Where Can I Find the Proof Sources I Need?

Written by: Eric G. Grundset, Director, DAR Library
December 16, 2015

Where can I find a muster roll with my ancestor’s name listed in it? How do I go about interpreting how the tax records of my state of interest relate to DAR sources of proof for Revolutionary War service? Where do I go in another state for sources that will help my research on my ancestors during the American Revolution? Is there information available about the soldier whose grave my chapter wishes to mark? Has the DAR found the burial place of my Revolutionary War patriot?

All of these questions and many others face researchers every day. Sources relating to the American Revolution are located all over the country and even overseas. Finding very specific documents is time-consuming and difficult. Each state offers research challenges to those studying its history and records during the American Revolution. Record loses from numerous causes, original lack of record-keeping, and other situations have affected the documentary record over the centuries. Stories, traditions, and myths also color the way people view historical sources and events. Researchers must develop a research strategy to account for these variations and challenges.

The series of Revolutionary War Source Guides published by the DAR in the last four years are designed to provide researchers – all in one publication – with as many avenues of investigation as possible for their searches. After extensive study and searching, members of the DAR Library staff have compiled six books so far offering extensive quantities of information for those seeking documents from the period of the American Revolution. Naturally, an understanding of available archives, historical societies, libraries, etc., is essential to anyone’s research, and these topics appear throughout each source guide.

Starting in 2011, the following states have been covered by one of our DAR Source Guides: New York, South Carolina, Georgia, Rhode Island and Virginia. Massachusetts/Maine, North Carolina, Connecticut, and New Jersey will follow in 2016 with the rest of the original states coming thereafter as quickly as possible. These publications are unique in that they cover both genealogical and historical sources and studies and bring them all together in one place for exhaustive coverage of what a researcher can study. There may be some documents and publications that have been missed during the compilation process, but the source guides include the overwhelming majority of material that can be identified using online catalogs, webpages, bibliographies, footnotes, and other sources of information.

It is recommended that each DAR chapter own a copy of the book for their state to enable state and chapter registrars to assist prospective members with their research. The registrars may also want to refer their members to the books available for the other states if their ancestors are not local to the state of the chapter. Donation of these publications to local libraries and to historical and genealogical research centers is an important way to spread the word about what is available for Revolutionary War studies. Naturally, DAR members will be interested in the Source Guides for the states from which their ancestors came. These publications will open up untold amounts of information to all of these individuals, members and non-members alike. While they do not list the names of every person involved in the American Revolution for each state, they do point researchers in the right direction to find those names.

The Revolutionary War Source Guides are available only through the DAR Store. They are published in both book form and as downloadable PDFs for use on personal devices. Each contains a name and subject index. The PDF version is completely searchable and a handy guide to have on research trips. Some people have purchased both versions. Libraries and other research centers prefer the printed copy. Whichever format you might chose, you will not be disappointed by the level of detail that will help you with your Revolutionary War research.

To learn more about the Revolutionary War Source Guides and the work of the DAR Library, visit: www.dar.org/library.

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