Friday, April 12, 2013

What are you talking about? DAR-isms for genealogists

Living in the metro Washington, D.C. area can sometimes feel like living in a foreign country when government employees start talking shop. Jargon is always an issue with specialized jobs and DAR employees sometimes have their own language, as well. Following are some of the most basic terms used in the genealogy department at DAR headquarters. Individual chapters or state societies may use slightly different terms and these terms may or may not be used in other lineage societies.

  • Patriot ancestor - this is the ancestor who performed service during the American Revolution. In other words, this is the ancestor your DAR lineage will end with. It makes no difference what type of service your ancestor performed, they are your patriot.
  • Established patriot - if someone joined the DAR on a patriot ancestor they are "established." This does not mean you are guaranteed to be able to join the DAR on any established patriot. Problems may have been discovered with the service or lineage since someone joined on that patriot. What is important is that the DAR has some information on this person. That information may indicate the person wasn't a patriot but a loyalist but the DAR has a starting point. If you want to join the DAR you should determine if your identified ancestor is established. If they are, you need to know if you don't need to do as much work because the DAR already has the information (use the time you saved to find new information!). You may also need to address a problem or correct information.
  • New ancestor - this term really means "new patriot ancestor" as it is the opposite of established patriot. This means no one has ever joined the DAR on this patriot ancestor and you are responsible for providing all of the required information about their service as well as all the lineage information. Occasionally established patriots have a "notice" in the database saying they should be treated like a new ancestor. This means someone joined on them so long ago they weren't required to provide very much information. You should do what the note says, treat them as a new ancestor.
  • Closed line - this term only applies to established patriots. It means a problem was found with a previously approved patriot or lineage - it could be one, or the other, or both. There are a lot of little issues that can be discussed with closed lines because it is a general term. I can't even think of one universal statement to make about closed lines. Since they can apply to just one lineage, you may not descend from the line with the problem. It is possible to "open" a closed line by correcting the problem but some problems can't be solved. For example, George Washington had no biological children. Clearly there is no problem with his service but this is an unsolvable lineage problem. You can see his closed line in the database here.
  • Code - before the DAR patriot database was made public through the Internet there were a series of in-house codes used to indicate the problem. These codes have been written out in the database where it says "notice." There is no such thing as a problem simply referred to as a "code;" codes are by definition an abbreviation for the problem. Most likely you will not come across this term but if someone tells you there is a code on a line, more details are available.
My video series "Joining the DAR for Genealogists" will address some of the other DAR-isms in future videos but these are the most basic terms.