From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1967

Overview

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, more Americans belonged to fraternal societies than to any other kind of voluntary association, with the possible exception of churches. Despite the stereotypical image of the lodge as the exclusive domain of white men, fraternalism cut across race, class, and gender lines to include women, African Americans, and immigrants. Exploring the history and impact of fraternal societies in the United States, David Beito uncovers the vital importance they had in ...
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Overview

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, more Americans belonged to fraternal societies than to any other kind of voluntary association, with the possible exception of churches. Despite the stereotypical image of the lodge as the exclusive domain of white men, fraternalism cut across race, class, and gender lines to include women, African Americans, and immigrants. Exploring the history and impact of fraternal societies in the United States, David Beito uncovers the vital importance they had in the social and fiscal lives of millions of American families.

Much more than a means of addressing deep-seated cultural, psychological, and gender needs, fraternal societies gave Americans a way to provide themselves with social-welfare services that would otherwise have been inaccessible, Beito argues. In addition to creating vast social and mutual aid networks among the poor and in the working class, they made affordable life and health insurance available to their members and established hospitals, orphanages, and homes for the elderly. Fraternal societies continued their commitment to mutual aid even into the early years of the Great Depression, Beito says, but changing cultural attitudes and the expanding welfare state eventually propelled their decline.

About the Author:
David T. Beito is assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Monthly
In his fascinating book . . . Beito tells the remarkable story of fraternal organizations--all those Masons, Moose, Oddfellows, Woodmen, and so forth--as mutual benefit societies that enabled vast numbers of Americans to safeguard their families without the stigma of charity or the snare of long-term dependence. . . . He also has captured one of the most important ways lodges lifted people up, which was to give them a shield against destitution and dependency--a shield of their own making and control.
From the Publisher
Beito's history is fascinating and instructive in itself, but it is also well-presented.

Wall Street Journal

It has insights especially for sociologists interested in social movements, voluntary organizations, social work, empowerment, and American social history.

American Journal of Sociology

[Beito] convincingly argues that fraternal organizations embodied values that appealed to a broad range of Americans.

American Historical Review

A wonderful book. .

Harvard Business History Review

[He] has captured one of the most important ways lodges [lifted] people up, which was to give them a shield against destitution and dependency.

The Washington Monthly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807825310
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

David T. Beito is assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations Used in the Text
Introduction
Chapter 1. This Enormous Army
Chapter 2. Teaching Habits of Thrift and Economy
Chapter 3. Not as Gratuitous Charity
Chapter 4. The Child City
Chapter 5. From the Cradle to the Grave
Chapter 6. The Lodge Practice Evil Reconsidered
Chapter 7. It Almost Bled the System White
Chapter 8. It Substitutes Paternalism for Fraternalism
Chapter 9. Our Dreams Have All Come True
Chapter 10. Our Temple of Health
Chapter 11. The End of the Golden Age
Chapter 12. Vanishing Fraternalism?
Notes
Bibliographic Essay: Sources on Fraternalism and Related Topics
Index

Tables
2.1. Lodge Membership among Wage Earners in New York City
2.2. Lodge Membership among Wage Earners in New York City with Family Incomes between $600 and $799
2.3. Fraternal Life Insurance among a Sample of Wage-Earning Male Heads of Families in Chicago
2.4. Life Insurance Ownership in a Sample of Wage-Earning Families in Chicago
4.1. Occupations of the Fathers of Children at Mooseheart and Adult Males in Illinois
4.2. Decisions by the Board of Governors on Applications for Admission to Mooseheart
4.3. Status of Families Admitted to Mooseheart
4.4. Decisions by the Board of Governors on Applications for Demission from Mooseheart
4.5. Average Weekly Wages, Mooseheart Graduates, 1919-1929, and All Male and Female Wage Earners in the United States, 1930
5.1. Family Status of Children Admitted to the SBA Children's Home
5.2. Pre-Orphanage Backgrounds of Alumni
5.3. Overall Assessments of Orphanage Stay
5.4. Personal Preference for Way of Growing Up
5.5. Positive Attributes Cited
5.6. Negative Attributes Cited
5.7. Median Household Incomes of U.S. General White Population (65 years and older) and Orphanage Respondents
5.8. Educational Background and Divorce Rates of U.S. General White Population (65 years and older) and Orphanage Respondents
10.1. Death Rates and Average Length of Stay: Taborian Hospital and Friendship Clinic
10.2. Death Rates and Average Length of Stay: Black and White Patients in Fifty-three General Hospitals in South Carolina
11.1. Death, Permanent Disability, Sickness and Accident, Old-Age, and Other Benefits for 174 Fraternal Societies: Annual Amount Paid, 1910, 1920, and 1930
11.2. Death, Permanent Disability, Sickness and Accident, Old-Age, and Other Benefits for 174 Fraternal Societies: Spending per Member, 1910, 1920, and 1930
11.3. Death, Permanent Disability, Sickness and Accident, Old-Age, and Other Benefits for 174 Fraternal Societies as Percentage of All Losses Paid, 1910, 1920, and 1930
11.4. Payment of Benefits for Permanent Disability, Sickness, Accident, and Old Age in 174 Fraternal Societies: Percentage of Societies Offering, 1910, 1920, and 1930
12.1. Death, Permanent Disability, Sickness and Accident, Old-Age, and Other Benefits for 174 Fraternal Societies: Annual Amount Paid, 1930, 1935, and 1940
12.2. Death, Permanent Disability, Sickness and Accident, Old-Age, and Other Benefits for 174 Fraternal Societies: Spending per Member, 1930, 1935, and 1940
12.3. Death, Permanent Disability, Sickness and Accident, Old-Age, and Other Benefits for 174 Fraternal Societies as Percentage of All Benefits, 1930, 1935, and 1940
12.4. Payment of Benefits for Permanent Disability, Sickness, Accident, and Old Age in 174 Fraternal Societies: Percentage of Societies Offering, 1930, 1935, and 1940
12.5. Fraternal Homes for the Elderly, 1929 and 1939
12.6. Fraternal Orphanages, 1923 and 1933

IllustrationsJohn Jordon Upchurch
Drill team of Camp 566, MWA
Bina M. West
Juvenile Division of the IOSL
Oronhyatekha
Macon Drill Corps, International Order of Twelve Knights and Daughters of Tabor
Examining room, Mooseheart Hospital
Girls' band, Mooseheart
Teachers, matrons, and children of the SBA Children's Home
Tuberculosis sanitarium of the MWA
Advertisement for the hospital program of the LOTM
Hospital of El Centro Asturiano
SBA Hospital
Taborian Hospital
Dr. T. R. M. Howard examining a patient
Patients waiting to see doctors at the Taborian Hospital

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