fraternal orders

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fraternal orders

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 Freemasonry) 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 movement), 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 Columbus 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 Elks (1868).


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

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References in periodicals archive ?
Although in our time fraternal orders don't get much respect think of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton tromping off to the Loyal Order of Raccoons Lodge), they were serious business in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Clawson takes fraternal orders to be windows into the hidden recesses of the American white male psyche; peeking through, she sees a contested terrain, plagued by self doubts and the terror of humiliation.
61 in Oakland, California.(53) Dumenil's study is of more than local importance since fraternal orders universally subscribed to the masonic practice of initiations and symbolic dramas.(54) To begin with, in order to join Live Oak Lodge between 1880 and 1920, a man would have to pay annual dues of between $6-12, an initiation fee of between $50-100, and considerably more for the additional degrees of membership.
This group was instrumental in creating local newspapers and an array of fraternal orders and churches that further served the community.
The logic behind the Red Men's benefit program likewise revealed their attachment to middle-class notions of risk and highlighted the class-based differences between fraternal orders on the Comstock.