Research into Socks Reveals the Role of Women Played in the Growth of American Freemasonry
February 14, 2017
Before researching these items from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, an invitation for the Westbrook Masonic (Maine) Fair and pair of colorful, miniature socks, I thought they were created by Arthur W. Greely, Treasurer of Esoteric Lodge, No. 159, whose name is printed on the outside of the envelope. However, as I continued my research and learned more about the fundraising technique of sock socials, I became convinced that the creator of the invitation and socks was Alice D. Greely, Arthur’s wife.
Masonic Fund Raising Letter and Socks, 1904.
Sock socials were a fundraising technique practiced by many women’s organizations. R. E. Smith, author of The Ladies’ Aid Manual: A Practical Work for Ladies’ Aid Societies writes that women would “meet and plan to make any desired number of miniature socks,” which would be sent along with a printed invitation similar to the invitation presented below.
Sock Social Invitation
This little sock we give to you
In brief, each person invited to a sock social received a sock, and each sock served as that person’s invitation to the social. The person “had to have the sock to get in at the social,” the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune reported, and in “the sock, he or she would put money."
Considering this information, I believe it is more likely that Alice D. Greely produced the invitation, as well as the two miniature socks. Alice was the wife of a Mason, as was letter's recipient Edna Joy, and both women would have been eligible for Eastern Star membership. That said, my research into both women’s possible Eastern Star ties proved inconclusive. All that we know for certain is that Edna Joy and her husband, Benjamin F. Joy, a prominent local photographer, were invited to the Westbrook Masonic Fair, which was held for the week of February 15, 1904, and run by the lodge, chapter, council and Eastern Star. According to the American Tyler, the proceeds from this Masonic fair were to be used to build a “new Masonic quarters” in Westbrook.
Fund Raising Letter from Mrs. Arthur W. Greely to Mrs. B. F. Fox, February 25, 1904. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 260.004.
Beckford, William Hale, and George W. Richardson. Leading Business Men of Bangor, Rockland and Vicinity. Boston: Mercantile Publishing Company, 1888. Accessed: 25 January 2017. https://archive.org/details/leadingbusinessm00beck_0
GenDisasters.com. “Ellsworth, ME Masonic Block Fire, Jan 1907.” Accessed: 25 January 2017. http://www.gendisasters.com/georgia/14194/ellsworth-me-masonic-block-fire-jan-1907
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Grand Lodge of Maine (1909). Annual Address: Consolidation of Lodges. In Proceedings of the Grand Lodge, 1908 - 1909, (Vol. 22, pp. 21). Portland, Maine: Stephen Berry.
“Here and There.” American Tyler 18, 14 (1904): 314-319. Accessed: 25 January 2017. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000056270
“Here and There.” American Tyler 18, 17 (1904): 410-415. Accessed: 25 January 2017. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000056270
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Pollard, Ralph J. Freemasonry in Maine, 1762-1945. Portland, Maine: Tucker Printing Company, (no date). Accessed: 25 January 2017. http://www.mainemasonrytoday.com/history/Books/Pollard/index.htm
“Skating Parties, Bobsledding, Dancing Were Popular Then.” Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune, February 2, 1950. Accessed: 31 January 2017. https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/17760368/
Smith, R. E. “Fancy Sock Social and Entertainment.” In Ladies’ Aid Manual: A Practical Work for Ladies’ Aid Societies, 48. New York: Eaton & Mains, 1911. Accessed: 25 January 2017.