Step One: Determine Eligibility
To initiate the process, you should begin by ensuring that you can satisfy membership requirements and that you descend from an accepted Patriot. We do not restrict membership on basis of race, age, color, religion, national origin, nation of citizenship or residency. To establish eligibility you must be able to link yourself to a Patriot with appropriate documentation. Legitimacy of an ancestor is not a factor as long as appropriate proof of descendancy is provided to create a solid link. Plural marriage families are not excluded from SAR membership. Proving bloodline descent, whether legitimate or illegitimate, from a patriot ancestor to yourself is what is required and is what must be documented. Additionally, you must be sponsored by two current SAR members.
Any male shall be eligible for membership in the SAR who is a citizen of good repute in the community; and a lineal descendant of an ancestor who was at all times unfailing in loyalty to and rendered acceptable service in the cause of American Independence. The SAR accepts service rendered, with some exceptions, for the period between 19 April 1775 and 26 November 1783. Membership in the SAR requires documented, acceptable evidence that your ancestor participated in one or more of the following types of service. The patriot ancestor in question must have:
- Been a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Mecklenburg Declaration of 1775, the Albemarle Declaration of 1779, or the Cumberland Compact of 1780;
- Been a member of any of the Continental Congresses;
- Rendered material aid, such as: Furnishing supplies with or without remuneration; lending money to the Colonies, munitions makers, and gunsmiths; or any other material aid which furthered the Cause;
- Served in the military or navy, including: Service during the dates falling on or between 19 April 1775 and 26 November 1783, service at the Battle of Point Pleasant on 10 October 1774 (this location and date only), or furnishing a substitute for military service;
- Been a participant in the Boston Tea Party, Kaskaskia Campaign, Galvez Expedition, Cherokee Expedition, or the Edenton Tea Party;
- Been a defender of forts and frontiers or a ranger;
- Been a prisoner of war, including those on the British ship Old Jersey or other prison ships;
- Been a physician, surgeon, nurse, or otherwise rendered aid to the wounded;
- Rendered civil service under the Colonies during the dates falling on or between 19 April 1775 and 26 November 1783;
- Been a member of committees made necessary by the violation of colonial rights by England or the War, such as committees of safety, observation, inspection, and correspondence;
- Pledged to support the cause of the Colonies, such as: the Oath of Fidelity and Support, the Oath of Allegiance or the Articles of Association, or the Association Test;
- Been a signer of petitions addressed to and recognizing the authority of the provisional and new state governments;
- Accepted obligations or acted under direction of the provisional and new state governments, such as persons directed to hold elections, to oversee road construction, to collect provisions, or similar responsibilities;
- Been a clergy member or other recognized leader of any religion who performed overt acts of resistance to the authority of Great Britain which could only be performed by religious leaders.
Please note that family tradition in regard to the services of an ancestor will not be considered proof. No preliminary decision will be given with respect to a line of descent, service, or whether proposed evidence is acceptable. When properly examined in context with all available evidence, preliminary decisions might prove to be incorrect and the SAR will not participate in rendering improperly formed evidentiary decisions. We reserve the right to accept or reject any evidence submitted.
Step Two: Find Your Local Contact
If you meet eligibility requirements, the next step is to find a SAR sponsor in close proximity to you. This person will help guide you through the application process and can help review information assembled to transfer into membership forms. Visit the link below and click on your state of residence. This will help you get the sponsor needed to proceed.
Step Three: Collect Your Data
Properly documenting a genealogical line to a patriot ancestor can often be accomplished with only modest effort, provided you know what to look for and where to find it. If you have an ancestor who lived in the United States prior to 1900, chances are you may be the descendant of a Revolutionary War patriot.
This material will help you get a basic understanding of how to look for genealogical information. Please note however, that the primary focus of this resource is obtaining the documentation needed for an SAR application, so it does not cover immigration records or many other fascinating aspects of researching your ancestry. As you become more experienced at finding information, you will become a treasured resource for your local chapter, state-level society, and community.
The material presented below is an excerpt from a program by SAR Compatriot William B. Neal of the Delaware SAR, who chaired the National SAR Lineage Research and Workshop Committee for many years. Compatriot Neal had more than a quarter-century of experience in genealogy and was the Founding President of the Delaware Genealogical Society. His SAR credentials include receiving the Liberty Medal with several oak leaf clusters (indicating that he has helped dozens of people become members of the SAR) and he held the SAR National Office of Genealogist General for several terms.
Step Four: SAR Membership Application
Now you are ready to populate your SAR membership application and submit it (with documentation) to your local chapter or society, create your User Account with the link below. This will enable access to begin the new member application process.
NOTE: It is strongly recommended that you find a local contact to assist with putting your application together, however should you decide to do it without assistance, please utilize the PDF Form found below. The Word version should only be used as a worksheet. Remember that the completed application must be submitted to your local Society.
You can then transfer the collected data to the final SAR membership application form online. Your mentor or Application Guide (Link above) can assist with this step. As an applicant, there are several options for SAR membership. While most individuals who join will do so as a regular member, we also have a junior membership option for men under 18 years of age. Your chapter contact will be able to discuss membership options and related costs with you. For example, if more than one eligible family members wish to join together, the Family Plan might be the cost effective. Membership costs vary between chapters and state level societies depending upon location; your chapter contact will be able to share those details with you as well.
Once properly completed, submit your membership application (with all related documentation) to your sponsoring SAR chapter for approval. The Chapter will then forward your application to the respective State Society and then on to National SAR Headquarters for final review and approval. Typically, the approval process takes eight to ten weeks from local chapter review to issuance of a National Number. You will be contacted should any additional documentation be required.
During this process, you will develop a deep appreciation for American history, meet others who share a common interest, and experience the thrill of learning your personal story. Remember, your history is also the nation’s history.