Every Friday The Psychogenealogist shares a "Pic of the Week." The intent is to encourage thought and imagination about the spaces where psychology, genealogy, and history converge.
This week we have another mystery photograph that I obtained from a random lot of photos on eBay. On first glance it appears to be a group of suited, unsmiling men, most wearing some sort of ceramonial sash-like garment. Two of the men are wearing medallions. There are plaques on the wall suggestive of some sort of club or organization.
My first guess was that was some sort of Fraternal Order, brotherhood, or fraternity. I also guessed this photo to be taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s.
I made a list of some of the mens' groups that I was aware of and decided to investigate. Perhaps these men were Freemasons or Knights of Columbus? Maybe they belonged to the Loyal Order of Moose or the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks?
There were no obvious clues that helped me identify this group. In my search I ran across the Oddfellows, a group I had heard of but knew next to nothing about. The three core values of the Oddfellows are love, friendship, and truth.
I found an archived imaged on google labeled as "I.O.O.F. Independent Order of Odd Fellows Brass & Velvet Sash."
Of all the regalia, vestments, and symbols I researched, this sash seemed most similar to the ones being worn by the men in the picture. What do you think?
- Who are these men and what is their group?
- Why aren't they smiling?
- What organizations did your grandfathers, great-grandfathers, and uncles belong to?
- How did fraternal organizations fit in to the fabric of your ancestors' lives?
- Occasionally these types of groups are described as "secret" societies, shrouded in mystery. Were there secrets in your family? How and why were they kept? When were they discovered and what was the impact?
- How do groups like these preserve history and what can you learn about your own genealogy by studying them?
Please let me know if you have any additional information about details you see in this picture. I would love to hear from you!
Do you have an old photograph or a genealogical story that you would like to share? I am happy to consider guest submissions for possible Pic of the Week or other blog posts in the future. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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