The below note from National, dated 13 December 2016, outlines things to watch for when submitting supplemental applications (some items apply to all applications). Should you ever have questions, please pose the question to your chapter or state genealogist. The application manual can be downloaded from NSSAR (www.sar.org) or is available here.
Good morning, all,
This email is going out to all state point of contacts in an effort to address the challenges we have been facing, particularly this past year, with the processing of your Supplementals largely because of a decline in the quality of documentation received with the applications sent in for review.
First, I want to thank each and every one of you for your hard work in the field. It is not easy being in the 'middle' and being a volunteer position, it can be quite thankless at times, as well. However, rest assured we appreciate, so much, the effort you put into working with us and also with your local chapters and members. Much can be accomplished when we all work together.
Please feel free to share this information with your leadership, including chapter registrars, and most importantly, please disseminate this information to your local memberships so that all understand what is needed for us in headquarters, with limited staff, (one full-time, being myself, and one part time genealogist, Leslie Miller) to efficiently process your applications in a timely manner.
First, all of the Supplementals we receive are piggy-backing off of previous applications which have been approved through the years. An important policy to please review with your member base is SAR Policy #3.5004 entitled 'Documents Inadmissible in Evidence' as follows (located on our website):
Policy #3.5004 DOCUMENTS INADMISSIBLE IN EVIDENCE
"3.5004 Documents Inadmissible in Evidence. Documents that state beliefs or conclusions, but for which acceptable sources of the information cannot be determined, cannot be considered as evidence for establishing Revolutionary service, lineage or dates and places of birth, death, and marriage. Such documents include, but are not limited to:
* Newspaper accounts published well after lifetimes of the persons or events that are subjects of the account, unless sources that are admissible can be determined.
* Information added to transcripts or abstracts of vital records or tombstone inscriptions. This includes narrative added to or in lieu of posted tombstone photographs.
* Published accounts, including family histories, local histories, biographical dictionaries, and newspaper articles which are not contemporary with the persons or events being reported, unless sources that are admissible can be determined. This includes, but is not limited to, accounts which relate family tradition or conclusions without presentation or citation of admissible evidence.
* Undocumented family trees and Genealogical Data Communications (GEDCOMS).
* Compilations of vital statistics drawing from inadmissible sources, such as the International Genealogical Index (IGI) and the U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900.
* Pages printed from the SAR Patriot and Grave Search and DAR Genealogical Research System and similar summaries.
* Unpublished transcriptions or abstracts of wills or other legal documents posted online.
* Unsupported information from prior applications.
Please pay particular attention to the last bullet point above, 'Unsupported information from prior applications'.
What this means is that if we do not have a currently acceptable document per SAR policies somewhere onsite (either in our record files or sent with the supplemental for review) then we must stop the processing and a) 'look' for the documentation to try to assist the application and b) 'pend' the application if what is needed cannot be located.
A reminder: Prior to the mid 1970's when SAR headquarters moved from Washington D.C. to Louisville, Kentucky, little to 'no' documentation survived the move. In these cases, we are in a 'creation' mode as if the application is being submitted for the first time, needing proof of lineage and service.
Policy #5.4000 ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE FOR PROOF OF LINEAGE
"5.4000 Admissible Evidence for Proof of Lineage. Lineage and dates and places of birth, death, and marriage must be proven by providing documentation that traces the source of information back to a person who had personal knowledge of the relationship or event, or an institutional source keeping records at the time, such as a government, church, or funeral home. Personal knowledge does not require that a person have been an eyewitness. For example, an ancestor did not remember his or her own birth, but usually had personal knowledge of the identity of his parents and siblings. Admissible sources can include, but are not limited to:
o Government records, such as vital records, probate records, land records, sworn testimony.
o Church records, including birth, baptism, death, marriage, and burial records. Pages which identify the clergy officiating at or recording the event should be included.
o Other institutional records, such as records of hospitals, funeral homes, cemeteries, and other institutions contemporary with the event.
o Newspaper accounts that are contemporary with persons, relationships, and events reported, including obituaries, wedding announcements, birth notices, articles that are derived from personal knowledge or admissible sources can be determined. The name, location, and date of the newspaper must be provided, preferably with a copy of a page bearing that information in addition to a copy of the page bearing the pertinent information.
o Family records, including Bibles and letters containing names, relationships, and dates of births, deaths, and marriages, provided that the author was in a position to have knowledge of the information in question. Copies of original records provide stronger evidence than transcripts or abstracts. For records from Bibles or other books, the title page bearing the date of publication should be provided. All pages of a letter or a record of relationships and dates and places of birth, death, and marriage should be provided, even thosewhich pertain to people not the ancestors of the applicant. If information is available, the applicant should provide evidence and a written analysis as part of the documentation of who wrote the record, when it was written, and the provenance (of) the original record.
o Tombstone inscriptions. Copies of inscriptions from tombstones erected in the time period of the death of the ancestor, with notation of the name and location of the cemetery, shall be accepted as evidence. Readable photographs are strongly preferred to transcriptions and abstracts.
o Affidavits of people having personal knowledge of relationships or dates and places of birth, death, and marriage, or which provide such information and identify the sources who had such personal knowledge. Affidavits should not be submitted by an applicant to prove information about himself unless that information is unavailable in other admissible records, such as a discrepancy between the name of the applicant and a birth father in cases of adoption when records are sealed. In such cases written details about the unavailability are required and should be included in the sworn statement.
o Published books that provide transcripts, abstracts, summaries or quotations of the above records, or information personally known to the author are admissible as evidence. The applicant is to provide a copy of the title page and date of publication, and any pages with pertinent information about sources, and headings that are relevant to understanding the evidence such as the title of a list that is transcribed. However, an applicant must submit copies of the source material rather than pages from a book that he or a member of his immediate family authored.
o DNA evidence can only be used as one element of a genealogical proof argument that includes additional conventional proof of the lineage. Neither autosomal nor Y-DNA tests alone prove a descent from a specific individual. A DNA test can show with high probability that two individuals are related, but fail to determine whether the father was a particular individual, a sibling of that individual, or a cousin. In some cases, some parts of a document may be admissible while other parts are not."
The above documentation stated is what we, as genealogists, are in need of, either sent in with the applications or onsite, in order to process your applications in a timely manner. Both of these policies can be found on our website under the Genealogy heading.
Lastly, in our APPLICATION PREPARATION MANUAL on page 23, we find the following:
"SAR RECORD COPY - Provide the SAR number and the name of the patriot. Note: a copy of the SAR Record Copy is not needed (but largely appreciated) since the GenealogyStaff has access to it already. However, it may be required for use by the State and Chapter Registrars in the verification process."
"SAR RC 156801 - Samuel Hoard"
What we are receiving, for the most part, is the SAR member number with no patriot name listed (which requires us leafing through multiple supplementals either online or physically in our record file room, depending on the 'age' of the previous application/s, to ascertain which application to use - a huge time factor here just to prepare to review the application.)
As an FYI... We file by Patriot Name and Member number. I would ask for everyone to please adhere to the above instruction, even though this has not yet made its way into our policy manual. You can well imagine the time it takes to peruse every application to see which is most appropriate for use. Some of our members have scores of applications, a most timely endeavor.
In closing, I would like to say that we are here to serve you and please do not hesitate to contact us if we may be of any service to your or your membership. The processing of applications takes a team effort with all of us working together to ensure that our SAR policies are adhered to so that we may leave a quality and lasting legacy to those who will, undoubtedly, come after us.
Thank you for your attention and for your assistance and have a very Merry Christmas!
Supplemental Staff Genealogist
809 W. Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202
I have seen it in numerous societies. Membership and participation are decreasing making it increasingly difficult for societies and chapters to thrive. This has been recognized by the current President General and was covered in his inaugural speech. The President General tasked the Membership Committee to create a mentor program geared toward mentoring new members. This program would help new members become familiar with the National organization as well as the chapter.
I encourage all members to read details of the program as released by the Membership Committee. If you are a member of the Fort Dearborn chapter and interested in becoming a mentor, please let us know.
The 'Front Lines' Blog is written and supported by the Fort Dearborn Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution located in Chicago, IL.