Following the centennial of American Independence in 1876, numerous civic organizations and heritage societies sprang up across the United States in response to increased national interest in early American history. In many cases, however, civically inclined women met with frustration when they were barred from joining prominent clubs founded by men. In 1890, after the Sons of the American Revolution, a patriotic heritage society, refused to allow women to join, four prominent socialites founded the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington, D.C. as an unaffiliated, all-female counterpart to the SAR. Membership in the DAR was, and remains, open to any woman who could prove direct, lineal descent from a “patriot of the American Revolution,” a term which has since been liberally expanded to include virtually anyone who provided “material or patriotic support” during the conflict.
Rallying behind the motto of “God, Home, and Country,” several states began forming their own DAR chapters shortly after the organization was founded, with the first chapter of the Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution formally incorporated on February 20, 1892 in Middletown. Two years later, by the time the first statewide convention was held in New Haven, the number of Connecticut DAR chapters had multiplied to 25, and its ranks had grown to over 500 members.
Though they represent one of the smallest states in the Union, the Connecticut chapters of the DAR have a proud history of actively pursuing the organization’s stated goals of promoting historic preservation, education, and patriotism. Over the course of the 20th century, the collective Connecticut chapters acquired 14 historic properties throughout the state, which they actively maintain and, in some cases, operate as seasonal museums open to the public. Among the Connecticut DAR’s most well-known properties are the Governor Jonathan Trumbull house and Wadsworth Stable on the historic Lebanon town green, and the Oliver Ellsworth homestead in Windsor. Various chapters of the Connecticut DAR offer scholarships and awards for good citizenship, conduct American History contests for young students, and support veterans and active service members by volunteering at VA hospitals and organizing care package drives for military members serving overseas.
Today, the Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution make up 39 chapters — a small but vital part of a membership of over 185,000 women who make up the DAR around the world. Connecticut women first proudly assumed the mantle of bettering the communities around them in honor of the patriots of the American Revolution, today in Connecticut history.