Ribbon, Fraternal
A.O.U.W. Lodge Fraternal Ribbon. Material: metal, textile, paper. Size: 2 7/8" W. x 7 3/4" L. Description: blue-green satin ribbon; gold stamped: "Grand Lodge Minnesota 17th Session May 2, 1893 Duluth, Minn." and stamped with the gold circular logo of the A.O.U.W., a shield and anchor; ribbon badge suspended from a gold ornate bar; reverse side: simple straight pin and wire hook; back paper label: "E. R. Williamson Manufr. of Society Badges Lodge Seals etc. 202 Henn. Ave. Minneapolis"; gold metallic fringe along ribbon bottom edge.
The American fraternal benefit network began with the organization the Ancient Order of United Workmen in Meadville, Pennsylvania on October 27, 1868. The AOUW was founded by John Jordan Upchurch, a Mason, with the aim of adjusting "all differences which may arise between employers and employees, and to labor for the development of a plan of action that may be beneficial to both parties, based on the eternal truth that the interests of labor and capitol are equal and should receive equal protection." Each member paid $1 into the insurance fund to cover the sum of not less than $500 in benefits paid to a member's dependents when he died. Each time a member died, $1 was due from the surviving members to reestablish the fund. Fraternal benefits societies soon became quite popular as a means of providing financial protection to working class people at an affordable rate. Additionally, Fraternal benefits societies typically maintained a lodge where members could meet together in a spirit of fraternalism and brotherhood. In at least one case - the Populist movement - the fraternity evolved into a powerful political organization providing a voice for their members. The emblems and symbols used by the AOUW are steeped in Masonic attributes, featuring the All-Seeing Eye, the Holy Bible, Anchor and Square and Compasses, over which the motto "Charity, Hope and Protection" are displayed. It even boasts of having three independent degrees as a rite of passage into the order. Its membership numbered in excess of 318,000 in 1895.