Author Lecture Series at the DAR Library

Written by: Kiera E. Nolan, DAR Library Reference Librarian
July 31, 2015

Many of you have come to DAR National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to use our library, with its vast collection and premier genealogical holdings. The research you have done here, trying to get as far back in time as possible, may have been self-directed or the knowledgeable staff of the library may have helped you as well. I believe it is fair to say, one of DAR’s greatest treasures is the DAR Library.

The library, with so many gems from and focusing on the past, has recently started new educational programs. Founded in 1896 for the primary use of genealogists verifying membership applications, the DAR Library opened to the public in 1900. For 115 years DAR members and the public have been using the library for research. Now, the library is offering something new that has never been offered before, a lecture series featuring eminent authors! All the lectures will be free, held on Saturdays starting at 1 p.m., in the O’Byrne Gallery adjacent to the library, and will be open to the public. There is no registration necessary, just show up!

Let me share a little more information about the lectures we have coming up:

On September 26, Kay and William Freilich will be bringing their research guide, Genealogy and the Law, to the DAR. Genealogical researchers often hit walls, or wonder why this or that happened to their ancestor, without thinking about what the laws of the time required of their ancestors. The Freilichs lay down how to incorporate legal research into genealogical research, and why it must be done, in a very approachable and easy to read way. This is a must-have book for genealogists and a must-go-to program for all.

October 2015 is quite a treat as we welcome two authors. First, on October 17 is Maureen Taylor. Some of you may be familiar with Ms. Taylor’s work on The Last Muster Project, a project that has been going on for more than a decade to find, preserve, and compile the photographs taken in the 1840s onward of the very last of the Revolutionary War generation. In her 2 volume series, The Last Muster, these photos are reprinted along with stories of those pictured, creating a moving tribute to those who fought for the glorious case of independence.

Second, on October 31, author James C. Thompson II comes not to haunt our headquarters, but to illuminate the life of a man who lived in the shadow of one of the greatest historical figures in American History. In George Washington’s Mulatto Man: Who was Billy Lee?, Thompson looks at the tragic life of Billy Lee, Washington’s most trusted slave who was with him throughout the Revolutionary War, and the rest of the President’s life. A mystery to history, Thompson presents his book on this man, letting us into the life of Billy Lee.

The last lecture for 2015 will occur on December 5, with Bob Arnebeck presenting his work, Slave Labor in the Capital: Building Washington’s Most Iconic Landmarks. In 1791, when President George Washington selected Thomas Johnson, David Stuart, and Daniel Carroll to be the three  commissioners in charge of building the new capital, all three men realized that in order to get great work at a low cost, hiring slaves from other wealthy landowners in St. Mary’s and Charles Counties, Maryland made the most sense. This book tells the story of the slaves that came from faraway Maryland plantations to build our enduring symbols of liberty.

We here at the DAR Library our very excited to start this new lecture series. We hope these programs will help enhance our role in fulfilling the three goals of historic preservation, education, and patriotism of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Every author is presenting a unique work on a spectrum of diverse topics. There is something for everyone to be found in these summer and fall programs, and we can’t wait to see you there!

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