represent her when necessary. This unique office and the office of President Presiding, bestowed on Mrs. Cabell when Mrs. Harrison died, were created just for her. No one ever again held either position.
In 1898, the National Society presented rich golden medals to the Four Founders, who had been elected to that honor the year before. Immediately after the presentation, Mrs. George H. Shields nominated Mrs. Cabell to the office of Honorary Vice President General, with these words:
There is a woman to whom we owe more than to any other woman in our midst. It is our first Vice President General Presiding. Mrs. Harrison was unable by the cares that pressed upon her, as well as by ill-health, to preside—Mrs. Cabell … took all this labor upon herself. Moreover, we were in those days a feeble folk; we had no income; we wrote our own letters; we paid our own postage; we had no office; the official home of the Daughters of the American Revolution was the home of Mrs. Cabell; in her beautiful drawing room our Board met; her dining room was our Banquet Hall; her money and her time were ours.
The delegates to the Seventh Continental Congress happily honored Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell with this election. Mrs. Cabell died July 4, 1930, at Michigan City, Ind., at age 91, and was buried at Berryville, Va., beside her husband.
Caroline Scott Harrison, 1890–1892, Indiana
First President General
Caroline Scott Harrison, National Number 7, addressed the Daughters of the American Revolution at the opening of the First Continental Congress at the Church of Our Father in Washington, D.C., on February 22, 1892. In the first public speech given by a first lady, she recalled the Society’s founding and encouraged the members to “strengthen and improve what has already been so well begun.” Optimistic as the fledgling Society looked to the future, Mrs. Harrison observed that the organization was “in good condition for continued success.”
In order for DAR to be a national society, the Founders realized it would be necessary to find a woman to serve as President General who would represent the whole country, not merely a part of it. She should be someone whose husband enjoyed a prominent place in society, and whose position would add prestige to the newly formed organization.
Of English ancestry, Caroline Lavinia Scott was born on October 1, 1832, in Oxford, Ohio. Her parents were John Witherspoon and Mary Potts Neal Scott. A college professor and founder of the Oxford Female Institute, Caroline’s father believed that boys and girls should receive educations of equal quality. Caroline attended the institute and graduated in 1853 with a degree in music. She was a talented pianist and artist. Her beautiful paintings of orchids inspired the use of the orchid as DAR’s unofficial flower.
She married Benjamin Harrison on October 20, 1853. Two children survived to adulthood: a son, Russell, and a daughter, Mary. The family struggled early while Mr. Harrison established a law practice in Indianapolis. However, after serving in the Civil War—he was colonel of the 70th Volunteer Infantry— his law career prospered and he became a successful politician. Benjamin Harrison’s election to the United States Senate in the 1880s brought Mrs. Harrison to the nation’s capital for the first time, but a serious fall undermined her health. In 1883, she had surgery in New York and required a lengthy period of recovery.
Although her health was often precarious and she suffered chronically from respiratory ailments, Mrs. Harrison was known as a cheerful, gentle person with a good sense of humor. Her greatest love was for home and family. Deeply religious and supportive, she donated time to her church, women’s groups and her art. She liked to act out books for her “Impromptu Club” and enjoyed reading aloud. Because of her love for music, she encouraged her children to learn to dance. Broad-minded, empathetic and intelligent, she was able to view both sides of an issue.
Benjamin Harrison was elected president in November 1888. Mrs. Harrison was an asset during the campaign as her charm, sincerity and open manner offset her husband’s sometimes cool demeanor. She spoke often to members of the press. The Harrisons’ financial situation was uncertain, and she is said to have joked, “Well, husband, it’s either to the White House with us or the poor house.”
Mrs. Harrison was just over five feet tall and had brown eyes and brown hair. Although she was described as “pretty,” poor health took its toll on her features as she aged. Nevertheless, she carried herself well and made a fine appearance in her reception or evening gowns. She preferred silver, lavender and deep red colors, but also wore blue and cream.
Mrs. Harrison’s tenure as first lady was overshadowed by her predecessor and her successor: Frances Cleveland. Mrs. Cleveland’s youth made Mrs. Harrison seem older and more staid than she really was. In reality, Mrs. Harrison was more involved in women’s issues and more radically inclined than her younger counterpart. During the administration, the Harrisons’ daughter, Mary Harrison McKee, her two children and other relatives lived in the White House. The first lady tried to have the overcrowded mansion enlarged, even going so far as to draw up very detailed plans for adding east and west wings. Her grand plans failed, but she oversaw an extensive renovation that included the installation of electricity.
Mrs. Harrison took a special interest in White House history. An interest in china led her to catalog the china used by past administrations, and in so doing she established the collection of presidential china still in use today. She had a cabinet specially made for the collection. Mrs. Harrison designed her own White House china using a motif that included ears of corn and goldenrod.
She worked for local charities as well. With other women of progressive views, she helped raise funds for the Johns Hopkins University medical school on the condition that it admit women. The school agreed to accept women, and Mrs. Harrison hosted a number of receptions and fundraisers for it. She also gave elegant receptions and dinners at the White House. Mrs. Harrison accompanied her husband to the Centennial celebrations of the presidency in 1889 and even christened a battleship, the USS Philadelphia. In the winter of 1891–1892, however, she had to fulfill her social obligations while fighting illness.
Caroline Scott Harrison died on October 25, 1892, at the White House after a long struggle with tuberculosis. Her funeral was held in the East Room of the White House. She is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Ind.
Letitia Green Stevenson, 1893–1895, Illinois
Second President General and Fourth President General
Letitia Green Stevenson joined DAR in 1893 with the National Number 2635. The Letitia Green Stevenson Chapter in Bloomington, Ill., of which she was an organizing member, formed in 1894 and was named in her honor. Mrs. Stevenson was a new member of DAR when she was elected President General.
With the selection of Mrs. Stevenson, the wife of the vice president of the United States, as the successor to Caroline Scott Harrison for the Society’s executive office, DAR displayed a continued preference for nationally significant and prestigious leadership. Because the National Society was still in its formative years, Mrs. Stevenson’s administration features several unique characteristics. Letitia Green Stevenson has the distinction of being the only President General to serve nonconsecutive terms and, because each term lasted only one year during this period, she was elected four separate times. The death of her daughter, Mary, in 1895 along with her son’s illness compelled Mrs. Stevenson to take a yearlong retirement from DAR service. The title of Honorary President General was created in her honor, but she resigned this title when she was elected President General again in 1896. After stepping down from office for the final time in 1898, she was named Honorary President General once more, making her the only woman to receive this title twice.
While she was not always able to attend meetings because of her busy schedule, she remained devoted to DAR and earnestly strived to make it a successful organization. Her administration touted several important achievements. One amendment to the DAR Constitution which passed during her administration was later described by Mrs. Stevenson as “by far the most important adopted in the history of the Organization.” The new amendment disallowed membership from a collateral line of descent from a patriot, and eliminated the clause “Mother of such a patriot.” This ensured each member would be directly descended from a Revolutionary War patriot.
Two of the Society’s original projects were completed during Mrs. Stevenson’s administration: DAR’s participation in the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, and the funding and dedication of the Mary Washington Monument. At the World’s Columbian Exposition, or the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, Mrs. Stevenson, Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell, and other prominent DAR members spoke on behalf of the Society concerning women’s issues as well as the work and progress of the Society. Mrs. Stevenson was also privileged to ring the Columbian Liberty Bell, a replica of the historic Liberty Bell sponsored by the Daughters. The Mary Washington Monument was dedicated in May 1894 with President Grover Cleveland, Vice President Adlai Stevenson and Mrs. Stevenson in attendance. The DAR helped the Mary Washington Memorial Association raise a large portion of the money needed to complete this monument honoring George Washington’s mother.
Harriet M.S. Lothrop, a children’s book author and a DAR member, approached Mrs. Stevenson with the idea to create a society similar to DAR, but dedicated solely to a membership of children. As President General, Mrs. Stevenson was very supportive of this effort and the resolution to create the National Society Children of the American Revolution passed at the Fourth Continental Congress in 1895.
Mrs. Stevenson said “the work of the National Society is accomplished through committees.” Several important committees were organized during Mrs. Stevenson’s terms, including a committee to petition the U.S. Congress for a grant of land for Memorial Continental Hall, the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument Committee, and a committee to petition the U.S. Congress for a bill to prevent desecration of the United States Flag. Under her leadership, the DAR also raised a significant amount of money toward the erection of a statue of George Washington in Paris.
At Continental Congress in 1894, Mrs. Stevenson presided over the dedication ceremony of a life-size portrait of Caroline Scott Harrison painted by Daniel Huntington and funded by the National Society. The portrait was then donated to the White House. Another tribute was presented by Mrs. Stevenson at Continental Congress in 1898 in honor of the Founders of DAR: Mary Desha, Mary Smith Lockwood, Ellen Hardin Walworth and Eugenia Washington. They each received stunning gold medals with the design of the DAR Seal and rays of sapphires and diamonds. Mrs. Stevenson received a token of appreciation and remembrance from the Society in the form of an engraved “loving cup.”
Two other details make Mrs. Stevenson’s administration special. Soon after the formation of the Letitia Green Stevenson Chapter in her home state of Illinois, the National Board adopted a change to the Bylaws stating “Chapters must not be named for living persons.” Because of this stipulation, Mrs. Stevenson was the only President General to have been a member of a chapter named in her honor. Also, Julia Green Scott, Mrs. Stevenson’s sister, became President General in 1909, making Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Stevenson the only sisters to be elected to the Society’s highest office.
Before Mrs. Stevenson’s death on Christmas Day 1913, she completed her last gift to the National Society, the publication of Brief History: Daughters of the American Revolution. A large gathering of DAR ladies met for a memorial service for Mrs. Stevenson at her sister’s home on February 12, 1914. Many Daughters who worked with and admired Mrs. Stevenson, including those who could not be present at the service, contributed eulogies to be read aloud. She was remembered as wise, gracious and strong. While suffering from severe arthritis and often requiring a leg brace, she continued to devote all her energies to DAR and other public services. In her eulogy for Mrs. Stevenson, Bella F. Rollins wrote: “Constantly forgetful of herself and oftentimes at a sacrifice of her own physical strength, she helped us in many ways, and was always determined to give her best. Her ear was ever alert to hear our needs, her wise counsel always given. She not only loved the work. She loved us.”
Mary Parke Foster, 1895–1896, District of Columbia
Third President General
Mary Parke Foster joined DAR as a charter member in 1891 with the National Number 185. Mrs. Foster was a member of the Mary Washington Chapter and served as Vice President General from 1892–1893.
When Letitia Green Stevenson stepped down from office in 1895, DAR members once again sought leadership from a nationally recognized woman. Several ladies were nominated and seconded, but most of the women present at the Fourth Continental Congress agreed that Mary Parke Foster would be a distinguished and capable replacement. Unlike Mrs. Stevenson, Mrs. Foster was not a newcomer to the National Society. As a charter member and former officer, she was already quite familiar with the history and inner workings of the organization.
Mrs. Foster came to the office of President General as a worldly and accomplished woman. She lived in and visited several different countries while her husband served as the United States Minister to Mexico, Russia and Spain. He also acted as a consultant and commissioner for the Qing Dynasty in China. Some may have considered years of diplomatic service and living abroad as difficult or tiresome. Mrs. Foster, however, was described by Mrs. Stevenson as “a linguist of unusual ability” who was “so thoroughly equipped and well versed in court etiquette that the social functions proved a pleasure.” During a world tour in 1893–1894, Mrs. Foster wrote many letters on the different cultures, traditions and people she encountered. John W. Foster briefly held the position of U.S. Secretary of State after an appointment by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892. The Fosters entertained many politicians, foreign diplomats and celebrities at their Washington, D.C., home and their vacation home in Henderson Harbor, N.Y.
The DAR expanded under the administration of Mrs. Foster. The National Society was delighted when new chapters formed in states that previously had no DAR representation, including Texas, Louisiana, Washington and Colorado. As word of DAR spread, the Office of the Registrar General even began to receive applications from women living overseas. By 1897 the first overseas chapter, the Aloha Chapter in Hawaii, was established. Mrs. Foster continued the work toward building a new home for the Society, Memorial Continental Hall, and advocated for a new officer to oversee the growing DAR Library. As a result, Anita Newcomb McGee became the first Librarian General of the DAR in 1896. The Children of the American Revolution began its first year as an organization with careful leadership by its founder, Harriet M.S. Lothrop, and Mrs. Foster as a firm supporter.
With continued participation in events around the country, the National Society proved its devotion to the mission of promoting patriotism, education and historic preservation. At the Fifth Continental Congress, a committee was established to promote funding for the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park, N.Y. This monument, which honored the thousands of Revolutionary War soldiers who died on prison ships docked in New York Harbor, would take several more years of commitment to become a reality. Funds were also set aside in 1896 for restoration work in Jamestown, where an embankment of the original colony was eroding away. Mrs. Foster attended the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Ga., in 1895 as DAR’s representative. During her report at the Fifth Continental Congress, Mrs. Foster mentioned the work of the mid-Atlantic and central states to mark graves of Revolutionary War soldiers buried in nearby cemeteries. She also described American history essay contests and other programs created by individual chapters for their communities.
Mrs. Foster wanted the National Society to have a strong business foundation. At Continental Congress in 1896, she reiterated a recommendation formerly proposed by Mrs. Stevenson—the need for a First Vice President General to direct meetings in the absence of the President General and to manage the more tedious and detailed work of the office. She felt this would create more effective leadership and provide the executive officer with much-needed advice and support. The office of First Vice President General, however, was not established until 1941. Mrs. Foster also understood the need to “perfect the state organizations and make them more effective.” Because DAR began with chapters only, not state societies, the eventual formation of states into their own organizations was somewhat chaotic and undefined.
Since the founding of DAR in 1890, the National Board had expressed its desire to have the Society recognized by an official U.S. Congressional Act. While they were incorporated within the District of Columbia as of 1891, a federal endorsement did not come until Mrs. Foster’s administration. The Act of Incorporation H.R. 3553 of the 54th Congress of the United States of America, established the DAR as “a body corporate and politic … for patriotic, historical, and educational purposes to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men and women who achieved American independence.” The Act also gave the National Society authorization to own real estate in Washington, and required it to write annual reports to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. It was approved on February 20, 1896, and was signed by President Grover Cleveland, Vice President Adlai Stevenson and Speaker of the House of Representatives Thomas B. Reed.
At the Fifth Continental Congress, Mrs. Foster declined her second nomination for President General knowing that Mrs. Stevenson was prepared to return to office. She graciously accepted the title of Honorary President General and continued to serve DAR through Congressional Committees. While attending Continental Congress in her later years, she always received a warm welcome and applause. Mrs. Foster maintained close ties to her daughters, Edith and Eleanor, and their families. Her grandson, John Foster Dulles, served as U.S. Secretary of State under President Eisenhower. Mrs. Foster was surrounded by her family when she passed away at her Washington, D.C., home on June 18, 1922.
Mary Margaretta Fryer Manning, 1898–1901, New York
Fifth President General
Mary Margaretta Fryer Manning, National Number 10683, joined DAR in 1895 as a member of Mohawk Chapter. Mrs. Manning was serving as Vice President General when she was elected President General in 1898 at the Seventh Continental Congress.
Mrs. Manning became a Washington, D.C., socialite while living in the city during her husband’s term as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury from 1885–1887. When Daniel Manning’s health began to decline, he resigned from this position and the couple returned to their hometown of Albany, N.Y. His illness unfortunately worsened and he passed away in December 1887. Mrs. Manning continued to visit Washington, D.C., regularly and maintained close friendships in both cities.
Mrs. Manning’s first term as President General of DAR lasted one year, but when she was re-elected in 1899 a new amendment to the DAR Constitution took effect, making the office of President General a two-year commitment. The new amendment also established a limit of two terms for any President General. During her first year as President General, Mrs. Manning was challenged with guiding the DAR through a time of war. The battleship USS. Maine exploded and sank on February 15, 1898, where it was docked in Havana Harbor, Cuba, shaking the already unstable relationship between the United States and Spain. Both countries declared war in April. The National Society eagerly offered to provide the government with any assistance needed. The DAR’s Second Report to the Smithsonian noted that when government offices were flooded with applications from nurses around the country, the Society’s National Board proposed to organize the most qualified volunteers into “a corps of able trained nurses.” From this group of nurses, the U.S. Army and Navy could “select any number as needed, with the assurance that they will accept an appointment and respond to orders without delay.” The DAR Hospital Corps was formed with Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee as Chairman, and other notable members, such as Mrs. Manning, Martha Sternberg and Annette Alger, as fellow officers. A reported total of 1,081 nurses were processed through the DAR Hospital Corps and received an assignment during the war. Thirteen nurses died during their service in the Spanish-American War, most of typhoid fever. In addition to organizing nurses, the Hospital Corps collected money from DAR members and distributed the funds to purchase supplies for military hospitals. One large purchase, a “steam launch” boat, was presented to the hospital ship Missouri for ferrying the sick and wounded to and from shore. In July 1899, Mrs. Manning received a letter of thanks from U.S. Secretary of War Russell Alger, saying “the work of mercy that you and your organization have carried out should be a life-long gratification to you.”
Mrs. Manning’s participation in the Paris Exposition of 1900 marked another significant event of her administration. As a representative of the United States appointed by President William McKinley, she attended the unveiling ceremonies of two statues in Paris. In previous years, DAR members had participated in fundraising for the Association of American Women for the Presentation of a Statue of Washington to France. Mrs. Manning proudly unveiled this statue on July 3, 1900. The next day Mrs. Manning delivered an address at the dedication of a statue of Lafayette, a gift from American children. Both ceremonies welcomed large crowds with patriotic music by John Philip Sousa and flags of the two countries. After her distinguished participation in these celebrations, Mrs. Manning met with the French president and received the Medal of the Legion of Honor. Belgium presented her with the titles Officier d’Alliance Publique and Chevalier l’Ordre de Leopold. The DAR was also represented by an exhibit at the Exposition, for which it won a grand prize.
The building of Memorial Continental Hall remained the primary focus of the National Society. Mrs. Manning was the first President General to serve as the chairman of the Memorial Continental Hall Committee. Under her chairmanship, members attempted to locate a suitable site for the hall and raised more money to purchase the land and hire an architect. By the end of her administration in 1901, the building fund amount contained more than $50,000. Mrs. Manning also sought to keep chapters involved with national projects. According to Mrs. Stevenson in Brief History: Daughters of the American Revolution, Mrs. Manning “inaugurated the pleasant custom of visiting the Chapters, which has resulted in awakening greater interest in the organization.” For members who were unable to attend Continental Congress, the presence of the President General at chapter meetings or events helped them experience the excitement of national activities.
The National Society continued to expand its international relations during Mrs. Manning’s administration. At Congress in 1900, DAR voted to send a large wreath to be placed by the tomb of Francisco de Miranda in Caracas, Venezuela. Miranda, a Venezuelan revolutionary, fought against the British in Pensacola, Fla., during the American Revolution. The wreath-laying ceremony, complete with regimented troops and the national band, was attended by the president of Venezuela, his cabinet, and the United States Minister, Francis B. Loomis. The 10th Continental Congress in 1901 passed resolutions of sympathy to King Edward VII for the death of Queen Victoria. Formal documentation of these resolutions was prepared, bound in a white leather album with a DAR ribbon and sent to the King. The National Society later received an official letter of appreciation.
The Continental Congress of 1901 presented a gold “loving cup” to Mrs. Manning in appreciation for her achievements as President General and as a token of admiration from all members. Mrs. Manning remained friends with many DAR members, as well as politicians and other notable figures. She served as president on the Board of Lady Managers for the St. Louis Exposition of 1904. Mrs. Manning died in Albany on July 19, 1928, at 83 years of age.
Cornelia Cole Fairbanks, 1901–1905, Indiana
Sixth President General
Cornelia Cole Fairbanks joined the Caroline Scott Harrison Chapter in 1895. She quickly became an active member and served as the State Regent of Indiana and as Vice President General. Her National Number was 9558.
When Mrs. Fairbanks became President General in 1901, DAR rented office space from local businesses and held Continental Congress in theatres or auditoriums. Before leaving office in 1905, she presided over Continental Congress in a new building owned exclusively by the National Society—Memorial Continental Hall. Although the Hall would not be completed for several more years, she had overseen the purchase of the land, the choice of architect and design, and the first stages of construction.
As an educated and outgoing woman, Mrs. Fairbanks was a natural fit for the National Society’s highest office. Before joining DAR, she established a literary club in her hometown of Indianapolis, and helped the local Women’s Club raise funds for and plan their own building, called the Propylaeum. Her father and mentor, Judge Philander Cole, and her husband, Senator Charles Fairbanks, inspired Mrs. Fairbanks to adhere to strict parliamentary procedure at meetings. Because of her talent for speaking clearly and mediating discussions, Letitia Green Stevenson later recalled, “I saw at once that she was destined to be a leader.”
Mrs. Fairbanks’ first priority as President General was Memorial Continental Hall. She called a meeting at her own home to formalize decisions on a site and architectural plans. A plot of land at 17th and D Streets NW in Washington, D.C., was finally purchased for just over $50,000. A subcommittee on architecture, appointed by Mrs. Fairbanks, chose the basic elements for the layout and design. Out of approximately 70 submissions and concepts for the new structure, architect Edward Pearce Casey’s drawings, with classical columns and porticoes, were the favorites and he received the contract. The official groundbreaking ceremony took place on a rainy day in October 1902. Mrs. Fairbanks and Mary Smith Lockwood both broke ground at the site using the Montana Spade, a gift from the Montana Daughters made with copper from the state’s mines and wood cut from trees along the Lewis and Clark Trail.
Mrs. Fairbanks served as chairman of the Memorial Continental Hall Committee and supervised the work of all its subcommittees. She traveled to many different states, addressing the members one-on-one to convey the importance of this project and its meaning to the Society and the nation. By 1904, DAR reported that $100,000 had been raised toward its construction. The ceremonial laying of the cornerstone occurred on April 19, 1904. The stage and seating area were decorated with flags, bunting and garlands. Ladies filed into their seats while a band played patriotic music. Mrs. Fairbanks gave the opening address. A trowel filled with cement was spread by Mrs. Fairbanks and DAR Founders Mary Desha, Mrs. Lockwood, Ellen Hardin Walworth and a Masonic Grand Master. Workers lowered the cornerstone into place on the foundation.
While Memorial Continental Hall was extremely important, Mrs. Fairbanks could not ignore other responsibilities and interests. After a chapter dispute disrupted a National Board meeting and Continental Congress in 1901, the National Board consented to the formation of a Judicial Committee. Members of the committee investigated the accusations made and established a code of ethics for future conflicts. The committee’s findings were reported at Continental Congress in 1904. The Committee on Patriotic Education was also formed during Mrs. Fairbanks’ administration to focus on citizenship education for immigrants. Making one of her first public appearances as President General, Mrs. Fairbanks addressed DAR members and attendees at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1901. This exposition was the site of the assassination of President William McKinley, a friend of Mr. and Mrs. Fairbanks, on September 6, 1901, by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. At the next National Board meeting in October, officers passed a resolution of mourning and authorized the wearing of a black ribbon to be worn with the DAR Insignia for 30 days.
Several resolutions regarding historic preservation passed during Mrs. Fairbanks administration, including those to protect the historic site of Jamestown, Va., and the Pilgrim Landing Site in Massachusetts. By 1904, the National Society had raised $200,000 for the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in New York. Members also expressed concern over the wreckage of the USS Maine, which still rested in the water off the shore of Havana, Cuba, with crew members entombed inside. Although it was not accomplished until 1912, the 1903 Continental Congress recommended that the bodies be removed and placed in Arlington National Cemetery with other Maine casualties. DAR members continued to honor their Revolutionary ancestors by marking their graves. Mrs. Fairbanks appointed a committee to represent the National Society at the reinterment of General Nathanael Greene in Savannah, Ga., and passed a resolution at Congress to promote the return of the remains of John Paul Jones from France.
Memorial Continental Hall’s dedication took place during Mrs. Fairbanks’ last Continental Congress as President General in 1905. In her address to the members and guests she declared “The dream has ‘come true.’ Its reality is surpassingly fair; in good sooth, the place is almost holy ground to the true daughter.” Mrs. Fairbanks continued as an active member of the DAR for the rest of her life, even throughout the busy years of her husband’s term as Vice President of the United States. She never stopped campaigning for Memorial Continental Hall. When visiting Continental Congress in 1912, she told the members to “buckle down” and pay off any remaining balances because it seemed “inharmonious to have a debt on a temple of liberty.” Mrs. Fairbanks died of pneumonia in 1913 after recurring bouts of illness. The flag at Memorial Continental Hall flew at half-staff for her death. Mr. Fairbanks set aside money in his wife’s name to be used for charitable purposes. In 1971 funds from this investment were used to open Fairbanks Hospital in Indianapolis.
Emily Nelson Ritchie McLean, 1905–1909, New York
Seventh President General
Emily Nelson Ritchie McLean joined DAR as a charter member in 1891 with the National Number 269. She served as regent of New York City Chapter from 1895–1905.
As an active participant in DAR since its founding, few members knew more about the National Society than Mrs. McLean. After faithfully attending every Continental Congress, she was an admired figure throughout the Society. The ballot for President General in 1901 included Mrs. McLean as a nominee, but Mrs. Fairbanks received more votes. Four years later, however, the majority agreed she had earned the position. She was elected President General in 1905, and then re-elected for a second term in 1907. Mrs. McLean is often considered to be the first President General chosen solely for her work within the Society, and not because of her husband’s status. In her words, she was “the only President General who has ever known what it was to sit under the Gallery.”
Mrs. McLean moved to New York City after her marriage, but her family roots were in Frederick, Md. Her mother, Betty Ritchie, was also an active DAR member and served as Frederick Chapter Regent and as Maryland State Regent. While growing up in a historic area, Mrs. McLean developed lifelong interests in genealogy and American history. As President General, she contributed to important commemorative anniversaries and events. For the celebration of the tercentennial of Jamestown in 1907, DAR built a small house at the historic site and donated it to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. The building, named Yeardley House after Virginia Governor Sir George Yeardley, was originally used by visitors as a “rest house.” Today it houses offices and research space. In 1906 the remains of John Paul Jones were ceremoniously returned to the United States aboard the USS Brooklyn. The silk flag covering the coffin was presented by DAR in honor of General Horace Porter, who searched for Jones’ remains for several years, and the U.S. Naval Authorities. Mrs. McLean also presided over the dedication of a tablet to John Paul Jones at New York University.
Shortly after Mrs. McLean became President General, the construction of Memorial Continental Hall reached a critical phase. The main body of the building was mostly finished, but the costly porticoes, roof, heating and ventilating systems, and interior could not be completed without more money. Most of the funds raised thus far had been spent and donations had stalled. The Memorial Continental Hall Committee rejuvenated interest in the project by instituting a program in which donations paid for specific features of the building. States and chapters collected money to purchase everything from light fixtures to entire rooms. In order to fund the most expensive portion of the Hall, the immense 13 columns on the south portico, the states of the original thirteen colonies launched their own campaigns to fund their state’s column. The DAR’s treasury continued to slowly increase, but not enough to pay for the project in full. Mrs. McLean advocated for DAR to take a bank loan so construction could be completed more quickly. While the decision was controversial, the National Board approved the plan and the Society secured a $200,000 loan from the American Security & Trust Co. When Mrs. McLean presided over her last Continental Congress in 1909, Memorial Continental Hall was only a few months from completion.
The National Society made great strides in charitable support and donations during Mrs. McLean’s administration. In 1906, when the San Francisco earthquake’s destruction and the subsequent fires shocked and saddened the entire country, DAR immediately sent $1,000 for local chapters to use in the recovery. Members generously donated several hundred dollars more during Continental Congress. Martha Berry, a DAR member, spoke at Congress in 1908 on behalf of the school she had established for rural boys and girls in Georgia. Scholarship money was collected and used to sponsor the education of several children. Donations to the school continued and Berry College remains on the list of DAR Approved Schools today. The newly formed Committee on Child Labor gave its first report in 1908, stating “the committee believes the evil commonly known as child labor is a menace to the institutions the fathers founded and their sons fought to save.” The committee passed several resolutions calling for child labor reform, which they sent to the president of the United States and the U.S. Congress. Women of the National Society also recognized a responsibility in caring for a special group of their own members. Many elderly Real Daughters, or DAR members who were first-generation daughters of Revolutionary War patriots, had little or no income and did not receive any pension from the federal government. While several chapters were already providing money and services for their Real Daughters, the National Society created its own general fund at the 15th Continental Congress to disburse on a case-by-case basis.
Mrs. McLean’s enthusiasm for history inspired her to begin a lecture series on American history in Memorial Continental Hall. Lectures were made available to everyone through the donations and subscriptions of members and interested parties. This lecture course, referred to as the “Emily Nelson Ritchie McLean Course,” reflected her desire to make more people excited about history. A new committee named the Committee for the Preservation of Historic Spots formed under Mrs. McLean’s administration to pursue the DAR’s mission to protect America’s historical assets. Pioneer trails that were disappearing from the American landscape, including the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail and the Natchez Trace, all benefited from the committee’s efforts to locate and mark their routes.
The Continental Congress in 1909 named Mrs. McLean an Honorary President General. Upon her return to New York City, her home chapter named her “regent for life.” Mrs. McLean remained active in the DAR until she succumbed to an illness in 1916 and died at only 58 years of age. She is buried in her family’s hometown of Frederick, Md.
Julia Green Scott, 1909–1913, Illinois
Eighth President General
Julia Green Scott joined the National Society in 1894 while her younger sister, Letitia Green Stevenson, served as President General. She was a member of the Letitia Green Stevenson Chapter and served as Vice President General during Mrs. Fairbanks’ administration. Her National Number was 4982.
Growing up in a prominent Kentucky family, Julia Green Scott became an intelligent, educated and assertive woman. She met her husband, Matthew T. Scott, while he attended Centre College, of which her father was president. After they married, the couple moved to Chenoa, Ill., a small town developed by her husband around his extensive land purchases in the area. The Scotts later moved to an elegant house in Bloomington, Ill., where Matthew Scott founded the McLean County Coal Company with his brother-in-law, Adlai Stevenson, as well as the Bloomington Bulletin newspaper. When her husband died in 1891, Mrs. Scott took over the management of his property and business. These responsibilities kept her very busy, but she still found time to participate in NSDAR.
Mrs. Scott was elected President General in 1909 and again in 1911. Her business and leadership experience were reflected in the no-nonsense, professional approach she used in managing the organization. Mrs. Scott was a highly respected and beloved member of NSDAR. She maintained control of potentially chaotic disturbances at Continental Congress by ordering “We must have quiet, or we will adjourn,” and “Don’t interrupt me, please. You shall have your chance.” While NSDAR never adopted an official policy on the issue of suffrage, Mrs. Scott showed no hesitation in alluding to her own opinion at Congress in 1910. In her introduction for President William Taft, she stated:
I have heard it rumored that the President of the United States is not in favor of Woman’s Suffrage. If this be true, we have every reason to believe that he has found himself forced to come to this decision as a matter of principle—for if he consulted his own personal advantage, he could not fail to favor giving the ballot to those millions of our sex, who always have felt such a warm admiration for Mr. Taft, the man.
Although Memorial Continental Hall was near completion when she took office, Mrs. Scott’s administration was faced with paying off the debt, furnishing the rooms and organizing the final move into the building. States and chapters continued to donate money for specific features of the building and their state rooms. The National Society began issuing decorative Liquidation and Endowment Certificates to show appreciation to members who gave a certain amount toward the general repayment of the loan. At the end of Mrs. Scott’s term, more than $100,000 had been raised against the total debt and for furnishings. Memorial Continental Hall housed all the NSDAR’s offices, an auditorium and storage space. However, because of the Society’s growth rate, the National Board was already discussing the purchase of the land behind the Hall for a second building. In 1913 Mrs. Scott wrote to the United States Chairman of the Public Buildings and Grounds Committee in the House of Representatives, the Honorable Morris Sheppard, attempting to work out a deal on the purchase of this land.
Several new committees were formed during Mrs. Scott’s administration. The National Old Trails Road Committee, formed independently from the Committee for the Preservation of Historic Spots, focused solely on having the U.S. government designate the Old Trails Road as a National Highway that would receive federal aid. The Old Trails Road, made up of former pioneer trails, gave NSDAR members from the Western states a cause closer to home. The Committee for a Memorial Highway to Mount Vernon promoted the popular idea of a scenic highway from Washington, D.C., to Mount Vernon. Many Americans viewed a trip to Mount Vernon as a patriotic pilgrimage and a direct route was needed as more and more people purchased automobiles. Interest in the National Society was increasing and many prospective members needed to provide proof of their patriot ancestor’s service. The NSDAR’s Committee to Petition U.S. Congress to Publish Revolutionary War Pension Records influenced senators and congressmen to support widespread citizen access to pension records, land grants and other evidentiary documents. Finding little resistance to this recommendation, money was appropriated and the project moved forward.
The NSDAR experienced important changes, achievements and events during Mrs. Scott’s administration. The Committee on Patriotic Education in Connecticut hired John Foster Carr to write a manual that would assist Italian immigrants taking the United States Citizenship exam. This booklet, called the Guida and published in 1912, became the model for the DAR Manual for Citizenship produced by the National Society. At Continental Congress in 1910, the Magazine Committee Chairman reported the committee’s recommendation to publish the Congress Proceedings separately with a proper index. After a bit of discussion the recommendation passed, and the 19th Continental Congress Proceedings were the first to be published as a separate volume. The Committee to Prevent Desecration of the United States Flag began promoting the use of flags in every classroom and school policies to teach the Pledge of Allegiance. When Continental Congress opened on April 15, 1912, news of the sinking of the Titanic was just starting to reach the American public. The NSDAR later passed a resolution of mourning and gratitude to all the men “who so nobly laid down their lives to save the women and children.”
After a touching farewell at the end of her term in 1913, Mrs. Scott returned to her home in Bloomington, Ill. She took other leadership roles in the National Society, including chairman of the War Relief Service Committee during World War I. For her work with war orphans in France, she received a commendation medal from French Ambassador Jean Jules Jusserand. Mrs. Scott died on April 29, 1923, at 80 years of age. Her home in Bloomington, which passed to her daughter, Julia Scott Vrooman, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Daisy Allen Story, 1913–1917, New York
Ninth President General
Daisy Allen Story joined New York City Chapter in 1891. Before being elected President General, she served as State Regent of New York.
Mrs. Story has the distinction of being the last President General to serve four consecutive years. She was elected President General in 1913 and re-elected in 1915. During her administration, the DAR Constitution was amended to extend the term of office to three years and that no member would be eligible for the same national office for two consecutive terms.
A native of New York, her home was at the historic village of Pelham Manor located near New Rochelle, in southern Westchester County. She was a prominent socialite and the granddaughter of Stephen Allen, a former mayor of New York City. She became a member of New York City Chapter early in the second year of the Society’s existence. Her national number being 826, she barely missed being a charter member; that is, one of the 818 women who joined the organization prior to October 11, 1891. In 1892, she organized Manhattan Chapter, New York, N.Y., and was elected State Regent in 1909.
Mrs. Story had much experience in the work of women’s organizations to prepare her for the duties of President General. She was the first New York state director of C.A.R., President of the New York City Federation of Women’s Clubs, First Vice President of the New York State Federation of Women’s Clubs, Vice President of the Washington Headquarters Association and a member of the Society of Colonial Dames of the State of New York.
When Mrs. Story came into office in 1913, the affairs of the Society were in excellent condition. In her final report, Mrs. Story’s predecessor, Julia Green Scott, stated that all bills had been paid, insurance was prepaid for four years and bonded indebtedness had been reduced to $150,000, with funds on hand to pay $15,000 of that amount.
In 1914, the 23rd Continental Congress adopted a resolution creating a committee to select a design for a badge to be worn by the President General and her successors. A beautiful, gold jeweled badge was presented to Mrs. Story at the 24th Continental Congress. Made by Bailey, Banks & Biddle, the pendant of the dazzling badge carried the seal of the National Society surrounded by diamonds, with golden rays of light made of diamonds and sapphires in every direction. The American eagle on the bar memorialized the patriotic spirit of the National Society while the laurel wreath, with pavé set diamonds, and the words “President General” in full relief on a ribbon, symbolized the authority and honor of that office. The bar would be retained by the President General and the pendant would be affixed to a new bar, so it may be passed on to her successor.
On October 11, 1915, the National Society observed its 25th anniversary. The celebration of the Silver Jubilee was attended by nearly 1,000 members and the president of the United States. State Regents brought gifts of substantial amounts of money to apply to the debt of Memorial Continental Hall. In the evening Mrs. Story hosted a brilliant reception in Memorial Continental Hall, at which she served a beautiful birthday cake with 25 silver candles to guests.
Even as the Daughters celebrated the founding of their Society, World War I was in progress, and there was the possibility that the United States might become involved. Mrs. Story emphasized the need for increased national defense. When Continental Congress met in 1916, the reports showed that the National Society was engaging in relief activities: by April 19, 1916, DAR Flag Day raised $106,238.97 for Belgian relief; large numbers of members joined Army and Navy defense leagues; and much assistance was given to the American Red Cross Society. The 25th Congress passed a resolution favoring a national defense program. In 1917, the National Society offered the Red Cross all available space in Memorial Continental Hall.
The reports on Memorial Continental Hall made to the Continental Congress during Mrs. Story’s term showed that the outstanding debt was being reduced at a surprising rate. On April 21, 1917, the final contribution to the debt on Memorial Continental Hall was made by Ellen Washington Bellamy. With this payment, $185,000 of the debt on the Hall was paid by the National Society one year before it was due.
Mrs. Story reported to the Congress of 1917, that the land between Memorial Continental Hall and 18th Street, with the exception of the two corner lots, had been purchased by the National Society during the year. An exceptionally low price had been arranged, and generous Daughters raised enough money to make the first payment. There remained, however, an obligation of $36,158.93 on the Society in connection with this purchase. It was a wise step to acquire the additional land, because the National Society was fast outgrowing the space in Memorial Continental Hall, and an additional building to be used for administrative purposes was becoming a pressing need.
In the middle of the National Society’s activities to help the nation in the war which had just been declared, Mrs. Story’s term expired. She was elected Honorary President General and continued to attend Continental Congress.
Sarah Elizabeth Mitchell Guernsey, 1917–1920, Kansas
10th President General
Sarah Elizabeth Mitchell Guernsey, National Number 51865, joined Esther Lowrey Chapter, Kansas, in 1905. Before being elected President General, she served as State Regent of Kansas. Mrs. Guernsey was considered to be one of the most thoughtful and earnest women of the National Society. She was the first President General to serve a three-year term.
She was born in Salem, Ohio, but she spent most of her life in Kansas, where her father, Rev. Daniel P. Mitchell, moved the entire family when he became the pastor of a church in Leavenworth. At 16 she began a career as a school teacher and eventually was elevated to the position as principal of the high school in the city of Independence. Later, after her marriage to George Thatcher Guernsey, a successful banker, she became president of the school board. When the Ladies’ Library Society was formed, Mrs. Guernsey was its president, and through its efforts the Public Library of Independence was founded. She was also a leader in the State Federation of Woman’s Clubs.
Her most important work, however, has been connected with the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. She was State Regent of Kansas from 1909–1917, and again from 1921–1923. In April 1917, she was elected President General of the National Society.
Her term fell during World War I, at a time when the Society faced serious problems. The first and greatest responsibility was to determine how the National Society could deliver aid to the country during the war. Second was managing the affairs of the National Society so that the regular income would suffice for all needs. It was Mrs. Guernsey who first realized that a Society with a broad program of services should have its business conducted not as a social organization, but according to strict accounting and management principles. This would increase the activities and usefulness of the National Society.
Two of Mrs. Guernsey’s first official acts were to reduce the number of national committees and to limit the time and space given to reports. Committees with state chairmen were divided into six geographical divisions, with each division having one representative on the committee. The State Chairman reported to the national committee and the latter reported to Continental Congress. The work of the Conservation of the Home, Children and Sons of the Republic, and Welfare of Women and Children committees was to be consolidated and reported to Congress through the National Committee on Patriotic Education.
The DAR Magazine had never produced sufficient income to defray the expense of publication, but it was maintained so that the chapters and members might have an official communication. The Continental Congress of 1916 voted to send the magazine to all members who were current with their annual dues. During the year that followed, a tremendous debt was incurred, and Mrs. Guernsey’s succeeding administration found many irregularities involving unpaid bills by the magazine and other operations as well, some of which were in dispute. Before the end of Mrs. Guernsey’s administration, all the debts connected with the magazine, as well as other deferred bills, were resolved and paid.
Mrs. Guernsey proposed the construction of a separate building to provide additional space for offices for the DAR Library. The National Society was finally financially stable enough that construction could be supported by the annual income, therefore any special plea for a building fund was unnecessary. A resolution was adopted by the Continental Congress of 1920 authorizing the appointment of the Office Building Committee to empower and direct the National Board of Management to negotiate a loan of $200,000 for a building. Mrs. Guernsey expected the new Administration Building to provide a comfortable restroom, an ample lunchroom, a kitchen and lockers for the use of the National Society’s clerks. Her plans were carried out, and it was Kansas, her home state, which paid for the furniture and equipment for these rooms.
Mrs. Guernsey paid her own expenses during her term, including the cost of clerical assistance, office supplies and travel. Mrs. Guernsey visited many states as President General, attending both state and chapter meetings. In order to see clearly what the situation and needs were at Tilloloy, the French village the National Society pledged to restore, she visited France to obtain information first hand. She personally paid all the expenses associated with her journeys and reported all of her findings to Continental Congress.
During her administration, Mrs. Guernsey became a prominent figure known as one of the best-dressed women in Washington. On February 23, 1919, the Washington Star described the beautiful silver and mauve frock she wore to a reception: “It may have been made in America, by an artist familiar with every detail of the Paris Fashion.” Even though she was well known for being an avid traveler, Mrs. Guernsey’s gowns were all made in Kansas City by a Miss Curry, who was her dressmaker for 20 years.
Mrs. Guernsey’s services to the National Society were outstanding. She was President General during a time when her courageous, meticulous and keen mind were needed most. When her term ended she was elected Honorary President General, and she subsequently served again as State Regent of Kansas.
Anne Belle Rogers Minor, 1920–1923, Connecticut
11th President General
Anne Belle Rogers Minor, National Number 4172, joined Lucretia Shaw Chapter, New London, Conn., in 1894. Before being elected President General, she served as State Vice Regent of Connecticut, chairman of the Magazine Committee and Vice President General.
Because Mrs. Minor faced no opposition in her bid for President General, her election was practically unanimous. While some of her predecessors were descended from clergymen or teachers and others from merchants, lawyers or men active in political life, Mrs. Minor’s Connecticut ancestors were farmers and fisherman, ship builders and sailors, proprietors of mills, and owners and masters of commercial sailing vessels.
Mrs. Minor was born April 7, 1864, in the town of East Lyme, Conn. When she was 18 months old her father died, and her mother moved the entire family to their grandparents’ home. Her grandfather was a ship builder, farmer and owner of a saw mill. In this environment they had all the simple necessities of life but few luxuries. At the age of 14, Mrs. Minor had to end her school days and become the primary caretaker of the house due to her grandparents’ ill health. She attended to her grandfather’s business and all the housework.
After her grandparents died, it became necessary for this young businesswoman to become self-sufficient. The opportunity presented itself when a clubhouse was built to relieve visitors from New York City of housekeeping duties while they summered in Connecticut. Mrs. Minor was asked to manage the facility, which she did for several years. She eventually bought the property and continued her venture by purchasing land which she sold for building lots that made her a large profit. She built summer cottages for rent or for sale and gained valuable business experience as well as insight into human nature.
Later, after her marriage to Dr. George M. Minor, his father, Robert C. Minor, a well-known and very successful artist, encouraged her to take up painting as a career. Mrs. Minor’s paintings were on exhibition in many galleries in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. She was a member of several societies of artists, and regarded painting as her real profession.
She became a regent of the Lucretia Shaw Chapter in 1909. She served in this office for four years until her election as State Vice Regent of Connecticut. In 1914 and again in 1916 she was elected Vice President General.
During her second term as Vice President General, the National Society was under a heavy burden of debt incurred during 1916–1917 when the National Society was issuing the magazine free to every paid member. It had been thought that sufficient advertising would cover the entire cost of publication, but instead a very large deficit was accumulated. Mrs. Minor was chairman of the Magazine Committee during Sarah Mitchell Guernsey’s administration, from 1917–1920. Her main task was to reverse the magazine’s financial situation by putting the Society’s publication on a strict business structure and increasing its circulation.
In 1920, Mrs. Minor was nominated for President General. When she came into office the National Society was facing the end of its arduous efforts connected with World War I. An optimistic spirit infused the organization, and it was ready to expand its usual activities.
Several projects begun during the war were brought to completion during Mrs. Minor’s term. In the summer of 1921, Mrs. Minor made a special trip to France to dedicate the fountain and water works given to Tilloloy by the National Society toward the close of Mrs. Guernsey’s administration. The dedication ceremonies took place on August 23, in the midst of the war-torn village where the destruction wrought by the German guns was everywhere to be seen.
Mrs. Minor also participated in another ceremony connected with France—the unveiling of the monument of Joan of Arc on Meridian Hill in Washington, D.C. This monument was a gift from the women of France to the women of America. The National Society was selected to accept the gift for all the women of America, and the President General delivered the acceptance speech.
The most ambitious task of Mrs. Minor’s administration was the undertaking of social and educational work among the immigrants at Ellis Island. The Ellis Island Committee was created to manage the Society’s work among immigrants at Ellis Island and the Americanization of foreigners carried on by chapters of the National Society from its earliest years. At Mrs. Minor’s suggestion, a Manual of the United States for the Information of Immigration and Foreigners was prepared by the National Society. This booklet, now known as the Daughters of the American Revolution Manual for Citizenship, was published in many languages and was given free of charge to immigrants arriving at Ellis Island and other ports, and to others seeking citizenship.
The Administration Building was erected during Mrs. Minor’s term. In addition to making sufficient arrangements for the Society’s employees in the Administration Building, a beautiful suite of rooms for the President General was provided, which Mrs. Minor occupied when in Washington. During her administration, the Society decided that a sum should be set aside annually for the expenses of the President General, to include clerical assistance.
At the close of Mrs. Minor’s administration, scholarships were given to the DAR school at Tamassee, S.C., and to the Indian School at Wichita, Kan., in her honor. By a unanimous rising vote, the Continental Congress of 1923 elected her an Honorary President General of the National Society.
Lora Haines Cook, 1923–1926, Pennsylvania
12th President General
Lora Haines Cook, National Number 12442, joined Pittsburgh Chapter, Pittsburgh, Pa., in 1896. Before being elected President General, she served as State Regent of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Committee on the Design of the Official Badge of the President General, chairman of the Committee on Insignia and Vice President General.
Mrs. Cook was considered a wise, fair and tactful leader. She is most remembered for her instrumental role in the planning and financing of Constitution Hall.
A native of Ohio, Mrs. Cook was born in Lloydsville, the daughter of Lewis Gregg and Sarah Jones Haines. She attended college in Pittsburgh and at the Northeast Conservatory of Music in Boston. She was a descendant of Theophilus Eaton, the founder of New Haven Colony and the first governor of Connecticut.
Mrs. Cook became a member of the Pittsburgh Chapter in 1896. She became State Vice Regent in 1914 and held the office until 1917, when she was elected State Regent. She was very influential in directing the war activities of the Daughters of her state during World War I. Under her supervision, within a period of 18 months $319,212.10 in money and gifts was contributed toward war work.
By 1914, Mrs. Cook began to participate in Continental Congress, taking part in the discussion and debate on the floor. In 1915, she was chairman of the Committee on the Design of the Official Badge of the President General. Mrs. Cook was elected Vice President General in 1920. She gained much respect from the Daughters through her advocacy of the Caroline Scott Harrison Memorial, the monument to the Founders of DAR, and the resolution favoring a contribution of 25 cents per member to the fund to provide the Manual of the United States for the Information of Immigration and Foreigners. The office of President General followed in 1923, as both recognition and reward for her years of active service.
Many projects previously undertaken were finished during the three years Mrs. Cook was in office. In 1911, the Daughters of the American Revolution started the official movement to mark the old historic trails. During World War I, the construction of a coast-to-coast highway, following the Old Historic Trail through 12 states, from Washington, D.C., to San Diego, Calif., and Olympia, Wash., was carried forward by states, counties and towns along the route. In 1927, a well-paved road was completed and uniformly marked. It was recommended to the 23rd Continental Congress in 1924 that instead of many markers, 12 uniform monuments be placed, one in each state crossed by the National Old Trails Road, at a total cost of $12,000. At the 35th Continental Congress, the committee in charge reported that fundraising was complete and announced that the work would proceed as soon as a suitable design was chosen.
During Mrs. Cook’s administration, the Pilgrim Memorial Fountain at Plymouth, Mass., was erected by the Society. The President General presided over the dedication on June 24, 1925, in honor of the women of the Mayflower.
After 15 years of effort, the Philippine Scholarship Endowment Fund reached its designated goal of $20,000. At about the same time, a new dormitory for girls at the American International College was dedicated, and the cornerstone of the Caroline Scott Harrison Memorial in Indianapolis, Ind., was laid. A bequest of $26,000 from Hugh Washington was devoted to the purchase of books for the Library, and each book purchased was marked with his coat of arms.
Many new and necessary committees were created, including the Publicity Committee, which kept the public informed of the Society’s work. Another was the Student Loan Committee, created to help finance the college education of worthy boys and girls. The Manual of the United States for the Information of Immigration and Foreigners, prepared in the preceding administration, evidently met an urgent need, for nearly 650,000 copies were distributed during Mrs. Cook’s term. For the first time, a surplus in the accounts of the DAR Magazine was reported.
Among the many important resolutions adopted during Mrs. Cook’s term was one authorizing an official flag for the National Society. A pamphlet on the correct use of the flag was distributed.
By 1925, the seating capacity of Memorial Continental Hall could no longer accommodate the increasing attendance at Continental Congress. The Society was growing at a rate of nearly 1,000 new members per month and the membership had resorted to holding sessions of Continental Congress in the Washington Auditorium. Construction of a new auditorium, to be called Constitution Hall, had been authorized during Continental Congress in 1924. John Russell Pope designed the building without charge as a memorial to his mother, who was a DAR member. During Mrs. Cook’s term more than $500,000 in pledges and funds was raised for Constitutional Hall.
Mrs. Cook’s services to the National Society were exceptional. On April 17, 1937, a plaque in the foyer of Constitution Hall was dedicated by the New York chapters to honor Mrs. Cook for her leadership in the planning of Constitution Hall. That same year, the Pennsylvania Daughters presented a portrait of Mrs. Cook to the National Society.
Grace Lincoln Hall Brosseau, 1926–1929, Connecticut
13th President General
Grace Lincoln Hall Brosseau, National Number 8730, joined Mary Little Deere Chapter, Moline, Ill., in 1895. Before being elected President General, she served as State Recording Secretary of Michigan, national chairman of the Ellis Island Committee, national chairman of Transportation Committee and Treasurer General.
Mrs. Brosseau was born and raised in the busy manufacturing city of Moline. She attended courses at the Davenport Business College of Davenport, Iowa, just across the river from Moline. After completing school, Mrs. Brosseau became a writer for a local newspaper and gradually branched out into writing special articles and stories for a magazine.
After her marriage to Alfred J. Brosseau on December 20, 1890, they moved to Kansas City, Mo. In 1907, they were living in Albion, Mich., where she organized the Hannah Tracy Grant Chapter, of which she served as regent for several years. In 1915 she was elected State Recording Secretary. She resigned this position when she moved to New York City in 1917.
After World War I, poor conditions at the Ellis Island Immigrant Station attracted the attention of many DAR members. The Continental Congress adopted a resolution recommending to the United States government that physical conditions there be improved, that adequate equipment for the use of detained immigrants be installed and that a personal service department be established. For a time, members of the National Society in New York City took charge of the work among the immigrants, but the need was so great that Anne Rogers Minor, then President General, appointed Mrs. Brosseau chairman of the Ellis Island Committee.
During Mrs. Minor’s term as President General, Mrs. Brosseau also served as national chairman of Transportation Committee. The country’s railroads were under the control of the U.S. government, and the National Society was unable to secure concessions as to rates, ticket restrictions or stop-over privileges, which affected DAR members engaged in war relief work. With the return of the railroads to private management, Mrs. Brosseau’s efforts for more favorable rates and conditions had satisfying results by 1921.
In 1923, Mrs. Brosseau was elected Treasurer General. This position carried an especially heavy burden as the National Society was still liable for a $280,000 debt on the Administration Building. At the close of her term, the debt had been reduced to $45,000. The Administration Building would be entirely paid off by the end of her own administration as President General.
Mrs. Brosseau was elected President General in 1926 during the 35th Continental Congress. An outstanding feature of Mrs. Brosseau’s administration was the completion of a number of projects begun in earlier years. One of these undertakings was the marking of the Old Trails Road. The committee in charge reported in 1927 that the national government had completed the road from ocean to ocean. It recommended that a monument be erected beside the road in each of the 12 states through which it passes. By 1929, 11 of the 12 Madonna of the Trail monuments had been erected, and on April 19, 1929, the final one was dedicated in Bethesda, Md. After approximately 20 years of effort and at a cost to the Society of a little more than $13,000, the Great National Old Trails Road was completed.
In the summer of 1928, Mrs. Brosseau visited the village of Tilloloy, France, where she found the system of waterworks which the National Society had constructed there at the close of World War I in a shocking state of disrepair and disintegration. Repairs were made, and the system was completely renovated. The Continental Congress of 1929 adopted a resolution to turn over to proper authorities the full balance of the Tilloloy fund after all repair bills were paid, to be used for a permanent waterworks fund, thereby releasing NSDAR from any further responsibility in the matter. The amount presented was $3,738.68.
Another undertaking completed in this administration was the erection of the memorial to the National Society’s four Founders. The monument, designed by DAR member Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, stands on the grounds south of the Administration Building. The dedication service was held on April 17, 1929.
In 1927, while the 36th Continental Congress was in session, a massive silver memorial reproduction of the Declaration of Independence, bearing at the top a sculptured view of the signing, copied from John Trumbull’s painting in the U.S. Capitol, was presented to the National Society. Alfred J. Brosseau donated this beautiful tablet in honor of his wife, the President General. This gift was placed in a corridor of Memorial Continental Hall.
During Mrs. Brosseau’s term she visited 41 states and chapters in Honolulu, Cuba, France and England. While in England she was presented at the Court of St. James’s. In Paris, she was entertained at a luncheon at the American Embassy. She generously paid all the expenses of her many journeys from her own funds and saved the Society many thousands of dollars.
At the close of her term in 1929, Continental Congress elected her an Honorary President General. Edith Irwin Hobart, who succeeded Mrs. Brosseau as President General, appointed her chairman of the Constitution Hall Building Committee, a position Mrs. Brosseau held for two years, during which time the work of construction and furnishing was nearly completed.
Edith Irwin Hobart, 1929–1932, Ohio
14th President General
Edith Irwin Hobart, National Number 25487, joined Cincinnati Chapter, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1898. Before being elected President General, she served as Organizing Secretary General, State Regent of Ohio and chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee.
Mrs. Hobart had long been active in social and philanthropic work in her home state, and she brought that same generosity to the National Society. Both her official position as President General and her membership in numerous other societies brought Mrs. Hobart many invitations to attend public functions and to cooperate with organizations with similar aims.
She served three terms as regent of Cincinnati Chapter and then three years as Ohio State Regent. In 1926, she was elected Organizing Secretary General of the National Society.
During her term as Organizing Secretary General, Mrs. Hobart also served as chairman of the Buildings and Grounds Committee. The first great work of this committee was the preparation of a completely new inventory of the contents of Memorial Continental Hall and the Administration Building. Also, a survey was made to identify needed repairs. These repairs were made, necessary changes in furnishings and lighting system were effected, the Period Rooms were renovated as needed, and many gifts of furniture and other interesting antiques were received and installed. When Mrs. Hobart relinquished her duties as Chairman in 1929, the entire property was left in excellent condition.
When Mrs. Hobart was elected President General, the National Society had 2,339 chapters. At the close of her term in 1932, there were 2,463 chapters. Owing to the Depression, which began in 1929, many members of the Society were obliged to withdraw from the organization; in spite of that many new members were admitted. The admitted membership advanced from 252,476 to 276,890, and the actual membership grew from 169,958 in 1929 to 173,525 in 1931. By 1932, it dropped to 169,302 due to the Depression. The 1931 membership count of 173,525 marked the highest point in the Society’s growth in the first 50 years of its existence.
In 1929, the most important task immediately confronting the new administration was the completion, furnishing and financing of Constitutional Hall. On October 23, 1929, a dedication service was held in the new auditorium by the membership. The general public occupied it for the first time three days later to attend the International Oratorical Contest. Before Congress met in 1930, the Hall had been used 28 times. During the following years, both of the Society’s auditoriums were occupied and more frequently. Constitution Hall not only paid for maintenance; it also began to help pay for itself.
Edith Scott Magna, the chairman of the Constitution Hall Finance Committee, secured the needed equipment for Constitution Hall: the voice amplification apparatus, doors, columns and draperies. In her report to the 41st Continental Congress, she stated that by April 20, 1932, the total collected for Constitution Hall was $1,178,016.94, plus $7,397.30 in pledges.
At the request of the Bicentennial Commission, which was planning the celebration of George Washington’s 200th birthday in 1932, the National Society contributed to the restoration of the Lee Mansion at Arlington National Cemetery. As part of its gift, the Society presented to the Lee Mansion a copy of an oil painting of Martha Washington from an original owned by Washington and Lee University.
The Society continued to provide pensions for eight Real Daughters, one organizing Member and 11 Spanish-American War nurses. In addition, it contributed to the care of World War I veterans who were in tuberculosis hospitals in New Mexico and donated $1,000 toward the Memorial Chapel at Walter Reed Hospital.
A sum of $2,000 was given to the American Legion Building Paris, Inc., to provide a DAR salon in its new building in Paris. The salon was to be the new headquarters for Americans in Paris and a meeting place for the Paris Chapter and for all Daughters.
After several years of preparatory effort, Caroline Scott Harrison Hall at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, was completed. Mrs. Hobart dedicated the hall in the name of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution on April 1, 1930. Mrs. Harrison was DAR’s first President General and her husband, U.S. President Benjamin Harrison, attended Miami University.
An extremely interesting event in 1931 was a trip 300 Daughters took on the chartered steamship Southland to Yorktown, Va., to attend the sesquicentennial celebration of the famous battle and the surrender of General Charles Cornwallis. Jamestown, Williamsburg and other historic places were visited during the voyage of several days, which included the four-day pageant at Yorktown. Distinguished guests from both France and England were present at the celebration, including descendants of General Lafayette, Admiral De Grasse and General Rochambeau. During this excursion, two bronze tablets were dedicated in memory of the American and French soldiers who lost their lives during the Siege of Yorktown.
Following the precedent established by former Presidents General, Mrs. Hobart traveled extensively during her term, Continental Congress having authorized a fund for traveling expenses. She attended meetings in 47 states and also visited Alaska, furthering the work of the Society wherever possible.
When her term as President General expired, she was elected an Honorary President General. Not content to be idle, Mrs. Hobart continued her activities in various other organizations.
Edith Scott Magna, 1932–1935, Massachusetts
15th President General
Edith Scott Magna, National Number 137929, joined the Mercy Warren Chapter, Springfield, Mass., in February 1918. She rose to leadership roles quickly, first serving as regent to Mercy Warren Chapter from 1921–1922 and Massachusetts State Counselor from 1922–1929. Mrs. Magna was elected Vice President General in 1924. She served as Librarian General in Edith Irwin Hobart’s administration before being elected President General in 1932.
Mrs. Magna was born in Boston, Mass., to Colonel Walter Scott and Sarah Dean Campbell Scott. In 1909, she graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts. Soon after, she married Russell William Magna. With a reputation as a fierce fundraiser, Mrs. Magna chaired committees and worked on numerous fundraising boards including that of her alma mater. She continued to use her fundraising skills to support historic preservation efforts in her state, including restoring properties and placing historical markers.
By 1924, Memorial Continental Hall could no longer accommodate the Society’s growing membership when it convened for Continental Congress. The construction of a larger meeting hall—Constitution Hall—would be the solution. The National Board of Management assembled the Constitution Hall Finance Committee in 1926. Mrs. Magna was appointed national chairman. She oversaw fundraising for Constitution Hall for the next nine years. Mrs. Magna’s enthusiastic promotion of the project quickly brought in financial contributions and building gifts for the hall. By December 1928, in a DAR Magazine article titled Constitution Hall, she informed the membership, “Constitution Hall is being built. The cornerstone has been laid.”
As Librarian General, Mrs. Magna oversaw the installation of the new DAR Library. Mrs. Magna had a special interest in the development of the Library. She and her father, Colonel Walter Scott, gave many valuable manuscripts and books to the Society in an effort to increase the holdings of the DAR Library and collections. In addition to being known as a lineage organization, Mrs. Magna was passionate about the Society establishing itself as an educational center within Washington, D.C. The library she would install as Librarian General would grow to be one of the premier genealogical collections in the United States.
At Continental Congress in 1932, Edith Scott Magna was installed as President General of the National Society. She quickly became engaged in her role, making it a point to visit every state during her term. She took part in several marker placement and dedication ceremonies, including the dedication of Fort Necessity in Uniontown, Pa., in 1932. The local Great Meadows Chapter spearheaded the restoration of the fort where General George Washington led the British Colonial forces during the French and Indian War. Mrs. Magna spoke to an audience of Pennsylvania state government officials, military officials and members of other patriotic societies. On behalf of the National Society, she dedicated a historical marker commemorating the location and the bicentennial of the birth of George Washington.
Mrs. Magna oversaw the National Society’s pilgrimage to France to honor the service of the French soldiers who supported America in the Revolutionary War. President Herbert Hoover wrote Mrs. Magna expressing his pleasure and support of DAR in this venture. He wrote, “[This] is a splendid gesture of appreciation certain to promote an historic friendship, and coming with especial appropriateness from your great group of patriotic women.” Unable to attend because of formal duties, Mrs. Magna sent a delegation of DAR members to France in 1932. The delegation was welcomed with a private reception given by President Albert Lebrun at the Palace d’Elysee. Vice President General Lottie Caldwell delivered personal greetings on behalf of the President General. During the visit, the National Society presented a bronze plaque honoring French soldiers who died at the Battle of Yorktown. To celebrate the presentation from the National Society, Mrs. Magna was named as a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour.
Back at home, President and Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt frequently requested Mrs. Magna’s presence at official engagements at the White House. Mrs. Magna kept the Society involved in projects that supported the government. Under her leadership, the National Society took over the occupational therapy projects for Merchant Marine and Coast Guard patients at Ellis Island in New York. It was Mrs. Magna’s administration that successfully petitioned Congress to release early United States Census records, which became invaluable to the work of the Society. Through the census, countless members and nonmembers are able to trace their lineage.
Mrs. Magna took office during the worst economic crisis this country ever faced, the Great Depression. Despite the economic climate of the country, she successfully promoted the financial interests of the organization. The Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine proved most fruitful during the hard economic times. The Magna Administration saw a total revenue of $17,000 for the magazine. The most successful financial accomplishment of the Magna Administration was the close of debt on Constitution Hall. Throughout the administration, Mrs. Magna continued to solicit for contributions to the Constitution Hall fund. When she took office, the balance owed was a little more than $100,000. At the close of her administration in 1935, the debt was retired.
In 1935, Mrs. Magna was elected Honorary President General. She continued to fundraise for DAR special projects, including the NSDAR Archives. Edith Scott Magna died in October 1961. Fondly referred to as “the Little Gold Digger,” Mrs. Magna’s notable fundraising talents will always be admired. Constitution Hall is standing testament to Mrs. Magna’s work and dedication to the National Society.
Florence A. Hague Becker, 1935–1938, New Jersey
16th President General
Florence Hauge Becker, National Number 113909, joined Nova Caesarea Chapter, Newark, N.J., in 1915. She held various chapter offices, including chapter regent. Mrs. Becker served as New Jersey State Regent from 1926–1929. She was elected Organizing Secretary General in 1929. Mrs. Becker also served on the Constitution Hall Committee and was national chairman of the National Defense through Patriotic Education Committee. She was elected President General in 1935.
Throughout her tenure, the United States would begin to see recovery from the Great Depression. Many businesses and companies that survived considered updating their organizational and administrative standards to ensure their stability for the future. The DAR was no exception. Mrs. Becker established a well-organized business foundation for DAR. Since the National Society was financially able, she oversaw the restoration of employee salaries to pre-Depression levels and developed an employee retirement fund. A business survey of current expenditures resulted in an overhaul of the Society’s finances. Mrs. Becker’s administration was able to eliminate unnecessary spending that resulted in substantial savings for DAR. Additionally, she secured a reserve fund for the Society and encouraged states to establish individual funds to maintain their interests in the DAR Museum.
Mrs. Becker often spoke on the importance of the human spirit and personal relationships. She developed programs that cared for the educational and nutritional needs of children. Through local chapters, “Becker Boys and Girls” were provided clothing, food, and transportation to and from school. Under the direction of Mrs. Becker’s advocacy for children, chapters took on larger projects, such as facilitating summer camps and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Mrs. Becker endorsed education and vocational training. Her administration distributed scholarships, particularly for young women perusing degrees in home economics.
Mrs. Becker was a passionate advocate for patriotic education among young Americans. While serving as national chairman to the Committee on National Defense through Patriotic Education during the Magna Administration, she expressed how important it was to “educate the youth for citizenship in a republic.” During this time, Representative John W. McCormack, chairman of the Special Committee on Un-American Activities, also known as the McCormack-Dickstein Committee, recruited Mrs. Becker to compile a special report on Communist propaganda being distributed to young Americans by various groups. Mrs. Becker spoke out regarding the information that her report revealed and believed that DAR had an obligation to encourage young Americans to “study, learn and understand what liberty means.” This objective carried over into her tenure as President General. She continued to speak out against Communism as well as the societal challenges that pushed citizens to support the socialist movement. In 1936, when she addressed the 45th Continental Congress, she openly discussed the need for local governments to work to cure societal problems such as “starvation wages, unequal opportunity, uncertainty of justice, neglect of youth, lynchings, [and] malfeasance in office.”
Mrs. Becker advocated for the redevelopment of existing committees such as the Committee of Sons and Daughters of the United States, which became the Committee on Junior American Citizens. She authorized new committees, including the Junior Membership Committee. Junior American Citizens and Junior Membership supported her theme of reaching out to young Americans. She encouraged the development of DAR chapters on college campuses across the country in an effort to promote patriotic education as well as membership in the Society.
In 1937, Mrs. Becker traveled to Europe where she toured England, France, Germany and Italy. She briefly stopped in England before traveling to Germany. Alongside the government of the Third Reich, Mrs. Becker led the Berlin-based Dorothea von Stuben Chapter in a commemorative marker ceremony honoring General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben’s service in the Revolutionary War. She continued to France, where she participated in the 100th anniversary celebration of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, accompanied by the Benjamin Franklin Chapter. She also spoke at Memorial Day events and placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Somme American Cemetery at Bony in northern France. Later on her European tour, Mrs. Becker stopped in Rome and was received by Pope Pius XI at Vatican City. She concluded with a return trip to England, where she was presented at court to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.
Back at home, Mrs. Becker traveled to various states and inspected national DAR projects including the continued care of patients at Ellis Island. By the end of her administration, the National Society’s operations were based upon a well-organized business foundation and the importance of educating young people on patriotism was promoted throughout the society. In 1938, she was elected Honorary President General.
Mrs. Becker was a native of Westfield, N.J. She graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts in 1909. Not long after joining DAR, she married William A. Becker. Mrs. Becker died in July 1971. In memoriam, Adele Erb Sullivan, Honorary President General wrote:
As a junior member attending her first Continental Congress in 1935—at the time of Florence Becker’s election to the office of President General—this writer will always remember her for her ‘Youth Program’ and for her effectiveness as a leader and a speaker on behalf of the high ideals of the National Society and the principles upon which our country was founded. Many of today’s members are more loyal, active, and interested in the DAR program because of Florence Becker’s emphasis on youth.
Sarah Corbin Robert, 1938–1941, Maryland
17th President General
Sarah Corbin Robert, National Number 164350, joined Peggy Stewart Tea Party Chapter, Annapolis, Md., in 1921. She quickly rose to leadership positions within her chapter, serving as treasurer, registrar and eventually chapter regent. She held various committee chairmanships within the Maryland State Society and was elected State Recording Secretary in 1928. Mrs. Robert was an instructor in parliamentary law. She used her knowledge of procedural and organizational standards to develop Maryland’s State Yearbook into an annual publication. She also served as the national chairman on Patriotic Education from 1926–1929. An enthusiastic promoter and advocate of patriotic education, Mrs. Robert traveled to every DAR-supported school. She advocated for continued DAR support of the schools in her reports at Continental Congress every year during her tenures as national chairman, Treasurer General and President General.
Mrs. Robert was raised in Owego, N.Y. She majored in American history at Syracuse University and graduated in 1909. She would go on to teach high school in New York and New Jersey. She married Henry Robert Jr., son of General Henry Robert, creator of Robert’s Rules of Order and pioneer in the study of parliamentary law. They later relocated to Maryland. She too became a student of parliamentary law and eventually assisted her husband by assuming some of his instructional duties. She taught courses in parliamentary law at Columbia University in New York and the University of Maryland. She even authored special parliamentary publications for organizations such as the American Red Cross and assisted with the development of later editions of Robert’s Rules of Order.
Mrs. Robert’s organizational and procedural standards led to the simplification of registration for Continental Congress. In previous years registration procedures were confusing, partially due to the varying Bylaws of each state. After a review of the guidelines and Bylaws of each state, Mrs. Robert was able to simplify the registration process. She would also serve as chairman of the Credentials Committee from 1931–1934 before being elected Treasurer General in 1935 as part of the Becker Associates. She also held numerous national chairmanships during her tenure as Treasurer General.
In 1938, Mrs. Robert ran unopposed for the office of President General. The Golden Jubilee President General, she promoted numerous projects to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Society. The formal commemorative events, including a dinner and a historical pageant, were held on October 10–11, 1940. Mrs. Robert’s portrayal of first President General Caroline Scott Harrison was memorable.
The need to preserve DAR records resulted in the construction of a $26,000 archives facility. The Golden Jubilee Administration also revived the Valley Forge Bell Tower project. The DAR installed 17 new bells, bringing the total to 47, one to represent each state in the union. Additionally, the Penny Pines project begun by the previous administration continued. Thousands of acres of national forest lands were replanted throughout the United States. Funding for a new high-school facility at Tamassee DAR School was also among the Golden Jubilee projects. When World War II began, Mrs. Robert initiated DAR’s war relief efforts even before the United States entered the war in 1941. She requested that state societies and organizations begin organizing War Relief Service Committees and supporting their local chapters of the American Red Cross.
Domestic conflicts also arose during the Robert Administration. In 1939, the National Society found itself tangled in a controversy. Marian Anderson, a black contralto, was denied the use of Constitution Hall for a performance. Mrs. Robert was traveling on official DAR business as the story went public. She spoke out on the issue to the 48th Continental Congress in 1939. A stickler for rules and order, she cited DAR’s alliance with other theater and venue owners in the District of Columbia. Fearful that the National Society could be reprimanded on violation of its agreements with other venues, Mrs. Robert explained the denial of the singer’s performance at the Constitution Hall to the membership and the press. Although the District of Columbia was a segregated city in 1939, not everyone agreed with the segregation laws. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned her DAR membership in protest. Mrs. Robert recognized that the problem was bigger than her organization. She explained, “When the community at large has worked out its problem, the Daughters of the American Revolution will be willing, at all times to adapt its policies to practices and customs in accordance with the highest standards of the community.”
Mrs. Robert traveled to every state during her tenure as President General. She represented the National Society as a speaker and guest at many events, including the dedication of the National Gallery of Art and the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. She discussed her travels and activities as President General in a monthly article in the DAR Magazine titled, “If I Could Talk with You.” In her articles, she also promoted the work of DAR chapters, state societies and state organizations. She used it as her means to reach out to the membership.
Mrs. Robert was named Honorary President General in 1941. At the close of her administration, DAR was debt-free and well-organized, and membership had increased. The Sarah Corbin Robert High School was dedicated in March 1943 on the Tamassee campus. Mrs. Robert was active in DAR parliamentary work throughout the rest of her life, even serving as National Parliamentarian in the Carraway Administration. She held memberships in various historical and patriotic organizations. Mrs. Robert passed away in May 1972 in Annapolis, Md.
Helena R. Hellwig Pouch, 1941–1944, New York
18th President General
Helena R. Hellwig Pouch, National Number 124664, joined Richmond County Chapter of Staten Island in June 1916. She held various chapter chairmanships and chapter offices, including chapter regent from 1926–1929. She would go on to serve the New York State Organization as state chairman of Better Films and the New York State Room in Memorial Continental Hall. She was national vice chairman of the Northern Division from 1929–1931 and also served as Vice President General from 1931–1934. In 1937, she was elected national president of the National Society Children of the American Revolution. Before being elected President General in 1941, she served under the Becker Administration as Organizing Secretary General from 1935–1938.
The United States formally entered World War II on December 8, 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7. A woman of great courage and strong spiritual faith, Mrs. Pouch’s leadership was inspiring. She devoted her entire administration to serving and supporting the United States during the Second World War.
Mrs. Pouch’s administration was affected by the wartime restrictions imposed throughout the country, especially in Washington, D.C. Believing it was the patriotic duty of the organization to comply with the needs of the government during wartime, Mrs. Pouch gladly relocated all three Continental Congresses held during her term. She also rallied the members to do anything they could to assist with the war effort. Mrs. Pouch often spoke of the importance of courage, faith and prayer. She requested that all DAR members pray daily for those serving in the armed forces.
Mrs. Pouch encouraged all able members to volunteer with civil defense organizations such as the American Red Cross and even to serve within the ranks of the U. S. military by enlisting in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), later known as the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), or the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). Many DAR members contributed service to such organizations throughout World War II. During her administration, Mrs. Pouch traveled to the First WAAC Training Center at Fort Des Moines in Iowa and the WAVES Basic Training facilities at Hunter College in New York. In a 1943 DAR Magazine article, she noted that one of her happiest moments during these visits was “to have found so many of our own members … all enthusiastic over their work.”
The 51st Continental Congress was held at the Stevens Hotel in Chicago, Ill., in May 1942. The “Victory Congress,” as Mrs. Pouch called it in her opening address to the more than 4,000 attendees, approved several committees to assist the war effort. The Sale of War Bonds and Stamps, American Red Cross, Buddy Bags, and National War Projects Fund National Committees all were established.
Mrs. Pouch offered workspace in the National Society’s Headquarters buildings to various organizations assisting the war effort including the American Red Cross, the WAAC, the WAVES and the Pan American Sanitary Bureau. These organizations provided American and Allied soldiers in prisoner of war camps with necessary food, clothing and medical supplies. The National Society also worked closely with the American Red Cross’ childcare facility that was established at Constitution Hall to assist wives of enlisted soldiers and sailors who had entered the workforce. Lunches were provided and the hall was upgraded to accommodate the children’s needs.
In April 1943, Continental Congress was relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio. By this time, the United States had been fully engulfed in the war for more than a year and a half. Remaining resilient and faithful, Mrs. Pouch addressed the Daughters who convened for the 52nd Continental Congress and declared, “This is a War Projects meeting. We now face greater sacrifices.” She commended the Society for its efforts so far, but expressed that more must be done. Mrs. Pouch addressed the need to expand the blood plasma collection program and to purchase more war bonds. By the close of her administration in April 1944, DAR had contributed more than $340,000 toward the blood plasma program, which operated facilities in several cities throughout the United States. She was elected Honorary President General in 1944 at the 53rd Continental Congress, which met in New York City.
Outside of DAR, Mrs. Pouch was a member of several historical and social organizations, including the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York. She also served as vice president of the Staten Island Historical Society. A tennis champion, Mrs. Pouch held U.S. Open championships in both singles and doubles. In 1894, she won both the Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles titles at the U.S. Open. She went on to win the 1895 Women’s Doubles championship but lost her Singles title to her Doubles partner, Juliette Atkinson Buxton.
A beloved New York Daughter known to many as “Aunt Helen,” Mrs. Pouch was born in New York City in March 1874. She was married to William H. Pouch, whom she affectionately called “Billy.” Mrs. Pouch passed away in November 1960.
May Erwin Talmadge, 1944–1947, Georgia
19th President General
May Erwin Talmadge, National Number 80610, joined the Elijah Clark Chapter of Athens, Ga. in 1910. She rose through the ranks in her chapter quickly, serving as treasurer and chapter regent. She also held numerous national chairmanships and state offices in Georgia, including State Regent from 1924–1926. She was a Vice President General from 1926–1929 as well as a charter member of the Vice Presidents General Club. Mrs. Talmadge also served as Recording Secretary General from 1935–1938 before being elected President General in 1944. The first President General to represent the South, Mrs. Talmadge brought a flare of Southern charm as well as strong leadership skills to the National Society.
In its final year World War II continued to strain the country’s resources, and DAR’s war service remained vital. Mrs. Talmadge oversaw the authorization of the more than $55,000 in financial contributions to various state-level American Red Cross chapters toward the blood plasma program and motor vehicle purchases. She continued to express the importance of expanding contributions to the DAR War Fund. Mrs. Talmadge’s administration also directed the purchase of mobile X-ray units for hospital ships and field ambulances. As service members returned home, many were hospitalized for extended periods. The donation of more than 600 two-way radio sets for bedridden patients were a help to hospital staff. Also, the donation of more than 30 motion picture machines to various hospitals gave those who had given so much for their country some recreational relief. These contributions and countless others were all made possible through the DAR War Fund.
In the last year of the war, restrictions on civilian activities were at their peak. The cancellation of the 54th Continental Congress in 1945 was a reflection of the state of the country. Mrs. Talmadge was proactive and held an extended National Board of Management meeting in April to assure that the business of DAR would continue. National officers, national chairman and state regents were able to deliver their annual reports. All necessary business matters were reviewed by the Board of Management and the war efforts of the National Society continued. Several state conferences also were canceled. Mrs. Talmadge was unable to make as many official state and international trips as her predecessors. Representing the National Society as an observer, Mrs. Talmadge attended the United Nations Conference of International Organization in San Francisco in 1945. This conference was attended by 50 Allied nations to develop what would become the United Nations Charter. Although the war was not yet over, Allied nations were taking steps to promote peace, international security and respect for human rights. While on the West Coast for the conference, Mrs. Talmadge was able to attend DAR chapter and state meetings in several states.
World War II formally ended in September 1945. The National Society had invested significant amounts of time, energy and resources to support the government, military and civil defense organizations. The post-war support would continue well into the following year with the relocation of the 55th Continental Congress to Atlantic City, N.J. Mrs. Talmadge called for support as DAR and Americans would “lead the world in the task of rebuilding.” President Harry S. Truman asked her to serve on the National Famine Emergency Council. The council, formed following the critical worldwide food shortage that stemmed from the war, was charged with promoting and developing methods for relief. Mrs. Talmadge was also invited by the War Department to attend a two-day visitation and inspection of the Universal Military Training Experimental Unit at Fort Knox in Kentucky.
In the last months of her administration, Mrs. Talmadge took great interest in historic preservation. Her project as President General was the erection of the Valley Forge Bell Tower, which would house the bells of the carillon. The DAR raised more than $125,000 in contributions to the project. Mrs. Talmadge also revived her interest in children and education. She authorized the financial contributions toward the construction of an auditorium at Tamassee DAR School in South Carolina. The May Erwin Talmadge Auditorium was dedicated in October 1952 in her honor. When it was evident that financial contributions to the war effort were no longer necessary, Mrs. Talmadge authorized the remaining balance in the DAR War Fund to be divided between the two DAR schools: Tamassee and Kate Duncan Smith. She also established a DAR Press Relations Office with an annual publication, Press Digest. The goal of the office was to promote and garner publicity for the Society. Racial tensions lingered from the well-publicized Marian Anderson incident. Mrs. Talmadge sought to portray her beloved organization in a better light through the Press Relations Office.
At the close of her administration, she opened the 56th Continental Congress, which had returned to Washington, D.C., for the first time in five years. She expressed her thrill with being back “in Constitution Hall—our own Constitution Hall.” The war made a great impact on the Talmadge Administration. The DAR contributed more than $200 million through stamp and bond purchases, equipment donations, the American Red Cross and the DAR War Fund. The Daughters also gave countless hours of their time to war relief efforts. Mrs. Talmadge graciously thanked and commended the Daughters for their “faith and unfailing support” through the eventful times.
Mrs. Talmadge was born in Tennessee. She married Julius Young Talmadge, a successful businessman from Athens. Extremely proud of her heritage, Mrs. Talmadge also belonged to several other patriotic organizations, including the Colonial Dames of America, United Daughters of the Confederacy and the American Legion Auxiliary.
Mrs. Talmadge was elected Honorary President General in 1947. She continued to serve the National Society through national chairmanships and state-level projects. She died in Athens, Ga., in 1973.
Estella Armstrong O’Byrne, 1947–1950, Indiana
20th President General
Estella Armstrong O’Byrne, National Number 76866, joined DAR as a charter member of the Rushville Chapter in January 1910. An early advocate of the work of the National Society, Mrs. O’Byrne chartered two more chapters in Indiana: Mary Mott Green Chapter in Shelbyville and Twin Forks Chapter in Brookville. She maintained her membership with Twin Forks Chapter. She would serve the Indiana State Organization as Recording Secretary and Treasurer. She was elected State Regent in 1934. She served in the previous administration as Registrar General under May Erwin Talmadge.
Mrs. O’Byrne was not originally slated to run for President General. Grace Colglazier Marshall of South Carolina was running for the office when she suddenly passed away in April 1947. Although she was encouraged by the selected Marshall Associates, Mrs. O’Byrne was reluctant to replace her deceased friend on the ballot. Not sure if she would be successful as a last-minute replacement, Mrs. O’Byrne devised a plan to make herself memorable. Through the entire week of Congress she wore the same pink dress. The “Pink Dress Device,” as it came to be known, made Mrs. O’Byrne vividly memorable as she defeated Mrs. Marjorie Anna Reese Manlove of New York. She was installed as President General at the 56th Continental Congress in May 1947.
The O’Byrne Administration’s projects focused on updating and revitalizing the buildings and facilities of the National Society’s Headquarters. Almost every administration saw the need for additional staffing to support the Society’s mission. A redesign of the facilities was overdue as the buildings were no longer adequate for the growing National Society. Mrs. O’Byrne advocated for the construction of a three-story Administration Building that would connect Memorial Continental Hall to Constitution Hall. She also approved the renovation of the auditorium of Memorial Continental Hall into the present-day DAR Library. The Society’s library holdings had outgrown the second level of Constitution Hall. Additional space was needed. The renovation and relocation projects were approved during Continental Congress in 1948. In April 1950 the work was complete and dedication ceremonies were held. Not only was the project finished in two years, but more than $700,000 in cash and pledges to fund the projects was also raised within the two-year timeframe. The installation of a central heating system for the Headquarters facilities was also approved and completed under Mrs. O’Byrne’s administration. The National Society’s buildings last underwent such structural changes during the construction of Constitution Hall. The development and conversion of the National Society’s facilities reflected the vision Mrs. O’Byrne had for the continued growth of the organization.
As a former Good Citizenship Committee national chairman, Mrs. O’Byrne was a promoter of the country’s youth and an advocate for the continued development of DAR schools. She traveled to the DAR schools during her tenure as President General and advocated for increasing annual gifts to Tamassee and Kate Duncan Smith to $2,000 during her term. Contributions to DAR schools totaled more than $350,000 at the close of the O’Byrne Administration.
Born and raised in Indiana, Mrs. O’Byrne was a graduate of Indiana University at Bloomington. While in school, she met Roscoe C. O’Byrne, a law student. The two married and eventually settled in Brookville, Ind. Mrs. O’Byrne had a great interest in genealogy. While serving as Indiana State Regent, she edited the roster of more than 1,300 soldiers and patriots who are buried in Indiana. Famous for searching through cemeteries and records, Mrs. O’Byrne did most of the fieldwork on the project herself.
Mrs. O’Byrne passed away in May 1987 in Indiana. The current DAR Administration Building and DAR Library are standing tributes to her work and efforts on behalf of the National Society. The O’Byrne Gallery at National’s Headquarters was dedicated in her honor. The administration of Estelle Armstrong O’Byrne brought a new look and structure to the DAR Headquarters complex in Washington, D.C. The efficiency of the O’Byrne Administration was proven when the renovation and relocation of office space took less than two years to develop, approve and complete. Mrs. O’Byrne is remembered for her vision and effectiveness.
Marguerite Courtright Patton, 1950–1953, Ohio
21st President General
Marguerite Courtright Patton, National Number 83635, joined Washington Courthouse Chapter, Ohio, in 1911. Before her election as President General, Mrs. Patton served as Ohio State Regent and First Vice President General. At the 59th Continental Congress, the newly installed President General Patton addressed an auditorium of fellow DAR members and declared, “We must never become satisfied with our accomplishments. If we do become completely satisfied, then we shall cease to grow and to be of service to our country.” With this sentiment, it is fitting that Mrs. Patton not only ascended to the position of President General, but also successfully led the National Society to an improved financial standing.
Mrs. Patton was born on February 5, 1889, in Circleville, Ohio. She was the youngest daughter of Judge Samuel W. and Jean Martin Courtright. On July 4, 1911, she married James B. Patton, a Ritter Lumber Company official. After her husband’s job moved the couple to New Jersey in 1916, Mrs. Patton transferred her membership to Orange Mountain Chapter. After another move in 1922 to Columbus, Ohio, she transferred her membership to Columbus Chapter, which she served as chapter regent from 1929–1931. Mr. Patton and the couple’s two sons, James and Robert, were members of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Mrs. Patton proved to be an exceptional leader throughout World War II when she served as Ohio State Vice Regent. She also served her community on the Franklin County Defense Council and the Columbus Speakers Bureau for blood drives. After her time as Vice Regent, Mrs. Patton served as Ohio State Regent from 1944–1947. During this time she led the Ohio Daughters in investing $12,080,710 in bonds and stamps, donating 5,776 Buddy Bags and giving $16,684 to the DAR War Projects Fund.
From 1947–1950 Mrs. Patton served as President General Estella Armstrong O’Byrne‘s First Vice President General. While in this position she edited and revised the 1948 DAR Handbook. She also served as national vice chairman of the Building Promotion Committee, where she raised money for the new Administration Building at DAR Headquarters.
In 1950, Mrs. Patton won the race against Maymie D. Lammers of Texas for the position of President General. When she began her term, she inherited several projects that had put a financial strain on DAR. Consequently, her administration emphasized finance and fundraising with the goal of eliminating DAR’s debt from building projects such as the Administration Building and the Memorial Bell Tower at Valley Forge.
The new Administration Building was dedicated in April 1950; however, this project left DAR $520,000 in debt. The cost of maintaining DAR Headquarters as well as an expanding staff caused a further financial burden. During the summer of 1950 the National Society borrowed $27,000 to meet administrative monthly expenses, such as payroll. During this time, Mrs. Patton sought new bids for many of the DAR publications in order to save money. On March 1, 1951 the Ellis Island U.S. Marine Hospital that DAR supported closed. Mrs. Patton used both the portion of the dues that had gone to Ellis Island and the $65,425.60 remaining in the Ellis Island fund to pay off DAR’s debt. Ever proud of the DAR Headquarters, a set of kodachrome slides and postcards was released as a fundraiser as well.
With the Society’s debt in mind, during the 61st Continental Congress Mrs. Patton asked the membership to vote on whether to continue the building of and fund raising for the Valley Forge Memorial Bell Tower, which began several administrations prior to the Patton Administration. The vote passed. On April 18, 1953, the Memorial Bell Tower was dedicated and the debt was paid. Mrs. Patton raised $240,288.22 during her administration; this amounted to 64 percent of the total construction costs.
During the Patton Administration work was done to improve the finances of the DAR Magazine. After taking office Mrs. Patton learned that the magazine was a large financial burden. In June 1950, $12,000 was borrowed from the Current Fund to aid the DAR Magazine financially. Mrs. Patton carefully supervised the magazine’s management and as a result saw an increase in subscriptions as well as advertisements, which drastically improved the magazine’s finances. By the end of her term the $12,000 that was borrowed from the Current Fund was repaid and the magazine was not only self-supporting, but also turning a profit.
National defense was an issue dear to Mrs. Patton. During her administration, the President General’s reception at Continental Congress was discontinued and replaced with a night dedicated to national defense. In May 1951, Mrs. Patton went on an inspection tour of various military training centers. A highlight of her term occurred during the 62nd Continental Congress when General Douglass MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in the East, addressed the DAR membership. It is also noteworthy that air raid drills and fire drills were done regularly at DAR Headquarters during this time.
In 1953, at the last Continental Congress of her term, Mrs. Patton thanked the DAR membership for all its hard work. She said, “Your faith in your Society, your zeal and our enthusiasm have brought about the almost miraculous reduction in the debt on our National Headquarters from $520,000 as of June 1, 1950, to $49,000 as of today.” She acknowledged that it was difficult to raise funds to eliminate debt; however, Mrs. Patton worked hard to move DAR in a financially sound direction.
Mrs. Patton continued her dedication to DAR serving as chairman of the National Defense Committee from 1953–1956. After her term as President General, she transferred her membership to Franklinton Chapter in Columbus, Ohio. Mrs. Patton is remembered for her leadership, sincerity and tact. She died on June 3, 1971, and is buried in Forest Grove Cemetery.
Gertrude Sprague Carraway, 1953–1956, North Carolina
22nd President General
Gertrude Sprague Carraway, National Number 218574, joined Richard Dobbs Spaight Chapter, New Bern, N.C., in 1926. Prior to her election as President General, Miss Carraway served as North Carolina State Regent and Vice President General. She was born in New Bern on August 6, 1896, the daughter of banker John Robert Bennett Carraway and music teacher Louise Elgie Carraway. Miss Carraway graduated from New Bern High School as valedictorian in 1912 and went on to attend the North Carolina State Normal School, now the University of North Carolina, at Greensboro. After college she taught English in Jacksonville and Smithfield, N.C. While teaching in Smithfield, Miss Caraway assigned her students a class project editing an issue of the Smithfield Herald. Her great work with this project was noticed by local businessmen, and she was offered a job editing the semi-weekly paper The Smithfield Observer.
In order to sharpen her journalism skills, Miss Carraway spent a summer taking classes at Columbia University. While in New York City, she wrote pieces for The New York Times, beginning what would became a lifelong career writing feature articles as a correspondent journalist. After editing The Smithfield Observer for two years, she moved back to New Bern in the early 1920s to write for her hometown paper, the New Bernian. During this time, she also wrote feature articles for larger papers such as the Raleigh Times. She worked for the New Bernian until 1937, when she became a full-time freelance writer. Throughout her career she wrote as a correspondent for the Associated Press, covering issues ranging from the 1928 Smith-Hoover presidential campaign to Fort Bragg during World War II, and was often the only female journalist covering these issues.
Soon her pen name, G.S. Carraway, became well known. Her writing attracted the attention of Mary Margret Gregory, North Carolina State Regent from 1925–1928. As legend has it, Mrs. Gregory wanted to meet the talented “Mr. Carraway.” After meeting Miss Carraway the State Regent was so impressed that she not only convinced her to join DAR but also insisted that she serve as the state’s publicity committee chairman. While Miss Carraway’s DAR application was not formally approved until January 30, 1926, she began serving as chairman of this committee on January 15, 1926.
Miss Carraway served in several positions within the North Carolina State Society before serving as State Regent from 1946–1949. This was followed by a term as Vice President General from 1949–1952. The DAR benefited from Miss Carraway’s journalism skills when she served as the editor of the DAR Magazine from 1950–1953.
In 1953 Miss Carraway ran unopposed for President General. Her administration’s theme of economy, efficiency and expansion was illustrated through its projects and accomplishments. Miss Carraway succeeded in not only eliminating the Society’s remaining debt but she also left office without accumulating any new debt. All of the projects she took on were paid in full. With her theme in mind, she established the Investment Trust Fund to provide DAR with a secure financial future. The fund could be used for emergencies, maintenance and repairs of the DAR Headquarters in Washington, D.C., without depleting general funds. By the end of her administration, she had raised $59,848.05 for this fund.
Miss Carraway strove to expand the Society as well as make it more efficient. During her term renovations were made to an aging Constitution Hall. The $175,000 spent on this project was paid for with a 57 percent increase in the number of DAR Magazine subscriptions as well as an increase of advertisements in the magazine. During her administration membership increased by 26,007 new members, a net gain of 10,619 members. Additionally, junior membership significantly increased.
Several other notable events occurred during Miss Carraway’s term. The first concert at the Valley Forge Memorial Bell Tower was broadcast on November 22, 1953, on a nationwide radio network. Anna Mary Robertson Moses, the artist known as Grandma Moses, unveiled the painting, The Battle of Bennington, which she created for DAR. Wishing to celebrate the U.S. Constitution, Miss Carraway persuaded her friend, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, to declare September 17–23 Constitution Week. At the end of her term, Miss Caraway reported that she traveled 76,000 miles as President General.
One of Miss Carraway’s most significant achievements was restoring Tryon Palace in New Bern and opening it to the public. This mansion was built in 1770 for Colonial Governor William Tryon and also served as the early North Carolina Capitol building. A kitchen fire devastated the building in 1798, and afterward it sat in ruins. She searched for the original architectural drawings of the palace and eventually discovered them in the New York Historical Society Library. In 1944 Miss Carraway persuaded acquaintance and philanthropist Maude Moore Latham to start a fund for the restoration of the palace. Mrs. Latham started the Latham Trust and also willed her estate to restoration efforts. Miss Carraway worked with the state legislature to organize restoration efforts and convince the state to accept Mrs. Latham’s donation. Restoration of the palace started soon after Mrs. Latham passed away in 1951. Miss Carraway served as the director of the restored Tryon Palace from 1956–1971.
Miss Carraway was an avid baseball fan. Work and a busy schedule would not deter her from missing a World Series game. On occasion she was seen carrying a small television to her office. She passed away on May 7, 1993, in the same New Bern home in which she was born.
Allene Wilson Groves, 1956–1959, Missouri
23rd President General
Allene Wilson Groves, National Number 298262, joined Nancy Hunter Chapter, Cape Girardeau, Mo., in 1936. Before her election as President General, Mrs. Groves served as Missouri State Regent and Vice President General. Mrs. Groves was known as a poised and patriotic woman who was very proud of her heritage. Her love of the past and her country played a role in many of her projects and was also demonstrated in her role as President General. Mrs. Groves was descended from prominent families from Maryland and Virginia. Her ancestors migrated to Kentucky and then moved west once more, finally settling in Missouri. Her motto, “Nothing is impossible if no one seeks the credit,” was inspired by her pioneer ancestors.
Mrs. Groves was born in Cape Girardeau, Mo., on May 24, 1896, the daughter of Judge Robert Love and Jane (Jennie) Allen Wilson. She attended Missouri State Normal School, now Southeast Missouri State University, for two years before finishing her education at the University of Wisconsin. After graduation Mrs. Groves spent a few years working for the federal government in Washington, D.C. She moved back to Cape Girardeau where she married businessman Frederic A. Groves in 1921. The couple had two daughters: Jane, who passed away in 1924, and Marjorie.
When Mrs. Groves’ mother came to live with her, the two women found a shared hobby in genealogy, and they enjoyed learning about family history. Several of Mrs. Groves’ female relatives had been DAR members. Her mother was an organizing member of Nancy Hunter Chapter as well as chapter regent from 1907–1909.
Mrs. Groves served as Missouri State Registrar, State Vice Regent and state chairman of Membership. She was elected Missouri State Regent in 1950. During her term as State Regent, a master index called The Genealogical Guide was published and the State Bulletin was established. However, her main project was the restoration of the interior of Arrow Rock Tavern.
In 1952 Mrs. Groves was elected Vice President General, beginning her national-level service to DAR. While in this position she served as Organizing President of the Vice Presidents General Club. In 1955 Mrs. Groves ran for First Vice President General on Gertrude Gilpin Richards’ ticket for President General. In June of that year Mrs. Richards died unexpectedly. The candidates for the national board selected Mrs. Groves to replace Mrs. Richards on the slate as the candidate for President General and she went on to win a three-way election in 1956.
As President General, Mrs. Groves maintained a balance between patriotic and educational projects, while also taking on projects that made the Society run more efficiently. One of the major events during her term was the dedication of the Allene Wilson Groves Cottage for Little Girls at Tamassee DAR School in South Carolina. Dedicated in her honor on October 26, 1958, this modern cottage would become home to 24 students, with six bedrooms, six baths and a suite used as a playroom on the ground floor.
During her administration a collection of manuscripts, letters and documents with the signatures of 74 framers of the U.S. Constitution were acquired for the Americana Collection. In October 1958, Mrs. Groves granted Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason, permission to display his documents for Bill of Rights Day.
Mrs. Groves had a positive impact on the Society she led. The newly formed Investment Trust Fund continued to grow, totaling $131,938.66 at the end of her administration. Membership continued to increase and DAR experienced a net gain of 2,734 members from February 1956 to February 1959. Due to the success of chapter projects that celebrated American History Month in February, the American History Month Committee was elevated from a subcommittee. During Mrs. Groves’ administration observation of Constitution Week flourished.
During her term Mrs. Groves also created the Friends of the Museum to increase interest in the DAR Museum’s collection. This group made it possible for the Museum to acquire valuable objects. During Mrs. Groves’ tenure as President General a professional inventory of the DAR Museum’s holdings was conducted by an appraiser to fulfill insurance policy requirements. This resulted in a 900-page inventory of the DAR Museum’s collection.
Mrs. Groves displayed patriotism and leadership in all that she did. In 1959 she was awarded the Constructive Citizenship Medal by the Sons of the American Revolution. Today the Sons of the American Revolution presents the Allene Wilson Groves Award to the SAR chapter that presents the most evidence of implementing SAR resolutions and principles. Ever proud of her heritage, Mrs. Groves was also active in a number of patriotic organizations. Mrs. Groves passed away on August 27, 1986, and is buried at Lorimer Cemetery in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Doris Pike White, 1959–1962, Maine
24th President General
Doris Pike White, National Number 302153, joined Hannah Weston Chapter, Machias, Maine, in 1937. Prior to her election as President General, Mrs. White served as Maine State Regent as well as Vice President General. Mrs. White was an accomplished businesswoman who used her management experience and financial knowledge to lead DAR. She was born on December 1, 1896, in Lubec, Maine, the daughter of Chester Lincoln and Lottie Avery Pike. A graduate of Wellesley College, she did graduate work at Leland Stanford University. She taught languages, economics and history in both Massachusetts and New York City. She worked as a training director at a prominent Fifth Avenue department and also was involved in her family’s industrial business until it was sold in 1954.
On August 12, 1944, Mrs. White married businessman Ashmead White and the couple moved to Bangor. When Mr. White passed away in 1952, Mrs. White entered the investment banking field. At the time of her election as President General, Mrs. White was a vice president of Pierce, White and Drummond, Inc., an investment firm in Bangor.
Mrs. White found it important to be active in civic and community work. In 1954, she was one of eight women on the Planning Committee for the White House Conference on Highway Safety. She also served on the Maine Highway Safety Committee in 1955. Twice, Mrs. White was appointed to the Maine Judicial Council by the governor of Maine. In this position she was one of three non-judges on the council, and the only woman. Both of the Whites were involved with Mr. White’s alma mater, Bowdoin College: Mrs. White served as president of the Society of Bowdoin Women and Mr. White served as the Alumni Fund director, the Alumni Association president and on the Board of Overseers.
Mrs. White served as a page at the 1939 Continental Congress shortly after joining the Society. After marrying Mr. White, she transferred her membership to the Frances Dighton Williams Chapter in Bangor, but not before serving as regent of Hannah Weston Chapter from 1948–1950. She went on to serve as Maine State Regent from 1952–1954. During this time she served as national chairman of the Americanism Committee and the DAR Manual for Citizenship Committee from 1953–1956. In 1954 she received more votes than any other candidate running for Vice President General. She served as the president of the Vice Presidents General Club from 1955–1957.
Mrs. White was elected President General in 1959 after a close race against Kathryn L. Newland of Michigan. Her circle brooch with clear stones is one of the first known pins representing a President General and her administration. The Doris White Auditorium-Gymnasium at Kate Duncan Smith DAR School in Alabama was dedicated in her honor on October 24, 1961. Additionally, the Doris Pike White endowment was created and the interest was used for maintenance for this Auditorium-Gymnasium.
One of Mrs. White’s first acts as President General was to present Dr. Wernher von Braun with the DAR Americanism Medal in New York City on May 27, 1959. Dr. von Braun received the award for his work with Explorer I and the first successful moon probe, Pioneer I. Also of note, after John Wayne received the 1961 Motion Picture Award at Continental Congress, he gave a luncheon in Mrs. White’s honor at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Calif. Mrs. White visited the newly admitted state of Hawaii, where she placed a wreath at the USS Arizona site at Pearl Harbor on May 30, 1961.
Several improvements to the buildings were completed during the White Administration, including a three-year landscaping project that enhanced the area around DAR Headquarters and created the Memorial Garden on D Street. The exterior of Memorial Continental Hall was sanded and polished, and floodlights were installed to accent the building’s architectural features at night. The Banquet Hall was redecorated for the first time since 1928. The Kansas Chapel was constructed and dedicated. Portraits of the four Founders of DAR were restored and placed in the DAR Library. This was paid for with funds from the Friends of the Museum.
With Mrs. White at the helm, DAR enjoyed financial success. Under her management Constitution Hall rentals increased. Custody of investments was moved to American Security & Trust Co. The $835 balance in the Valley Forge Memorial Fund was transferred to the Investment Trust Fund. Twenty-five cents of each member’s dues was also designated for this fund. National dues were raised to $3, an increase of $1. At the end of her term Mrs. White had raised the balance in the Investment Trust Fund from $131,938.66 to $276,470. In addition to this, membership hit an all-time record of 187,309 members and 2,863 chapters.
Mrs. White’s hard work and success did not go unnoticed. In 1960 she received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Bowdoin College. She was also awarded the George Washington Honor Medal by the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge for her speech titled “For What Avail If Freedom Fail.”
After her term as President General, Mrs. White enjoyed traveling around the world, but also remained active in the Society. She served as president of the National Officers Club from 1974–1976. She moved to Portland, Maine, but maintained a summer home in Lubec. She transferred her membership back to Hannah Weston Chapter, and she frequently spoke to fellow chapter members about DAR topics as well as her travels. Mrs. White died in Portland, Maine, on November 22, 1987, after a long illness. She is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor.
Marion Moncure Duncan, 1962–1965, Virginia
25th President General
Marion Moncure Duncan, National Number 276519, joined John Alexander Chapter in 1932. Before her election as President General, Mrs. Duncan served as Virginia State Regent as well as Organizing Secretary General. Mrs. Duncan was born on December 19, 1913, in Alexandria, Va. She was the eldest daughter of Judge Robinson and Ida Grigg Moncure. A lifelong resident of Alexandria, she was educated in Alexandria public schools. Mrs. Duncan attended the College of William and Mary as well as George Washington University, before graduating from Temple Business and Secretarial School in Washington, D.C. She married Robert Duncan, a longtime family friend. They had three boys: Robinson, Moncure and Bruce.
Throughout the years, Mrs. Duncan worked in several professional positions, such as secretary to the director of the American Red Cross, Eastern Division, as well as secretary to the president of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. She was also the chairman of the First War Fund Drive of the American Red Cross. Mrs. Duncan headed the insurance department of Bob Duncan Real Estate Insurance Firm, owned by her husband. She also worked as a court reporter. Furthermore, Mrs. Duncan involved herself with civic life in Alexandria, serving as the chairman of public relations for the Women’s Division of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and as the vice president of the Northern Virginia Association of Insurance Agents.
In 1932, at the age of 18, Mrs. Duncan was an organizing member of John Alexander Chapter. She served as regent of the chapter from 1937–1940. Mrs. Duncan applied her professional skills to her work with DAR and she quickly became a respected leader in the Society. She served as Virginia State Vice Regent from 1947–1950 as well as Virginia State Regent from 1950–1953. She also served as national chairman of the Personnel Committee from 1954–1956. Mrs. Duncan held the office of Organizing Secretary General during the Carraway Administration from 1953–1956. All of this DAR experience culminated in Mrs. Duncan running unopposed for President General in 1962.
During her administration, Mrs. Duncan used her public relations experience to implement the theme “Know-Do-Tell DAR.” Basic materials and information that told the story of DAR were provided to members who, in turn, used these tools to better inform the public about DAR. Her administration updated literature on DAR and also made new literature available. Mrs. Duncan hoped to create well-informed members who would generate positive publicity to increase awareness of DAR. She established a President General’s forum at state conferences to help answer questions about DAR policies and projects. The book In Washington … the DAR Story, was published as a prelude to the DAR’s Diamond Jubilee, or 75th anniversary. As a result of this work, Mrs. Duncan noted at the end of her term that there was notable improvement in the amount and quality of DAR media coverage.
The Duncan Administration’s primary project involved restoring and expanding the Memorial Continental Hall balcony in order to improve the space for use by the DAR Library. This project was completed and dedicated in April 1965. The American Heritage Committee was established to promote interest in and preservation of American culture, education, and achievement in art, drama, literature and music. During Mrs. Duncan’s term the Museum Special Events program was established. For this series of events, distinguished visitors were invited to DAR Headquarters to increase interest in the DAR Museum and period rooms.
Mrs. Duncan completed five official DAR trips during her administration. In October 1962 the Sixth DAR Approved School Bus Tour took members around the southeastern portion of the country to visit the DAR Approved Schools. A year later on October 19, 1963, the National Board of Management made a pilgrimage to the Yorktown Day Ceremonies. After the 73rd Continental Congress, nearly 1,000 DAR members attended the World’s Fair in New York City, where the DAR presented a United States flag for official use during the fair. The DAR Diamond Jubilee celebrations began on October 11, 1964, with a pilgrimage to Mount Vernon, Pohick Church and Gunston Hall. On December 10, 1964, a trip was made to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where DAR presented 17 new state flags to replace worn flags in Dahlgren Hall.
After serving as President General, Mrs. Duncan remained active in her community. She was included in Holiday Magazine’s 1963 portfolio of the 12 leading American women. In 1964 she won the George Washington Honor Medal Award for “Outstanding achievement in bringing a better understanding of the American way of life.” In 1966 the governor of Virginia appointed Mrs. Duncan to the first of two terms on the College of William and Mary Board of Visitors. She was one of the first women to serve on the Foundation for Independent Junior Colleges in Virginia. Mrs. Duncan was active in the Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria. She was also a member of several historical societies and was affiliated with a number of patriotic organizations, such as the Order of First Families of Virginia and Colonial Dames of America.
Mrs. Duncan remained active in DAR; she was a member of the Executive Club as well as the National Presidents Club. She was serving as vice president of the National Officers Club at the time of her death. Throughout her life, she attended almost every Continental Congress.
Adele Erb Sullivan, 1965–1968, New York
26th President General
Adele Erb Sullivan, National Number 266017, joined the Matinecock Chapter, Flushing, N.Y., in 1930. Prior to her election as President General, Mrs. Sullivan served as New York State Regent, Recording Secretary General and First Vice President General. She is remembered as the beloved and stylish 26th President General. Born on May 20, 1907, in Trenton, N. J., She was the daughter of William and Adaline Dearth Woodhouse. She was educated at Quaker schools and Ridge College. In 1929 Adele Woodhouse married Harold E. Erb. Patriotism and community service were important to Mrs. Sullivan, and this can be seen in activities such as her service on the PTA at her daughter Nancy’s school.
World War II had a powerful influence on Mrs. Sullivan’s DAR activities. As a junior member she served as the Matinecock Chapter Regent from 1941–1944. While in this position, she also served her state as chairman of the Radio Committee, a position which led to her service as national vice chairman of this committee. During this time, she helped maintain a service booth for military officers at Hotel Roosevelt in New York City. After the war, she received an Award of Commendation from the United States Navy for her work. She later served as New York Vice Regent from 1950–1953 and New York State Regent from 1953–1956.
After Mr. Erb passed away in 1957, Mrs. Sullivan married electrical engineer William H. Sullivan Jr. in 1960. She moved to Scarsdale, N.Y., and transferred her DAR membership to Harvey Birch Chapter.
In 1965 Mrs. Sullivan won the race for President General against Alice B. Haig of Washington, D.C. When DAR celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in October 1965, Mrs. Sullivan wore a strapless gown that The Washington Post described as “an original jeweled gown of late-day white silk.” Her attire was the talk of DAR for years to come; however, her work in preparation of DAR’s 75th anniversary was also well remembered. The DAR officially marked its Diamond Jubilee the week of October 10–14, 1965. During this week many events were held in Washington, D.C., to honor the Society’s history. A special Diamond Jubilee issue of the DAR Magazine was released in October 1965.
The main project of the Sullivan Administration was installing air conditioning and refurbishing Constitution Hall, which cost $400,000. This project was dedicated with a grand opening on October 11, 1966, at which the Washington National Symphony played with featured guest pianist Van Cliburn. Distinguished guests, including President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, attended the event. Mrs. Sullivan was known as the “air-conditioned President General,” as she also installed air conditioning in parts of the Administration Building, including the President General’s suite.
In many ways the Vietnam War shaped Mrs. Sullivan’s term as President General. In 1968 General William Westmoreland invited her to visit American troops in Vietnam. Mrs. Sullivan traded in her normally fashionable wardrobe for “field clothes” to visit Saigon and the combat zone in southern Vietnam. Escorted by Gen. Westmoreland, she was flown around by helicopter to visit evacuation hospitals and dugouts where the soldiers lived. During her trip she awarded soldiers for their service and valor with the DAR Americanism Medal. Mrs. Sullivan was honored to visit the Vietnam War zone and also was pleased with the positive press her trip generated for DAR. She established the Special Committee for DAR Services for Veteran-Patients, which enabled qualified members to assist at veterans’ hospitals. She also initiated the Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee Award. Beginning in 1967 this award was given to the outstanding Army nurse of the year. In October 1967 Mrs. Sullivan entertained soldiers at the DAR Museum and visited recovering veterans at hospitals such as the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md.
It is fitting that one of the highlights of her term was the building of the Adele Erb Sullivan Administration Building at Tamassee DAR School in Tamassee, South Carolina. This modern building with air conditioning was dedicated in her honor on October 22, 1967.
A green jeweled owl was the symbol used to represent the Sullivan Administration. The owl, which Mrs. Sullivan nicknamed Winkie, symbolized wisdom.
During her term as President General, Mrs. Sullivan emphasized the importance of positive publicity to bolster DAR’s image. She appeared on several radio and television shows, such as the David Susskind Show, to increase awareness about the good work DAR had accomplished. Mrs. Sullivan was one of 16 women featured in an article titled “If I were President” in the January 1968 McCall’s Magazine. The DAR experienced a growth in membership during her term, reaching a height of 188,000 members, an increase she attributed to the positive images of DAR.
After her term as President General, Mrs. Sullivan continued her service to the National Society. In 1983 she served as an advisor to the national chairman of the Treaty of Paris Bicentennial Committee. She represented DAR at the Bicentennial at Paris and Versailles. Mrs. Sullivan served as chairman of the Centennial Jubilee Celebration to help prepare for the National Society’s 100th anniversary in 1990. She aided in the creation of a Centennial Jubilee logo, a commemorative pin and a limited-edition centennial plate. She also attended the 1986 dedication of the Statue of Liberty, ever proud that DAR had contributed more than $500,000 toward its renovation.
Mrs. Sullivan passed away on April 22, 1999, at her daughter’s home in Wilton, Conn. She will always be remembered for leading DAR with grace, style and charm.
Betty Newkirk Seimes, 1968–1971, Delaware
27th President General
Betty Newkirk Seimes, National Number 306768, joined Cooch’s Bridge Chapter, Delaware, in April 1938. Before being elected President General, she served as State Regent of Delaware, Recording Secretary General and First Vice President General.
Mrs. Seimes chose annual themes based on well-known historical quotations. The first was “One Country, One Constitution, One Destiny,” by Daniel Webster. The second was “God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it,” also by Webster. For her third and final year, the theme was “Where Law Ends, Tyranny Begins,” by William Pitt. Her symbol was a four-leaf clover. With a special emphasis on finances, Mrs. Seimes devoted her administration to “tying up loose ends.”
Heralding the inevitability of the technological revolution, Mrs. Seimes installed a 360-20 IBM computer to carry a complete file of all active members of DAR. By 1970, the system enabled the entire staff payroll to be processed by computer. At the 80th Continental Congress, a Bylaws amendment was offered that instructed chapter treasurers on how to use a specific computer printout when remitting dues. A substitute amendment was put forth that told chapter treasurers what information to provide, without specifying the computer or the printout. The Bylaws Chairman explained, “[members] felt that it was not necessary to have in our Bylaws the use of a computer, and I wholly agree. We are going to use it, we are going to be modern, certainly we have never been behind and we are going to be modern. . . . it [is] very much better to offer this substitute . . . because you have everything in it that is necessary and at the same time we may use the computer and we shall.” The motion passed. From 1890 forward, the National Society has always embraced state-of-the-art technology.
When Mrs. Seimes assumed the duties of President General, indebtedness due to the recent Constitution Hall renovation remained. A high priority was to eliminate the debt. To accomplish this, unnecessary expenses at National Headquarters were curtailed to the extent possible. The administration sacrificed the pleasure of establishing a national project. Congress Program expenses were cut in half. There were myriad business decisions to cut expenses: sizes of some publications were standardized to save cost of envelopes; an advantageous agreement returned the tax rate on Constitution Hall to 1935 levels. For the first time, the National Symphony Orchestra booked programs in Constitution Hall for the summer season. By the close of the administration the debt had been retired. As Mrs. Frederic A. Groves, Honorary President General, said, “You have been unselfish; you denied yourself the joy of a special project of your own in order to complete obligations of the National Society.”
Extending the cost cutting beyond the initial goal of reducing the debt, luncheon favors for Executive Board luncheons were eliminated, with the resulting savings being used to complete the sterling silver flatware service in the Banquet Hall. The staff pension plan was updated and a hospital insurance plan was established.
The Microfilm Center, later named the Seimes Microfilm Center, was established. It was dedicated on April 18, 1970. All application papers from 1890 forward were put on film, as well as numerous Library records and non-copyrighted records of the Genealogical Society of the Latter Day Saints.
A division to examine supplemental papers was put into effect. A 30-year project of indexing and cataloguing the Americana Collection was completed.
Certificates of Honor were authorized to be presented to the families of United States servicemen killed in Vietnam.
The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) aired the 80th Continental Congress. President Richard M. Nixon addressed the Opening Night assembly. President Nixon said it had been 17 years since a president had come “across the ellipse to this splendid hall of yours to pay his respects to the DAR. I felt it was high time another President did so.”
The Seimes-Thomas Classroom Building at Kate Duncan Smith DAR School was built, and the dedication took place in October 1970. The library at KDS, given by Junior members, was dedicated at the same time.
Two notable dedications took place in 1971—the Rose Garden in Philadelphia honoring the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, presented to the National Park Service in January 1971, and the marking of the grave of Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell, the only President Presiding of DAR, at Berryville, Va.
When Mrs. Seimes was presented as President General-Elect, retiring President General Mrs. William Henry Sullivan, Jr., congratulated her, saying,
It is my privilege to place upon you the symbol of your office. It is the jeweled pin that has been handed down from President General to President General. You will wear it with honor and credit to our National Society. Guard it well, for it is the emblem of the worth of the Society as an organization.
Adding the sash, she continued,
With the broadest of the blue ribbons and the jeweled pin, you are invested with the outward symbol of your office. I know you have the deep conviction of their meaning. I commend to you the safekeeping of this great and esteemed National Society for your term of office during the coming three years.
From 1982–1983, Mrs. Seimes served as President of the National Officers Club. She died on January 25, 1990.
Eleanor Washington Spicer, 1971–1974, California
28th President General
Eleanor Washington Spicer, National Number 306867, joined Augusta Chapter, Georgia, as a Junior member in April 1938. Before being elected President General, she served as State Regent of California and as Historian General. She died on September 13, 1974, only five months after completing her term of office.
The symbol of the Spicer Administration was an eagle in flight. Individual themes from scripture were used each year, first, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” Proverbs 19:18; second, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage,” Psalms 27:14; and third, “They go from strength to strength, every one of them,” Psalms 84:7.
The President General’s Project was a “Gift to the Nation”: refurbishing the Governor’s Council Chamber and Assembly Committee Room on the second floor of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The refurbishment was completed in time for the anticipated millions to visit Independence Hall in 1975 and 1976 for the Bicentennial of the United States of America. At the 83rd Continental Congress, Mrs. Spicer explained that vision highlighted the great vision of the hundreds of Daughters who preceded the current generation, especially the Founders. The President General’s Project was a continuation of that vision, because it made a tangible contribution to preserving our Colonial heritage for all Americans. Courage referred to the courage required to put the DAR house in order. By accepting the first dues increase in 13 years, the members restored financial balance and assured the continuation of programs vital to basic objectives of DAR. Finally, in the third year, strength was a personal goal of Mrs. Spicer. The National Society was able to realize and build upon the great strength it can call upon when the individual strengths of all its members are combined, thus passing along an ever-stronger Society to those who follow.
President Richard M. Nixon addressed the 83rd Continental Congress and personally thanked the National Society for having, “not just a celebration in Independence Hall where it all began, but throughout the Nation.” He went on to explain, “Incidentally, I should not say ‘Independence Hall where it all began’ because there are people from Virginia and Boston and other places who say it began there.”
During that same Congress, Mrs. Spicer presented Hobart G. Cawood, superintendent of Independence National Historical Park, with a book of remembrance listing the state and chapter contributions to the Gift to the Nation. In accepting the book, Superintendent Cawood thanked the National Society, saying, “It is fitting and proper that we preserve houses where great men were born, but in Independence Hall our Nation was born. We of the National Park Service consider it a great honor to be able to present this great American symbol to millions of visitors each year. However, we would be presenting only half of a building were it not for your generous Gift to the Nation.”
DAR Service for Veteran-Patients became a national committee during the administration, and NSDAR was accorded membership in the Veterans Administration National Advisory Committee. Mrs. Spicer participated in a weeklong Joint Civilian Orientation Conference conducted by the Department of Defense, touring military installations in Colorado, Nebraska, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Other accomplishments included authorizing several special committees: Museum Docents, Bylaws, Protocol and President General’s Project, and the aforementioned raise in NSDAR dues. At her final Congress, Mrs. Spicer declared that the National Society was solvent owing to the increase in dues.
NSDAR achieved some long-overdue national recognition. Because the internationally important Conference on the Limitation of Armament had been hosted in the building in 1921 and 1922, Memorial Continental Hall was designated a historic landmark by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. The DAR Museum received its accreditation from the American Association of Museums Accreditation Commission. The Historical Research Library was established at National Headquarters. A booklet titled Women in the American Revolution was published. For the first time, the Air Force Band performed free Sunday afternoon concerts in Constitution Hall. In 1973, the National Society placed a plaque on the site of the USS Arizona, honoring the men who died on the ship.
Every administration authorizes new pins to be worn on the DAR Insignia ribbon. Mrs. Spicer’s administration authorized the extremely popular pin commemorating the Bicentennial of the United States of America, among others.
Mrs. Spicer received several unusual honors: She was given the Dickey Chappelle Award by the Marine Corps League. Dickey Chappelle, born Georgette Louise Meyer, was posted with the Marines during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Later, she became the first female war correspondent to be killed in combat, as well as the first American female reporter to be killed in action, on November 4, 1965, killed by a land mine in Vietnam. Mrs. Spicer was also made an Honorary Member for Life of the United States Marine Band. Finally, out of gratitude for her work with Independence Park, National Park Service Director Ronald H. Walker said that he had a surprise for her. Explaining that the honor he was about to announce had been extended to only 22 individuals in the history of the National Park Service, he continued, “I would like this evening to designate Mrs. Donald Spicer an Honorary Park Ranger.”
Mrs. Spicer, who was clearly in on the joke, said, “I want to know what the privileges are of being a Park Ranger. Every Park Ranger I have ever seen is working hard. I don’t want to work. I am retiring.”
Mr. Walker replied, “Mrs. Spicer, I anticipated that question. . . . We just happen to have put together an Honorary Park Ranger card that you can carry, which will entitle you not to have to pay the $2 when you go into a National Park.”
Mrs. Spicer delivering the punch line, said, “Don’t we know the nicest people? How many can I take in? We’ll all go. Thank you so much.”
Sara Roddis Jones, 1974–1975, Wisconsin
29th President General
Sara (Sally) Roddis Jones, National Number 263246, joined Marshfield Chapter, Wisconsin, in June 1930. At that time, the Junior Membership Committee had not yet been established. If it had, she would have been a Junior member. Although she never served as State Regent, Mrs. Jones accumulated an impressive roster of service. Before being elected President General, she served as Treasurer General and then First Vice President General. She was widely known as a constitutional scholar and held the National Defense national chairmanship during her term as First Vice President General. As President General, she was a member of the editorial committee of the Hereditary Register of the United States of America.
Elected as the Bicentennial Administration, the Jones Associates chose a five-pointed star for their symbol. At her installation as President General, Mrs. Jones said, “The success of the Bicentennial will not depend on how much money is spent by the DAR or by the Nation. It will depend on what each one of us can do in our own community and State to revitalize the great principles on which this Country was built.” She chose the theme for the first year of her administration from Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with Thy might.”
Mrs. Jones planned a magnificent President General’s Project: handsome murals for the East Corridor of the House Wing of the United States Capitol, a “Bicentennial Tribute to the United States of America.” Numerous new commemorative items featuring the Bicentennial logo were authorized, including a teaspoon, a coffee spoon, a baby spoon and charms.
At National Headquarters, modern equipment was installed in the Print Shop, and air-conditioning was authorized for the DAR Museum Gallery. Every administration authorizes and updates publications that provide needed information for members and chapters. During the Jones Administration, the popular booklet Meet the DAR was nationally published for the first time, through the courtesy of the originating New York State Organization.
Previously open to girls only, the DAR Good Citizens Contest was extended to include boys. A United States flag was presented to the Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. The President General participated in special briefings at the White House.
Other administration plans were cut short by the death of Mrs. Jones on April 8, 1975, just six days before she was scheduled to preside at the 84th Continental Congress. First Vice President General Mrs. Wakelee Rawson Smith assumed the office of President General.
The official reader of the Congress read the report that Mrs. Jones had provided of her first year’s activities. Near the end of the report, after detailing an impressive list of first-year accomplishments, Mrs. Jones wrote, “Your President General visited seven States on her Fall Tour of State Meetings and she was very impressed with the reports given in the various States and appreciated the efforts being expended on behalf of the National Society. Illness prevented her from fulfilling her Spring 1975 Tour but she is indebted to the First Vice President General, Mrs. Wakelee Rawson Smith, for assuming this tour on short notice.” After thanking the Executive Committee and her staff for their support, Mrs. Jones closed her report with her poignant choice of a theme for the coming year, “All things work together for good to them that love God . . .” Romans 8:28.
Jane Farwell Smith, 1975–1977, Illinois
30th President General
Jane Farwell Smith, National Number 394047, joined DeWalt Mechlin Chapter, Chicago, in June 1950. She served as State Regent of Illinois and Corresponding Secretary General before being elected First Vice President General in the administration of Sara Roddis Jones. On February 15, 1975, Mrs. Jones requested that she “assume temporarily, in her absence, the duties of the President General.” Mrs. Jones was never able to return to her duties; all of her plans were fulfilled by Mrs. Smith. On April 8 that year, Mrs. Jones died, and Mrs. Frederick T. Morse of Virginia, Chaplain General, administered the oath of office of the President General on April 9. Mrs. Smith attended the funeral of Mrs. Jones in Marshfield, Wis., on April 10 before returning to Washington, D.C., to preside at the 84th Continental Congress, which convened on April 14.
As President General, Mrs. Smith gracefully carried out the original themes and goals of the Jones Administration, with special emphases placed on the celebration of the nation’s Bicentennial year and building improvements. The Smith Administration continued to use the Jones symbol, a five-pointed star.
The scripture for 1975–1976 was “All things work together for good to them that love God . . .” Romans 8:28. For 1976–1977, Mrs. Smith chose “Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set,” Proverbs 22:28.
Mrs. Smith embraced as her President General’s Project, a “Bicentennial Tribute to the United States of America.” NSDAR commissioned 16 murals and 32 vignettes in the central east-west corridor, the Great Experiment Hall, of the House Wing of the U.S. Capitol, to be executed by noted muralist, 80-year-old Allyn Cox. At the time of the commission, Cox had just completed the murals in the Hall of Capitols in the eastern north-south corridor of the same building. At the 86th Continental Congress, citations were presented to Fred Schwengel, president of the United States Capitol Historical Society, for the support given to the President General’s Project, and to Mr. Cox for his outstanding contribution. Subjects of the DAR-sponsored murals in the Great Experiment Hall include such topics as the Mayflower Compact, the First Continental Congress, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutional Convention. Among the small vignettes are the Four Freedoms, as named by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The last painting of the series, an “Allegorical figure of History Turning the Page,” was completed by Cox in 1982, and the murals were dedicated in September of that year. On September 21, both houses of Congress honored Mr. Cox with a special recognition ceremony in Statuary Hall. Five days later, on September 26, 1982, the great artist died.
The American Revolution Bicentennial Administration officially designated the National Society as an authorized Bicentennial organization. This allowed DAR to display the Bicentennial flag, and to use the official United States Bicentennial logo and Bicentennial materials.
At the 86th Continental Congress, Mrs. Smith reported that two American flags had been given for the rostrums of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. She said that, since 1901, the National Society had replaced the flags whenever new ones were needed. In addition, DAR gave five new state flags to the United States Naval Academy.
Especially notable among several publications were Washington Landmark and Decorative Arts in America at 1776. Twice within the administration, Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine received the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge Principal Award.
A book on historic and memorial buildings owned at any time by DAR was authorized, and four signatures of Signers of the Declaration of Independence were acquired. “Home and Country,” an audiovisual film showing DAR activities, was produced, and shown for the first time at Continental Congress.
A circular driveway was installed on the C Street side of the Administration Building, making access and egress safer for those using the stage door entrance of Constitution Hall.
During Mrs. Smith’s term of office, an important amendment to the DAR Act of Incorporation removed the limit on the amount of real and personal property that the NSDAR is permitted to own in the United States, and a new section was added to the Act to give NSDAR the sole and exclusive right to the use of its name and emblem. The Executive Office, Reporter General to the Smithsonian Institution, was renamed Reporter General, and the Annual Proceedings of the Continental Congress was accepted as the report to the Smithsonian Institution in lieu of the traditional separate publication.
Improvements to the NSDAR complex of buildings included extensive work on the skylight in the library, the installation of air conditioning in the President General’s Reception Room in Constitution Hall, and repair work on the flag murals in Constitution Hall. The front of the stage was rebuilt and two sump pumps were installed.
Old Main Building at Kate Duncan Smith DAR School was renovated and the Smith-Mettetal Activity Building at Tamassee DAR School was built. A school bus was purchased for St. Mary’s Episcopal School for Indian Girls.
Mrs. Smith served on the Awards Jury at the Freedoms Foundation and was elected to the Board of Trustees of the United States Capitol Historical Society. She participated in special briefings at the White House. NSDAR participation in the Veterans Administration Volunteer Service (VAVS) program was recognized by the National Advisory Committee of the Veterans Administration in October 1976.
Mrs. Smith was president of the National Officers Club from 1986–1988. She died on April 21, 1997.
Jeannette Osborn Baylies, 1977–1980, New York
31st President General
Jeannette Osborn (J.O.) Baylies, National Number 291938, joined Hannah Winthrop Chapter, Massachusetts, as a Junior member in October 1935. She transferred to Harvey Birch Chapter, Scarsdale, N.Y., in 1949. She served as State Regent of New York and Recording Secretary General before being elected President General. Up to that time, she was the only President General to have served as a Personal Page to a President General (Mrs. William A. Becker), and the first President General to have been a member of the Children of the American Revolution. Mrs. Baylies died January 12, 1984.
During her term as State Regent, she was appointed to the New York State American Revolution Bicentennial Commission by the governor of New York.
During the Sullivan Administration, Mrs. Baylies donated the twin 50-foot flagpoles that flank the front entrance of Memorial Continental Hall. As State Regent, her project for the Bicentennial was to fund the matching 50-foot flagpoles flanking the front entrance of DAR Constitution Hall.
The symbol of the Baylies Administration was an acorn with oak leaves, symbolizing “Strength, Leadership and Growth.” The theme for the first year was “The way of the Lord is strength to the upright,” Proverbs 10:29. The theme for the second year was “Building for Our Future,” and for the third year, “A Tapestry of Service.”
The President General’s Project, “Building for Our Future,” enclosed an open court area on the second and third floors of the Administration Building to make eight new offices. The Baylies Center on the ground floor of the Administration Building provided a place to show the film “Home and Country,” to hold lectures and seminars, and to house a diorama of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Improvements were made to the Americana Room: the heating and cooling system was overhauled, smoke detectors and burglar alarms were installed, and acid-free folders and boxes for documents and manuscripts were purchased. A hands-on program of the Office of the Curator General was greatly expanded, allowing schoolchildren to feel as well as see and hear about artifacts. A textile storage room was constructed on the third floor of Memorial Continental Hall. A flag rack for outdoor flags was permanently installed on the 18th Street ramp for state flags during Continental Congress. The Banquet Hall kitchen was modernized. New seats were installed in Constitution Hall for the first time since 1929. Drinking fountains to accommodate handicapped persons and young children were installed in the lobby of the Hall.
Public relations was the primary focus of the Baylies Administration. One of its projects was to plan a first day issue ceremony for the Dolley Madison postal stamp. The ceremony, which took place May 20, 1980, during the following administration, was held in the DAR Library and open to the public. The National Chairmen’s Forum of each October Board Meeting was open to the press, and resulted in some excellent coverage. A new flag of the United States of America was presented to Speaker of the House, The Honorable Tip O’Neill, for use on the Speaker’s Rostrum in the House of Representatives.
Mrs. Baylies initiated a four-day workweek at National Headquarters during the summer months as an energy savings program, resulting in a cost reduction of $5,000 per month on the electric bill. Four new printing machines were purchased for the Print Shop. The newly revised DAR Handbook included the National Bylaws for the first time.
Reporting at her third Continental Congress, Mrs. Baylies said she had been deeply saddened by the death of her husband barely three months previously after a long illness. She said he had been “instrumental in persuading her to run for this high office but never able to see her preside.” A tender moment followed a few days later as the Pages Committee presented her with the gift of a Scottish terrier puppy. Her beloved Scotty, Lorri, had died on the opening day of Congress the previous year.
The Jeannette Osborn Baylies Home Economics Building at Kate Duncan Smith DAR School was the national school project.
Correcting a dangerous problem, the switchboard and all its wiring was replaced, and the electrical service was updated. Correlating the administration’s accomplishments with its symbol, Mrs. Baylies said that this was one small acorn she could have done without.
During the 89th Continental Congress, at the Constitution Hall Golden Jubilee, April 19, 1980, Mrs. Baylies said, “[this date is] sacred to all Americans. The members of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution are in the vanguard of that spirit. That very same spirit founded the Society, constructed its buildings, expanded its services, and proclaims its ideals. Courage and conviction have keynoted every endeavor. As it was 50 years ago, so it is tonight, that the Daughters build for the future. We benefit today from their structure as we prayerfully plan for the generations of tomorrow.”
At that same Congress, 18 women ran for seven positions as Vice President General. For election, the Bylaws required a majority of the votes cast. After six ballotings extending over three days only six positions had been filled. With no time remaining for further balloting, the final opening had to be declared vacant until the next Continental Congress.
Following her installation, when the new President General, Patricia Walton Shelby, placed the sash and pin representing the office of Honorary President General on Mrs. Baylies, she said, “I am honored to place on Mrs. Baylies the Honorary President General’s pin that was housed in the Reception Room case. This pin belonged to the late Mrs. Becker, who served as President General. It is befitting that Mrs. Baylies should wear it during her lifetime because she served as Personal Page to Mrs. Becker.” In an interesting footnote proving that history does, indeed, repeat itself, personal page for Mrs. Baylies was Merry Ann T. Wright.
Patricia Walton Shelby,1980–1983, Mississippi
32nd President General
Patricia Walton Shelby, National Number 387364, joined Mississippi Delta Chapter in October 1949. She was State Regent of Mississippi while still a Junior member, and served as Registrar General and First Vice President General before being elected President General. Mrs. Shelby was president of the National Officers Club from 1990–1992. She died June 14, 2002.
The chief goals of the Shelby Administration were economy, efficiency and extension. The symbol of the administration was a shell.
Focusing on the three objectives established by the Founders in 1890, the theme for the administration was, “And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” The dual emphasis the first year was the historic objective—“To perpetuate the memory and the spirit of the men and women who achieved American independence” — and from the scriptural theme, the word faith. The second year featured the educational objective—“To promote an enlightened public opinion’—and the word hope. The final year promoted the patriotic objective—“To foster true patriotism and love of Country”—and the word love. Hymns amplifying the scriptural theme were also chosen each year: first, “Faith of Our Fathers”; then, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” and finally, “Love Divine All Loves Excelling.”
The President General’s Project, “A Legacy Preserved,” concentrated on the DAR Headquarters buildings and included restoration of Memorial Continental Hall and the Founders Monument and repair of the Constitution Hall steps. All buildings were cleaned, and the cast bronze doors in Memorial Continental Hall were treated.
Among numerous publications, the Wide Blue Ribbon, the inspiration for the present volume, stands out.
Mrs. Shelby pledged to preserve our American way of life, meet our educational challenges, especially for the DAR schools, and continue a strong National Defense program. The Outstanding Teacher of American History award was established.
Notable recipients of the DAR Medal of Honor were S. Dillon Ripley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and L. Bruce Laingen, senior American official held during the Iran hostage crisis. Other awards recipients included Fran McKee, first female line officer to hold the rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy, the Honorable Margaret Chase Smith and Lillian Gish.
At the 90th Continental Congress, because of the extended election the previous year, a proposed amendment to change the Bylaws read, “Should a number of candidates to fill all vacancies in the office of Vice President General not receive a majority vote on the first or second ballot, the office shall be declared vacant until the next Continental Congress.” The amendment failed, but the chastened delegates succeeded in electing the requisite seven officers on the first ballot that year, and again in 1982 and 1983. Not until the 99th Continental Congress, during the Yochim Administration, was the problem effectively solved.
The Energy Ethics Special Committee was established to stimulate an awareness of the cultural, political and economic issues relating to American energy at that time. Also new was the Yorktown Bicentennial Committee, especially chosen because it was the National Society that initiated interest in surveying, acquiring and preserving Yorktown Battlefield as a National Military Park and Monument. The effort succeeded on March 21, 1922, when President Warren G. Harding signed the Yorktown Bill into law. Constitution Week and American History Month were designated as national committees. The Outstanding Juniors Club was authorized.
An extensive survey of the Headquarters buildings found that “they have been extremely vulnerable. Essentially, there was no fire-warning system, and the security system was found inadequate.” Subsequently, Mrs. Shelby signed contracts to install and service fire-warning, intruder-detection and access-to-control systems. The National Society hired a full-time building engineer, who began “an orderly system of preventive maintenance and other necessary oversight.” An administrative director was hired to deal full-time with administrative matters, and a retired Army general became advisor/consultant to the National Defense Committee.
The National Society had installed its first computer in 1970, of 1960s vintage. By 1980, it took 100 hours to list DAR membership alphabetically or in order of national number on the computer installation then in place. New equipment was installed that “can do in hours what the old computer took days to do.” In the mail room, a new postal permit for bulk mailings and new state-of-the-art mailing equipment added to efficiency and cut costs.
An important exhibit, “The Jewish Community in Early America, 1654–1850,” was made possible when John Loeb of New York City loaned an outstanding collection of Revolutionary Americana from the Jewish heritage to the DAR Museum. Former President Gerald R. Ford attended the opening.
Postmaster General William F. Bolger attended first day issue ceremonies for the Dolley Madison and the Philip Mazzei postal stamps in the DAR Library.
The commemoration in February 1981 of the 250th anniversary of the birth of George Washington included a pilgrimage to the birthplace of Washington, the dedication of twin cedars as a living memorial to Washington and the placing of a memorial wreath at the entrance to the birthplace.
The Bicentennial of the Victory at Yorktown in October 1981 featured several events: a showing of the film “The World Turned Upside Down” was followed by the opening of the Museum exhibit of the same title. A gala in Constitution Hall honored His Excellency, the Ambassador of France, Francois de Laboulaye. Placing a bronze marker to commemorate the Battle Off the Virginia Capes was a feature of the DAR Bus Tour of Yorktown. At the Yorktown festivities, Mrs. Shelby joined Ambassador and Madame de Laboulaye to meet the President of France and Madame Mitterand aboard the French frigate De Grasse. In addition there were stamp ceremonies, a presentation of appropriate items to Moore House, the presentation of American and French flags, and a day of prayer and thanksgiving with a vesper service at Bruton Parish Church.
Sarah McKelley King, 1983–1986, Tennessee
33rd President General
Sarah McKelley King, National Number 481123, joined the Colonel Hardy Murfree Chapter of Murfreesboro, Tenn., in April 1961. Before being elected President General, she was State Regent of Tennessee and Curator General, when, for the first time, the DAR Museum received accreditation by the American Association of Museums. From 1994–1996 she was president of the National Officers Club. Mrs. King died on February 20, 2013.
Hers was the “Independence Jubilee Administration,” honoring the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Paris and Versailles, with a crown for the administration symbol. The annual themes were Duty, Honor, Country. For the first year, “Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less,” (Robert E. Lee); the second year, also by Lee, “There is a true glory and a true honor, the glory of duty done, the honor of integrity of principle”; and the third year, from a speech by Daniel Webster, “Let our objective be our Country, our whole Country, and nothing but our Country.”
Mrs. King attracted international attention as she toured France with several hundred members, placing wreaths, dedicating commemorative markers and leaving an indelible impression on the French media. Parisian points visited included Picpus Cemetery, burial site of the Marquis de Lafayette; statues of George Washington, Comte de Rochambeau, and Comte de Grasse; and Yorktown Square, where the National Society had placed a monument in 1932. A ceremony at Notre Dame Cathedral, a reception hosted by the mayor at the Parisian city hall, Hotel de Ville, a midnight supper in the Hall of Battles at Versailles, a parade down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe, a reception at the American Embassy, an address to the congregation of the American Church in Paris and a pilgrimage to Normandy all gained favorable publicity for the DAR.
Le Figaro, the famous Paris newspaper, wrote:
The President General made a striking appearance at each affair and her voice rang out clearly and with conviction. She wore a beautiful black chapeau with cascading ostrich feathers, a chic red ensemble, and the insignia of her office. She spoke with an aristocratic British accent.
Afterward, Mrs. King was asked to wear her “uniform” for a television appearance. Thus is one typecast.
At Yorktown Square, Mrs. King dedicated a plaque honoring the peacemakers, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and John Adams. At Hotel de Ville, the Mayor of Paris presented a commemorative medal to Mrs. King. At Versailles, Mrs. King presented NSDAR Peacemaker Awards, one to Jean Faircloth MacArthur, widow of General Douglas MacArthur, and one to Madame la Marechale LeClerc de Hauteceloque, widow of General Jacques Philipe LeClerc, who liberated Paris during World War II.
Mrs. King placed two tablets at the Virginia Yorktown Victory Monument: one honoring the peacemakers, and one recognizing the Treaty of Paris and our friendship with England. At Pearl Harbor, she placed a tablet at the USS Arizona Memorial.
At home, Mrs. King was interviewed on network television shows and appointed to the 50th American Presidential Inaugural Committee by President Ronald Reagan. She regularly attended weekly news briefings at the White House.
Membership in the National Society reached a pinnacle. The highest member count in the history of the National Society, 211,800, was attained during Mrs. King’s term of office.
The President General’s Project was the continued restoration of the Administration Building and Constitution Hall, including the D Street Ramp of Constitution Hall, and funding of climate control systems. Constitution Hall was designated a National Historic Landmark.
During the Independence Jubilee Administration, the aging Statue of Liberty was closed for two years as it underwent an extensive $62 million restoration and renovation to prepare for its 1986 centennial. The King Administration sponsored “Liberty Love Day” on February 14, 1985, asking that each member contribute a dollar. The Daughters responded with a gift of more than a half a million dollars.
Notable recipients of DAR Medals of Honor included Senator Jeremiah Denton, Admiral, USN, Ret.; General William G. Moore, Jr., USAR, Ret.; Jeane Kirkpatrick, US Ambassador to the United Nations; and Ted Turner, Chairman of the Statue of Liberty Restoration. The DAR History Award Medal was presented to Claire Booth Luce, Congresswoman; Dr. Rhea Seddon, NASA astronaut; Helen Hayes, actress; and Wendell Garrett, editor of Antiques Magazine. A Life Membership in the DAR Library was given to Alex Haley, author, lecturer and historian. During the 95th Continental Congress, Mrs. King recognized all DAR members present who had served or were serving in the United States Armed Forces.
NSDAR publications included Washington Historic Landmarks: Pillars of Patriotism; Historic & Memorial Buildings of DAR; Arts of Independence (DAR Museum Collection); In Search of Liberty—The Story of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island; Patriot Index, Volume III; and Black Courage, 1775–1783.
In conjunction with Vanderbilt University, Mrs. King implemented the Family Tree Genetics Project to educate families about hereditary genetic diseases and illnesses. In 1985, Lincoln Memorial University bestowed the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service on the President General. In 1986 a plaque was dedicated in her honor at Vanderbilt University.
Sarah McKelley received her education at Vanderbilt University and married Walter Hughey King on May 10, 1941. Roster and Soldiers, The Tennessee Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1960–70, Volume II was published during her term as State Regent. In 1976 she was a candidate for the United States House of Representatives, but lost to Albert Gore, Jr.
In 1986, in her final report to the Continental Congress as President General, Mrs. King said, “As we have sought to serve God, Home and Country, we have answered the call of Duty, Honor, Country. Your record of service is unequalled. We shall be ever grateful for your support and your outstanding service as, together, we have strengthened the historic, educational and patriotic pursuits of our beloved Society.”
Ann Davison Duffie Fleck, 1986–1989, Massachusetts
34th President General
Ann Davison Duffie Fleck, National Number 513585, joined Boston Tea Party Chapter in 1966. When she was elected chapter regent, she continued a family tradition, as her mother had been regent of Mary Draper Chapter, Mass., and her grandmother had been regent of General Asa Danforth Chapter, N.Y. Mrs. Fleck served as Massachusetts State Regent during America’s Bicentennial celebration. Her national service included terms as Recording Secretary General and Historian General. As President General, Mrs. Fleck set monumental goals for the preservation of the DAR National Headquarters buildings. She said as she took office, “We want to fortify our strengths and pledge to go forward. We want to be a forceful power of good and great volunteerism … Every second, every minute, every hour that goes by, never again as long as we live can we make it up. Let us use the hours wisely.”
Mrs. Fleck was born and raised near Boston, Mass. An avid musician from childhood, she received her first drum at age 7. She had an ancestor who was a drummer in the American Revolution, three great-great-uncles who were drummers in the Civil War and an uncle who was a drummer in the Navy Band during World War I. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from the New England Conservatory of Music and attended graduate school at Boston University. She and her husband, Raymond Franklin Fleck, were married in 1946.
A dedicated educator and performer, Mrs. Fleck served as the director of several music programs in the greater Boston area. She frequently spoke to schoolchildren using both her drum and her Revolutionary War period costumes as educational props. As a drummer for the Massachusetts Sons of the American Revolution Continental Army Color Guard, she was part of the Honor Guard for Queen Elizabeth II during Her Majesty’s Bicentennial visit to Boston in 1976. Mrs. Fleck also played with the Boston Women’s Symphony, Wellesley Symphony as principal percussionist, New Hampshire Philharmonic, Cambridge Symphony and Berkshire Symphony. She has been the choir director for her church for more than 50 years. As President General, Mrs. Fleck both conducted and played percussion with the Army Band and the Air Force Band. She also conducted the All-American DAR Chorus for many years, including during her term as President General.
In addition to her music, Mrs. Fleck’s lifelong interests in history and genealogy extend beyond the bounds of DAR. She has been a leader or member of several organizations including the Massachusetts Society Colonial Dames XVII Century, the Massachusetts Daughters of the American Colonists, the Abigail Adams Colony New England Women, the National Society Daughters of 1812, the MacDuffee Clan of America and the Bay State Historical League.
Mrs. Fleck served as an advisor to both Hillside School and Tamassee DAR School. She was the recipient of the DAR Speakers Staff top award in 1983. She received the SAR Medal of Appreciation, the Good Citizenship Medal and the Meritorious Service Award. A lifelong promoter of C.A.R., Mrs. Fleck was a Massachusetts state counselor and received a national award for the State Regent who did the most to increase C.A.R. membership in her state. She served as president of the National Officers Club from 2002–2004.
When she was a candidate for President General, Mrs. Fleck wrote that the “heartbeat of the NSDAR is love of God, Home and Country and service is its drumbeat … Our drumbeat sounds enthusiasm for the growth, the gain, and the good for our Society. Its rhythms have never ceased and the cadences of achievement and progress will continue to be heard.”
The Fleck Administration’s theme, “We the People,” incorporated the 1987 Bicentennial celebration of the United States Constitution. Fittingly, the symbol of the Fleck Administration was a drum. In an effort to “stop the fancy business and tend to the nitty-gritty,” Mrs. Fleck initiated her President General’s Project, “Pipes and Drum,” with the goal to update and repair the deteriorating DAR National Headquarters buildings. In her own words, she intended to “complete all the projects and put our buildings in A-1 condition.” The “Pipes and Drum” project revealed serious problems, and an impressive amount of work was accomplished in three years. Asbestos was removed, faulty wiring replaced and the 60-year-old pipe system repaired. The Administration Building basement and storage areas were cleaned and reorganized. Many pieces of furniture were repaired and put to use in offices. Much of the Administration Building was carpeted and lighting fixtures were replaced. Extensive repairs were made to all of the elevators, including the replacement of new cables in the main elevator. The staff lunchroom, “We the People,” was refurbished and structural repairs were made. The C Street circular driveway was widened, and the exterior lighting was modernized.
In addition to managing the building projects, Mrs. Fleck took part in several events in celebration of the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. A special tour of DAR members participated in the September 17, 1988, observance in Philadelphia, and the DAR was well represented in the parade. Mrs. Fleck participated in dedicating the graves of Benjamin Franklin and other signers of the United States Constitution interred in Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia. She also dedicated many Revolutionary War soldiers’ graves during her term of office, including the Marquis de Lafayette’s tomb in Paris, France. The Fleck Administration saw the Units Overseas grow to include two chapters in Australia and three chapters in Canada. In the last year of the administration, the National Society took an active part in the restoration of Ellis Island.
On her first day as President General, Mrs. Fleck noted that her administration had exactly 1,095 days to serve the National Society. On her last day in office, she concluded that it had been “an exhilarating three years—filled to overflowing with many challenges.”
Marie Hirst Yochim, 1989–1992, Virginia
35th President General
Marie Hirst Yochim, National Number 415223, joined Falls Church Chapter, Virginia, as a Junior member in January 1953. For 15 years she was administrator in the Office of the Corresponding Secretary General. She was associate director for 12 DAR national tours, and director for the 1964 NSDAR trip to the New York World’s Fair, when 19 busloads of DAR members went on the trip. She was State Regent of Virginia, Organizing Secretary General and First Vice President General before being elected President General. From 1998–2000 she was president of the National Officers Club.
Mrs. Yochim led the National Society during its Centennial. She liked to say that she was the last President General to serve in our first century, and the first President General to serve in our second century. Her President General’s Project, “The Ties That Bind,” encompassed the continued restoration of the DAR buildings and funding of major Centennial projects. The administration symbol was a tied bow.
The Yochim Gallery, on the lower level of Memorial Continental Hall, was a Centennial addition to the DAR Museum. New track lighting, sliding quilt display racks and adjustable walls for use in exhibitions were added to the Museum Gallery. Major leaks in the buildings were located and repaired. The copper roof on Constitution Hall was replaced, as well as the copper guttering. More than 125 windows were repaired; the glass roof over the lay light in the Library was renovated; and a new rubber membrane roof was installed on a section of the roof of the Administration Building. A facilities engineer was hired. A closed-circuit system was installed to enable the security staff to monitor all floors in Memorial Continental Hall, as well as entrances to the Administration Building. The “Ties That Bind” meeting room was established on the lower level of the Administration Building. The mailroom was updated. Brass railings were added to the 18th Street steps of Constitution Hall. The President General’s Reception Room was renovated. Rusted gates were repaired and gravel replaced in the Memorial Garden. New books included A Century of Service: The Story of the DAR and Daughters Overseas: A History of Units Overseas. Five booklets on minority military service in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire were completed. A print of Memorial Continental Hall by Virginia artist P. Buckley Moss was commissioned. A new video, “A Century of Service,” narrated by Mary Ann Mobley, was produced.
October 1990 marked the beginning of a yearlong celebration. The United States Congress designated October 11, 1990, as National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution DAR Centennial Day. Commemorations that day included a Centennial Tribute to the Four Founders at the Founders Memorial Monument, the rededication of the Spanish American War Nurses marker and the unveiling of a tablet honoring the only President Presiding, Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell. The United States Postal Service held a first day issue ceremony for the NSDAR postal card in the Museum Gallery, followed by refreshments in the DAR Library. First Lady Barbara Bush entertained members at a White House tea. That night, the 100th Birthday Banquet was held at the Capitol Hilton Hotel.
More than 31,000 Daughters were admitted to membership during the Centennial Administration. Each received a specially designed commemorative membership certificate. An increased emphasis on public relations strengthened public understanding of DAR objectives and accomplishments. A Centennial medallion, “Women Worthy of Honor” was presented to nine living distinguished American women: Barbara Bush, wife of the President of the United States and a member of DAR; Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States; Admiral Grace M. Hopper, who retired in 1986 as the nation’s oldest active-duty officer and helped develop COBOL, one of the first modern computer programming languages; Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell, founder of WETA, educational public radio and television station for greater Washington; Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, the first woman to serve as the U.S. representative to the United Nations; Shirley Temple Black, former child actress, Ambassador to Ghana and Ambassador to Czechoslovakia; Marian Anderson, well-known contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the 20th century; Elizabeth P. Hoisington, the first Woman Army Corps officer nominated and promoted to the rank of brigadier general; Catherine Filene Shouse, contributor of 100 acres of prime Northern Virginia land for a national park for the performing arts, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.
One among many Bylaw amendments passed during the Yochim Administration solved a long-term electoral problem: “The officers of the National Society, with the exception of the twenty-one Vice Presidents General, shall be elected by ballot at the Continental Congress every third year. A majority vote shall elect. Seven Vice Presidents General shall be elected by ballot at the Continental Congress each year for a term of three years. A plurality vote shall elect. The seven receiving the highest number of votes shall be declared elected.”
The Remembrance Tour to Europe in September 1991 visited historic spots previously marked by NSDAR: Grosvenor Square, London, England, where the DAR Friendship Tablet is located, and Magdeburg, Germany, where President General Mrs. William A. Becker placed a tablet honoring General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben in 1937.
The final Centennial event was a visit to the grave of George Mason at Gunston Hall, his home in Mason Neck, Va.
Mrs. Yochim stated that, in visiting conferences in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, England, France, Canada and Mexico, what she liked the best about being President General was getting to know the members and listening to the outstanding reports of DAR accomplishments.
Marie Hirst married Eldred Martin Yochim on Christmas Eve, 1944. The marriage endured more than 65 years, until Mr. Yochim’s death at age 101 in August 2010. Marie Hirst Yochim died on April 19, 2012, the 237th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington.
Wayne Garrison Blair, 1992–1995, Ohio
36th President General
Betty Jane (Wayne) Blair, National Number 496774, joined the Betty Washington Chapter in Kansas as a Junior member in 1963. When the family moved to Missouri, she transferred to Webster Groves Chapter there, and in 1969, she became a member of Cuyahoga Chapter, Akron, Ohio. She went on to serve as State Regent of Ohio from 1983–1986. She then served the National Society as Corresponding Secretary General and as First Vice President General before being elected President General. To her high office she brought a wealth of innovative plans and ideas for modernizing the National Society. She died on October 19, 2000.
At the opening of a new exhibit at the Pentagon in January 1995, Secretary of the Army Togo Dennis West, Jr., introduced “Mrs. Donald Shattuck Blair, President General of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, whose organization has done more for the commemoration of World War II than any other organization in the country.”
Mrs. Blair said that the commemoration of World War II, including a D-Day tour to Normandy, France, for the 50th anniversary of D-Day June 6, 1994, was one of three especially memorable occurrences that took place during the Blair Administration. Mrs. Blair participated as an official distinguished visitor and guest of the Department of Defense. The other two unforgettable events were the beginning and then, later, the completion of the President General’s Project, “Continuing the Commitment,” the restoration and renovation of Constitution Hall. All three of these events reflected the official theme of the administration, “Continuing the Commitment, Challenging the Future.” The symbol of the administration was a shield bearing 13 stars and vertical stripes, enveloped in a banner that proclaimed “Guard that which is committed to thy trust” (1 Timothy 6:20). The administration emphasized membership, especially for Juniors, community involvement and reduction of paperwork on all levels.
The $2.6 million raised to restore and renovate Constitution Hall constituted an all-time fundraising record for a President General’s Project to that date. Among other things, the project included conducting an acoustical study of the auditorium, rebuilding and extending the stage, installing a stage lift and ramp and a new star’s dressing room with bathroom, and renovating all dressing rooms. The lobby was repainted and refurbished. A new sprinkler system and emergency power generator, along with fire and voice alarms, were installed. The chilled water, steam heating and electrical systems were upgraded. The grand opening of the restored and renovated Hall took place on November 22, 1994, with the Moscow State Ballet and Orchestra presenting the first of five performances of the “Nutcracker Ballet.”
Newly established were the Commemorative Events Committee and the Excellence in Community Service Award. A Centennial DAR Patriot Index was published. The DAR Magazine celebrated its 100th year of consecutive publication. The DAR Bylaws were completely revised for the first time since 1956. A new roof was installed over the Museum and the skylights in the DAR Library were repaired. The DAR Museum, received reaccreditation and opened five exhibitions, including “George Washington: The Man Behind the Image,” co-sponsored by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. Many new pins were authorized, including an Honorary President General pin. The Junior Membership Committee celebrated 1994–1995 as the “Year of the Junior.” The 100th birthday of the National Society Children of the American Revolution was celebrated with the installation of incoming C.A.R. officers in Constitution Hall.
A dramatic change to the Administration Building took place with the moving of the Office of the Corresponding Secretary General from the first floor to the lower level, and the initiation of “one-office shopping” for all supplies and publications. For the first time, that office began accepting credit cards, and a fax machine and an electronic filing system were installed. The credentials process was automated. A computer program for production of NSDAR application papers was authorized and the Ancestor Retrieval Program was completed. In the Office of the Treasurer General, accounting procedures were transferred from a hand-posted ledger system to a network of computers. An investment policy statement for restricted funds was written and a comprehensive budget policy was developed. The Personnel Department was renamed the Human Resources Department. An Out-of-DC Volunteer Genealogist Training Program was instituted. Two In-House Volunteer Genealogist training programs were held each year. The Office of the Historian General prepared new forms and guidelines for the DAR History Award Medal, the Outstanding Teacher of American History contest and the marking of historical sites and graves. A comprehensive index was begun of all references to NSDAR–related subjects in the DAR Magazine, beginning with 1892.
Several other important commemorations occurred during the Blair Administration, especially the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Jefferson, the Columbus Quincentennial, and the 100th anniversary of the Pledge of Allegiance. The National Society marked the grave of Miss Gertrude Carraway, President General from 1953–1956 and dedicated a marker to Revolutionary War Patriots at Arlington Cemetery.
Dorla Dean Eaton Kemper, 1995–1998, California
37th President General
Dorla Dean Kemper, National Number 557934, joined Emigrant Trail Chapter, Auburn, Calif., on April 17, 1971. In 1977, she organized Gold Trail Chapter, Roseville, Calif. She was State Regent of California from 1984–1986, and Recording Secretary General from 1986–1989. During her service as National Chairman of the Units Overseas Committee, from 1983–1986, James Cook Chapter, Sydney, Australia, and Bytown Chapter, Ottawa, Canada, were organized. Elected President General in 1995, she later served as national chairman of the World War II Memorial Challenge from 1998–2001. She was President of the National Officers Club from 2006–2008.
The theme of the Kemper Administration was “Our Heritage Is the Key to Our Future, with mini-themes, “Preserving History,” “Providing Education,” and “Promoting Patriotism.” The President General’s Project, “Keys to the Columns,” continued the renovation and redecoration of Constitution Hall and the restoration of the buildings. At her installation as President General, Mrs. Kemper said, “The key was chosen for [our] symbol because the key itself has a great heritage. It is a traditional symbol indicating ownership and guardianship. It’s a symbol of welcome, such as the key to the city. The key symbolizes the power to lock and unlock. Your newly elected Executive Committee wants to emphasize guardianship of our heritage and we want to see the key unlock creative ideas with vision for the future of our Society.”
In May 1995, Mrs. Kemper represented the National Society at the commemoration of the end of World War II in England where, at the invitation of the Queen, she attended the services of Thanksgiving, Reconciliation and Hope in St. Paul’s Cathedral. In August she journeyed to Hawaii, where she was the official representative of the National Society in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific.
A special edition of the DAR Magazine was initiated and mailed to every member in July 1995, 1996 and 1997.
A new Information Technology Systems Department modernized computer infrastructure and created an industry-standard database management system. The new Volunteer Information Specialists Committee enabled computer-savvy members to share their skills. A computer-generated application form was created. An NSDAR home page was implemented on the World Wide Web and email service was installed at DAR Headquarters. The three-volume DAR Magazine Index covering the period from 1892–1997 begun in the Blair Administration was completed and offered for sale. The Minority Patriots publications for Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey were completed. Approval was given to co-sponsor an annual Christopher Columbus essay contest with the National Italian American Foundation. The DAR Museum presented an outstanding exhibition, “Bound for the West: Women and Their Families on the Western Trails,” featuring an authentic pioneer covered wagon.
The Honor Roll Committee was renamed the Chapter Achievement Awards Committee. New committees established were Community Service Awards and Volunteer Community Service. New special committees were Continental Congress, DAR Library Centennial, Member-at-Large, Membership Promotion, Membership Promotion Workshops and Youth Volunteer.
Major stone pointing on all three buildings was completed. The President General’s Assembly Room was completely renovated. Smiling pansies were planted on the grounds to greet the members each year as they arrived for Continental Congress. The Kemper Executive Conference Room was established on the second floor of the Administration Building. The room honors the two Mrs. Kempers: Lorna Owen Kemper, Chaplain General, 1971–1974, and her daughter-in-law, Dorla Dean Eaton Kemper, President General, 1995–1998. The renovation of Constitution Hall was completed and paid in full, with all remaining funds transferred to the next President General’s Project. A preservation fee was initiated on every ticket sold for Constitution Hall performances. A bronze sculpture of a mother eagle nurturing her young by David H. Turner of Virginia was purchased and placed in the lobby of Constitution Hall, conveying the Daughters’ commitment to children worldwide. Exterior signage was installed on all four corners of the DAR Headquarters complex for easy identification. New blue and white DAR banners on D Street further identified the buildings and welcomed members. A Steinway concert grand piano was acquired for use in Constitution Hall.
The Founders’ Medals were established: the Eugenia Washington Medal for heroism; the Mary Desha Medal for Youth; the Ellen Hardin Walworth Medal for Patriotism; and the Mary Smith Lockwood Medal for Education.
DAR Medals of Honor were presented to Dr. William C. Gist Jr.; Ian Koblick; Captain Scott O’Grady; Rudolph Andrew Wendelin; and Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, USAF, Ret. An Americanism Medal recipient was Yung Krall.
The flag of the United States of America, as well as those of all states and territories, was presented for display in the main hall of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at a special dedication held at Arlington Cemetery in October 1997.
The tour, DAR European Trails to the American Revolution included commemorating the birth of John Paul Jones at Dumfries, Scotland; touring the Houses of Parliament and Middle Court, the legal center of English law, in London; and in France, visiting the American Cemetery of the Somme, Bony; presenting a plaque to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the dedication of the Somme Memorial Chapel; visiting Tilloloy, and placing a wreath at the grave of the Marquis de Lafayette in Picpus Cemetery, Paris.
At her final Continental Congress, Mrs. Kemper said, “We have consecrated ourselves to service, organizational management, financial responsibility, communication with our members, membership promotion, public relations, streamlining committee structure, providing the chapters with ability to achieve a measure of success through committee work, implementing up-to-date information systems within the National Headquarters, and an all-out effort to reach out and touch the nation with a message about who we are and what we do. . . . not just for today, just this three-year term, or just for our lifetime, but for endless tomorrows.” She then announced that a $2 million “Heritage Fund,” also called the Heritage Club, had been created with a commercial gift of securities to NSDAR from Judd’s, Inc. for the purpose of providing for NSDAR’s unmet needs.
Georgane Ferguson Love, 1998–2001, Mississippi
38th President General
Georgane Ferguson Love, National Number 441060, joined James Gilliam Chapter, Mississippi, in December 1955 as a Junior member. Before being elected President General, she served as State Regent of Mississippi, Vice President General, Historian General, and First Vice President General. Mrs. Love received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Mississippi and taught music at the secondary and university levels for more than 30 years. In 2003, Georgane Love married Gerald Thomas Easley. She served as President of the National Officers Club from 2010–2012.
The Love Administration theme, “Unity of Spirit, Unity of Purpose,” emphasized increased membership. The symbol was a heart. The President General’s Project, “Legacy of Love,” renovated and restored numerous areas of National Headquarters. Significant among the improvements, an elevator was installed in the lobby of Constitution Hall to provide access to the lower main lounge, and the ladies’ lounge area on that level was enlarged and renovated. The exterior bronze doors of Constitution Hall were restored to their original finish, the 17th Street bronze doors were cleaned inside and outside, and C and D Street entrances to the Administration Building were renovated and new mahogany doors were installed. New awnings were installed at the C Street entrances to the Administration Building and the Constitution Hall stage door. The South Gallery of Memorial Continental Hall that originally housed the Museum and later the Library offices was restored to the 1904–1910 period. It is now known as the O’Byrne Gallery. The art glass ceiling in the DAR Library was cleaned and the glass skylight roof was replaced with one-inch glass, metal webbing, insulation, copper edging and modern sealant. Numerous conservation efforts restored the Banquet Hall on the third floor of Memorial Continental Hall, through which a reproduction of the original staircase and a new mahogany door provided access to the renovated terrace roof. That area now includes additional steel beams, a new waterproof membrane, a new metal and concrete floor, modern pavers, and new copper edgings. To complete the project, the ceiling underneath the terrace roof was reinforced and décor lighting was added to the South Portico. A new Docent Room was created off the stone hall in the Museum Gallery, and plans were made to remodel and enlarge the gift shop.
On several occasions, the DAR Library and the South Portico were used to represent the White House in the filming of the television show “The West Wing,” resulting in positive increased public awareness of DAR and its property, as well as many new members. Constitution Hall was also featured in high-profile televised events, notably “Wheel of Fortune” and the “NBA All-Star Team-Up Celebration.”
New iMIS membership management software, high-density electronic storage, and improved phone systems were installed. The microfiche department was renovated and named the “Love Document Imaging Center.”
P & B Textiles launched the DAR Museum Collection of quilting fabrics. Fifty quilts from the DAR collection were exhibited in Tokyo, Sapporo and Yokohama, Japan. Funding was received to establish the Landes-Loyben Quilt Repository to safely house the extensive quilt collection at DAR Headquarters.
The World War II Challenge honored and recorded the names of more than 38,000 military and civilian patriots in six volumes of the NSDAR World War II Book of Remembrance, and raised more than $460,000 toward the building of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall. At the 110th Continental Congress, Senator Robert Dole, Chairman of the National World War II Memorial Committee, came to Opening Night to thank the Daughters. Playfully, he said, “There are a lot of Generals in this outfit, I learned. I was a Second Lieutenant, I then got two promotions in the hospital. If I would’ve stayed longer I might have been a Major but who knows?” However, there was no doubting his sincerity when he said, “I do want to thank Mrs. Kemper and President General Love and . . . all those who gave a dollar or two dollars or ten dollars. It really makes a difference. $460,000 is real money.”
Visiting the new Italia Chapter in Rome, Mrs. Love placed a historical marker in Borghese Park honoring George Washington and the Italians who supported the cause for American independence, and dedicated a plaque honoring Filippo Mazzei at the Filippo Mazzei School in Poggio a Caiano.
The Good Citizenship Medal was renamed the DAR Patriotism Medal. New awards included the Margaret Cochran Corbin Award for Women in Military Service for America.
Wreaths were placed at the grave of Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee, the USS Maine Memorial and the Spanish American War Nurses Memorial.
A director of development and an events coordinator were hired. Twenty-three financial- and estate-planning seminars were held, resulting in 38 new bequests or trusts designating the National Society as beneficiary. With more than 745 charter members, the Heritage Club was established to acknowledge the donor generosity that is so crucial to sustaining the National Society.
During the 107th Continental Congress, Mrs. Love’s husband lay gravely ill. Mrs. Love remained at his side in Mississippi throughout most of the week. However, she was present in Washington, D.C., to be installed as President General, and said that she had reflected often on the DAR motto, “God, Home and Country,” and its core meaning:
There comes a defining moment in our lives when priorities suddenly come into focus. We are given an eternal perspective. This has been my experience. In times of personal crisis these priorities, God, Home and Country, are not just words. They become profound realities, a source of hope, and an anchor to still our anxieties in times of trouble.
She challenged the members to take those priorities and move out beyond themselves. Referring to the administration symbol, she said,
This heart must mean far more than a valentine. This heart must be far more than a pretty pin. This heart must take heart in order to give heart to the Love Administration. This heart must pump real lifeblood if we are to enjoy good health and to grow.
Linda Tinker Watkins, 2001–2004, Tennessee
39th President General
Linda Tinker Watkins graduated in 1963 from Florida State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. On February 1, 1968, she joined the Daughters of the American Revolution as a Junior member and served as the Organizing Vice Regent of Peter Houston Chapter in Parsons, Tenn. She received the Outstanding Junior Member of Tennessee award in 1976 She served as State Regent of Tennessee, Registrar General, and First Vice President General before becoming the first State Outstanding Junior to be elected President General.
Mrs. Watkins chose a flourishing tree for the symbol of the Watkins Millennium Administration, with the theme of “Our Family Tree . . . Roots from the Past, Linking to the Future.” The goals of the administration were to increase membership, to improve public relations, and to develop additional sources of revenue. The Watkins Administration realized the first increase in membership in more than a decade, and new overseas units were established in Nassau, Bahamas; Hamilton, Bermuda; and the United Kingdom.
The President General’s Project, “Preserving Our Family Tree,” digitized DAR applications and supplemental applications, and laid the groundwork for the development of new revenues. The project anticipated and developed the computer architecture to store and access numerous records, including: the approximately 17,000 Genealogical Records Index, 420,000 member records, more than 700,000 member soft cards, 811,000 four-page DAR applications, 300,000 ancestor cards and 9 million supporting documents. The new Document Management Office ensured that original documents and manuscripts would be preserved and secured in off-site storage, and began the task of making these records available on the Internet. The Patriot Lookup Service was established, with more than 35,000 requests for information being answered in the first year.
In an effort to improve communications with membership and the public, a Public Relations Department was established. Media kits, press release templates, and other tools for membership development and media relations were created. A logo was designed for websites, advertisements or promotional materials where restrictions on the DAR Insignia prohibit its use. The NSDAR website was completely revamped and expanded to include information about the many programs of DAR.
The DAR Magazine was replaced with two new publications: American Spirit magazine, focusing on American history and heritage and the Daughters Newsletter, highlighting the work of the membership.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, and because of its proximity to the White House, DAR National Headquarters developed extensive safety and security plans to deal with terrorism. A state-of-the-art security system was installed throughout the complex and new procedures were put in place to ensure the safety of staff, visitors and members. DAR preparation received a favorable mention in The Wall Street Journal. In addition, NSDAR contacted the Chief of Information for the Navy Department to offer support. As a result, DAR was appointed by the U.S. Navy Department to be an official sponsor of the 3,000 crew members aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. A new committee, DAR Project Patriot, was established to facilitate this and other programs.
DAR Constitution Hall became home to the Washington Opera company during the renovation of the Kennedy Center. The acoustics were temporarily modified with the addition of overhead acoustic panels, and a larger “thrust” stage extending into the auditorium was installed to accommodate full-scale opera productions. In addition, the various areas of the DAR complex were used in films, television, weddings and special events, resulting in outstanding revenues.
In the DAR Museum, the enlargement of the gift shop and other construction, including the Landes-Luyben Quilt Repository and the Mildred Goodwin Dent Art Repository, provided increased space. Outreach programs were developed to encourage interest in American history. A “Colonial Life Traveling Trunk” was created for use in public schools.
Among the exhibitions launched was the notable Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Service in the American Revolution. In conjunction with the exhibition, the DAR Library hosted the Forgotten Patriots Symposium attracting 225 historians from universities and colleges across the country for a full day of lectures at DAR Headquarters.
In the Office of the Historian General, the collection of autographs of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence was completed in 2002 with the gift of the signature of George Ross and the purchase of the extremely rare Button Gwinnett signature. The collection was showcased in the Americana Room in an exhibition entitled, “The 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence: They Pledged Their Lives, Fortunes, and Sacred Honor.”
To facilitate positive public outreach, the Watkins Administration instituted an annual Christmas Open House at NSDAR Headquarters that coincided with the White House tree lighting and other area events that are free and open to the public.
Due to hotel scheduling conflicts, the Watkins Administration moved Continental Congress into late June/July. In addition to offering more affordable accommodations, this change had the potential for allowing teachers to attend. The Congress website was expanded with streaming video to permit members around the world to experience Congress events. Large video screens were installed in Constitution Hall. Keynote speakers and outstanding award winners during the Watkins Administration included acclaimed authors, decorated military personnel, filmmakers, and media and entertainment personalities. Some of these exceptional guests were filmmakers Ken and Ric Burns; author and screenwriter Randall Wallace; author and wife of the Vice President of the United States Lynne Cheney; Major General Paul Vallely, United States Army, Ret.; Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney, United States Air Force, Ret.; singer Pat Boone; media personality Glenn Beck; Rear Admiral Marsha Evans, United States Navy, Ret., and also president and chief executive officer of the American Red Cross; and Tony Snow of Fox News.
Presley Merritt Wagoner, 2004–2007, West Virginia
40th President General
Presley Merritt Wagoner, National Number 565462, joined Captain James Allen Chapter, West Virginia, as a Junior member on February 1, 1972. Before being elected President General, she served as State Regent of West Virginia, Organizing Secretary General and Chaplain General. She was the West Virginia Outstanding Junior Member in 1982, and was Personal Page to Mrs. Richard Denny Shelby, President General. She graduated magna cum laude from Brenau Women’s College, Gainesville, Ga.
The theme of the Wagoner Administration was “The Bell of Freedom . . . the Sound of Patriotism.” The symbol was the bell of freedom. At her installation as President General, Mrs. Wagoner said, “For the next three years, you will see the bell of freedom everywhere. Remember that it is the sound of patriotism and wear it with pride!”
The President General’s Project, “Preserving Our Patriotic Heritage,” continued the digitization of our priceless genealogical records begun in the Watkins Administration. The project was concluded three years ahead of schedule, at a cost $10 million less than originally projected. It included the technological transfer of many DAR documents to electronic format. Scanning, digitization and quality assurance for supporting documentation from membership applications was completed by the end of 2007. Various indexes in the DAR Library were digitized for placement on the website. The DAR Genealogical Research System (GRS) was launched on December 1, 2006, providing members with access, through their home computers, to a growing collection of databases produced under the auspices of the project. Record copy orders were expedited through the availability of digital images of applications and supplementals. One-third of the 20,000 Genealogical Records Committee Reports were indexed for the online GRC National Index, containing more than 23 million names. By the close of the administration, Mrs. Wagoner was able to proudly proclaim, “Currently, we are in the process of scanning the more than nine million pieces of supporting documentation that accompanied the original applications and supplementals, and this final phase of the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of this calendar year.”
At the beginning of the administration, because of the tremendous backlog, there had been a three and a half year wait to have supplemental applications approved. A temporary project enabled 9,000 supplemental applications to be reviewed in 16 months, reducing the wait to six months.
In January 2005, and again in 2009 and 2013, the Inaugural Committee asked to borrow a very special NSDAR artifact for use at the luncheon in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol following the inauguration of the President of the United States. The National Society was pleased to loan the beautiful bronze eagle lectern presented to the 14th Continental Congress in 1905 by a Rhode Island Chapter. The patriotic lectern, which is original to Memorial Continental Hall and now resides in the President General’s Assembly Room of the Administration Building, is the perfect accessory for such momentous occasions.
A Conference on Early American Genealogical Research attended by nearly 250 individuals took place at DAR Headquarters in October 2006. DAR hosted the dedication ceremony celebrating the issuance of the Marian Anderson stamp by the U.S. Postal Service. Deputy Postmaster General John Nolan was the dedicating official, opera star Denyce Graves performed, members of Miss Anderson’s family and her biographer attended, and Mrs. Wagoner gave opening remarks.
The Founders Club was established to acknowledge the generosity of members who have included NSDAR in their estate plans.
Much research, data entry and other preparations preceded the publication of a new and expanded edition of Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Patriots in the Revolutionary War. A coffee table book celebrating the contemporary Society, American Treasure: The Enduring Spirit of the DAR, also was released.
Thirty-two manuscript items pertaining to Revolutionary War General Henry Knox and his family were acquired and displayed in an exhibit entitled “Those Who Knew and Loved Him: The Henry Knox Family Documents in the Americana Collection.” The curious exhibit, “Obsolete, Odd and Absolutely Ooky Stuff from the DAR Museum Vaults,” received excellent reviews from The Washington Post and the Associated Press.
Improvements to the buildings and grounds were highlighted by the installation of a new boiler/steam system, resulting in significant cost savings and freeing DAR from purchasing heat from the Government Services Administration. In 2005, a comprehensive assessment of the entire NSDAR complex of buildings identified more than $22 million in projects to be completed over the next 10 years. To effect the plan, a Capital Improvement Project Budgeting System was designed, and work was begun on phase one of the major renovation and restoration. The President General’s Reception Room was completely refurbished.
A Business Continuation Plan for the National Society addressed the steps to be taken in the event of a natural disaster or similar catastrophic event, focusing on disseminating adequate information to keep disruption of operations and services to members to a minimum.
Honorary President General Dorla Dean Kemper, nominating Mrs. Wagoner for the same office, observed, “Just remember Daughters twenty years ago, in 1987, the first scanner to be utilized was in the Office of the Recording Secretary General. We’ve come a long way in the world of technology to open doors of information through database use, especially in genealogical research.”
Welcoming the incoming President General Linda Gist Calvin, Mrs. Wagoner said, “To serve those whom one admires and respects is an honor. To lead them is an awesome responsibility.” Continuing, she quoted Alfred, Lord Tennyson, saying, “I am a part of all that I have met.” She concluded, “By far the most rewarding part of serving as President General has been the opportunity to travel to all fifty-three state societies and to nine other countries, and to have personal face-to-face time with so very many of our members. . . . Through DAR we share a common bond, and you are all a part of who I am. I can say that having seen the big picture up close and personal, the future of DAR is very bright.”
Linda Gist Calvin, 2007–2010, California
41st President General
Linda Gist Calvin, National Number 535566, joined Kaweah Chapter, Visalia, Calif., in October 1968 as a Junior member. Before being elected President General, she served as State Regent of California and Recording Secretary General. She was Outstanding Junior Member of Kansas in 1977, Outstanding Junior Member of California and Western Division Winner in 1980, and Personal Page to two Presidents General—Mrs. Donald Spicer and Mrs. Wakelee Rawson Smith.
The symbol of the Calvin Administration was a golden pineapple, symbolizing hospitality and kindness, and the theme was “The Spirit of Hospitality Opens Doors of Opportunity.” The scriptures were “Encourage one another and build each other up,” Thessalonians 5:11; and “Be hospitable to one another,” 1 Peter 4:9.
The President General’s Project, “Open Doors of Hospitality,” began an extensive renovation and restoration of the NSDAR Headquarters buildings. An analysis in 2005 had identified more than $22 million in projects, many of them critical, that needed to be completed over the ensuing 10 years. Phase one—stabilizing, restoring and cleaning stonework on the upper portions of Memorial Continental Hall and Constitution Hall, restoring the doors on the North and South Porticos, and improving heating and cooling for Museum storage areas—was completed. Phase two, which involved the stabilization of both the North and South Terraces on Memorial Continental Hall, was begun. A surprise discovery made it possible to construct a new vault under the north terrace, providing 2,300 square feet of new storage space. Test drilling revealed that it would be necessary to excavate 30 feet deep to correct existing problems to the terrace foundations. The resulting excavation made possible the bonus storage area. New entrance doors to the DAR Library were installed, and the windows in the National Officers Club Assembly Room were restored. A new chiller to cool the Administration Building and a new electrical switchboard to replace antiquated equipment were also installed.
The President General’s Project also emphasized promotion of membership. Adapting to advancing technology, social media guidelines were adopted. The National Society experienced net increases in membership during each of the three years of the administration. In her third report to Continental Congress, Mrs. Calvin said, “We also express appreciation for the work accomplished as a part of the Watkins and Wagoner Administrations’ President General’s Projects—the digitization of the applications. This work indeed opened new doors of opportunity for the Society.”
Every administration selects a President General’s Project. Mrs. Calvin made the point that it really should be called “the Daughters’ Project” because each of us shares the responsibility to care for what has been built by early Daughters. The 2009 State of the Society publication stated that, “[t]he work of the National Headquarters is but a small part of the work done by the Society; however, it serves as the connecting thread between chapter and state organizations.”
The Calvin Administration authorized the Historic Preservation Committee, the electronic Master Questionnaire and the establishment of the 1890 Annual Giving Circle, which provides monetary support to the General Fund.
A major DAR Museum exhibition in collaboration with Waterford Wedgwood PLC and the Wedgwood Society of Washington, D.C., celebrated “Wedgwood: 250 Years of Innovation and Artistry.” A blue jasperware Wedgwood plate with a relief sculpting of Memorial Continental Hall commemorated the exhibit and the anniversary.
The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, formed by the Congress of the United States in 2006, sponsored a Marian Anderson Tribute Concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday 2009, commemorating the 70th anniversary of Miss Anderson’s 1939 concert at the same location. The memorial event, with a keynote address by Colin Powell and a performance by mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, concluded with a naturalization ceremony for nearly 200 new American citizens, each of whom received a patriotic gift bag from NSDAR. Afterward, the DAR hosted a reception at DAR Headquarters for more than 400 guests, including members of Marian Anderson’s family, newly naturalized citizens, performers from the concert and organizers of the event.
The President General’s visit to the Units Overseas included a trip to France in celebration of the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Paris and Versailles. Mrs. Calvin said that upon arrival at the Arc de Triomphe for a special ceremony, traffic was stopped on the Champs-Elysees for a procession of color guards, wreath bearers and other notables including the Presidents General of both the DAR and the SAR. Mrs. Calvin was “asked to hold the sword along with a French youth for the rekindling of the eternal Flame of Remembrance,” after which a French military band played the national anthems of France and the United States as the participants joined in singing.
As Mrs. Calvin relinquished office to the next President General, she related this story: A member asked to speak to her and said that when the Calvin administration “first came into office, her chapter had been in complete disarray, always arguing about petty things. After they read the hospitality theme and the scriptures used to encourage each other and build each other up, they made the commitment to work toward this goal in their chapter, and have been successful.” Mrs. Calvin summed up, “Among the many accomplishments this will be the one that I will personally remember, that the hospitality and welcoming of new members has spread across this land.”
Merry Ann Thompson Wright, 2010–2013, New York
42nd President General
Merry Ann Thompson Wright, National Number 522471, joined Colonel Marinus Willett Chapter in February 1967 as a Junior member. She served as State Regent of New York, Vice President General, Recording Secretary General and First Vice President General. From 1998–2007, she was the first NSDAR Director of Development. She was Chief Personal Page to Mrs. George Upham Baylies, President General, New York State Outstanding Junior in 1974 and 1979, and Northeastern Division winner in 1979. An alumna of Franklin College of Indiana, Mrs. Wright earned a Certificate of Advanced Management from the State University of New York. She graduated from the Education for Ministry program at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn.
The goals of the Wright Administration were to strengthen membership and to improve the financial stability of the National Society, while increasing awareness of the DAR mission and programs in local communities and throughout the world.
The symbol, three intertwined circles, was chosen to represent friendship, service and commitment, and the DAR motto of God, Home and Country. They also symbolize past, present and future; historic preservation, education and patriotism; and chapter, state and national levels of our Society. Administration scriptures were “. . . what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God,” Micah 6:8, and “. . . and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13.
The administration theme, “Preserve the Past, Enhance the Present, Invest in the Future,” was also the name of the three-part President General’s Project, to continue the restoration and renovation of our historic complex of buildings; to support special projects grants in local communities throughout the country; and to increase membership by training our membership for leadership through interactive webinars and the online Genealogy Education Program.
The President General’s Medallion was created to honor those who have given distinguished service to our nation. The award is to be given at the discretion of the President General.
Mrs. Wright communicated regularly via Internet through the President General’s Blog. Committee changes consolidated the Friends of the DAR Library and the Seimes Technology Center Committees into the DAR Library Committee, and established the Chapter Development and Revitalization Commission. DAR Leadership Training and Special Projects Grants Committees furthered projects of the administration.
Publications included the massive three-volume work, America's Women in the Revolutionary Era 1760-1790: A History Through Bibliography; New York in the American Revolution; South Carolina in the American Revolution; The Wide Blue Sash, biographies of each President General and other notable women of DAR; and online publication of Forgotten Patriots: African Americans and American Indians in the American Revolution. Subscriptions to American Spirit magazine reached an all-time high. Notable exhibits in the DAR Museum included “A True North Britain”: The Furniture of John Shearer, 1790–1820; By, For and Of the People: Folk Art and Americana from the DAR Museum; and Fashioning the New Woman: 1890–1925.
The Wright Administration expected to continue the plan of restoration and renovation outlined in the 2005 building analysis; two flat roofs were replaced and the stone exterior of the Administration Building was completely cleaned and repointed. The entire air-handling system in the Administration Building was replaced. However, on August 23, 2011, those plans were altered by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck near Mineral, Va., damaging many historic buildings including DAR National Headquarters. The point-by-point assessment of earthquake damage revealed deterioration, far more serious than any caused by the earthquake, to the beautiful 110-year-old “lay light”—the glass ceiling of the DAR Library. Restoration of the lay light became an immediate emergency priority of the President General’s Project, to ensure both the preservation of this historic architectural feature and the safety of Library patrons. Twenty-five lay light panels in the Library measuring 9′1″ ´ 8´4", and two above the stairwells of Memorial Continental Hall, were constructed of hundreds of pieces of cut glass mounted in zinc cames and arranged in one of four art deco designs. The $1.8 million project involved removing each of the panels from its frame 46 feet above the Library, disassembling it, replacing the zinc cames with lead cames, cleaning the glass and the metal ornamentation, replacing broken glass with comparable glass, and reassembling it. More than 95 percent of the original glass was preserved. All original ornamentation was salvaged, cleaned and polished before the panels were reinstalled in the lofty ceiling of the Library.
The digitization of our vast store of genealogical records by previous administrations brought continuing benefits, increasing membership exponentially, resulting in the second-highest annual number of applications accepted. Revenue tripled from online sale of record copies.
Following new IRS rules, chapters were asked to contribute to projects supporting the three DAR objectives, allowing the Executive Committee of the National Society to determine the specific use of the funds, thereby exercising the necessary variance power that demonstrates decision-making for our charitable stewardship.
At Mrs. Wright’s installation as President General, Mrs. Calvin said, “I know you feel the deep conviction necessary to assume the responsibilities of this high office. It is with pleasure that I place this sash, a symbol of the office, on your shoulder, and I commend to you the safekeeping of our National Society . . . God bless you, Merry Ann!”
Accepting office, Mrs. Wright said, “It is essential that we as members of this worldwide organization remember the order in which our Founders and leaders placed the motto, God first—our Creator and Redeemer, without Whom we would cease to exist; Home second, to ensure the nourishment and care of our families and our posterity; and finally, Country, which provides us with every freedom to realize our mission.”
Near the conclusion of her remarks, Mrs. Wright spoke of a remaining triad that is the focus of her life. “The first and center of my life is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. . . . All that I am as a person, as a member of society, and this organization, and now as your President General, comes from my God.”