fraternal orders


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fraternal orders,

organizations whose members are usually bound by oath and who make extensive use of secret ritual in the conduct of their meetings. Most fraternal orders are limited to members of one sex, although some include both men and women. The best-known orders are the Freemasons (see FreemasonryFreemasonry,
teachings and practices of the secret fraternal order officially known as the Free and Accepted Masons, or Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. Organizational Structure
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) and the Odd Fellows, both of which originated in 18th-century England (although enthusiasts have placed the origin of the Freemasons at the time of the construction of Solomon's Temple). Most American fraternal orders were established in the 19th cent. Many were formed for a special purpose or for the benefit of particular groups; e.g., the Patrons of Husbandry, or the Grange (see Granger movementGranger movement,
American agrarian movement taking its name from the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, an organization founded in 1867 by Oliver H. Kelley and six associates. Its local units were called granges and its members grangers.
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), was founded to improve the lot of the farmer and was for a time an important political force. To a large degree, though, these organizations expressed a desire to establish principally male rituals. The Knights of ColumbusKnights of Columbus,
American Roman Catholic society for men, founded (1882) at New Haven, Conn. (where its headquarters are still located), by Father Michael J. McGivney.
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 was formed (1882) to provide a fraternal order for Roman Catholics free of the oath-taking requirement to which they were opposed. Other orders, founded when commercial insurance companies did not extend coverage to workers, provided sickness and death benefits to members. That function of fraternal orders declined as insurance companies expanded their coverage, and today most fraternal orders serve mainly as charitable institutions and social centers. Other well-known fraternal orders and their years of founding in the United States are the Order of Hibernians (1836), Knights of Pythias (1864), and Benevolent and Protective Order of ElksElks, Benevolent and Protective Order of,
fraternal and charitable society founded (1868) in New York City. Through the Elks National Foundation, located in Chicago, the group carries on a broad-ranging program of charity and welfare, giving to such organizations as the
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 (1868).

Bibliography

See M. C. Carnes, Meanings for Manhood (1990).

References in periodicals archive ?
In the last third of the nineteenth century, five and a half million men were members of the major fraternal orders in America and millions of other American men belonged to the smaller fraternal orders or to secular organizations which also stressed elaborate initiation rites.
53) Dumenil's study is of more than local importance since fraternal orders universally subscribed to the masonic practice of initiations and symbolic dramas.