DeMolay Patrol Group, 1920-1931. Museum Purchase, 2021.016.
Here at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library we recently acquired several black and white photographs dating to the 1920s of Order of DeMolay patrol and band members. The order, a young men’s organization, was founded in 1919 by Frank S. Land (and is known today as DeMolay International). These images came into the collection with very little identifying information. They are intriguing not only because they depict DeMolay members from the some of the earliest years of the organization’s history, but also because they show a style of regalia that stands out in the context of the rest of our DeMolay-related collections. We set out to try to learn more about them.
A bit of initial detective work with our trusty magnifying glass helped us situate these images in place and time. In both images, the DeMolay emblem on the uniforms the members wear can be seen under magnification to be the one that the group’s founder, “Dad” Land, designed in 1920 and which the order used for the next 11 years. Beyond this, with the word “Oakland” emblazoned on the collar of the patrol members’ shirts (image at top), and “Hollywood” on the fez of the trumpet player (image below), it seems likely that these were members of California DeMolay’s Oakland and Hollywood Chapters.
As for the style of the costumes in these pictures, we have a number of helpful clues regarding their history. Land served for a time as Imperial Potentate of the Shrine, a group whose regalia and symbols were inspired by Middle Eastern designs; these uniforms likely reflect his involvement with this group, and the group's support of DeMolay. Further, a 1920s catalog from The C. E. Ward Co., a regalia maker in Ohio that was among a handful of manufacturers licensed to sell DeMolay supplies, shows a DeMolay fez for sale with the note that it was intended “for Patrols and Bands.”
The phase of DeMolays in Middle Eastern-style garb appears to have been short-lived, however. In the Nebraska DeMolay 75th Anniversary booklet, a 1931 photo of the Lincoln Chapter’s marching band, some 40-odd members strong, shows members by and large in military-inspired clothing. The caption below it states, “Note the three members wearing Fezzes… that was yesterday.”
Regardless of the style of dress they wore, DeMolay bands and patrol groups remained popular within the organization for decades, providing entertainment at gatherings of all kinds and helping members build skills. These striking photos make for valuable additions to our collection of DeMolay objects documenting the group’s history.
If you have any objects or information that shed light on the regalia of DeMolay’s bands and patrol groups, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch in the comments section below!
Land, Frank S. DeMolay Handbook. U.S.A.: The International Supreme Council Order of DeMolay, 1959.
Nebraska DeMolay Diamond Jubilee 1920-1995: A boy is the only thing God can use to make a man. Nebraska Masonic Youth Foundation, 1995.
“Where DeMolays Bought Jewelry and Regalia,” DeMolay International website, accessed Aug. 9, 2022. https://demolay.org/where-demolays-bought-jewelry-and-regalia/
“The Death of Frank S. Land,” DeMolay International website, accessed Aug. 15, 2022. https://demolay.org/the-death-of-frank-s-land/
Special thanks to Christian Moore at DeMolay International for his research assistance on this post.