A Hawaiian Journey

78_56_1DI1In 1850, William Fessenden Allen (1831-1906), arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii. Eighteen years old, he had traveled aboard the Eliza Warwick on a 130-day journey from Boston. He had journeyed to Hawaii with his family, when his father, Elisha Hunt Allen (1804-1883), a lawyer, and congressman from Massachusetts, began his term as United States Consul to Hawaii under President Millard Fillmore (1800-1874). Elisha Allen’s U.S. Consul term concluded with the end of Fillmore’s presidency in 1853, but the family, including William, stayed in Hawaii. They later became citizens of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Allen worked in bookkeeping for C.L. Richards & Co., a ship chandler,  before following in his father’s footsteps to work in civil service. He served as the Collector General of Customs for the Kingdom of Hawaii, and in a variety of other government roles for King Kamehameha V (1830-1872) and King Kalakaua (1836-1891). After the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893, Allen served on the Advisory Council of the Provisional Government of Hawaii and then as the Executive Council of the Republic of Hawaii.

Allen joined Hawaiian Lodge No. 21 in 1859 and served as master of the lodge in 1865. In 1870 Hawaiian Lodge No. 21 presented this Past Master's jewel to him. Marks on the arc spanning the compass legs and on the inside of the compass show that the jewel is incomplete. It is most likely missing the square and sun visible on this example.

The shape of Allen's Past Master's jewel resembles many made in the United States around the same time. The decoration of the jewel in black enamel, combined with bright gold, shares features with a style of jewelry that became popular with Hawaiian consumers in the late 1800s. This style of jewelry, now called Hawaiian heirloom, emulated the black enameled mourning jewelry of the time that bore black letters and designs.

The heirloom style first crafted in Hawaii the early 1860s usually included a decoration in the shape of a floral scroll or filigree design accompanied with black enamel old English script lettering on a bright gold band or bracelet. The style purportedly grew in popularity on the Hawaiian Islands in the 1800s after Honolulu jeweler, Christian Eckart (1831-1875), crafted the “Hoomanao Mau” or “Lasting Remembrance” bracelet in 1862 for Lydia Paki (1838-1917), later known as Queen Lili’uokalani. The Queen wore the bracelet, adorned with Hawaiian text and symbols of Hawaiian royalty, throughout her lifetime. The unidentified craftsmen who made Allen's Past Master's jewel may have taken his inspiration from the locally popular Hawaiian heirloom style or from the fashionable mourning jewelry worn during the Victorian era. William Fessenden Allen  Hawaiian Lodge No. 21

An active Freemason throughout his life, Allen took part in the dedication of the newly built Masonic Temple in Honolulu in 1893 and continued to participate in the organization until his death in 1906. His Past Master's jewel is evidence of his involvement in Masonry in his adopted nation of Hawaii.

Do you have any items related to Freemasonry in Hawaii? Have you seen a Past Master's jewel like this?  Leave us a comment below.

Captions

Past Master Jewel for William Fessenden Allen, 1870. Honolulu, Hawaii. Gift of Mrs. Merrill Griswold, 78.56.1.

William Fessenden Allen, Past Master, 1865. Courtesy of Hawaiian Lodge, Honolulu, Hawaii.

References

Ronn Ronck,  "A Jeweled Detective Story: What happened to Lili'uokalani's bracelets?" Honolulu Advertiser (Honolulu, Hawaii), April 4, 1993.

Phillip Rickard, Hawaiian Heirloom Jewelry: A Lasting Remembrance (Honolulu, HI: Hawaiian Heirloom Jewelry Press, 1993).

Proceedings of the M.W. Grand Lodge of California, 1858-1859 (California: Grand Lodge of California, 1859).

 

 


Celebrate Patriots' Day With Our New Online Exhibition

Lexington Alarm letter exhibition imagePatriots' Day, a holiday well-known in Massachusetts and celebrated in other U.S. states as well, commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. This year's holiday marks the 246th anniversary of the events that signaled the beginning of the American Revolution.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library invites you to explore our new online exhibition, “'To all the Friends of American Liberty': The 1775 Lexington Alarm Letter” now available on the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website. This exhibition takes a close look at an original copy of the Lexington Alarm letter that is in the Museum & Library's collection. Written on April 20, 1775, the letter's urgent news that war had broken out brings today's viewers to the beginning of the American Revolution.

The Museum's copy of the letter, written in the late morning of April 20, 1775, is one of several created by colonists to inform distant communities and colonies about the Battle of Lexington and the outbreak of war with England.

Interested in more online exhibitions? You can check out all of the Library & Archives online exhibitions here. Also be sure to check out the seven online exhibitions that are available at the Museum's online exhibitions website.


Overseas Lodge No. 40

2001_029S1cropped betterIn 1919, in Coblenz, Germany, a group of American military officers serving during World War I, formed the Masonic Club of the Third American Army. Members of the club eventually founded Overseas Lodge No. 40 in Rhode Island.  The club was open to Masons and members of welfare organizations who were wives, daughters, sisters or widows of Masons. Along with regular meetings, the club organized social activities and gatherings, as well as memorial programs for those who died in service. The meetings were held at the German Masonic Temple, the local high school and a German officers club in Coblenz.

A number of Rhode Island Masons had organized the club. They sought to establish a Masonic lodge in Germany and on March 15, 1919, the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island granted dispensation to the group to form Overseas Lodge No. 1. This decree allowed the lodge to “elect, initiate, pass and raise candidates without the usual formalities and requirements of chartered Lodges, provided that such candidates shall be selected only from citizens of the United States serving in the army or navy of the United States, or in any organizations associated with said army or navy.” Between April and July of 1919, the group impressively held eighty meetings and raised 517 candidates. The lodge operated in Germany alongside the Masonic Club until July 31, 1919, when the last American soldiers returned home to the United States.  

The first meeting of the lodge in the United States was held in Freemasons Hall in Providence, Rhode Island, on January 13, 1920. In May of 1920 the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island granted a charter to the lodge, named Overseas Lodge, No. 40, F. & A.M. Members conducted Masonic meetings wearing the uniforms they wore while in service. The photograph above shows officers of the lodge in Cranston, Rhode Island, in 1923. Masonic guests from other lodges in Canada and Britain are also pictured.

This token (at right) is from Overseas Lodge No. 40 and belonged to John A. Marshall (1877-1966). Described as a “devoted and ardent Mason” by his nephew, Marshall belonged to Strafford Lodge No. 29 in Dover, New Hampshire. It is still unknown if Marshall was a member of Overseas Lodge No. 40 or if the token was a gift from a fellow Mason. One side of the token shows Masonic symbols. On the other side is the emblem of the Overseas Lodge which includes an "A" at the center of a circle,  the insignia of the Third United States Army (the United States Army Central). Both sides token overseas lodge

Overseas Lodge No. 40 is still active today in Rhode Island and is open to military veterans or active duty members. They hold an annual meeting and reunion on Armistice Day. It is the only military lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island.

In writing about the formation of the club and Overseas lodge at its close in Germany in 1919, District Deputy Grand Master Lieutenant Colonel Winfield S. Solomon (1876-1954), Past Master of Morning Star Lodge No. 13 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, stated: “These officers and men alike had experienced in practice the meaning of that spirit of brotherhood and equality which we had been taught at home. Through this experience the great truths of Masonry for which our fraternity stands were brought home to us as never before.”

Visit our previous blog posts to learn more about other military lodges. Do you have any items related to Overseas Lodge No. 40? Let us know in the comments below.

Captions: 

Officers of Overseas Lodge No. 40, 1923. Cranston, Rhode Island. Museum Purchase, 2001.029.

Overseas Lodge No. 40 Token, 1919-1966. United States. Gift of the Supreme Council, 33º, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A. from Mr. Clarence Hayfield, SC79.2.

References:

History and Roster of the Masonic Club of the Third American Army and Rhode Island Overseas Lodge (Providence, RI: Press of E. L. Freeman Company, 1919).

Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island, 1919 (Providence, Rhode Island: Grand Lodge, 1919) 32-35.  


Pollie and James Henry Thomas and the Household of Ruth

Pollie Thomas postcard
Pollie Thomas, 1908-1914, Benjamin Ami Blakemore (1846-1932), Staunton, Virginia. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, A2018/053/005.

Pencil inscriptions on the back of these two photographs in the collection of the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives identify that they portray Pollie Thomas (1888-1976) (at left) and her husband, James Henry Thomas (1869-1929) (at left, below). The Thomases lived in Staunton, Virginia. A copy of the "By-laws and Rules of Order Rose of Sharon Household of Ruth," published in 1915, signed "Sister Pollie Thomas," shows that Pollie Thomas belonged to this organization. A further inscription on the back of her portrait notes that she held the office of “Worthy Recorder,” or secretary, of the group.

Membership in the Household of Ruth was open to wives, daughters, and other relations of men who belonged to the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. Based in England, the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows granted a charter to a group of Black men who wished to form a lodge in New York in 1843. In the United States, the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows was an African American organization.

Established in the United States in 1858, the Household of Ruth was a women’s auxiliary associated with the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. The organization granted degrees to both men and women. The group that Pollie Thomas belonged to, Rose of Sharon, No. 79, received its warrant in 1876. The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows lodge in Staunton, King Hiram No. 1463, where Pollie’s husband was likely a member, received its charter a few years before, in 1871. When he died in 1929, James Henry Thomas’s obituary noted that the Odd Fellows, the Household of Ruth, and the Lilly of the Valley Lodge of Elks, No. 171 conducted portions of his funeral service.

More examples of archival material related to African American fraternal groups in the collection of the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives can be viewed here, on our digital collections site.

References:

"Thomas Funeral," The News Leader (Staunton, VA), 7/13/1929, 2.

Charles H. Brooks, The Official History and Manual of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in America (Philadelphia, PA: Odd Fellows Print Journal, 1902), 115, 141.

 

Henry Thomas postcard
James Henry Thomas, 1907-1929, J.A. Haack, Washington, D.C. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, A2018/053/007.

 


Masonic Souvenirs from Jerusalem

85_90DP1
Box with Masonic Wheat, Wine and Oil, ca. 1887. Jerusalem. Gift of Alvin Frank Appel, 85.90.

In Freemasonry, corn or grain, wine, and oil symbolize prosperity, health, and peace. They are considered a Freemason’s “wages” or “wages of nourishment” and are featured in Masonic degrees. Masons often use corn, wine, and oil in building consecration ceremonies. The grain, wine, and oil pictured here are housed in a wooden box.  The box was made in Jerusalem.  It is accompanied by a card of authentication from the U.S. Consulate. The printed card, dated January 19, 1887, is signed by U.S. Consul Henry Gillman (1833-1915) and reads “I certify that the wine and oil forwarded to John Worthington Esq. U.S. Consul at Malta were made in Jerusalem, that the wheat was raised here, and that the leather bottles are such as used here and were made in this country. The wine is known as Jerusalem wine and is seven years old.”

In the late 1800s, souvenirs from the Holy Land--an area important to many faiths that encompasses the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea--enjoyed great popularity. Affluent Americans, taking advantage of steamship travel and few restrictions on foreign travel, embarked on pilgrimages to the Holy Land. These tourists went in search of adventure and to claim both spiritual and physical pieces of the Holy Land for themselves.

The construction of Solomon’s Temple is central to Masonic ritual.  Some Freemasons who traveled to the Holy Land collected stones or

GL2004_4583DP4DB
Box, 1860. Boston and Jerusalem. Gift of Hammatt Lodge, Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.4583a-b. Photograph by David Bohl.

other objects from sacred sites and boxed them up for their own personal collections or as gifts for their home lodges. One such Mason, Jerome Van Crowninshield Smith (1800-1879) of Boston, broke off a piece of white limestone from Mount Moriah on an 1851 trip to Jerusalem and later presented it to Hammatt Lodge in Boston, of which he was a founding member. According to an inscription engraved on the box’s lid, Smith believed the stone to be part of the “foundation stones on which stood the renowned Temple of Solomon.”

Do you have similar souvenirs from Jerusalem? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 


Masonic Marks: Lost and Found

97_031_4DS1 cropped
Royal Arch Mason, 1886-1897. John B. Scholl (1857-1924), Chicago, Illinois. Museum Purchase, 97.031.4.

From the middle of the 1800s and through the early 1900s, many well-dressed Freemasons wore fobs that bore the mark that they had selected as part of receiving the Mark Degree. Others sported fobs engraved with not only their mark, but also the names of the different Masonic bodies they belonged to, along with the dates they had joined. The Royal Arch Mason here (at left), wears a keystone-shaped mark as a fob attached to his watch chain, along with a rich red velvet collar and apron, embroidered in gold.

Small, valuable, and connected to a watch chain with only a ring or hook, the fob style of Masonic marks worn by the subject of this portrait, and similar fobs, did get lost or were stolen. Countless advertisements and snippets from newspapers, hint at how frequently these items went astray--and at how much their owners wished for their return.

In 1856, Jason R. Hanna, staying at the Lima House in Lima, Ohio, advertised that his "MASONIC MARK made of gold in the shape of a Key Stone, with a locket enclosure, was lost or STOLEN." For its return he offered a $5 reward "and NO QUESTIONS ASKED." A few years later, newspapers reported on the return of a Masonic mark, "in the shape of a Maltese cross, of solid gold," that had belonged to Col. T. S. Martin, a Union solider that had died at Manassas, to his widow in Philadelphia. Thaddeus Miller, a Mississippi soldier, had retrieved the mark and, after many months, it was delivered to Mrs. Martin.

The same year, in 1868, an advertisement in The Evening Telegraph of Philadelphia sought the owner of "a silver watch and a gold Masonic mark, bearing the inscription, 'Girard Mark Lodge, No. 214'" that had been stolen by an escaped convict called George Black.  Another Philadelphia paper told the story of an unlucky man named John Matsinger who, in 1894, lost his watch, chain, and gold Masonic mark after being drugged at Arthur Chamber's saloon. A policeman intercepted the thief while he was trying to pawn Matsinger's property, and it was restored to its owner.

Another observant police officer received a reward of "a bank note of substantial value and an imported cigar" when he returned a lost Masonic mark decorated with diamonds to its owner, W. L. Marsh of Pittsburgh. Marsh, upon having his mark restored to him explained that "he valued it highly" as the fob had been given to him by his employees.  He rated it "without price...for its associations."

An even more remarkable story of a mark returned to its owner was that of the mark that belonged to Rev. Dr. H. Franklin Schlegel. Around 1911, Rev. Schlegel visited his family's farm at Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, and "inspected the big flock of Plymouth Rocks" in the chicken coops. During this visit he wore, "Suspended from his watch chain...his Masonic mark, representing the Blue Lodge, the Chapter, Commandery, Consistory or 32nd degree...." As he examined the chickens "the charm, fell to the ground" only to be eaten by one of the hens, though the bird that ate it could not be identified. Three years later, Dr. Schlegel's gold and diamond mark was discovered during excavation at the farm "in the old hen yard." After a small repair to the damaged enamel, the delighted Dr. Schlegel resumed wearing his fob.

If you have an interesting story about a lost or found Masonic mark or jewel, tell us about it in the comments below.

 

References:

"Lost or Stolen!," The Times-Democrat (Lima, OH), 5/3/1856, 3.

"A Masonic mark...," The Galveston Daily News (Galveston, TX), 12/9/1868, 1.

"An Owner Wanted," The Evening Telegraph (Philadelphia, PA), 7/18/1868, 8.

"Knocked Out," The Times (Philadelphia, PA), 8/4/1894, 6.

"Policeman Found Fine Masonic Mark," The Morning Post (Camden, NJ), 5/8/1906, 8.

"Dr. Schlegel Recovers Long-Lost Masonic Mark," Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, PA), 7/25/1914, 1.


Square and Compasses in Wax

74_1_53DP1DB A square and compasses with a G at the center is one of the most identifiable symbols in Freemasonry. The square and compasses represent reason and faith. The letter G in the center stands for God, geometry, or both. This symbol was and is still used on all types of objects, from furniture and ceramics to textiles and jewelry. Artisans and craftsmen portrayed the symbol from a number of different materials,  including the modeled wax paper flowers illustrated here.

This example in the Museum collection is a wax flower composition crafted in 1890 by Chrissie Taisey Whitehill (1855-1937) of Vermont. Whitehill was married to John F. Whitehill (1844-1912), a member of Pulaski Lodge No. 58 in Wells River, Vermont. She mounted her wax flower creation on black velvet and likely made it to memorialize an–as yet–unidentified member of the fraternity. 

In the Victorian era, wax flowers enjoyed immense popularity as decorative elements included in ornamental household wares, personal accessories, and memorial or mourning pieces. Most often crafted by women, wax flower modelling was "a gendered and class-linked accomplishment, promoted as a welcome activity for women of social standing or pretension to social standing."

 Making wax paper flowers was an intricate process in which makers first disassembled a real flower, tracing each component on paper. They then used those pieces as templates to create paper petals which were carefully cut out, shaped to achieve a realistic look, and glued or wired onto stems. The flowers were often finished by applying wax on each petal. By the 1850s, manufacturers also produced wax flower kits and models with ready-made flower parts that could be shaped and assembled. Do you have a family heirloom made with wax flowers? Let us know in the comments below.

Caption:

Square and Compasses, 1890. Chrissie Taisey Whitehill, South Ryegate, Vermont. Gift of the Supreme Council, 33º, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A., 74.1.53. Photograph by David Bohl.

References:

Elegant Arts for Ladies: Comprising Bead Work, Bead and Bugle Work, Calisthenic Exercises... (London: Ward, Lock and Co., 1856), 184-197.

Ann B. Shteir, "'Fac-Similes of Nature": Victorian Wax Flower Modelling," Victorian Literature and Culture, vol. 35, no. 2, 2007: 649-661.


Magic Lanterns and Snow Balls

2008_023_129DS1"The Snow Ball--1. 'Joe made a ball as big as an orange.'" 1895-1925. A. D. Handy Stereopticons and Supplies, Boston, MA. Gift of Anne R. Berntsen, 2008.023.129.

The holidays are here! At this time of year we seek shelter from the cold, staying indoors with loved ones, comfort foods, and, of course, entertainment. In 2020, that last item often comes in the form of glowing images on a screen—but did you know that over a hundred years ago, things weren’t so different as you might imagine? 

In the late 1800s, a device known as the magic lantern was used in American households as well as at schools, churches, and other venues. Also called stereopticons, magic lanterns earned their more common moniker by dazzling audiences with glowing projected images. These machines were invented in the late 1600s. The technology developed and the device became easier to use over the next two centuries. Here at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, we have a number of these early slide projectors—many Masonic lodges used magic lanterns to deliver lectures. You may see examples and read more about their fascinating and varied history at our online exhibition Illuminating Brotherhood: Magic Lanterns and Slides from the Collection.

2008_023_130DS1"The Snow Ball--2. 'And the farther it went the bigger it grew.'" 1895-1925. A. D. Handy Stereopticons and Supplies, Boston, MA. Gift of Anne R. Berntsen, 2008.023.130.

Many types of slides and programs were developed to use with magic lanterns. By the late 1800s their production—largely focused in the northeastern U.S.—was booming, with slides being made for every imaginable purpose, from advertising and entertainment to educational presentations offered in schools, public lecture halls, churches, and fraternal organizations. Some slides featured photographs while others bore hand-colored images. Many told humorous stories with successive images and accompanying text. For example, "The Snow Ball", three slides of which are pictured here, illustrates the amusing hijinks of a group of boys whose snow creation wreaks havoc on a country town. A long-lived Boston stereopticon company named A. D. Handy produced these slides. You may view the rest of the riotous story of the snow ball, as well as more magic lantern slides produced by this company and others, at our Flickr page

 

2008_023_136DS1"The Snow Ball--8. It was Darwin's latest, 'The Descent of Man!'" 1895-1925. A. D. Handy Stereopticons and Supplies, Boston, MA. Gift of Anne R. Berntsen, 2008.023.136.

Do you have any magic lantern stories to share, or perhaps slides or projectors in your attic? Let us know in the comments section below! As always, we invite you to visit our other online exhibitions and explore our collections online. Happy holidays!

 

 


Digital Collections Highlight: Theodore Gleghorn's 1921 Master Mason certificate

A2019_124_001DS1_web                                                                                                                                                             Theodore Gleghorn's Master Mason certificate is just one of many documents available in the African American Freemasonry & Fraternalism collection at the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website. Hermon Lodge No. 21 issued this Master Mason certificate (above) to Gleghorn (1890-1978). The certificate is dated October 10, 1921, and signed by Hermon Lodge’s Worshipful Master Charles Murdock and Secretary P. B. French. Located in Sparta, Illinois, Hermon Lodge No. 21 was chartered in 1875 by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient & Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Illinois.

Detail_of_A2019_124_001DS1_webWhat makes Gleghorn's Masonic certificate so different from the many hundreds of Masonic certificates in our collection is that it includes a photograph of the certificate's owner (at right), embossed with Hermon Lodge's seal. This, in addition to the lodge officers' signatures, and Gleghorn's own signature, helped prove the document's authenticity if Gleghorn presented it to a lodge where he was not known.

Seeing Theodore Gleghorn's portrait on the certificate makes one wonder - who was he? What do we know about him? According to the WWI registration card that Gleghorn filled out in 1917, he was born in Cutler, Illinois in 1890. In 1917, the Wilson Bros. Coal Co., in Sparta, Illinois, employed him as a miner. The 1920 and 1930 U.S. Federal Censuses also show that Gleghorn continued to work in the coal mining industry. Around 1947, Gleghorn moved north to Springfield, Illinois, where he was employed by the State Division of Local Health Services. He worked there for at least twenty-five years. A 1971 newsletter published by the Illinois Department of Health includes an article and photograph showing that Gleghorn and other long-serving employees had been honored as members of the Illinois Department of Public Health's "Quarter Century Club."

Gleghorn was married to Emma L. (Britton) Gleghorn (1907-1980) and they had a son, Emmett D. Gleghorn (1933-1987). If you know more about Theodore Gleghorn's Masonic involvement or any other details about his life, we would love to hear from you. Just post a comment below or contact us through our website.

Caption:
Prince Hall Master Mason certificate issued by Hermon Lodge, No. 21, to Theodore Gleghorn, 1921. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Lexington, Massachusetts, Museum Purchase, A2019/124/001.


The Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks of the World

2019_013_8DP2JFfront
Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World Jacket, 1952-2011. Mr. Leggs and Fraternal Supplies, Inc., New London, Ohio. Museum Purchase, 2019.013.8. Photograph by Julia Featheringill

Founded in 1897, the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World (IBPOE of W), is an African American fraternal order that offered leadership training, professional networking opportunities, and social fellowship to members. Modeled on the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE), the IBPOE of W operated in the same principles of charity, justice, brotherly love, and fidelity. In addition, founders Arthur James Riggs (1855-1936) and Benjamin Franklin Howard (1860-1918), both members of other fraternal organizations, established the IBPOE of W to advocate for “the expression of ideals, services and leadership in the black struggle for freedom and opportunity.”

In support of that mission, the group formed a number of "departments," including a Civil Liberties Department in 1926, to actively coordinate campaigns against segregation and for equal civil and political rights. In its first thirty years, the IBPOE of W experienced problems with factionalism, copyright, and incorporation issues in various states, as well as a number of legal conflicts with the all white Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Despite this turbulent beginning, the still-active IBPOE of W became one of the largest African American fraternal organizations in North America, with lodges in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

2019_013_8DP1JFback
Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World Jacket, 1952-2011. Mr. Leggs and Fraternal Supplies, Inc., New London, Ohio. Museum Purchase, 2019.013.8. Photograph by Julia Featheringill

To show the pride in their association with the IBPOE of W, some members wore street clothes decorated with symbols of their fraternity. Fraternal Supplies, Inc. in New London, Ohio, which operated until 2011, embroidered the jacket pictured here with images and names related to the IBPOE of W, sometime between 1952 and 2011.

The Order’s emblem, the head of an elk within a circle and the words Cervus Alces, the Latin name of the American elk, are on the front of the jacket, along with an elk in a forest. On the back is an embroidered image of an Elks member and the words “Sons of the Forest.”  The Museum acquired the jacket, with original tags, from the former Fraternal Supplies, Inc. factory in Ohio in 2019.  The jacket may have been a sample or an order for an individual that was never delivered or fulfilled. 

Have you or a family member owned a jacket like this one? Have you seen a similar kind of jacket? Let us know in the comments section below.   

References:

Tamara L. Brown, Gregory S. Parks, and Clarenda M. Phillips, eds. African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision (Kentucky: University of Kentucky Press, 2005), 86-87.

Marshall Ganz, Ariane Liazos, Theda Skocpol. What a Mighty Power We Can be: African American Fraternal Groups and the Struggle for Racial Equality (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2006), 16-17.

Alvin Schmidt. Fraternal Organizations (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1980), 107-108.