Where Should You Start?
Begin by determining which branch of your family tree leads you by bloodline (not through adopted children) to a Patriot Ancestor; this means that you don't need to know an entire family tree, just a single line back.
Be brave! Even though this branch of your family tree may be seven to ten generations long and you are not sure that you have a patriot ancestor, there are large databases of ancestral chains and records showing links between generations (birth certificates, wills, etc.). Many genealogical societies, Web sites, and lineage organizations provide assistance with family history searches. The SAR has many volunteer helpers to guide prospective members in their development of a lineage to a patriot ancestor. In many cases a quick scan of some of the resources on this site or a linked site could reveal a likely ancestor, promising leads, or suggestions of good references in libraries located near the prospective member.
The SAR application requires listing your lineage and must be accompanied by copies of the documents that support this lineage; this means finding documents linking parents to children through seven to nine generations or more. It may seem rather overwhelming at the start, however, the task can be simple if someone in your family has already done some of the research. The other option is to contact one of our New Member Helpers that can assist you with more research.
Example #1 -- Over the years, many individuals have applied to the SAR and DAR and have submitted documentation. If someone in your family tree was accepted by the SAR or DAR there may be records showing the lineage. Your New Member Helper can assist you in checking for those records. If records exist, they can help you acquire a "Record Copy," which may help lead you in the right direction for collecting more information on your family.
Example #2 -- You know your lineage only back to your great grandfather, who lived in upstate New York. Was he the descendent of a Patriot? Your New Member Helper may know where to get county biographical histories that tell the ancestry of the citizens of that county. Or he may know how to contact a contract researcher in upstate New York who can get the information you need for a modest fee.
From these examples you can see how a New Member Helper can assist you. If you already have all the information together and are ready to file your SAR application your Helper can assist you through the process. One of the requirements for membership in the SAR is that you join a State Society (or one of the International Societies, if you reside outside the U.S.). With this in mind, please check out our New Member Helpers page and choose a helper in the state in which you are located.