Tag Archives: DAR Library

The New & Improved DAR Library Website Catalog

The DAR Library in Washington, DC is a world class genealogical library with a focus on American historical research. Did you know that being a DAR member is NOT a requirement to visit the library either in person or to browse its online catalog?

The DAR Library recently announced that a new software program, Primo, has been instituted to make searching the library catalog much easier.

To try out the new features, first visit the new online catalog.

Next, click on Open Library Catalog and the new search box will open:

There is a short description below the search box, highlighting some of the new search features. Use the box to search the library catalog.

Note that the catalog is in Beta testing.

I entered “Stufflebean” as a search term. Among the hits that appeared were not only items I had donated to the DAR Library, but also quite a few results for books in which a Stufflebean family member is mentioned. Pretty neat!

Be aware that many of the DAR Library resources – like all the books – are only accessible in person. On the other hand, remember that most books aren’t unique, one-of-a-kind. A DAR Library search might turn up new-to-you books that not only pertain to your research, but might be found at a library near you or, better yet, found in a digitized version online.

Primo even offers a “Virtual Shelf” glance so you can look at titles of other nearby books on the library shelves.

Although Primo is in Beta testing, I had no problems with any of my searches.

Check out the DAR Library website catalog using the new Primo software. It’s so easy to use!


Visiting the DAR Library in Washington, DC

Not long ago, I had an opportunity to visit the DAR Library in Washington, DC. I have been there before as I’ve been a Daughter for 35 years and I have been lucky enough to visit our nation’s capital multiple times. However, I am always amazed by both the beauty of the building and the quality of the library.

The DAR Library is located at 1776 D Street, N.W. and there is little chance that you would miss it.

The entrance to the library is actually just to the right of the steps where the DAR banners are hanging.

The NSDAR library website has the following description of its holdings:

The DAR Library collection contains over 225,000 books, 10,000 research files, thousands of manuscript items, and special collections of African American, Native American, and women’s history, genealogy and culture. Nearly 40,000 family histories and genealogies comprise a major portion of the book collection, many of which are unique or available in only a few libraries in the country.

There are a couple of misconceptions about this gem. You do not have to be a DAR member to use the library. Until a couple of years ago, there was a $10 fee for non-members to research there, but that fee has been dropped. Access is free to all; the only restriction on public visits is in late June-early July during Continental Congress, which is the DAR national convention. During that week, only Daughters may use the library, simply because of numbers.

Upon entering the building, you will check in at the security window and receive a visitor’s badge. As you enter the library, the reference desk is on the left.

You can already get a sense of how beautiful this library is. The library was the original meeting room for the ladies before they outgrew the space and moved into the larger Hall.

The library is just about jaw-droppingly beautiful.

One view

See those white rectangular things on the second floor? Those are actually rolling book shelves, full of fabulous genealogy books!

After taking in the room, it is sometimes a bit difficult to settle down and work, even for genealogy, but the work space is also beautiful:

Researcher Seating

The chairs are comfy modern, while the tables are vintage old wood with lots of new lighting.

While this is very much a “book” library (as in brick and mortar building), some of its holdings are becoming accessible online. Although its online databases are somewhat limited, they are growing.

How do you find anything here? At the library entrance, there are a series of handouts and brochures about the library. Among the most important are the floor maps:

Since the organization of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution 125 years ago, members have regularly canvassed friends, family and neighborhoods gathering genealogical data from Bible records, letters, and other types of unique resources.

While the library has an impressive book collection, many of the books are not unique or hard to find at other genealogical repositories. Those unique records gathered by the Daughters through the years – the membership file documentation,  research files, manuscripts and special collections are what makes this library stand out.

Research help is also available. In addition to the books, the library presents Genealogy 101 classes on an itinerant schedule:

And, since you are already in the building, take some time to visit the world-class DAR Museum:

Not only are there rotating exhibitions, there are period rooms representing many of the states. Docents give frequent tours.

 If you find yourself in Washington, DC, make a note to yourself to visit and tour the DAR buildings at 1776 D Street, N.W. Allow yourself plenty of time to learn about their history and to do some research at this wonderful library.

Photos were all taken by me in April 2016. Library and museum brochures and papers are available free at the DAR Library.

DAR Library Resources

The DAR Library in Washington DC is one of the premier genealogical libraries in the world. Until recently, non-members had to pay an entrance fee of $10. However, the library is now free for all to use so if you are lucky enough to live nearby or be visiting our nation’s capital, be sure to visit the library.

For those of us who live too far away, the Daughters of the American Revolution has some limited free database indexes on line that can be accessed by the public.

First go to the DAR home page.

Next, look towards the top right hand side of the page and click on “Library.” I couldn’t screen capture the dropdown menu, but click “ONLINE RESEARCH” towards the bottom left side. The DAR Genealogical Research System page will open:

The Genealogical Research System contains several types of databases. The first choice is “Ancestor.” If you think you have an ancestor who gave service (they didn’t have to be a soldier – they could have given patriotic or civil service, too), enter his/her name and state.

Ancestor Search

I tried “Mathias Williams,” but got no hits. I then tried “Matthias Williams” and three different men came up, one from Virginia and two Matthias Williamsons from New Jersey. I also tried “Mat*hias Williams” and the same three men came up. If you aren’t sure of the spelling, wild card searches do work.

If your person doesn’t appear in the Ancestor index, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she didn’t support the American cause. It just means that no one has joined under that person.

The second choice is “Member.” The description points out that privacy of members is protected and, although it says searches can be done by national number, name and other fields, the only field choice here is national number. If you have a family member who is/was a DAR member AND you have her national number, enter it here. The page that opens up does NOT give the member’s name unless the member is deceased. Then the member’s name is given and the state in which she belonged along with a number code indicating the local chapter. There is also a list of any ancestors documented by that member. If the member is living, then only a list of documented ancestors appears. The “Member” database is really only useful if you want to be sure that your family member was a DAR member and know which ancestor/s have a proven descent to your family.

The third choice is “Descendants.” I find this to be the most difficult database index to use because one must know the name of a non-living direct descendant or the spouse’s name to make a connection to the Revolutionary War patriot.

HOWEVER, let’s say you suspect that you may have a Revolutionary War line, but you are stuck in the 1776-pre 1850 census gap. For example, I have come across the surname “Scripture,” which is fairly unique, while searching for my family in New England. One of the Scripture men I’ve seen in print is Oliver Scripture. Let’s say someone is a Scripture descendant and has proven her family back to Oliver.  She is having difficulty proving his parents’ names because he was born in 1796 (according to his gravestone inscription) and married with a grown family by 1850, but she  hasn’t been able to find a birth record.

I entered his name in the Descendants database and found that someone has joined DAR under Joses Bucknam, James Scripture and Samuel Scripture. It appears that Oliver Scripture married Mary Goddard Bucknam and that both Oliver and Mary are proven children of Revolutionary War patriots.

The next search box is for the GRC, which indexes the work of the DAR Genealogical Records Committee. Local DAR chapters from 1890 up through today transcribe and index unpublished local records, which many times include family Bible records.

Since Oliver Scripture isn’t a common name, I entered it in the GRC box. Two hits came up.

Unfortunately, GRC records haven’t yet been digitized and are only available at the DAR Library. However, at least I know that the NH Oliver Scripture may relate directly to Oliver born in 1796. The other man I would bet is part of the same Scripture family as they all seem to descend from Samuel Scripture in Massachusetts by about 1675.

Next is the “Resources” tab. There are four live tabs here – an Analytical Card Index, Revolutionary War Pension Index, the Forgotten Patriots Research Guide and  Suggested Websites. A description is given for each tab; they are basically alternate ways of searching for some of the same information using the first four databases. Some of these tabs overlap with library catalog search features. However, if you are really at a brick wall and haven’t found your ancestor using the other databases, I would recommend continuing on with these before giving up.

Even if you are not interested in joining a hereditary society, but just find yourself in the black abyss of record keeping between the 1790 and 1850 censuses, I highly recommend giving the DAR online resources a try. You might just find another brick wall has been opened!