Fraternal Societies:  Providing Valuable Services

The May meeting of the Goschenhoppen Historians will feature a presentation by Ed Johnson, retired teacher and president of the Goschenhoppen Historians, entitled “Fraternal Societies:  Providing Valuable Services.” Ed will address a variety of topics associated with such groups: society rituals and regalia, the stigma of the pauper’s grave, the symbolism of society art, conditional entitlements versus charity, Mooseheart – The Child City, and the “lodge practice evil.”  The Goschenhoppen Historians inherited a large cache of records and memorabilia when the organization acquired Redmen's Hall in Green Lane for its headquarters. The extensive records of the Society set Mr. Johnson on his path researching the Redmen and the broader issue of Fraternal Societies in general.


In 1920 one in three men belonged to such organizations as the Ancient Order of Foresters, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Improved Order of Red Men, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Ladies of the Maccabees, the Loyal Order of Moose and the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry.  More Americans belonged to fraternal societies than to any type of organization with the possible exception of churches. These and many other fraternal societies provided fellowship and social functions long before the days of Facebook and other social media. These groups built lodge halls, developed their own forms of democratic self-government, and participated in a variety of rituals.  They also provided valuable mutual aid services such as life and sickness insurance, funeral benefits, orphanages, and low-cost medical services.


Mr. Johnson’s well-researched presentation will take place at 7:30 PM on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at Red Men’s Hall, the Goschenhoppen Historians headquarters, located at 116 Gravel Pike (Route 29), Green Lane, PA. Join us and learn how these groups provided much more than a place for members to meet socially.  The public is welcome to attend and refreshments will be served during an informal get-together at the conclusion of Mr. Johnson’s talk. More information can be obtained at 215-234-4119