What makes Odd Fellowship unique among organizations is that we have a history. In North America, our history goes back 200 years. Some of our Lodges go back well over a century in time. One of the outstanding historians of Odd Fellowship is Past Grand Master Peter Sellars. He is curator of a remarkable Odd Fellows Museum in San Francisco, and he is the author of several well-written and enthralling historical works about our Order.
The great and noble history of Independent Order of Odd Fellows is important. It is important to current members of our Order as it reminds us of what we have done and what we can do. But it also vitally important to membership development. The history of Odd Fellowship provides an important draw to potential new members. Do not underestimate the power and attraction of history to those new members. Here is an DMC article on the subject of history, submitted by Brother Peter Sellars.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
Jurisdiction of California
Independent Order of Odd Fellows
Keep Writing Odd Fellows’ History!
By Peter V. Sellars, PGM
The members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows want to know more about the history of your lodge. They want to know about historical events that took place at your lodge. They want to know about your members.
Every Odd Fellows lodge has a story. Books and articles have been written, but these have only told a small part of the story. Look in those old minutes books. Perhaps there is a narrative written about a lodge event from days gone by. Sometimes old minutes books have flyers or handbills tucked inside the pages.
Maybe a member was killed in a war. Or, the lodge may have had a hero. Sometimes several members were involved in the same occupation or involved in public office. Has your lodge had any sheriffs or marshals or judges? Any congressmen or senators?
There are stories of lodges burying their members behind the lodge. We have had Odd Fellows who have fought in every war. We have had members who worked in the gold and silver mines during the gold rush. We have had members come over the mountains as California’s first pioneers.
Tell us about your historical figures.
Did your lodge have any significant events; i.e. a prominent visitor or guest? A robbery or murder? Did the lodge own different kinds of property or deeds?
We know the Independent Order of Odd Fellows have a rich and busy history. But, we can’t seem to get lodges to share enough history if any at all. It is important for the lodge to share history. You may even receive an application for membership by sharing your history. I remember sharing my lodge’s minutes books at a local historical society meeting. These books from the mid-1800’s were a hit with the historical society people. They loved reading through these books. They found so much history related to their town and discovered historical figures were also members of the Odd Fellows.
That evening, I received seven applications from each of the attendees. They wanted to learn more and to belong to such a historical organization.
Creating contacts by sharing history of your lodge is has the potential of creating valuable relationships. For me, the sharing of old records has been reciprocal and has helped me in research projects. Gathering old photographs, old books or records, and perhaps objects has been mutual between myself and historians who I have shared with on a regular basis or who I have established a reputation. Having such a beneficial access has made it easier to put wonderful stories together about members of the Order. “You get what you give,” as the old saying goes.
These kinds of relationships coming from sharing your lodge’s history are valuable. How? Being invited to speak at various historical societies or with other groups. I have spoke at rotaries, historical societies, and other clubs. I have even spoke with numismatic groups on Odd Fellows tokens, etc.
People who love history or simply appreciate history or find an interest in it, are the type of members who benefit the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and who the Order benefits. Share your lodge history. Open up those packed closets. Clean out those congested attics. Empty those desk drawers that have items tucked away that have not been seen for decades. Write about these objects. Share the history!
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