Fraternal groups (not Masonic)

William S. Pine and an Odd Fellows Pitcher

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Pitcher, ca. 1845. England. Special Acquisitions Fund, 79.11.1. Photo by David Bohl.

In 1819 a coach spring maker from London named Thomas Wildey started what became the first American Odd Fellows lodge in Baltimore. Wildey’s lodge worked under the authority of a charter from an Odd Fellows group in England. In Maryland and beyond, Odd Fellows, with promises of conviviality and support for members, soon founded more lodges. By 1831 Odd Fellows in Delaware petitioned to form a Grand Lodge for their state. Over a decade later, from 1845 to 1846, William S. Pine (ca. 1810-1892) served as the Grand Secretary of this Grand Lodge. At the time, it counted five lodges and 286 members within its jurisdiction. This colorful pitcher, decorated with transfer prints of important symbols in Odd Fellowship, bears Pine’s name, the office he held, and a copyright year, 1845.

A resident of Wilmington, Pine worked as a hatter, and was a member of Washington Lodge No. 1. Along with his name, this paneled bright white porcelain pitcher with a gold-painted rim and handle features eleven transfer prints of symbols important in Odd Fellowship. Just under the rim are prints, colored with paint, of an open Bible, a heart in hand, a beehive, crossed arrows, and a cornucopia. Below these are prints of the three links of Odd Fellowship, an all-seeing eye, and figures representing justice and charity. Another print combines symbols of the United States—an eagle and a red, white, and blue shield, with a banner bearing one of the group’s mottoes, “Friendship, Love, and Truth.” The most elaborate print is of the seal of the Odd Fellows Grand Lodge of United States (adopted in 1833), surrounded by the motto, “We command you to visit the sick relieve the distressed bury the dead and educate the orphan.”

In 1843 the branch of Odd Fellowship founded by Wildey broke with England and, from that time, the group governed itself under the name Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The symbols on this pitcher reflect the change—the prints of the eagle with the red, white, and blue shield and the copyright statement were suited to an American organization and audience.

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Pitcher, ca. 1845. England. Special Acquisitions Fund, 79.11.1. Photo by David Bohl.

As a mark on the bottom of the pitcher attests, Clark and Levering of Baltimore, glass and ceramics merchants, imported this vessel. The firm likely commissioned the pitcher from an English manufacturer. What Pine’s part in the commission was, and why his name is on the object is, as yet, unknown. A note in the Odd Fellows’ official proceedings shows that Pine’s association with the Odd Fellows came to an abrupt end. In 1848 his brethren expelled him from Washington Lodge No. 1, recording the reason for his ouster with the description “bad conduct.” Before he left the group, Pine had a role in the fabrication of this pitcher—an object which celebrated the values of the organization and its newly declared independence.

References:

Lynne Adele and Bruce Lee Webb, As Above So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850-1930 (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2015), 31-36.

Henry C. Conrad, History of the State of Delaware, vol. 2 (Wilmington, DE: The Author, 1909), 442-445.

William Henry Ford, Symbolism of Odd-Fellowship (New Orleans, LA: Cornerstone Book Publishers, 2013, reprint of 1904 edition), 215-216.

Journal of Proceedings of the Right Worthy Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of the United States of America…, vol. 2 (Baltimore, MD: P. G. James Young, 1852) 1346.

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Pitcher, ca. 1845. England. Special Acquisitions Fund, 79.11.1. Photo by David Bohl.

Theo. A. Ross, Odd Fellowship: Its History and Manual (New York, NY: The M. W. Hazen Co., 1888), 42, 621.

 


“Let's be really foolish!”: The German Order of Harugari, a German Mutual Aid Society in Early America

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently purchased a collection of fraternal records related to the German Order of Harugari’s Arminia Loge, No. 459. The records, dating from 1882 to 1893, give a brief glimpse into the vibrancy of German culture and brotherhood in Chicago through the lens of August David, the lodge’s Financial Secretary. When twenty-seven-year-old August David immigrated to the United States in 1872, he sought community, advice, and fellowship with other German Americans. The German Order of Harugari, or Deutscher Orden der Harugari, was a German mutual aid society that sought to help German immigrants and to preserve German culture and language. A2022_230_002DS2

The German Order of Harugari was, at one time, the largest German fraternal organization in the United States. It was initially founded in 1847 in response to discrimination and attacks fomented by the “Know-Nothings,” a nativist political party that was anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant. The founders of Harugari were inspired by early Germanic history and the accompanying paganism and declared that they were “Germans by birth, Americans by choice, Patriots by principle.” This emphasis on paganism and the prohibition against religious discussion during their meetings led to the Catholic Fortnightly Review accusing the organization of being hostile to the Catholic Church in 1905.

The German Order of Harugari drew inspiration from the ancient Germanic tribe of Cherusci who overthrew their Roman overlords led by their general Arminius, also known as Hermann, in 9 B.C.E. The word Harugari comes from the old German word, Haruc, which means “worshippers in a sacred grove.” The German Order of Harugari’s three initiation degrees tell the history of the Cherusci’s triumph over Roman tyranny. An additional degree was added on September 5, 1890, to initiate women into the order. The Hertha Degree was named after an ancient Germanic goddess, Hertha or Nerthus, who accompanied Odin into war. Women and men met separately in local lodges. The German Order of Harugari’s motto was “Friendship, Love, and Humanity” and their emblem was the oak leaf.

The Arminia Loge, No. 459, records contain an account book of assessments and dues, an envelope, dues record sheet, and a party invitation, all dutifully recorded by August David, the Financial Secretary who served from around 1882 to 1893. Although it is unknown when Arminia Loge, No. 459, was formed, the Illinois Staats-Zeuitung, a nationally popular German newspaper published in Chicago, recorded seventy-seven members of the lodge on January 9, 1888. Arminia Loge, No. 459, was one of several lodges in Chicago and was located on 552 Blue Island Avenue in the heart of Chicago. A2022_230_002DS1

As seen in the Arminia Loge, No. 459, records, the German Order of Harugari held many social and cultural events to further their mission of preserving German culture and language. This invitation was to a party where the guests are invited to be närrisch (i.e., foolish, crazy, silly) The event was hosted by the Arminia Loge and Harugari male choir. The German Order of Harugari was famous for its choirs and singing festivals. In 1906, Dr. Georg Schuster, archivist at the Royal Prussian Archives, noted that the order had more than fifty choral societies where “the German song finds a place of loving care.” The invitation, like much of the records for the German Order of Harugari, is in German. Below is a transcription and a rough translation of the invitation. Please comment down below if you have a better translation!

Einladung zum

Groβen Massen=Fest nach Narrhalla

veranstaltet von der

Arminia Loge No. 459, D. O. H.

Und

Harugari Männerchor

Da wollen wir mal recht Närrisch sein, recht Närrisch sein, ja ja!

(nämlich in der Vorwärts Turnhalle)

Am Samstag, den 5. März, 1892

Eintritt zum Saal, a hell of a Dollar, (50c)

Zur Gallerie nur a Quarter

Tickets sind bei allen Mitgliedern und Abends an der Kasse zu haben

 

Invitation to the/for

Large crowds=Feast/festival after Narrhalla [German carnival]

organized by the

Arminia Loge No. 459, D. O. H.

and

Harugari male choir

 Let's be really foolish, be really foolish, yes yes!

(namely in the Vorwaerts Turner Hall)

On Saturday March 5th, 1892

Entrance to the hall, a hell of a Dollar, (50c)

To the gallery only a Quarter

Tickets are available from all members and at the box office in the evening

The Arminia Loge, No. 459, records, 1882-1893, hints at a world of German fellowship and vibrant social life in nineteenth-century Chicago. The collection tells a larger and more diverse history of fraternal life in America. The German Order of Harugari continues today under the name of the Harugari German-American Club although the organization has moved away from its ritual and mutual aid society roots into a social and cultural club.

 

Photo captions:

Party invitation, 1892, Arminia Loge, No. 459, records, 1882-1893, Museum Purchase, A2022-230-001.

Account book, 1882-1893, Arminia Loge, No. 459, records, 1882-1893, Museum Purchase, A2022-230-001.

References

Theodore Graebner, The Secret Empire: A Handbook of Lodges, (St. Louis, MO: Concoridia Publishing House, 1927).

Albert C. Stevens, The Cyclopaedia of Fraternities: a compilation of existing authentic information . . . of more than six hundred secret societies in the United States, (New York: E. B. Treat, 1899)

Arthur Preuss, A Dictionary of Secret and Other Societies, (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Company, 1924).

 “The Order of Harugari,” New York Times, August 25, 1895.

Georg Schuster, Die Geheimen Gesellschaften Verbindungen und Orden, (Leipzig: Verlag von Theodor Leibing, 1906).

“Stadt Chicago: Die Harugari,” Illinois Staats-Zeitung, January 9, 1888.


A United Order True Sisters Anniversary Medal

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United Order True Sisters Medal, ca. 1946. Gift of Clara W. Gnerre on behalf of Noemi No. 11. 91.032.1

The face of this round medal bears an embossed wreath which curves around the black enamel letters U, O, T, and S. These initials represent Unabhängiger Orden Treue Schwestern or United Order True Sisters, a German Jewish fraternal group which was the first independent national women’s organization in the United States. The group – sometimes known as the United Order of True Sisters - was founded in New York City in 1846 and became known for their charitable fundraising for cancer patients and children’s hospitals after World War II. The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library cares for a small collection of UOTS items, including this medal, which is connected to a fascinating Massachusetts woman.

The items in this collection were donated by Clara Cecile Wagner Gnerre (1920 - 2005) on behalf of her UOTS chapter, Noemi No. 11. This chapter was founded in 1878 in Boston, Massachusetts – the eleventh UOTS lodge in the country - and like its sister chapters in other states, sought to provide Jewish women with a sense of identity, purpose, and community. Due to anti-German sentiment during World Wars I and II and American antisemitism throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, women who joined UOTS may not have felt welcome in other fraternal orders. As past museum Assistant Director Barbara Franco has written of Jewish fraternal orders, “The rites, regalia, and mottoes of these organizations, based on Freemasonry and Odd Fellowship, offered an American aura that might be denied Jews elsewhere.”

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United Order True Sisters Medal, ca. 1946. Gift of Clara W. Gnerre on behalf of Noemi No. 11. 91.032.1.

The reverse of the medal reads “PRESENTED AT THE CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY 1846-1946”. To commemorate their one-hundredth anniversary, UOTS chapters produced souvenir medals like these, as well as centennial calendars and other ephemera. A February 1946 article from the Daily Argus (Westchester, New York) shows the kind of activities UOTS chapters were involved in that year. Activities included mahjong games, luncheons, educational lectures, and Red Cross sewing drives. The United States Treasury Department awarded a citation to Westchester No. 34 for raising nearly a quarter of a million dollars in war loan drives. After the war, in 1947, the UOTS formed a National Cancer Service initiative. This program funneled members’ fundraising skills and largesse towards medical charities.

Clara Wagner – later Clara Gnerre - was a member of Noemi No. 11 for forty years. She graduated from Girl’s Latin School in 1937 and attended Radcliffe College, where she graduated cum laude with a degree in chemistry in 1941. If she was a member of Noemi in 1946, she may have received this souvenir UOTS medal when it was first issued, when she was 26 years old.

She worked first for Carbon Black Co. as a rubber chemist and was employed there in 1950 when she married her husband C. Gerald “Jerry” Gnerre. A January 1954 Boston Globe article described her as a “research chemist and rubber technologist” at Godfrey L. Cabot, Inc. Research Laboratories on Cambridge’s “Research Row.” Gnerre was, at the time, one of few women working in industrial materials research and development, a growing field post-World War II in Cambridge.

In the 1980s, Gnerre became more active in Noemi No. 11, serving as its Recording Secretary in 1986 and President from 1987 to 1988. At this time, the chapter focused on fundraising for cancer services and children’s care at Boston’s Children’s and Massachusetts General Hospitals. At Noemi’s 110th Annual Luncheon, Gnerre was praised for her “warmth, encouragement, and good humor.”

After 111 years as a United Order True Sisters chapter, Noemi No. 11 dissolved in 1989. Perhaps inspired by a 1983 chapter visit to the then-eight-year-old Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Gnerre first donated a collection of material from the chapter to the museum in 1991. This medal was the first item that she donated. Over the next five years, Gnerre and other women from Noemi No. 11 donated UOTS material to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, as well as to other historic repositories (see link below).

Clara Cecile Wagner Gnerre died in August 2005. Her Boston Globe obituary reads: “In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The United Order of True Sisters, Inc. . . . where she was a member for 40 years and past President of a local chapter (Noemi Chapter 11) or to a cancer organization of your choice.” Gnerre ably represented the United Order True Sisters and their philanthropic goals to the last.

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Further Reading:


New to the Collection: Sparkling Fraternal Style

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Menelik Court No. 53 Fez. Cincinnati Regalia Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. Museum Purchase, 2022.067.

On the last day of Black History Month, we’re taking a look at a fascinating fez from an African American women’s order with an intriguing history.

The group, known as the Imperial Court, is an auxiliary to the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Members of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. The A.E.A.O.N.M.S., founded in 1893, is dedicated to the welfare and extension of Prince Hall Freemasonry. Its women’s auxiliary was founded in 1910 in Detroit, Michigan. The Imperial Court boasts more than nine thousand members in more than two hundred courts throughout the United States, as well as Canada, Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Korea, and Western Europe. According to the Imperial Court website, the group “recognizes and celebrates the historic and current achievement of African American women . . .”

Members are known as Daughters and their regalia includes ceremonial collars worn with white dresses, shoes, and gloves, along with white fezzes or crowns. A Daughter serving as the Court’s current Imperial Commandress, its highest office, wears a crown in lieu of a fez. Members’ fezzes bear the name and number of the owner’s court and a stylized profile view of the Egyptian goddess Isis. If the Daughter served as an Illustrious Commandress, her fez will bear the title Past Illustrious Commandress.

This fez was once owned by a member of Menelik Court No. 53, in Oakland, California. This court was founded in 1922, only a dozen years after the national organization was established. The court celebrated its centennial last year. According to the desert-inspired terminology used by Shrine groups, Menelik Court is in the “Oasis of Oakland” in the “Desert of California.”

The fez is made of white wool decorated with embroidery, multi-colored rhinestones, and a tassel. Many fezzes from the Imperial Court were similarly ornamented. In addition to the designs on the front, this fez has rhinestone-studded tassel holders on the side to keep its long black tassel in place. With this volume of rhinestones, ceremonial parades featuring Imperial Court Daughters had a certain sparkle to them. You can visit the links below for images of the group, including a photograph from the 1950s where five Menelik Court Daughters in their fezzes are shown being driven in a parade in Oakland. Their driver wears the fez of Menelik Temple No. 36, Menelik Court’s corresponding A.E.A.O.N.M.S chapter.

The fezzes worn by Imperial Court Daughters, A.E.A.O.N.M.S. Nobles, and other fraternal members came from regalia supply companies located all over the United States. The Menelik Court fez in our collection bears a tag on the inside that reads: "Styled By Cincinnati Regalia, 113 W. Fourth St. 4th FL, Cincinnati, OH 45202.” The Cincinnati Regalia Company (1895 - 1998) supplied costumes, accessories, and ritual items to Masonic and other fraternal groups, as well as uniforms and equipment to municipal and voluntary organizations.

This regalia maker was located at a number of different addresses along Fourth Street during its century of operations. The January 5, 1986 Cincinnati Enquirer ran an ad for an auction of “odds & ends from Cincinnati Regalia Co. relocating from 139 W. 4th Street to 113 W. 4th Street.” When the company folded in 1998, its final address was 113 W. 4th Street, so it appears the company was located at that address from 1986-1998. This information from the tag helps date our fez to within those dozen years.

This stylish item helps the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library tell a story of local African American organizations and national regalia supply companies. If you’d like to learn more about the Imperial Court, visit a post we published about a photograph of Daughters from Philadelphia. For more on this fez and the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library’s African American fraternal material, you can dig into a recent article in The Northern Light.

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Further Reading:


New to the Collection: Pyramid Court Daughters

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Members of Pyramid Court No. 17, 1960s. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 2022.008.4.

In this photograph, new to the collection in 2022, a group of women wearing white dresses and either white fezzes or a crown poses for a photo with a man in a suit wearing a darker fez. This image features members of a women’s auxiliary group of Prince Hall Shriners, the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles Mystic Shrine of North and South America and Its Jurisdictions, Inc. in Philadelphia in the 1960s. Historically Black fraternal groups in the United States have a fascinating history and objects like this photograph help us better understand it.

Based on organization proceedings and area newspapers, this photo appears to show members of Pyramid Court No. 17, Imperial Court Auxiliary, A.E.A.O.N.M.S., Philadelphia along with one member of Pyramid Temple No. 1, A.E.A.O.N.M.S., also of Philadelphia. The A.E.A.O.N.M.S. was founded in 1893 in Chicago as a charitable, benevolent, fraternal, and social organization, dedicated to the welfare and extension of Prince Hall Freemasonry. Its women’s auxiliary was founded in 1910 in Detroit. The latter group was established at the behest of a committee headed by Hannah Brown, Esther Wilson, and Lucy Blackburn, wives of Prince Hall Shriners from Maryland, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. These women and others had already created eight “courts” (similar to Shrine Temples or Masonic lodges) for female relatives of A.E.A.O.N.M.S. members. In 1909, they requested an official “Grand Court” to oversee the activities of the local groups.

This international organization, then known as the Imperial Grand Court of the Daughters of Isis, is now called the Imperial Court. The organization boasts more than nine thousand members that meet in more than two hundred courts throughout the United States, as well as Canada, Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Korea and Western Europe. Members are known as Daughters.

Their regalia includes ceremonial collars worn with white dresses, shoes, and gloves, along with white fezzes or crowns. Decorated with embroidery and/or rhinestones, these fezzes bear the name of the owner’s court and a profile of the Egyptian goddess Isis. When a Daughter serves as Imperial Commandress, the presiding officer of a court, she wears a crown in place of a fez. In this photograph, since a woman in the center of the group wears a crown, she was likely the Imperial Commandress of Pyramid Court No. 17 when the photo was taken.

In their analysis of African American fraternal groups over a period of around one hundred fifty years, social scientists Theda Skocpol and Jennifer Lynn Oser found that “black women played an unusually strong role in African American fraternal federations.” The Imperial Court is an excellent example of Black women leading fraternal groups. It exists because women who were already organizing local courts applied for official recognition from A.E.A.O.N.M.S. The auxiliary’s schedule of meetings, fundraising events, and annual sessions is very similar to that of the brother organization.

In the past and today, the women’s and men’s groups under the umbrella of the A.E.A.O.N.M.S. gather together at an annual joint session. Daughters of the Imperial Court Auxiliary and Nobles of A.E.A.O.N.M.S. work together at all levels to accomplish the charitable, social, and Masonic goals of Prince Hall Shriners.

If you know of or have any materials related to the A.E.A.O.N.M.S. or its women’s auxiliary, please let us know by writing in the comments section below.

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References and Further Reading:


Digital Collections Highlight: African American Freemasonry & Fraternalism

A2018_006_001 PH GLNY 1962 Masonic certThe Van Gorden-Williams Digital Collections website features nearly a thousand documents in twelve different collections. This February, we’re highlighting the African American Freemasonry & Fraternalism collection.

This collection brings together a number of documents related to historically Black fraternal organizations, including many related to Prince Hall Freemasonry.

A leading citizen in Boston’s eighteenth-century Black community, Prince Hall (1738-1807) was an abolitionist who petitioned the Massachusetts’ legislature to end slavery, and a Methodist who campaigned for schools to educate the African-American children of Boston. Hall was a leather dresser by trade who, in 1777, supplied drum heads to the Boston Regiment of Artillery. Drawn to Freemasonry’s values and opportunities, Hall, a former slave, tried to join Boston’s Masonic lodges in the early 1770s, but was denied membership.

African American men’s participation in Freemasonry is generally traced back to the March 6, 1775 initiation of Prince Hall and fourteen other Black men in Lodge No. 441, a British military lodge attached to the 38th Regiment of Foot. A year later, as the Siege of Boston was ending, the military lodge that had initiated Hall was evacuating Boston, but before they left, the lodge granted Prince Hall and his brethren authority to meet as a lodge, bury their dead, and march in processions for St. John’s Day. However, they were not given authority to confer degrees or perform any other “work.” With this authority granted to them, Prince Hall and his brethren organized as African Lodge No. 1 on July 3, 1775, with Hall as Master.

In order to become a fully functioning lodge that could confer degrees, African Lodge No. 1 needed to be chartered. Unable to obtain a charter from a Grand Lodge in the United States, they appealed to the Grand Lodge of England and were granted a charter on September 29, 1784 as African Lodge No. 459. Hall then founded lodges in Philadelphia and Providence. These three lodges eventually joined to form African Grand Lodge. It wasn’t until 1847, forty years after Prince Hall's death, that members of African Grand Lodge changed their name to Prince Hall Grand Lodge, in honor of their founder. Nearly 250 years after Prince Hall was initiated, Prince Hall Freemasonry continues to thrive today.

Be sure to check out previous blog posts which highlight documents from this collection.

Freemasonry and the First Black-Owned TV Station in the United States

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

Pictured above:

Prince Hall Master Mason certificate issued to Russell L. Randolph, 1962. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Lexington, Massachusetts. MA 007. Museum Purchase.


Now on View - Recent Acquisitions in the Library & Archives

A2021_021_006_webThe exhibition currently on view in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives reading room features some recent acquisitions. This circular is among the items.

On June 7, 1893, the worst fire in Fargo, North Dakota’s history, destroyed much of the town, including its city hall, the business district, and homes of most of Fargo’s 6,000 residents. This circular describes the destruction, which included “every Lodge Room in the City.” The General Relief Committee of Northern Light Lodge No. 1 sent out this appeal for donations to other Odd Fellows. It noted that fifty members of the lodge “lost home, business and everything they possessed.” If you are interested in learning more about the fire, the North Dakota State University Archives has a page about the fire, including photos that depict the devastation.

The Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives is one of the premiere repositories in the United States for the study of Freemasonry and fraternalism and is recognized as one of six major Masonic libraries in the country. Its collections reflect the Museum’s scope of Freemasonry, fraternalism, and American history. The Library & Archives holds one of the world's most comprehensive collections on the subject of Freemasonry, as well as other fraternal organizations, such as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias, whose development paralleled or was influenced by Masonry.

The Library & Archives collections pre-date the founding of the Museum in 1975, with the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction’s Supreme Council library collections forming the nucleus of the Van Gorden-Williams Library. Since its inception, the Library & Archives has continued to add to its holdings—from unique manuscripts to the latest scholarship on fraternalism—through purchases and donations.

The Library & Archives encourages both serious and casual researchers to consult its collections and learn more about American history, especially the wide variety of fraternal groups that have been part of our national story, and which demonstrate the role that Masonic and fraternal organizations have played—and continue to play—in American life.

Do you have something you're interested in donating? Feel free to get in touch with us through the museum's website.

Caption:

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Circular Letter, 1893
Issued by Northern Light Lodge, No. 1
Fargo, North Dakota
Museum Purchase, A2021/021/006


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

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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.

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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.


Temperance & Women's Suffrage

A2005_001_014_webFounded in 1852, with a Grand Lodge of North America organized in 1855, the Independent Order of Good Templars (IOGT) was a total abstinence temperance organization. From its inception, the group accepted men and women equally as members. Women frequently held elected office within the organization. The temperance movement in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - with much of its leadership and organization comprised of women - was also aligned with the women's suffrage movement, which led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment one hundred years ago this month.

Shown here is a recently digitized IOGT membership certificate from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's collection. Issued in 1867, the certificate states that Helen Peck was admitted as a member of Temp Star Lodge, No. 146, of Hyde Park, Pennsylvania in 1866. 

This certificate is part of the Women and Freemasonry & Fraternalism collection at the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website.

There are now over 800 items in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website. Be sure to visit and check them all out!

Caption:

Membership certificate issued by Temp Star Lodge, No. 146, to Helen Peck, 1867. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Lexington, Massachusetts. FR 007.


Lewis Carroll, Deputy Snarks, Hoo Hoos, and Las Vegas

A2003_011_001DS1_webOn November 16, 1955, the Concatenated Order of the Hoo Hoo's Office of the Snark of the Universe issued this State Deputy Snark appointment certificate to Vaughn H. McDowell (1913-1977), a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada. This is one of many fraternal certificates in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's collection.

Established in Gurdon, Arkansas, on January 21, 1892, by six men with various connections to the lumber industry, the Concatenated Order of the Hoo Hoo is still around today. Now known as Hoo-Hoo International, the group's mission is to "achieve a united and progressive forest products industry through fraternal participation in its business, social and community programs so that there may result, Health, Happiness and Long Life to its members." The group is open to people eighteen years and older, "who are engaged in the forestry product industry or any person genuinely interested in supporting the purpose and aims of our order." The group's name may be unusual-sounding - maybe even silly - but they are a business-minded group that bills itself as the "Fraternal Order of the Forest Products Industry."

Hoo Hoo? Snark? Deputy Snark? Fraternal officer's titles can be grand, and sometimes even strange, but Snark of the Universe is perhaps in a category of its own. Where did these names come from?

According to the group's own history [PDF], two of the founders, William E. Barnes and Bolling Arthur Johnson, were responsible for the group's nonsensical names, many of which were directly inspired by a poem written by Lewis Carroll, who is perhaps best remembered as the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The Hoo-Hoo's own history reports that

W. E. Barns had just completed reading Lewis Carroll's "Hunting of the Snark" and suggested that the directors be given names of an "eerie and peculiar" nature like those used in the book. Hence, the names "snark", "bojum", "Sr. High Hoo-Hoo", "Jr. High Hoo-Hoo", and "bandersnatch" were chosen, although "jabberwock" later replaced "bandersnatch". The other names which are now affixed to officers (e.g. Scrivenoter, Arcanoper, Custocatian, and Gurdon) were the products of Johnson's imagination some days or weeks later.

In addition to "eerie and peculiar" titles, the group's logo is a black cat with its tail curved into the shape of a number 9, which can be seen on McDowell's certificate. The organization explains the choice of a black cat as its mascot in its own history:

Being a war upon conventionality, Hoo-Hoo was to be non-superstitious from the beginning. Therefore, when the discussion lent itself to adopting a mascot it seemed the black cat would be the critter extraordinaire due to its general association with bad luck. Also, having no history of its own, Hoo-Hoo would assume some other history, decidedly that of ancient Egyptians who worshipped the black cat as a deity. (Other Egyptian religious symbols and lore found its way into Hoo-Hoo in later years through the Osirian Cloister, an "upper chamber" of Hoo-Hoo consisting of the order's most dedicated workers.) In honor of the legendary nine lives of the cat, Johnson suggested that the number nine assume a high and lofty position within the makeup of Hoo-Hoo. There would be nine men on the Board of Directors. The order would hold its annual meeting on the ninth day of the ninth month beginning at nine minutes after nine. Annual dues would be 99 cents, and the initiation fee would be $9.99. The membership would never consist of more than 9,999 men.

Vaughn McDowell was a member of Reno Hoo-Hoo club No. 129, which served Reno and the surrounding area. McDowell moved to Nevada in 1950, first living in Reno and then, in 1954, moving to Las Vegas. In 1955, the Hoo Hoo's chief officer, the Snark of the Universe, appointed McDowell to the position of Deputy Snark (i.e. chief representative) of Nevada. McDowell was involved in the lumber industry. A 1952 Reno city directory lists him as being manager of the Home Lumber Company in that city. The 1954 Las Vegas city directory shows that McDowell was manager of M & T Builder's Supply.

You can take a closer look at McDowell's Deputy Snark certificate at the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website.

Caption:

State Deputy Snark appointment certificate, 1955. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Gift of Anthony Ziagos, A2003/011/001.