The mission of the SAR Genealogical Research Library, a component of The SAR Center, is to maintain and enlarge the collection of genealogical and historical materials available for research by SAR members and the general public. Additionally, it is to acquire and preserve records of the American Revolution and foster and encourage historical research in relation to the American Revolution period. The SAR Genealogical Research Library will serve to reinforce The SAR Center’s educational, patriotic, and historical outreach initiatives.
About The SAR Library
The SAR National Headquarters, Genealogical Research Library, and SAR Center are located at 809 West Main Street in Louisville, Kentucky. The need to establish a Library for the National Society was recognized by the founders of the Society, who specified provisions in the Constitution for the acquisition and preservation of Revolutionary War records, documents, and relics.
From 1889 until 1926, the Society acquired 225 books, which were kept by the Secretary General or Registrar General. On March 1, 1926, the Society established a Washington, D.C., Registrar General’s office at 609 Hill Building at Seventeenth and I Streets N.W. This office contained the “permanent records of the Society membership and genealogical records and reference library.” The 1927 Congress in Richmond, Virginia, approved plans to purchase the Sixteenth Street Headquarters Building. With that came the creation of the first Library Committee, and by 1933, the collection was up to 914 books. The collection continued to grow over the next few decades.
In 1978, the SAR purchased the South Fourth Street building in Louisville as its headquarters. Over the next year the second floor of the building was redesigned to accommodate a fully functional Library. It officially opened its doors to the public on January 17, 1979, and included a professional staff. In 1988, a 544 square-foot book vault was added to the floor space of the Library, and the collection had grown to approximately 25,000 items. During this time the microfiche and microfilm holdings also grew.
In October 2010, the Library began operations in its new facility on West Main Street in Louisville’s historic Museum District. Located on the north side of the mezzanine in the Library is the Mary & James S. Craik Special Collections Room which features museum quality pieces relating to the early history of the Unites States and the American Revolution. Dr. James Craik was George Washington’s personal physician and the room features a James Craik miniature, a piece of Martha Washington’s wedding gown, and silhouettes of George and Martha Washington, ca. 1797. The room may also be used for other exhibits.
The Library’s growth depends upon cash gifts as well as donations of family genealogies, American Revolutionary War histories, county and state histories, and other books and items of genealogical content. Donors should check the Library catalog to ensure the item is not a duplicate or check with the Librarian. They must also complete a donor gift form available at the Library and at Leadership and Congress meetings. Each book donated is given a bookplate with the name of the donor. Members, chapters and state societies are encouraged to provide memorial funds to purchase memorial books to honor deceased members. Members are also encouraged to join or donate to the Friends of the SAR Library (FOL), the monies of which are deposited in the Library Endowment Fund and Library Special Operating Fund and used to purchase non-budgeted items. The primary focal point of the collections is the Revolutionary War era but the collection includes other materials of a genealogical nature. To date the library collection has grown to over 55,000 items and includes family histories, local, county and state records and genealogy materials, and access to the online databases of Ancestry, Heritage Quest, Fold3, and the New England Historical and Genealogical Society. The online catalog allows you to see what is available.
The SAR Library is a non-circulating, reference facility only. The SAR Library does not sell any of the books listed in its catalog, nor does it loan them out. The Library is open to the general public for a nominal fee of five dollars per day. Free use of the library is provided to Friends of the SAR Library (FOL); SAR members and their spouses; and members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Children of the American Revolution (CAR), and Sons of the Revolution (SR).