This striking purple and gold badge belonged to a member of Monarch Lodge No. 45, Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World. The badge is composed of a pin bar showing the name of the lodge and a medallion with an elk and key principles of the organization–Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love, Fidelity–atop a double-sided silk ribbon with both lodge and organization name printed in metallic ink.
Badges were worn on the member’s left lapel for meetings, conventions, and other gatherings. The reverse side of the ribbon is black - this side would have been worn on the occasion of a fraternal funeral. These activities helped Monarch Lodge Elks fulfill their stated aims to “promote and encourage manly friendship and kindly intercourse, to aid, protect and assist its members and their families . . .”
The Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World, or IBPOEW, was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1898. The group is now considered the largest Black fraternal organization in the world with over 500,000 members in over 1,500 lodges. Monarch Lodge No. 45 was one of the most influential IBPOEW lodges in New York state. The chapter was founded in New York City in 1907. From their inception until 1918, they met in the Odd Fellow’s Hall on West 29th Street. In 1918, the lodge purchased a new home for themselves in a brownstone at 245 West 137th Street in Harlem. They maintained a presence at this address until at least 1983.
When the first statewide convention for New York members of the IBPOEW was held in June 1923, Monarch Lodge hosted their Elk brethren in New York City. The lodge planned events and activities for visiting Elks, held at the lodge’s Harlem address and the 22nd Regiment Armory in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. The lodge’s baseball team, the Mi-tee Monarchs, played at the Dyckman Oval, a ballfield known for Negro league baseball in the Inwood neighborhood which existed from about 1915 through 1937, as well as other baseball parks in the city. The Monarch Lodge band, known as the Mitee Monarch Marching Club or the Monarch Symphonic Band, was considered the premiere band in “Elkdom” from the 1920s through the 1950s. They played at the lodge’s much anticipated and well-attended annual ball, as well as at parades, band competitions, summer concerts in the park, and more.
Belonging to the “Mighty Monarch Lodge” was important to its members. In a February 1928 New York Age article, a member of Monarch Lodge named Mr. Saulters writes that he was “devoted to his lodge and band, and expects to remain always a member of that lodge.” An attractive ribbon badge like this one in the museum’s collection would have identified him as a member of this renowned lodge to fellow Elks and the public.
More IBPOEW Regalia: