First, let's take the easiest case. If the prospect has a relative in the SAR, DAR, or CAR, then the Patriot ancestor's name and service and most of the lineage has already been determined and documented. All the prospect needs is documentation of the relationship to the relative and a "record copy" of the SAR, DAR or CAR application. While an SAR record copy is already on file at headquarters, the Chapter and State Registrars may wish to check the present application against the one on file to be sure the dates and names are copied accurately. A son typically needs only his own birth certificate, his parents' marriage license, and a record copy of his father's (or mother's) application. An SAR Chapter or State Society officer can request record copies from the SAR, DAR, or CAR; the cost is estimated to be about $10.
For more information concerning the DAR and its procedures visit their web site at: http://www.dar.org/
Suppose the prospect has a family tree or a family story about an ancestor who was here during the Revolutionary War era, but isn't sure whether he (or she) might qualify as a Patriot ancestor. First remember that for the purposes of the SAR a Patriot ancestor is someone...
Who was at all times unfailing in loyalty to, and rendered active service in the cause of American Independence either as an officer, soldier, seaman, marine, militiaman or minuteman, in the armed forces of the Continental Congress of any one of the several Colonies or States, as a signer of the Declaration of Independence, as a member of a Committee of Safety or Correspondence, as a member of any Continental, Provincial, or Colonial Congress or Legislature, as a foreign national of, but not limited to, France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland who rendered service in the cause of American Independence or as a recognized patriot who performed actual service by overt acts of resistance to the authority of Great Britain
-- Article 2 SAR Constitution
Other organizations may require military service, but the SAR and DAR do not. People who served in local governments, signed oaths of allegiance, or provided food or clothing or services to the American Army are acceptable as Patriot ancestors.
Here are the first places you should look:
The SAR Patriot Index (a CD-database that can be searched using a computer) lists thousands of patriot ancestors who have been claimed and documented by members of the SAR. A find here means that at least some of the prospect's lineage has already been documented, so they will have to document only the more recent generations.
The SAR Revolutionary War Graves Register (either book or CD-database) lists the burial places of tens of thousands of persons who are documented as patriots.
The DAR Patriot Index (3 volumes) lists tens of thousands of patriot ancestors who have been claimed and documented by members of the DAR. This does NOT tell you who claimed them as ancestors nor what the DAR member's national number is.
The DAR Lineage Books (150 volumes) provide the full lineage for women who joined the DAR before about 1935. The listing includes their DAR numbers. These books are available in many public libraries.
Ancestry.com has put these DAR lineages online with an excellent search feature, but this Web database is open only to subscribers to Ancestry.com.
Another place to look is in state or county listings of Revolutionary War Patriots. These are probably available at the appropriate county's historical society. NOTE: The SAR is starting a project to compile these in a single place, but there are no records here at present. Here are a few of the references (we shall add more later):
However, don't give up if you don't find your ancestor listed above. Many of these include only people active in military activities. Find out what your ancestor did during the Revolution and then we can discuss how it fits with the SAR criteria for patriotic service.