3,000 Pages of American Women during the American Revolution!

  1. Three volumes. 
  2. More than 3,000 pages. 
  3. 53 chapters–all organized by subject in two volumes:  Women–white, immigrant, black, Indian, and more.  
  4. Full bibliography arranged alphabetically by author or title. 
  5. Newly arrived from the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington DC. 
  6. Collected over 20 years. 
  7. Prepared for publication and edited by Eric G. Grundset, DAR Library Director, etal.

Eric G. Grundset, etal.  America’s Women in the Revolutionary Era:  A History Through Bibliography.  3 vols.  2011.  Order from The DAR Store, Office of the Corresponding Secretary General, NSDAR, 1776 D St., N.W., Washington DC 20006-5303.

I usually recommend that you add new titles to your current reading  list.  This massive, and truly significant work, is a study and use title.  Look for it at your nearest genealogy library.   And,  if they don’t have it yet, be sure it is on the “wish list” for future acquisition.   You really cannot do a thorough research job without access to these volumes.

The Revolutionary War period is one of the most difficult, record-dark, time periods to trace an American lineage through–arriving immigrants who get through embargoes become lost with almost no record of their arrival or where they entered the country.  Surnames are common with origins in England and Germany and Poland and Italy and Ireland.  Even spelling differences can’t be trusted to identify origins. 

People are on the move–seeking better bounties for enlistment, or keeping out of harm’s way, or sending wives and children from the frontier to live with relatives, or racing to get first dibs on lands awarded in lieu of  soldiers’ pay.

Family records like Bibles and journals and personal letters from one family to another are overlooked and imperfectly kept during the chaos–then these vital information sources often change hands among relatives leaving  current family members unsure what happened to them.

Local records are kept in tandem–county officials record transactions in one set of books to preserve continuity under English jurisdiction and another set of books to render legality to transactions under the new revolutionary government.  Neither set of records may be known to survive.  Until they surface years later in places no genealogist would ever think to look.

For example, I checked one of the thousands of bibliography entries in American Women.  And found a valuable list of members of the “Women’s  Relief Society,” 4 July 1780, New Jersey.  This list is published in Larry R. Gerlach, ed., New Jersey in the American Revolution, 1763-1783:  A Documentary History  (Trenton, NJ:  New Jersey Historical Commission, 1975):   348-350.

Virtually nothing is known about the New Jersey women’s relief society.  No records of the organization exist, nor are there accounts of actual donations.  It is certain only that women in all counties of the state launched a campaign to provide financial assistance to the men of the Continental Army.  As the roster of committeewomen shows, some of the most prominent ladies in New Jersey lent their time and talent to the cause.  New Jersey Broadside Collection, Alexander Library, Rutgers University; also published in the New Jersey Gazette, 12 July 1780.  Section X:  Citizen Soldiers, p. 348.

The ladies are listed by Mrs. and Miss with surname in the broadside; Dr. Gerlach has identified given names and in several cases, the soldier who belonged to the lady.  Counties of residence are included.

While the focus of the bibliography is women in the American Revolution who could qualify as ancestors for membership in the DAR–and there are many who have never been claimed–these subject-oriented titles provide entry to study of this time period in all its facets.  What a marvelous gift to genealogists and historians! 

Please run, don’t even stop to lace your shoes–find the copy nearest to you and begin your study for new ancestors to be sure.  And new understanding of this record-dark time period in American genealogy.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle    http://arleneeakle.com

PS  My computer, while restored, is very slow.  I will get a new system in early 2012.  Until then, be patient.  My blogs will be generated on borrowed equipment.

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