25 Lodges, Clubs, or Secret Societies Your Ancestor May Have Been a Member Of

One of the more interesting parts of our ancestors’ lives that we often discover only via their obituary, is their membership or attachment to a fraternal, ethnic, religious, or service organization or society. Here is a list of 25 of the more common ones in the United States.

The link (in blue) will take you to the Wikipedia entry for the organization.  At the bottom, you can download a one-page pdf Quicksheet that is free.

  • B’nai B’rith: a Jewish service organization.
  • Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks: A fraternal order focused on charity, justice, brotherly love, and fidelity with an emphasis on patriotism and belief in God.
  • Colonial Dames of America: an American organization composed of women who are descended from an ancestor who lived in British America from 1607–1775.
  • Daughters of Norway: A sisterhood aimed at preserving Nordic heritage.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR): a lineage-based membership service organization for women who are directly descended from a person involved in the United States’ efforts toward independence.
  • Fraternal Order of Eagles: “People Helping People” in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice, and equality. Local units are called “Aeries.”
  • Freemasons: The Masonic Fraternity claims to be the oldest Fraternity in the world and seeks men (Masons) wishing to become better men through service and self-improvement. 
  • Grange: A community-based, fraternal organization with an interest in representing rural residents and the agriculture community.
  • Independent Order of Odd Fellows: To improve and elevate the character of mankind by promoting the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity, and universal justice.
  • International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo, Incorporated is a fraternal and service organization whose members are involved in the forest products industry. {My personal favorite name!)
  • Job’s Daughters International: a Masonic-affiliated youth organization for girls and young women aged 10 to 20.
  • Kiwanis: an international service club founded in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan.
  • Knight of Pythias: a fraternal organization and secret society founded in Washington, D.C., on 19 February 1864
  • Knights of Columbus: A Catholic fraternal benefit society.
  • Lions Club: an international non-political service organization established originally in 1917 in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Loyal Order of Moose: a fraternal and service organization founded in 1888 and headquartered in Mooseheart, Illinois.
  • Optimist International: an international service club organization with almost 3,000 clubs and over 80,000 members in more than 20 countries. The international headquarters is located in St. Louis, Missouri
  • Order of the Eastern Star: The members of the Order of the Eastern Star are dedicated women and men who sincerely reflect the spirit of fraternal love and the desire to work together for good.
  • Rebekahs: This is the female organization of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows
  • Rotary International: an international service organization whose stated purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world.
  • Shriners: Fraternity based on fun, fellowship, and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth.
  • Sons of Italy: A fraternal group focused on preserving Italian heritage.
  • Sons of Norway: A fraternal group focused on preserving Norwegian heritage. Founded in 1895.
  • Soroptimist International (SI): a worldwide volunteer service organization for women who work for peace, and in particular to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world.
  • The American Legion: commonly known as the Legion, is a nonprofit organization of U.S. war veterans.

To download a one-page Quicksheet pdf for easier reference, you can download it below by clicking on the Download button.

For all the previously published Quick Reference Guides, click on QuickSheets

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