Kelly Bishop portraying Emily Gilmore
I am a Gilmore Girl’s fan, truthfully, a HUGE Gilmore Girls fan. I watched it when it was on the air, I still watch it when I am flipping through channels and come across it, and sometimes when I need a fix, I watch it on Netflix. Like so many other fans, I am in breathless anticipation of the new episodes coming this November. I want to be clear, I love the Gilmore Girls, but I am some times frustrated by their portrayal of the DAR, because while it was something I never thought I would talk about here – I am a member of the DAR.
It never really occurred to me how the Gilmore Girls portrayal of the DAR really affected public perception until I came across Lindset Kupfer’s article “Is the DAR Real? ‘Gilmore Girls’ Got the Daughters of the American Revolution Right,” and I was flabbergasted when I reached her final paragraph:
There have been tons of famous members involved with Daughters of The American Revolution, including Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Clare Bootth Luce, and Barbara Bush. Eight other first women have been members as well. What I am trying to say is, Gilmore Girls pretty much hit the nail on the head with the fancy meetings and the expensive charity dinners.
So, what IS the Daughters of the American Revolution?
It IS lineage based. To be a member you have to provide proof that you are to directly descended from a person involved in the United States’ struggle for independence. It’s a hard goal to achieve for many reasons, there were periods of our country’s history where official records were few and far between, even after that there are long periods were women’s names were little more than a footnote in those documents. It’s even more difficult for African American women who want to join, but there are advancements in science that are making those gaps in paperwork easier to cross every day.
It’s about Service. The DAR is a lineage-based service organization. We give back to our communities – in schools, libraries, veteran’s homes and hospitals, historical sites, and really that’s just the tip of the iceberg. My chapter has one meeting a month and outside of that, there’s generally at least 3-4 group volunteer opportunities every month. (That doesn’t include the time individual members volunteer independently.)
It’s not about the benjamins. My family tree is split, one branch stretches back into the humble beginnings of this country and the other is an immigrant story, and while both branches are rich in stories of adventure, love, and maybe a dash of crazy here and there, not one of those branches yielded much in the way of financial windfalls. I’m afraid there are no lumbar barons, oil tycoons, or fabulously wealthy family members back there, and that makes me no less eligible to be a member than Emily Gilmore.
It’s about girl power. It’s not in the motto, or in any of the printed materials, but I have never felt as uplifted as a woman as I do after a DAR meeting. We talk about the contribution of women in history and then plan what contributions we can make to our community, and then we go out and do it. Not only do our notable members include all the people that Kupfer mentioned but there are artists, activists, writers, attorneys, a Nobel prize winner, an astronaut, politicians, and celebrated academics.
It’s not about fancy meetings and the expensive charity dinners. Our Chapter meetings are in a church on a Saturday morning, there is food and fellowship provided by a few members and we drink our hot beverages from Styrofoam cups, not bone china. We have an annual charity event – it’s a Garden Party but while it is beautiful and elegant, it is not expensive.
The part of the Gilmore Girls portrayal of the DAR I always loved is that they depict DAR women as strong and elegant, and what’s not to like about that?