Membership in DAR is open to women at least eighteen years of age who can prove lineal bloodline descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving United States independence. Acceptable ancestors include signers of the United States Declaration of Independence; military veterans of the American Revolutionary War, including State navies and militias, local militias, privateers, and French and Spanish soldiers and sailors who fought in the American theater of war; civil servants of provisional or State governments; members of the Continental Congress and State conventions and assemblies; signers of Oaths of Allegiance or Oaths of Fidelity and Support; participants in the Boston Tea Party; prisoners of war, refugees, and defenders of forts and frontiers; doctors and nurses who aided Revolutionary casualties; and ministers, petitioners, and others who gave material or patriotic support to the Revolutionary cause. The National Society of DAR is the final arbiter of the acceptability of all applications for membership.
Although DAR now forbids discrimination in membership based on race or creed, many members held segregationist views when this was still public policy in the United States. DAR banned African-American contralto Marian Anderson from performing at their Washington, DC headquarters, Constitution Hall, on Easter Sunday 1939. In protest, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned her membership and helped arrange a special public performance for the singer in front of the Lincoln Memorial on that day.