Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunday Search: Revolutionary Resources

As I have peered through the leaves in my family tree and followed branches out to their blooming tips I have come across a numbers of lines that can be traced back to the time of the American Revolution. Whenever I discover and ancestor that lived in the United States during this time period there are a few resources that I turn to in order to find out if there is any record of their participation in the war. While these resources don’t guarantee an answer (there are a lot of documents that have not been digitally archived at this point), it does offer a convenient starting place.

The first site that browse it the one where I keep my tree,, which has added a number of relevant documents lately. I first look to find any source material that may be available with particular attention paid to the SAR applications that come up in searches. Whether I find something or not I next browse the trees of other members to see if they either have the information that I couldn’t previously find or if they have any additional information that adds to the developing story. While there have been occasions when the family history has already begun to unfold, there have been many instances when nothing has come about from this primary search.

Whether I am already working with results or not, I next turn to another favorite source, the DAR patriot database. This site offers another layer of research as by inputting the name of the ancestor in question, you can find all applications that have been submitted using that ancestor as their proof of ties to the American Revolution. There have been a few occasions when nothing has come up on but numerous applications appeared in the DAR database.

If you find a match here you can request a copy of the application which provides additional information including the sources used to verify each generation and the patriotic service. While it does cost $10 per record, it is a wealth of information that can save you a lot of time. Also worth noting is that SAR and DAR applications can be referenced in your own application to these respective organizations… this reduces the burden of proof down to that of the generations needed in order to trace back to an overlapping ancestor on an existing application of a member.

The last place that I search for information is on While this can be utilized early on I have found that without a membership there can be too many frustrations that prevent me from verifying or disproving service. However, there are occasions when access is free to certain collections (last month was the Civil War while this month is WWII). When access to Revolutionary War documents is free for a certain period, this is a tool that I will employ earlier in the process either prior to or after an search. Once I finish this stage of the process there is a fairly certain answer resulting from my efforts as to whether an ancestor participated in the Revolution. Surprisingly, more often than not, I have been able to find the sources to confirm their participation.

Of course, there are other sources that sometimes provide additional insights. There have been a few instances when the obituaries found on have led to the discovery of revolutionary ancestors. This has also been a resource to confirm based on newspaper articles. However, keep in mind that this is just one process for one period in history. It is the method that has worked best for me and has proven to be the most efficient means to finding the answers that I am looking for. It may not work for everyone but it may be useful for some of you. Let me know and, of course, feel free to share your tips and processes below.