One aspect of the DAR was writing and publishing an official magazine for its members. Their purpose was to ” issue a magazine devoted especially to the cause of a true and liberal Americanism,” and educate its members on the legacy of their revolutionary forefathers. Initially called the American Monthly Magazine, each issue consisted of a few brief articles on historic figures and prominent members, sometimes accompanied by poems written by members. The bulk of the magazine was devoted to messages from the President General, genealogical lists, local chapter information and updates, as well as national committee information like meeting minutes and the organization’s overall budget. The magazine was unique in that it was run almost entirely by women, with men serving as publishers and as a rare contributor. This exclusively feminine space brought its female readership together, creating an imagined community where they could keep up to date with other women across the country and share the same stories, now being bonded together by a shared experience instead of just a shared lineage.
Subscriptions were $1.00 for one year, 10 cents for a single copy. In July 1913, for the magazine’s 21st anniversary, the name was changed to Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine. While there was a new name, style and content wise, the magazine remained relatively stagnant for the first few decades of its life. A preliminary topic model from 1892 until 1929 show a consistent theme of names of prominent figures, pensions for surviving real daughters of the revolution, chapter meetings, and public service. While there were articles admiring revolutionary women and their efforts, the primary focus was on the men and their heroic deeds.
After WWI, there was a gradual shift towards conservative military preparedness, anti-radicalism, and anti-immigration. There were several devoted to curtailing Communist activities, one even pledging to end “radical” activity on college campuses. The only major changes the magazine experienced was the introduction of advertising in the 1910s and in July 1921 when the annual subscription increased to $2.00. Other than that, the magazine swayed little from its dedication to its revolutionary ancestors and the important women of the organization and their charitable. Minorities were almost completely excluded from their national and historical narrative, and if any were included at all, it was often to the sidelines as servants or other supporting roles.
Walworth, Ellen. American Monthly 1, no. 1 July, 1892.
Florence Becker. “Unity of Purpose.” Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, February, 1935.
Simon Wendt, “Nationalist Middle-Class Women, Memory, and Conservative Family Values, 1890-1945” in Inventing the Modern American Family:Family Values and Social Change in 20th Century United States, ed. Isabel Heinemann (Campus Verlag, 2012) 31-58.