The SAR is a “lineage” society. This means that each member has traced their family tree back to a point of having an ancestor who supported the cause of American Independence during the years 1774-1783.
Do you have a Patriot Ancestor?
If you already know that you have such an ancestor, then you may want to jump right in and start the process.
If you aren’t sure whether any of your ancestors lived in the United States during the Revolution, don’t lose heart. Many people who never set foot in the United States supported the American colonists’ struggle against British domination — for example the king of Spain. Many patriots (or their descendants moved to foreign lands and their descendants moved back later, not knowing their ancestors were here before. Many French, German, and Spanish soldiers and sailors fought in support of American independence and returned home without making their descendants aware of their participation in gaining American independence.
How to get started
The first thing to do is to determine which branch of your family tree leads you by bloodline (not through adopted children) to a Patriot Ancestor. That means that you don’t need to know an entire family tree, just a single line back.
Be brave! Even though this branch of your family tree may be seven to ten generations long and you are not sure that you have a patriot ancestor, there are large databases of ancestral chains and records showing links between generations (birth certificates, wills, etc.). Many genealogical societies, Web sites, and lineage organizations provide assistance with family history searches. The SAR has many volunteer helpers to guide prospective members in their development of a lineage to a patriot ancestor. In many cases a quick scan of some of the resources on the SAR National website or a linked site could reveal a likely ancestor, promising leads, or suggestions of good references in libraries near to the prospect.
The SAR application requires listing your lineage and must be accompanied by copies of the documents that support this lineage. This means finding documents linking parents to children through seven to nine generations or more, so it may seem rather overwhelming. However, the task can be simple if someone in your family has already done the research. If the information is already on file with the SAR or DAR (from an earlier application) you need not submit it again, but can simply refer to the earlier application.
Example #1 — In the last century many SAR and DAR members have submitted documentation for lineages from their Patriot Ancestors to themselves. If your great-aunt or your second cousin (a person you may not know) is or was a member of the SAR, they have already submitted the documentation to cover the generations from your Patriot Ancestor to your great-grandfather. Your New Member Helper can look into the SAR and DAR records to see if we already have information about some of your lineage.
Example #2 — You know your lineage only back to your great grandfather, who lived in upstate New York. Was he the descendent of a Patriot? Your New Member Helper may know where to get county biographical histories that tell the ancestry of the citizens of that county. Or he may know how to contact a contract researcher in upstate New York who can get the information you need for a modest fee.
From these examples you can see how a New Member Helper can assist you. If you already have all the information together and are ready to file your SAR application your Helper can assist you through the process. One of the requirements for membership in the SAR is that you join a State Society (or one of the International Societies if you reside outside the U.S.). With this in mind, please check out our New Member Helper page and choose a helper in the state you are located.
Continuing the Process
If you’d like to continue the process, we recommend that you visit the website of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. There you will find all the information you need to become a member as well as the forms you will need to fill out to document your lineage from your patriot ancestor. You can also contact our chapter registrar if you have questions about how to get started or what you need to do to join.