DAR Exhibit Showcases Rev War Material Culture

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) are showcasing a collection of unique historical objects tied to the Revolutionary War. The exhibit, “Remembering the American Revolution: 1776-1890,” opened at the DAR Museum on October 9 and will run through September 3, 2016.

“The exhibition explores how people following the fight for independence preserved, made, and bought items in order to retain a connection to the war,” the museum said in a recent press release. “More than 100 objects from the DAR Museum collection, and the many personal stories that accompany them, help visitors learn about the American Revolution in a whole new light.”

“We are so proud of the creative effort our DAR Museum has put into imagining this distinctive exhibit,” said Lynn Young, President General of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). “Taking us beyond just the history of the battles and material objects from the war, the exhibit examines how our fledgling country first began preserving and telling the story of this monumental time that launched the birth of our nation.”

Following the American Revolution, people saved items directly tied to the event, or items associated with individuals who played a role in the independence of the nation. In the 19th century, founding fathers, such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, received new celebrity status, and products with Revolutionary War imagery became affordable due to mass production. In the later 1800s, in a desire to own anything associated with the War, people even saved bits and pieces of metal and wood tied to the event.

A variety of items will be on display from small items like shoes, a tent hook, and a piece of a dress to the more substantial objects like paintings, needlework, and furniture. Some of these DAR Museum collection items will be on exhibit for the very first time.

The history passed down through a family related to one object on display tells how Private Moses Blood carried a powder horn through both the French and Indian War as well as the American Revolution. He saved the powder horn as a way to remember the nation’s war of independence, and it became a treasured family object, later to be donated by one of his descendants to the DAR Museum.

With family history being one of the foundations of the Daughters of the American Revolution organization, the DAR Museum has obtained many of the objects in its collection from donations from descendants of Revolutionary Patriots. A recent acquisition from the family of Katherine Vail Behre is a dress that their ancestor Molly Waterbury wore to George Washington’s Inaugural Ball in 1789. Waterbury was the daughter of Brigadier General David Waterbury of Stamford, Connecticut. Through the following generations, Molly’s female descendants started a family tradition of wearing the dress themselves. The dress, along with photos of family members wearing it in 1929, 1953 and 1983, are included in the exhibition. Enhancing the already personal connection of the dress to our nation’s history, a number of Waterbury descendants will be in attendance at the opening reception of the exhibit to see the dress on display.

Additionally, one of the highlights of the exhibition will be a rare, priceless piece of Revolutionary history on view for only five weeks. From May 31, 2016 to July 9, 2016, DAR Museum visitors will have the chance to view a Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence. The Broadside, as well as two draft copies of the U.S. Constitution, both of which include handwritten notes, will be provided on loan from the American Independence Museum in Exeter, New Hampshire, which is operated in partnership with the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Hampshire. Of the estimated 200 Dunlap Broadsides printed, only 26 copies are known to survive.

The Remembering the American Revolution exhibition explores the time period immediately following the end of the war up until 1890, at which time a group of women formed a lineage organization to preserve the memory and spirit of those who contributed to the American Revolution. That organization, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, was founded during a time of patriotic fervor surrounding the nation’s Centennial celebration when many American’s wanted to rediscover their history. As part of the organization’s mission to preserve the relics of the past, the DAR Museum was founded simultaneously with the National Society in 1890. Both mark their 125th anniversary in 2015.

“A large portion of the exhibition is made up of gifts made to the Museum in its earliest years by DAR members who are descendants of Revolutionary War patriots, “ says DAR Museum Director and Chief Curator Heidi Campbell-Shoaf. “So, it is fitting that this exhibition helps to compliment and celebrate the DAR’s 125th anniversary.”

Remembering the American Revolution: 1776-1890 brings together the expertise of all four DAR Museum curators – Heidi Campbell-Shoaf, Olive Graffam, Alden O’Brien, and Patrick Sheary – and their intimate knowledge of the many treasures throughout the DAR collections. Exhibition-related lectures, family programs, and a symposium are planned throughout the run of the exhibit. More event details can be found at www.dar.org/RAR.

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