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Historic Mysterious Fraternal Organizations

Photos of fraternal organizations and their members since photography was first used over 150 years ago.

Do you use Facebook or Linked In? Both are current of examples of ways of networking - but fraternal organizations are the time-tested way to network. Without the internet, a fraternal order allowed you to meet people - usually men - of like mind, character, and purpose and to often advance your status in life.

Examples of a few of the fraternal organizations of the past that still exist today, despite the internet:

The Knights of Columbus, founded in 1882. You must be a male Catholic in good standing and must vow to “defend your country, your family and your faith.”

The Junior Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1920, is comprised of men and women between the ages of 18 and 40 and is a leadership and civic organization for young people.

The Kiwanis was founded in 1915 and just about anyone can join. Originally, their motto was "We build" but in 2005 the motto "Serving the Children of the World" was chosen.

The Rotary Club was founded in 1905. Membership is by invitation only and you must be 18. The Club is proud of "being an organization of business and community leaders who strive to make a difference in the world."

The Loyal Order of Moose was founded in 1888 and membership is by invitation only. Prospective members must profess a belief in a supreme being. The Order donates about $75 million each year to serve at-risk youth and the elderly, as well as other charities.

The Independent Order of Oddfellows was founded in the 1700's. Men or women can join but he or she must believe in a supreme being and be “faithful to their country.” Their three links stand for friendship, love, and truth. The Order spends about $775 million annually on relief projects worldwide.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was founded in 1868. Members must be U.S. citizens and believe in God. Both men and women are eligible and membership is by invitation only. Elks donate mainly to student scholarships and veterans.

The Freemasons was founded around 1717 in London - the oldest written records - but scholars say that the order may even date back to the stonemasons' guilds of the Middle Ages. Fourteen U.S. Presidents were known to be Masons, as well as many of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Prospective members must believe in a supreme being, be a man of good repute, be able to support himself and his family, and live a moral and ethical life. It is estimated that Freemasons donate approximately $2 million per day to charitable causes.

Did you know that fraternal organizations are known to have existed as far back as ancient Greece and Rome? These historic societies may have been religious or secular - or they may have consisted of tradesmen - and were comprised of men, women, or both. In the United States alone, there are hundreds of fraternal organizations: Fraternal organizations include college fraternities, the Freemasons, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Elks, the Knights of Columbus, the Fraternal Order of Police, and many more. Browse the historic photos of some members of fraternal organizations from the past century below.

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Taken in .
A photo of the Lodge room, Paul Revere Lodge, Brockton, Massachusetts.
Shared on Jan 11, 2012 by
Taken in .
African American man wearing fraternal order collar and apron] / A.C. Golsh,... more
Shared on Jan 9, 2012 by
Taken in .
A 1908 photo of a man wearing Mason hat, seated, embracing a woman.
Shared on Jan 9, 2012 by
Taken in .
A photo of an unidentified man, about 60 years of age, in Masonic regalia,... more
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Shared on Jan 9, 2012 by
Taken in .
New York, New York. Saturday night gathering of the members of the Venetia... more
Shared on Jan 9, 2012 by
Taken in .
I love to love a Mason, 'cause a Mason never tells Caricature of secret... more
Shared on Jan 9, 2012 by
Taken in .
Elizabeth Aldworth was the first recorded woman to be initiated into... more
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Shared on Dec 25, 2011 by
A photo of Francis Poe Boyce, Eagle Scout.
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Shared on Jul 13 by
Taken at Philmont Scout Ranch, Cimarron, Colfax County, NM on .
A photo of James R. Baskin at Philmont Scout Ranch when James was 16.Top... more
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Shared on Jul 9 by
Taken at Redmen Building, Kewanee, Henry County, IL.
This statue of a Native American Indian still stands today [2018 ] , on the... more
Shared on Feb 23 by
A photo of a weird Cabinet Card - Kewanee Illinois. No idea what this man is... more
Shared on Feb 9 by
Taken in Wheeling, Ohio County, WV in .
A photo of possibly a GAR Reunion in Wheeling, West Virginia.
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Shared on Feb 1, 2017 by
Taken in .
John Baptist Inman was elected National Commander of the Grand Army of the... more
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Shared on Jan 8, 2017 by
A photo of Leonard B. Chapman, member of the Moose. This photo of me was... more
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Shared on Aug 3, 2016 by
A photo of a portrait of Joseph Smith, Founder of Mormonism and a Freemason.... more
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Shared on Jul 13, 2016 by
A photo of an early group of Co-Masons, founded in England in 1908 (inspired... more
Shared on Jul 12, 2016 by
A photo of Annie Besant in her Co-Mason regalia. She also fought for women's... more
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Shared on Jul 12, 2016 by
Taken in Okemah, Okfuskee County, OK in .
The back of the photo says Boy Scout band, Okemah, Okla. The license plate on... more
Shared on Jun 2, 2016 by
Taken in .
A photo of Alice Dorothy Caroff (in the center of this photograph, standing)... more
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Shared on May 30, 2016 by
Taken in .
A photo of Anthony Braunger Knighted into the Holy Order of the Jerusalem... more
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Shared on May 23, 2016 by
Taken in San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA in .
A photo of Peter Westfalius, who came to USA like a lot of european young men... more
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Shared on Dec 12, 2015 by
Taken in MD in .
A photo of Cordelia Powell Odenheimer, my great great grand aunt . She was... more
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Shared on Oct 26, 2015 by