Happy 120th Birthday, DAR Library!

Written by: Judy Chaffin, Librarian General
February 17, 2016

At the 5th Continental Congress in February 1896, the DAR Library was officially established by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee was named the first Librarian General.

The location for the mixed collection of materials the Society had acquired was in a rented facility on F Street NW in Washington D.C.’s old business district. The members decided the collection needed to include local histories, genealogies, biographies and vital records. Histories of all kinds relating to the American Revolution were desired to assist in shining light upon the men of the Revolutionary period including their family lines as well as their service, and to connect them with their descendants of the present day.

The DAR Library moved to Memorial Continental Hall following its completion and occupied the north gallery of that building in February 1910. It was a lovely space with the barrel ceiling giving an air of spaciousness and plenty of room for the growing collection. NSDAR experienced major growth in the early 20th Century, and the Library continued to expand its holdings.

The Library remained in the north gallery of Memorial Continental Hall until lack of space necessitated a move. When Constitution Hall was completed in 1929, the second floor space in that building allowed the Library to relocate and enjoy space to adequately house the ever-enlarging collection. That second floor space was in the area of the present location of the National Officers Club Assembly Room.

For twenty years, the DAR Library maintained its holdings in Constitution Hall. By the end of the 1940s, it was evident more space was required and the Library moved into the old auditorium of Memorial Continental Hall in 1949. That beautiful space remains the home of the DAR Library today.

With an inventory of 125 books in February 1896, the Library grew in its first year to 857 volumes. From that modest beginning, the DAR Library has grown in 120 years to include a vast inventory of over 225,000 books, hundreds of thousands of files and a multitude of microforms and digitized holdings.

As we continue to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the founding of our society, we are thrilled to recognize this major milestone for our renowned research facility. Happy 120th Birthday to our DAR Library!

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