First African-American member of DAR
In October 1977, Karen Batchelor Farmer (now Karen Batchelor) of Detroit, Michigan was admitted as the first known African-American member of DAR. Batchelor started her genealogical research in 1976 as a young mother who wanted to commemorate the American bicentennial year in a way that had special meaning for her family. Within 26 months, she had traced her family history back to the American Revolution—a completely unexpected result. Batchelor traced her ancestry to a patriot, William Hood, who served in the colonial militia in Pennsylvania during the Revolution in the defense of Fort Freeland.
With the help of the late James Dent Walker, head of Genealogical Services at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., Batchelor was contacted by the Ezra Parker Chapter in Royal Oak, Michigan, who invited her to join their chapter; she officially became DAR member #623,128. In December 1977, Batchelor’s admission as the first known African-American member of DAR sparked international interest after a story on page one of the New York Times: she also appeared on Good Morning America, where she was interviewed by regular guest host, John Lindsay, former mayor of New York.
Batchelor co-founded the Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society in 1979, an organization in Detroit, Michigan for African-American family research. She continues to research her own family history and inspire others to do the same.