06 November 2013

Nearly Ready


fraternal societies, genealogy, Masonic, Colorado
The pin of the 2013 Grand Master,
Dana A. Speaks.
The Grand Lodge of Colorado.
©Ancestral Journey, 2013.

For the past three weeks or so, I've been focusing my blogging efforts on learning more about Fraternal Societies. It started with simply recognizing my curiosity of the subject, and then allowing myself the time and freedom to take on such a project. I hope that you have enjoyed the posts so far, and have learned along with me.


I’m nearly ready to start focusing on individual organizations, tactics for researching those groups and what there is to gain from a genealogical stand point by doing all of this. I have one last organizational type piece to compile, and that is my wish list. There are countless texts available on fraternal societies, and even more on secret societies (everybody loves a good conspiracy, right?). I have accumulated a dream library that I will someday own, but a good chunk of this is simply on my goal list for now.




What I already have…


I have two texts that I refer to constantly in my research on societies.
  1. Alan Axelrod. The International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies & Fraternal Orders. Checkmark Books, New York, NY, 1997. [There is a newer version available, but this is what I have on my desk.]
  2. Tara E. Atterberry, Project Editor. Encyclopedia of Associations: An Associations Unlimited Reference, Vol’s 1, 2 and 3. Gale, Cengage Learning, Farmington Hills, Michigan, 2011. [These texts are reference materials. They are available digitally, I just happened to get the entire set for $3 from my local library, so I went for it.]
I have also found that my dictionary, a copy of the Bible, and these last two published references have proven helpful:


  • Jerome Francis Beattie, President and Editor. The Hereditary Register of the United States of America. The Hereditary Register Publications, Inc., Phoenix, Arizona, 1977. [Again, an older version, and again, a library steal at the cost of $1.]  This text has allowed me to identify and gain familiarity with some of the more obscure organizations, such as Son of a Witch. It provides just a bit more information than those listed above.

  • W. Ellwood Post. Saints, Signs & Symbols. Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1974. This small reference book has given me the ability to identify “hard to find” symbols from documents and grave markers. Although not intended by the author to be a genealogical resource, it has proven helpful on several occasions.


Why a Bible? Well, a great number of these organizations have Christian influence; so you will find references to particular passages or other religious imagery or stories used often.

What I would love to have….



  • Charles William Heckethorn. The Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries, Vol’s 1 & 2. Nabu Press, 2010.
  • Michael R. Poll. Masonic Words and Phrases. Cornerstone Book Publishers, 2005.
  • Dina C. Carson. Colorado’s Territorial Masons: An Annotated Index of the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Colorado, 1861-1876. Iron Gate Publishing, 2013. [Hey! I know the author!]
  • Lee E. Bishop. American Society Medals: An Identification Guide. Bishop & Elliott Publications, 1998.
  • Victoria Solt Dennis. Discovering Friendly and Fraternal Societies: Their Badges and Regalia. Shire Discovering, 2008.


What is the objective behind listing all of this? I actually have a couple of goals here. The first is to define which texts are truly my priorities. My Amazon wish list is pretty big in this category, so for my own purposes, I need to narrow down my choices and really focus on collecting the most helpful and valuable research tools that I can, rather than just buying whatever pops up at the next used book sale at the library. (Although, to be honest, I’ll probably continue to buy randomly from the library, it’s a great use of my pocket change, and it supports the library! What could be better?)

Secondly, I do believe it is important to identify the tools of your research as much as possible before truly diving into said research. This list will allow me to place requests through inter-library loan and determine a more concrete timeline for the work I am planning and the posts here on my blog that will go along with that.

Any family member that may be reading this, go ahead and print out this list… its nearly Christmas, after all. <grin>

And for those researchers that are joining me on this journey of self-education, I ask you: what is your dream list of fraternal related materials? I would love to hear your thoughts.