Using the Descendants Tab in the GRS

Written by: Stacie Newton, DAR Library Director
July 21, 2017

We often get questions from members and other researchers who want more information about records that they find in the DAR GRS.  After the Ancestor tab that you can read about in Using the Ancestor Tab of the GRS; the most commonly used tab of the GRS is the Descendants tab.

The Descendants tab is the search interface for the Descendants Database—an index of every name in the lineage on every application and supplemental application that has been verified by the DAR.  The Descendants Database is a valuable tool to use to identify potential lineages and patriot ancestors through whom an applicant might join the DAR or through whom a member might submit a supplemental application. 

There are two ways to access the information in the Descendants Database—either by searching in the Descendants tab or by following links from the Ancestor or Member tabs.

To search the Descendants Database, go to and click on the Descendants tab and enter the name of the person that you are looking for.  If your chapter has lots of prospective members in the PMD, the Descendants Database can help you with locating the easiest lines for them to use to join. This can make the application process much simpler and faster for them and allow you to move more prospectives out of the PMD and into membership.  Even if your applicant doesn’t know if she has close family members who are DAR members, start your search by entering the names of her grandparents or great-grandparents.  If those names don’t yield results, work your way backward up her pedigree chart toward the Revolutionary War patriot generation.  This method will help you find lineages with which your prospective shares the most generations in common, thus avoiding unnecessary research.

If the individuals that you are researching have common names and you get too many search results, try using the Advanced Search option (found in the “Search Options” box on the right side).  The Advanced Search allows you to search for the names of both the husband and wife in a given generation at the same time.  This should make the number of results you receive more manageable. You can also add additional search terms such as state of birth or death. The more you add, though, the more this will limit your results. If your search terms don’t match what is transcribed in the database, you may miss important clues. Adding additional search terms such as places and dates should only be done when the number of results from your initial search is too large.

Also keep in mind that the information was indexed exactly as it appeared on the application.  If the application listed a woman’s name as “Betsy,” then it will be listed in the Descendants Database as “Betsy.” If you search for “Elizabeth,” the application that said “Betsy” won’t be in your search results.  This is one reason we want to avoid entering nicknames on applications. You can perform partial searches. For example, if you are searching a surname with multiple variants, such as Wolfenberger/Wolfenbarger, you do not have to enter the full surname. You can just enter “Wolfenb.” The results will include all entries that begin with those letters. Partial searches can be performed on first names as well, but won’t get around entries for Elizabeth or Betsy.

Another way you can access the Descendants database is by clicking the link in the “Descendant Listings” section of a Member record or by clicking the “D” icon next to a specific national number on an Ancestor Record.  The latter method is especially useful if you know what ancestor your applicant is going to use for her application and you want to review the established lineages for that ancestor to determine which application has the most complete information or which application has the most generations in common with your applicant.

While you’re using the Descendants Database, there are some special situations that you need to consider.  First, very recently verified applications and supplementals may not yet be included in the Descendants Database.  They will be added once the indexing process has been completed.  Second, recent generations may be restricted from view to respect the privacy of living members and individuals.  Third, all application and supplementals are included in the Descendants Database, even if those lineages have been shown to be in error since the date when the application was verified.   Always be sure to review the full Ancestor record related to the lineage that you are looking at to make sure that there isn’t a notice that specifies a problem with that particular ancestor or lineage.  Fourth, the entries in the Descendants Database are indexed exactly as the information appears on the verified application.  Search results for an older application won’t reflect any updates or changes to names, dates or places that might have been made on more recent applications. 

The Descendants Database is a valuable research tool to identify lineages for new applicants and for members preparing supplementals.  The Database is growing all the time, so keep searching for those elusive ancestors!

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