Ladies of the Lake 

No. As much as I want it to be, this is not a post about Monty Python.

My local DAR Chapter is called “Ladies of the Lake.” It’s just too perfect, isn’t it?

Aren’t familiar with the DAR? It stands for Daughters of the American Revolution. It’s an organization that joins the descendants of those who fought in the Revolutionary War together for historical preservation, patriotic events, and…of course…houses a wealth of genealogical research materials. 

I have been trying to figure out how to join the DAR for years. But you are only eligible if you can prove your patriot ancestor.

At first (and yes, in the DAR’s past this was true), the whole concept seemed super racist. But history being what it is…and white men being who they are…it turns out that the color of your skin doesn’t preclude you from being a descendent of a patriot. As time has marched forward, the racism and “whiteness” of the organization has been left behind.

When I contacted my local chapter, it was pretty radio silent for awhile. Like many organizations in the Iowa Great Lakes, tourist season versus non-tourist season heavily influences group activities.

This summer, however, I was aided by a very kind DAR woman via email in locating my patriot (on a side of the family I did not expect) and starting the application process with the list of each ancestor in the line leading down to me. (Well, actually she had my grandparents and parents incorrect on the application-but that’s an easy fix).

Yeeesh…the application process.

I have nine generations of family between myself and my patriot. For each generation, the corresponding descendent (son or daughter) must have records of birth, marriage and death (or obituary or will). Besides the copies, the application itself must be in a particular format (that apparently goes a little haywire on Macs) and printed on an acid-free paper of a particular weight.

Collecting generational records for the application process. The number in the corner of the envelope is the generation contained within that envelope.

Oh-to be reminded of the hoops of graduate school!

The thing is….this process is expensive. Obtaining vital records for ancestors can cost up to $150 a record. Multiply that times three records for each of the nine generations. And, of course, there are some time periods and some parts of the country where vital records are very difficult to find. Some applicants hire geneaologists specifcally to gather all vital records and submit the documents as outlined by the rules and regulations.

Well that just wouldn’t be as fun would it?

And although “…strange women brandishing swords are no basis for a system of government…” the irony of joining a group of women who exhalt the praises of the men and women who fought against the tyrannous British government only to have a group name that in popular culture references King Arthur and Monty Python makes me giggle silently with self satisfaction.

How could I not want to be part of that?

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