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by Sam Dunn

The digitization of the SAR Institutional Archives continues, as SAR Archives and Education staff work to preserve the historically significant documents within that collection. Importantly, this effort makes it possible for these documents to be shared with SAR members. The first piece in this series of articles detailed the first convention of the SAR, when state delegates met in 1889 and formed the national organization. The second selection in this series highlights both the variety of materials in the archives and the growth of SAR traditions still in place today; it is a newspaper article, published in 1903, that describes the closing ceremonies of the Fourteenth National Congress.

On May 2, 1903 the New Haven Daily Palladium reported on the closing ceremonies of the SAR’s fourteenth national congress. Sponsored by the Connecticut chapter of the SAR, the convention is described as being “one of the best times ever enjoyed at a national convention”. About 250 members and their guests filled the Music Hall at Yale University, where they enjoyed an exceptional banquet. The menu for the evening, preserved within the Institutional Archives, included consommé printaniere, spring lamb with mint sauce, and broiled squab chicken with cresses. Over dessert and cigars, the assembly listened to several speeches from prominent SAR officers and public figures. President Hadley, the head of Yale University, spoke on the importance of the SAR and of its guiding principles. “It means great things done in the past… this spirit [the principles and actions of the SAR] is not alone the spirit of tradition, but the strong spirit of mental action.” He went on to praise the loyalty and patriotism of those gathered, saying that these qualities were also highly valued by Yale University.

The banquet went long into the night, as members discussed various aspects of the Revolutionary War. Topics of discussion included President George Washington, as well as the state of Virginia and its role during the conflict. Witnessing the ceremonies and discussions, the wives and friends of the delegates commented on those assembled, stating, “No true history of the country could be had without them.”

This document, one of many newspaper articles in the SAR Institutional Archives, demonstrates the variety of materials in the collection. These include traditional correspondence, telegrams, newspaper articles, reports from trustees and delegates, internal memos, and promotional materials. Taken together, the materials in this collection create a more complete picture of the SAR’s history and development. Notably, this document and others in the collection show the significance of tradition within the organization. SAR members have been gathering together for over one hundred and thirty years, assembling to discuss their history, their ancestry, and the important role that they play in the remembrance of the American War of Independence. Despite present day impediments, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions, SAR members have found other ways to meet and work together. Soon, delegates will be able to safely gather together again. They are united by their passion for history and for the society to which they belong, just as those delegates who gathered together in 1903.