Fraternal groups (not Masonic)

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.

 


Fraternal Order Orioles

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Fraternal Order Orioles Plate, 1913. Buffalo Pottery, Buffalo, New York. Museum Purchase, 2017.007.3. Photograph by David Bohl.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently acquired a group of ceramics related to a variety of fraternal groups, including the interesting Fraternal Order Orioles. Founders established the Fraternal Order Orioles, a social and charitable organization, in Rochester, New York, in 1910. The Orioles, first named Order of Owls, was modeled after fraternal groups like the Oddfellows and Freemasons. Local Oriole groups still meet today in "subordinate nests," regional groups in “grand nests,” and the national governing group in “supreme nests.”  They continue to fundraise for charitable causes and for provide benefits for members and their families.

Buffalo Pottery, an American ceramics company, made these particular Oriole steins and plate in Buffalo, New York, in 1913. The date, April 16-27, 1913 and the German words “Deutscher Jahrmarkt,” which translates to “German Fair,” are printed on all three pieces accompanied by an image of an oriole or the Buffalo Orioles hall. The name and dates suggest the wares may have been created to commemorate a German cultural fair sponsored by the Orioles in Buffalo in 1913. The Orioles were headquartered in Buffalo in the early 1900s and Buffalo Nest #1 built a hall in downtown Buffalo in 1914. The Buffalo hall is printed on one of the steins pictured below. A Ukrainian American community group purchased the building in 1955.

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Fraternal Order Orioles steins, 1913. Buffalo Pottery, Buffalo, New York. Museum Purchase, 2017.007.6 & 8. Photographs by David Bohl

In 1901, the Larkin Soap Co., a Buffalo soap manufacturer, created Buffalo Pottery to produce premiums for soap products. Premium products included pottery and art wares, handkerchiefs, small lithographs, and furniture. They were included in single or bulk soap purchases made by mail order or at certain retail outlets and meant to entice customers to buy more soap products.The Larkin Soap Co. was one of the country’s largest mail-order companies in the early 1900s. Buffalo pottery created individualized commemorative wares for different organizations and civic groups in the early 1900s. Many of these wares were similar in design with the same deep blue-green edges and gold trim seen on these examples. 

Buffalo pottery changed its name to Buffalo China, Inc. in 1956 and became one of the largest suppliers of commercial dinnerware through the 1960s. Oneida Limited company purchased Buffalo China in the early 1980s. The Buffalo production facility closed down in the mid-2000s. Are you or someone in your family a member of the Orioles? Do you have any items, information, or photographs related to the Orioles?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

References:

Seymour and Violet Altman, The Book of Buffalo Pottery (New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1969)


Collectible Tobacco Silks

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Tobacco Silk Pillow Cover, 1908-1915. Effie Meyers (1906-1964), Plumsteadville, Pennsylvania. Gift of Francis G. Paul, 90.16.

In the early 1900s, American tobacco companies produced a variety of free tobacco premiums and souvenirs that were included with their products. One type of premium, the “tobacco silk,” also referred to as a “cigarette silk,” featured images of animals, U.S. presidents, college seals, and fraternal names and symbols. Manufacturers marketed the silks as collectible items that could be used to make quilts and other textiles. The silks, often made of satin, featured both printed and embroidered images.

The pillow cover to the right, in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection, is one example of how consumers may have used these silks. The pillow cover, made by the donor’s grandmother in the early 1900s, includes over fifty-five silks that feature the names of different universities and fraternal groups from across the United States. The fraternal silks include officer titles, jewels, and symbols from familiar groups like the Freemasons, Knights of Columbus, and Elks.

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Detail, Tobacco Silk Pillow Cover, 1908-1915, Effie Meyers (1906-1964), Plumsteadville, Pennsylvania. Gift of Francis G. Paul, 90.16.

The names of two American tobacco companies active in the early 1900s, Egyptienne Luxury and Turkey Red, are woven at the bottom of the silks. Both companies capitalized on the popularity of Turkish and Egyptian cigarettes in Europe and America from the 1880s through World War I. The tobacco silk premium promotion was relatively short-lived. They were only included in packaging or as something consumers could send away for from about 1900 to 1915. The number and variety of fraternal groups included in silk promotion illustrates the popularity fraternal organizations enjoyed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Has someone in your family made a textile with tobacco silks? Do you have your own collection of fraternal silks? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

 References:

Robert Forbes and Terence R. Mitchell, American Tobacco Cards: A Price Guide and Checklist, Wisconsin: Krause Publications, 1999.


The Importance of Research in Creating Connections to the Past

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Colored Odd Fellows Handbill

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 Envelope (front)

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Envelope (back)

At the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, research helps the museum’s staff of professionals not only to establish the history or provenance of the objects we collect, but also helps us to better understand the past lives of the people connected to these objects.

This week, we feature a new acquisition, a handbill that publicized an “Amateur Minstrels” show for the “Benefit of the Colored Odd Fellows.” The handbill was acquired with an envelope, postmarked February, 27, 1907, and is addressed to William Russ of Clarksburg, West Virginia. Research into this document has narrowed its sender to one of three people: Wilbur Miles, the headlining performer mentioned in the enclosed handbill, Agnes C. Stuart, or her daughter Katherine Stuart Godfrey. As this report from the society page of the Clarksburg Telegram (December 13, 1906) explains, it was customary for the Stuart family to spend their winters in Florida, and during the winter of 1906-1907, Agnes C. Stuart brought two members of her family with her.  

“Mrs. Agnes C. Stuart and daughter, Miss Kathyrine [sic], left today for St. Lucie, Fla., to spend the winter. Wilbur Miles, colored, joined them from Birmingham, Ala. Mrs. Stuart raised him and on that account, as he requested to be taken along she granted the request.”

The Stuart family were prominent citizens of Clarksburg, and as burial records for the town’s Odd Fellows cemetery reveals, at least three generations of Stuarts were buried there and were members of the Odd Fellows. It is likely that Wilbur Miles was introduced to Odd Fellowship through his relationship with the Stuarts and may have been a member of its African American counterpart, the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in America.

In addition to caring for the young Wilbur Miles, the Federal Census reports for the years 1870 and 1880 indicate that Agnes’ parents, William and Catherine, may have cared for another member of Wilbur’s family, Rosa D. Miles, who eventually 

 

became the family’s domestic servant and was identified as “mulatto” or mixed race in the records. Research has yet to establish her connection to Wilbur; however, it is possible that Rosa was either Wilbur’s mother or older sister.

As for the recipient of the handbill, William Russ, how was he connected to the Stuart family and to Wilbur Miles?  Federal Census records for the years 1900 and 1920 reveal that Russ, who was of mixed raced ancestry as well, worked as a construction worker for himself and later for Katherine Stuart Godfrey, Agnes’ daughter. In fact, for the 1942 draft, Russ listed Katherine as both his employer and as a “person who will always know your address” on his draft registration card.
 
Do you have any information regarding the history of this document or the people behind its creation? Or would you like to learn more about African American Minstrel performers? Feel free to contact us or to comment about this topic in the comments section below.

 


Captions

Colored Odd Fellows Handbill and Envelope Addressed to William Russ, February 1907. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, FR 160.001.


Fraternal Bomber Jackets

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Degree of Pocahontas Jacket, 1980s. The Ltd., United States. Museum Purchase, 2017.009.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently acquired two bomber jackets embroidered with emblems for the fraternal group, Degree of Pocahontas and Improved Order of Red Men.The Degree of Pocahontas, also known as the Daughters of Pocahontas, is an American women’s fraternal auxiliary group founded in 1885 and associated with The Improved Order of Red Men. The Improved Order of Red Men officially formed in 1834 in Baltimore, Maryland with three basic tenets: Freedom, Friendship, and Charity.

The group’s national office and museum is currently located in Waco, Texas.  Today there are 11,000 Order of Red Men members and 5,500 Degree of Pocahontas members, in the United States. Both groups use names, regalia, and paraphernalia modeled after generalized ideas of American Indian culture. According to fraternal histories, members established these groups “with the express purpose of increasing patriotism, encouraging love of the flag, and maintaining the customs and legends of a once vanishing race.”   The organizations identify local chapters as “tribes,” states as “hunting grounds” and “reservations,” and officers as “Keepers of Wampum” and “Chiefs.” 

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Improved Order of Red Men Jacket, 1980s. English Creek Sportswear, United States. Museum Purchase, 2017.010.

According to collectors’ notes, a since closed sporting goods store in New Jersey sold these jackets in the 1980s. The red Order of Red Men jacket also features the embroidered names of a chapter and city—the Pohatcong Tribe 61 in Tuckerton, New Jersey. Chartered in 1884, Pohatcong Tribe 61 still meets today, as does the Degree of Pocahontas Ptesan-Wi Council No. 1, also located in Tuckerton. We are currently researching the sporting goods store that sold the jackets, when they were sold, and if members of the Ptesan-Wi Council No.1 and Pohatcong Tribe 61 purchased or wore jackets like this one. If you have any ideas, please let us know in the comments section below.

To learn more about other Improved Order of Red Men items in our collection visit our previous blog.

 

Many thanks to David Lintz, Executive Director, Improved Order of Red Men Museum and Library, Waco, Texas.

 

References:

Alvin Schmidt, Fraternal Organizations Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Institutions (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1980), 287-289

Robert E. Davis, History Improved Order of Red Men (Waco, Texas: Davis Brothers Publishing Co., Inc., 1988) 24, 40.

George W. Lindsay, Official history of the Improved Order of Red Men (Boston, MA: Fraternity Pub. Co., 1893) 618.

 

 

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Marching with the Odd Fellows

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“The home boys and girls always present a pleasing appearance and they were at their best today.”

                                                    – The Elkins Inter-Mountain, Oct. 30, 1930

Mention a “marching band,” and many of us immediately think of large groups of high school, college, or military musicians, performing in perfect synchronization for a parade or a football game. Maybe you remember watching Robert Preston as Harold Hill leading seventy-six trombones in The Music Man (1962) or seeing members of The Ohio State University Marching Band form a moonwalking Michael Jackson on YouTube. But marching bands have not always been merely the purview of high schools, militaries, and universities.

In the photo above, we see twenty-two members of an Independent Order of Odd Fellows Home Band. Made up of boys and girls of a range of ages—and one older male cornetist, who was possibly a bandleader or conductor—this particular band represented the Odd Fellows Home in Elkins, West Virginia, around 1930. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows fraternity was, and is, primarily a beneficent organization. One of the more notable projects of the Odd Fellows was the establishment of dozens of homes “for training the orphans of Odd Fellows, [and for] the care of the aged and inform members [and] their wives and sister Rebekahs [the women’s auxiliary organization to the Odd Fellows].”

The Odd Fellows Home in Elkins was no small establishment. Dedicated in 1910, the stately brick facility housed some 210 “brothers, sisters, and orphans” and included a 225-acre farm. A 1927 Album of Odd Fellows Homes listed the value of the Elkins Home buildings and grounds at $300,000, or roughly $8.57 million in 2015 dollars.

Likewise, we can see a great deal of pride from among the group in this picture. Note that they elected to be photographed along with their bus, suggesting they traveled in the region. Though the band hailed from Elkins, the studio stamp in the bottom right corner of the photograph is from Newlon Studio in Spencer, West Virginia, about 100 miles to the west. Either they, or their photographer, traveled to make this photo. We see, also, that the band members have taken a great deal of care in their appearance. Note the pressed, matching uniforms, the well-shined bell of the sousaphone at the far right, and several girls set their hats at jaunty angles. Finally, there’s always a lot to learn from what happens in the background of a photograph. Along the ridge behind the street, we see that over a dozen men, women, and children turned out to witness this picture being taken—perhaps a testament to the notoriety of the event.

But this leaves aside a central question: why a band for the Odd Fellows Home? First, as with many fraternal organizations, the Odd Fellows themselves had a rich tradition of songs and ceremonial music. The Odd Fellows Pocket Companion and Minstrel from 1873, a manual of organization lore, ritual, and songs, included 144 pages of “odes” for occasions ranging from the opening of meetings to member funerals. However, it’s more likely that the function of this particular band would have been more for community entertainment than for ceremony. This Odd Fellows Home Band would have been one among many thousands of bands representing organizations, schools, and municipalities around the world in the early 20th century. Military and militia (i.e. civilian “military-style”) bands had been an important source of music and entertainment since the 1800s. As music historian Raoul F. Camus wrote, by one estimate there were 10,000 such groups in the United States by 1889. He continued:

Professional and amateur bands appeared at military and civilian ceremonies and parades, concerts, amusement parks, seaside resorts, county and state fairs, and national and international expositions. Their repertory ranged from the ever popular marches, songs, waltzes and novelties to the classical standards of the day. Many North Americans had their first, and usually only, exposure to the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, Verdi, Liszt and Wagner through these bands. Opera selections and variations were performed by leading soloists, and even grand operas were staged.

Following John Philip Sousa’s establishment of his own band in 1892, professional bands further expanded in popularity. By the time this photograph of the Odd Fellows Home Band was taken around 1930, Sousa had led his band on four tours of Europe and a world tour. In addition to the numerous professional bands that sprang up in Sousa’s wake, an even wider array of amateur bands arose, including bands for service organizations (including the Salvation Army), cities, and even companies and factories. So an Odd Fellows Home Band would not have been at all unusual in that respect, and indeed, several other Odd Fellows homes and chapters established bands of their own.

The Odd Fellows Home Band in Elkins likely served a deeper purpose for the organization. In his 2010 history of The Oddfellows, Daniel Weinbren wrote that a central concern of the Odd Fellows’ ceremony, practice, and belief structure was the establishment of respectability; in other words, the Odd Fellows organization wished to show that it was respectable and honorable. One way of doing so was though caring for the less fortunate. These philanthropic activities led to the establishment of the charitable home in Elkins. But another way to demonstrate respectability was through public ceremony, such as parades. In England (the Odd Fellows branch of Weinbren’s focus), brothers marched in parades dressed in their regalia and carried intricately decorated banners in order to promote their work and boost membership. Public ceremonies like parades “helped to remind members and potential members of the importance of ordered, organised mutuality.” By putting on attractive displays for spectators, Odd Fellows sought in part to express the high moral aims of their organization. And it seems that the Odd Fellows Home Band in Elkins had a similar effect.

On October 30, 1930, Elkins, West Virginia held its first Mountain State Forest Festival. The Elkins Inter-Mountain reported “brilliant sunshine” and a number of “distinguished visitors” in attendance, including the Governor, a congressman, and the chairman of the State Road Commission. Of special note were the bands and military cadets: The West Virginia University cadet band attended the festival, as did cadets from the Greenbrier Military Academy. And, at 11 o’clock, “the Odd Fellows home band made its appearance on the streets…and added to the color of the occasion. The home boys and girls always present a pleasing appearance and they were at their best today.”  

Visit our HistoryPin page to see this photograph and other collection items mapped!

Aaron Hatley volunteers in the Museum collections department.

 

Photo Caption:

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Home Band, 1930-1940. Newlon Studio, Spencer, West Virginia. Museum purchase through the generosity of the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A., 2010.017.

References:

Ida F. Wolfe, ed.,  Album of Odd Fellows Homes (Minneapolis: Joseph M. Wolfe, 1927)

I.D. Williamson, The Odd Fellows Pocket Companion and Minstrel (Cincinnati: R.W. Carroll, 1873)

Keith Polk et al., “Band,” Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online

Daniel Weinbren, The Oddfellows, 1810-2010: Two Hundred Years of Making Friends and Helping People (Lancaster: Carnegie Publishing, 2010).

West Virginia Division of Culture and History. First Annual Mountain State Forest Festival. http://www.wvculture.org/History/entertainment/forestfestival02.html (accessed February 2017).

 

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New to the Collection: Scandinavian Fraternity of America Sign

2015_066DP1DBBy 1900, over 250 fraternal groups existed in the United States, numbering six million members.  Part of this surge in fraternal organizations during the late 1800s came from the formation of numerous ethnic fraternities.  As immigration to the United States increased, foreigners in this new world sought out their countrymen and joined fraternal groups for social reasons, as well as to partake of the benefits that these groups offered, from help with securing employment to financial assistance for themselves and their families.  The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library actively collects objects associated with ethnic fraternal groups.  Recently we purchased this colorful sign at auction.

The sign was originally used by Mayflower Lodge No. 200 of the Scandinavian Fraternity of America.  This is the museum's first acquisition associated with this group.  The sign probably hung where the lodge met.  At the center it shows the fraternity's logo with pyramids or mountains and a golden sun.  Along the sides of the central triangle it reads "Svea / Nora / Dana," presumably representing the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

The Scandinavian Fraternity of America was founded in 1915, probably in Chicago.  One source suggests that it was a consolidation of three other organizations, including the Scandinavian Brotherhood of America and possibly the Scandinavian American Fraternity (although another source explicitly says that this one is unrelated).  It was open to both women and men.

Unfortunately, we have not been able to determine exactly where Mayflower Lodge No. 200 met, although it seems likely that it was a New England or even Massachusetts lodge.  The choice of such a quintessentially American name for the lodge seems at odds with a Scandinavian fraternity, but suggests a desire by the members to embrace their new country.  If you have any information about Mayflower Lodge No. 200, or other objects, documents or photos associated with the Scandinavian Fraternity of America, please let us know in a comment below!

Scandinavian Fraternity of America Mayflower Lodge No. 200 Sign, 1915-1945, Fred Hagberg, United States, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, 2015.066.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Sources:

Alan Axelrod, The International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Fraternal Orders (New York: Facts on File 1997), 221.

Arthur Preuss, comp., A Dictionary of Secret and Other Societies (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1924), 423.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania website: http://www2.hsp.org/collections/Balch%20manuscript_guide/html/sfa.html.

 


Odd Fellows Props: David's Harp

2016.021 AutoharpRecently, a generous donor presented this autoharp (at left) to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library for our collection. The donor was intrigued by the label visible inside that mentions the Masonic Temple in Chicago, Illinois.  The reference to the Masonic Temple on the label relates to the location of the autoharp’s retailer rather than any implied Masonic ritual use.

A “Pianoette” like this one was first patented in 1916. For more on its development, see this website.  As the label indicates, Samuel C. Osborn was selling these instruments for $25 apiece.  While these were produced and sold for general musical use, there are similar autoharps that appear in catalogs for Odd Fellows lodges (see photo on right from a 1908 Pettibone Brothers Mfg. Co. catalog).  The catalog explains that it could be "very easily learned by anyone having any musical ability."Pettibone harp catalog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001_084S1NPIn Odd Fellows ritual, a “self-playing harp” is a prop for the character of David in the fraternity’s First, or Friendship, Degree. The ritual traces the biblical story of David and Jonathan teaching that “Odd Fellows…should maintain their feelings and friendship to a brother under the most severe tests.”  David was known for his musical ability, which “had a pleasant effect upon the mind and a soothing effect upon the heart of King Saul.”  In our collection we have another autoharp (at left) that closely resembles several that are illustrated in Odd Fellows regalia catalogs from the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The harp shown on the cover of the 1910 C.E. Ward Company catalog (see photo at right) shows a very similar crescent shape and decoration (called the “chaldean design”) and sold for $6.50. Harp on Ward Catalog Cover

“Pianoette” Autoharp, 1916-1940, United States, gift of Larry W. Toussaint in memory of Allison Howard Toussaint, 2016.021.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Self-Playing Harp, 1900-1930, United States, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Purchase, 2001.084. Photograph by David Bohl.

References:

Rev. T.G. Beharbell, Odd Fellows Monitor and Guide, Indianapolis: Robert Douglass, 1881.