Researching Your Patriot Ancestor


Module I - Getting Started

Finding and documenting a Revolutionary War patriot ancestor for membership eligibility in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) or the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) is not as difficult as many people believe.

With the resources available on the Internet, it is possible to research your genealogy and discover ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) in just a couple of hours.  This can be accomplished even when beginning with very little information beyond your grandparents or great-grandparents.

This tutorial provides a step-by-step process for finding any Revolutionary War patriots hidden in your family tree and gathering the documents necessary to prove the lineage.  Follow the steps below to get started with your research.  After you have identified the dates and places of birth, marriage, and death for your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, proceed to Module II "Finding A Revolutionary War Patriot."

Parents, Grandparents, & Great-Grandparents

  The first step is to take out a piece of paper and write down everything you know about yourself, your parents, your grandparents, and your great-grandparents. Focus on the following key points of information for each generation:
  • full name
  • birth date and birth place
  • marriage date and marriage place
  • death date and death place

When recording the location of each birth, marriage, and death, identify the county as well as the city where each event occurred.  County names are important because most documents (e.g., wills, vital records, etc.) are filed at the county level.  A helpful site for identifying the county in which a town is located is here.


Look Around Your House

  Look around your house for any documents or photographs that may be helpful.  Important documents include:
  • birth certificates
  • baptismal certificates
  • marriage licenses
  • death certificates
  • family Bibles
  • obituaries
  • military records
  • wedding announcements
  • newspaper clippings

Contact Relatives

  Contact your relatives to fill in any gaps in your information.  If they have any of the documents above, ask them to send photocopies.

Social Security Death Index

  The Social Security Death Index contains the birth date and death date for most people who died after 1962.  In some cases, it also provides the city and county of last residence. (Note: This may or may not be the place where they actually died.) 

If you are unsure of the exact birth date, death date, or death place of your ancestors (but you know they died after 1962), look them up at this site.  For females, search on their married name.

Click here for a demonstration on how to search the Social Security Death Index.  Click here to print instructions on how to search the Social Security Death Index.

To search the index, click the link below. 




Complete Ancestor Charts

  At this point, you may want to organize your information on one or more Ancestor Charts.  The Ancestor Chart links four or five generations in a family tree and acts as a road map for your  journey.

When completing the chart, place the husband's name on the top line for each couple, and list the wife with her maiden name. 

Continue to Module II

  Continue to the next module "Finding a Revolutionary War Patriot."

Copyright © 2009 - 2019 by Debbie Duay, Ph.D., Fort Lauderdale, FL. All Rights Reserved.