Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the number of fraternal organizations in the United States grew rapidly. Millions of Americans joined benevolent, ethnic, and religious societies. Understanding these organizations can provide insight into the lives of our ancestors.
Encyclopedia of Associations. Vol. 1. Gale Research Company. Detroit: Gale Research Co. Call #: HS17.G334 (3rd floor ready reference). Lists contact information and a brief description including date founded and number of members.
Schmidt, A. J. and N. Babchuk. Fraternal Organizations. Westport, Conn.,: Greenwood Press, 1980. Call #: Ref HS17.S3 (3rd floor open shelf). Sketches of all the major fraternal organizations, including information about allied groups and auxiliaries.
Clawson, M. A. Constructing Brotherhood : Class, Gender, and Fraternalism. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989. Call #: HS2275.C53 1989. Provides general background on fraternalism and includes a bibliography and index.
Carnes, M. C. Secret Ritual and Manhood in Victorian America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989. Call #: HS204.C37 1989. Detailed study of the fraternal rituals and secret lodges of the 19th century.
Cyndi’s List: Societies & Groups - Fraternal Organizations. Popular genealogy Web site with links to a variety of sites about fraternal organizations.
The Phoenix Masonry website has a chronology of fraternal organizations
City directories often list fraternal organizations, including the individual lodges, their addresses, officers, and meeting times. See the City Directories Inventory.
Dumenil, L. Freemasonry and American Culture, 1880- 1930. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984. Call #: HS529.D86 1984. Provides a good general introduction to Freemasonry in the United States.
Jones, B. E. Freemasons’ Guide and Compendium. London: Harrap, 1956. Call #: K93.456. Includes a listing of the Grand Lodges as well as an explanation of crafts, degrees, clothing and symbolism.
Yates, John S. Researching Masonic Records: a Guide for Genealogists. Wichita Falls, TX.: J.S.Yates, 1998. Call #: on order
Listing of lodges world wide and other links compiled by the Tabernacle Masonic Lodge of Fort Worth, Texas.
Tips on genealogical research of Masonic members, compiled by Paul M. Bessel of the Masonic Leadership Council
The National Heritage Museum founded by the 32° Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States.
Worldwide Masonic Directory, 1860. Database available from Ancestry.com (subscription required- free at the Newberry Library.)
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Ross, T. A. Odd Fellowship: Its History and Manual. New York: M.W. Hazen Co., 1888. Call #: HS987.R8. Introduction to the history, purpose and organization of the Odd Fellows.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows includes information on researching ancestors known to be an Odd Fellow or Rebekah.
Loyal Order of the Moose
Olivier, W. Back of the Dream; the Story of the Loyal Order of Moose. New York: Dutton, 1952. Call #: HS150.M7 04. Details the history, accomplishments and growth from its beginnings in 1888 until 1950, including the founding of Mooseheart and Moosehaven.
The official website of the Loyal Order of the Moose.
Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
Larson, C. M. Medinah Temple : Pictorial History from 1883-1977. Chicago: R & R Pub. Co., 1977. Call #: HS835.8 .C42 L37 1977. Yearbook of members, including family photographs from 1977. No index.
Van Deventer, F. Parade to Glory; The Story of the Shriners and their Hospitals for Crippled Children. New York: Morrow, 1959. Call #: HS835.6 .V3.
McClurg, D. C. 100 Years of Love : 1883-1983, a Centennial Commemorative. Chicago: Medinah Centennial Convention Corporation, 1984. Call #: HS835.8. C42 M446. Information on various clubs and committees, including history and photographs.
The website for the Shriners of North America.
Information by Geographic Area
The sources listed below all include biographical sketches and/or lists of member names. They are not necessarily indexed.
Allen, D. W. Masonic Death Records from the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, 1941-1990. Conway, AR: Arkansas Research, 1999. Call #: F410.A49 1999. Contains 44,634 death records for members from 1941-1990.
Chicago Directory of Lodges and Benevolent Societies for the Year 1883 : Containing the Name, and the Time and Place of Meeting of Every Lodge in the City of Chicago, and the Name and Address of Individual Members of the Same (as far as could be obtained). C.F. Lichtner & Bro. Chicago: C.F. Lichtner & Bro., 1882. Call #: oF548.2 C453 (2nd floor open shelf). Extensive listing of Chicago organizations.
Warvelle, G. W. History of Scottish Rite Masonry in Chicago from its Introduction Until the Semi-centennial Anniversary in the Year 1907, Chicago: Press of Rogers & Smith Co., 1907. Call #: K93896.957.
Turnbull, E. R.The Rise and Progress of Freemasonry in Illinois, 1783-1952. Harrisburg: Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Illinois, 1952. Call #: HS587.I8 T8.
Warvelle, G. W. A Compendium of Freemasonry in Illinois Embracing a Review of the Introduction, Development and Present Condition of all Rites and Degrees : Together with Biographical Sketches of Distinquished Members of the Fraternity. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1897. Call #: Microfiche 2979.
McDonald, D. A History of Freemasonry in Indiana from 1806 to 1898. Indianapolis: By authority of the Grand Lodge, 1898. Call #: K93895.53.
Annals of the Grand Lodge of Iowa. Call #: K93912.3, specify year. Sixty-nine volumes covering the years 1892-1970
Hill, J. W. The Centennial Class Record : Being a Collection of Biographies and Likenesses of the Sovereign Grand Inspectors-General, 330, Who Were Crowned at Boston, Massachusetts, at the Centennial Convention of the Supreme Council, October 1, 1912. Chicago, Ill.: John W. Hill, 1913. Call #: HS765.H5.
Conover, J. S. Freemasonry in Michigan a Comprehensive History of Michigan Masonry from its Earliest Introduction in 1764. Coldwater, Mich.: Conover Engraving and Print. Co., 1897. Call #: Microfiche 4197.
Masonic History of Unadilla, N.Y. Corp Author(s): Royal Arch Masons.; Unadilla Chapter, no. 178 (Unadilla, N.Y.) ; Freemasons.; Freedom Lodge, No. 324 (Unadilla, N.Y.). Bainbridge, N.Y.: RSG Pub., 1995. Call #: HS539.U53 M37 1995.
McLellan, H. and C. W. McLellan. A Centennial history of Champlain Lodge No. 237, Free and Accepted Masons, 1851-1951 : Including a Sketch of Harmony Lodge, No. 154, 1807-1833. Champlain, N.Y.: Moorsfield Press, 1951. Call #: HS539.C35 C45 1951.
Fiftieth Anniversary of Attica Lodge, No. 367, F. & A.M. Attica, Ohio, 1866-1916 : Souvenir History. Tiffin, Ohio: Advertiser Print Shop, 1916. Call #: Microfiche 2540.
Scheider, Norris F. Lodge of Amity, No. 5, F. and A.M. Zanesville, Ohio 1805-1955. Zanesville, Oh.: Lodge of Amity, 1955. Call #: K93892.794. Lists member names.
Huss, W. A. The Master Builders : a History of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, Pa.: The Grand Lodge, 1986. Call #: HS537.P3 H87 1986.
Lyte, Joshua L. Reprint of the Minutes of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, Pa.: the Grand Lodge, 1895. Call #: K93854.36, specify year. Thirteen volumes covering the years 1779 to 1880.
For additional materials related to fraternal organizations, search the library’s online and card catalogs under the subject terms:
- Friendly Societies
- Independent Order of Good Templars
- Independent Order of Odd Fellows