Documents, Archives and the Digital Magazine Archive

Written by: Elizabeth Partridge, DAR Magazine Publications Coordinator

Documentation is such an important aspect of obtaining DAR membership, and many older records required for admission into the organization may be difficult to read, require extensive preservation or may even be lost or missing. With that in mind, the January/February 2017 issue of American Spirit features stories that spotlight the importance of historical documents and resources and also highlights the work of archivists who preserve and protect them.

Our cover story, “The Art of Early American Handwriting,” details the history of early American script and offers a few tricks to decode historical handwriting—the most important rule? Don’t assume anything! A feature on the War of 1812 Pensions shows how these vital records provide a direct link to the past and what several organizations including Ancestry, the National Archives and Fold3 are doing to help preserve and digitize them.

To round out the issue, we also spend a day with an Archivist at the University of Alabama; feature Windsor Fry, a former slave who participated in at least 10 revolutionary battles; and learn all about the hidden world of archive thefts, including crooked collectors and the hard-working team that prevents such breaches and protects these important resources.

Our very own Digital Magazine Archive is one such important resource, flush with information about the National Society's rich heritage, and also serving as a historical record. Spanning the period from 1892 to 2013, the Digital Magazine Archive grants access to more than 100 years of history right at your fingertips!

The magazines have retained their original purpose throughout the years: they continue to inform members of the Society’s plans and programs while also sharing interesting articles focused on early American history, historic preservation, education and patriotism. Natalie Sumner Lincoln, understanding the value of the then-named Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, wrote in the June 1917 issue, “The Magazine has also another opportunity before it—the opportunity to popularize American history. It is patriotic in its scope; today’s events are paralleled in the history of the past, and by preserving the best traditions of the nation the Magazine will prove a valuable educational factor.”

I encourage everyone to explore the archive. You might be surprised what you find: the death of President McKinley; the sinking of the Titanic; the moon landing—history as viewed and interpreted by fellow Daughters. While reading through back issues, you may even notice some repetition. For example, we printed one of Julia Ward Howe’s speeches, not once, but twice! You can find her January 7, 1893, address in both the January 1894 American Monthly, and again in the January 1968 issue of DAR Magazine. Perhaps her speech will add some context when you read about her in the upcoming March/April 2017 American Spirit! To purchase this issue, you may call our toll-free number at 1 (866) 327–6242. You can also subscribe to American Spirit for a full year by visiting our website at www.dar.org/magazine.

Have you explored the Digital Magazine Archive? Check it out here: http://services.dar.org/members/magazine_archive/. Write to us at americanspirit@dar.org and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you. 

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