The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: Daughters of the American Revolution, John Rolfe Chapter, Records
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) was founded in 1890 by Miss Eugenia Washington, Miss Mary Desha, Mrs. Ellen Hardin Walworth, and Mrs. Mary S. Lockwood, in Washington, D. C.. It is a non-profit, patriotic service organization, favoring conservative constitutional government. Objectives of the DAR, as set forth in its constitution, are (in part):
To preserve American freedom, and foster love of country.
Membership is confined to women eighteen years of age, or older, whose lineage can be traced to a man or woman who loyally and honorably served the cause of American independence during the Revolutionary period.
The DAR is arranged hierarchically, providing a vehicle to bring women from all sections of the country together in a common cause. Topping the hierarchy is the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), which consists of a slate of executive officers headed by the President General, and a number of standing committees. The first President General was Caroline Scott Harrison, wife of President Benjamin Harrison, who served from October 11, 1890 until her death on October 25, 1892. An annual convention, called a Continental Congress, is held each April in Washington, D. C.. At these gatherings, reports are given by the national officers, national committee chairmen, and State Regents. The climax is election and installation of officers
The NSDAR owns an entire city block in Washington, D. C., and has erected three buildings on the site: Memorial Continental Hall (completed 1910), which houses the DAR Museum and a 2000 seat auditorium; the Administration Building (completed 1923), which contains the business offices of the Society; and Constitution Hall (completed 1929), which has a 4000 seat auditorium, and also houses the DAR Library.
The Society owns and operates several schools, the most prominent of which are the Kate Duncan Smith School, a day school in Grant, Alabama, and Tamassee, a boarding school in Tamassee, South Carolina. The NSDAR has also published a monthly magazine since 1892. It was originally called The American Monthly, but in 1913, the name was changed to Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine.
In 1895, the Daughters of the American Revolution organized and adopted the Children of the American Revolution, but even though the two organizations have similar aims, they are separate entities, each having its own constitution and by-laws, and national and state officers.
The next level of the hierarchy consists of state Societies, which are directly accountable to the National Society. The Mississippi Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (MSDAR) was founded in 1893, when Mrs. Elizabeth Upton Sims, of Columbus, Mississippi, was admitted to the NSDAR and elected State Regent (highest-ranking state officer) by that body. The state is divided into six districts -- Delta, Northern, West Central, Southwestern, Southern, and East Central. District meetings are held annually to keep members informed of the duties of state and chapter officers, as well as, proposed programs of the National Society. A state conference is also held annually, usually in February, at which state officers are elected. These conclaves are frequently held in Jackson, but also rotate to other cities (Biloxi, Meridian, Natchez, Hattiesburg, Greenville, and Tupelo, for example).
The MSDAR owns and maintains an antebellum mansion "Rosalie" in Natchez, which serves as state headquarters and as the Society's historic shrine. Built in about 1820, on the site of Fort Rosalie, the MSDAR purchased it in 1938, and has completely refurbished it.
At the bottom of the hierarchy are the local chapters, and it is there that much of the grass roots work of promoting patriotism and constitutional government is done. The John Rolfe Chapter was organized in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1936, with thirteen charter members. Organizing Regent was Mrs. D. P. (Mary Pierce Folkes) Cameron, who was a direct descendant of John Rolfe and his wife, Pocahontas. Chapter officers consist of Regent (highest-ranking officer), Vice Regent, Chaplain, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Treasurer, Registrar, and Historian, who are elected and installed at the annual business meeting each January. Meetings are held monthly between September and May -- no meetings are held during the summer months.
Among the regular functions of the John Rolfe Chapter are:
Compiling genealogical records.
This collection contains materials pertinent to the John Rolfe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (1936 - 1979); the Mississippi Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (1937 - 1978); and the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (1942 - 1976), which have been divided into three series:
Series I begins with the Constitution and By-Laws of the John Rolfe Chapter; followed by a book of the chapter's history (1936 - 1969); a handwritten book of minutes of monthly meetings (Jan. 8, 1954 - May 5, 1971); treasurer's records (1946 - 1966); chapter yearbooks (1941 - 1979); materials relevant to the Correct Use of the Flag Committee; the Military Honor Roll, comprised of biographical information on members' relatives who served in the armed forces during World War II (1943); records of the Blood Plasma Fund (1943 - 1944); information on Christmas legends and colonial customs (1941; 1944); materials for a talk on the Stark Homestead, a colonial home in Manchester, New Hampshire (1942 - 1943); correspondence (1936 - 1964); a few newsclippings concerning the DAR (ca. 1943 - 1944); and an account of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, by Marion Ramey, of Wayne County, Mississippi (Jan. 13, 1942). Completing the series are nine scrapbooks which contain a comprehensive record of the John Rolfe Chapter's activities between 1936 and 1971, as well as news of the state and national societies. Much of the information is in the form of newsclippings from local, state, and national newspapers. However, there are also yearbooks, essays, photographs, articles, and a few items of memorabilia. Of particular interest in the 1936 - 1941 scrapbook are a paper entitled "Reminiscence" which contains a touching tribute to the first President General of the National Society, Mrs. Benjamin Harrison; an original poem by Mrs. Mabel G. McLeod in honor of Kathleen Cameron's approaching marriage (Kathleen was the daughter of Mrs. D. P. Cameron, first Regent of the John Rolfe Chapter); and a photograph of the 1937 Armistice Day (now Veterans Day) float traveling east on College Street in downtown Hattiesburg. Other noteworthy items in scrapbooks are an editorial from the Hattiesburg American (Feb. 16, 1970) featuring comments of University of Southern Mississippi history professor, Dr. John R. Skates, on why we must know history; the story of the "Statue of Freedom" which sits atop the U. S. Capitol Building in Washington, D. C. ("This Week" magazine, July 3, 1960); and the story of "Rosalie" in light verse, from the Clarion Ledger, March 23, 1969. The 1959 - 1960 scrapbook is unique, in that it is decorated throughout with watercolor scenes (probably the work of chapter historian, Mrs. Jasper Love). Each month's record begins with a line of words and music from "My Country Tis of Thee, illustrated in watercolor.
Series II consists almost entirely of programs and yearbooks containing proceedings of Mississippi Society state conferences. The exception is two volumes of Mississippi Daughters and Their Ancestors, a compilation of genealogical records.
Comprising Series III are the 1942 Daughters of the American Revolution Handbook; an informative pamphlet entitled "What the Daughters Do"; reports and programs from the Continental Congresses of 1938, 1972, 1974, and 1976; and a Directory of Committees. The final item is a list of papers collected by the Filing and Lending Bureau Committee. The papers on the list were written by DAR members on historical subjects which are national in scope, and are housed in the DAR Library in Washington, D. C.. They may be borrowed by any DAR chapter.
This collection should be of interest to researchers of American history, women's history, women's organizations, or patriotic service.
Accession Number: AM 96-67
Dates: ca, 1979-1996
Volume: 1 cu.ft.
Provenance: Mrs. Georgane Love.
Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).
Form of Material:
Yearbooks, pamphlets, programs, and newsletters of the John Rolfe Chapter of the DAR (ca. 1979-1996).