Wednesday, November 4, 2009

BPOE Elks Convention 1907

The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks (B.P.O.E.) held a huge convention in Philadelphia in 1907.  They held a convention every year, but this one seems to have been particularly important for some reason, or at least it seems to have produced more postcards than the rest of them (and that's the most important measure by my standards.) The Elks are one of the leading fraternal (more on that later) orders in the United States, with approximately one million members.

Although the Elks started out as a social club with members originating primarily from theatrical performing troupes, they widened their scope fairly early on to embrace charitable and service work. Today they promote patriotism and provide scholarships, drug education and other youth and community services.

So, now back to the fraternal aspect...
Fraternal order suggests that the organization is composed of men or brothers, and so it was. However, early on, the wives of Elks members formed their own auxiliary groups and performed charitable and patriotic work as the Benevolent, Patriotic Order of the Does. There is no official record of the Does, because they were not officially recognized. In fact, it was at the 1907 convention, that the Elks proclaimed that they would not recognize any auxiliary groups. In the 1970s, the Elks opened their membership to African Americans, but women were still excluded. In the 1990s, the Elks Club was mandated to accept women as members, based on the Oregon Public Accommodations Act. Atheists are now the only ones denied membership in the Elks.


  1. Nice blog, great collection. And I see you're already using the blog title I thought I might use to do the same thing...

  2. Wow--I didn't realize that. What a wonderful history lesson.

  3. I'm intrigued by the "We're Here Because We're Here, Because We're Here..." Turns out it's a Boy Scout song, and was sung mordantly by troops marching to the trenches in WWI. Sort of an absurdist way to celebrate a convention, too.

  4. rivercontinua,

    Thanks. I actually wish I had picked another name. It's too much like many others. I hope you do a similar blog though. The more postcards the better!

  5. Robert,

    Thanks! I had no idea where the "we're here because we're here" chant came from. It is very odd.



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