On This Day: April 11th

On the 11th of April in the year 1876 an organisation called the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks was created. They are an American fraternal order that was founded by Joseph M. Norcross, originally founded as a social club in New York. Today however they are headquartered at Elks National veterans Memorial in Chicago, Illinois, they are still today one of the leading fraternal orders with nearly one million members. The crest of the group is a blue outer circle with the initials B.P.O.E inside with a white and red clock face in the centre of the circle. An elks head raises through the whole crest, a key symbol of the organisation.

Originally membership was open to white men only however in the 1970’s this policy led to conflict with courts and in 1976 that clause was revoked allowing African-American men to join. The Elks used a blackball voting system with a membership candidate needing at least one-third of votes to deny them membership. Another instance of the Elks exclusivity however occurred in 1919 as the “Flag Day resolution” was passed which barred membership tp even passive sympathisers to the Bolsheviks or kindred organisations. Today the qualifications to join the Elks is a belief in God, American citizenship, good moral character and being over the age of 21.

In 1976 membership stood at over 1.6 million, today it is around 850,000. The drop in members generally shows a change in times with fewer people interested or eager to involve in such groups.

Famous members of the Elks include General Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Douglas MacArthur, General George S. Patton, John F. Kennedy, Clint Eastwood, Harry Houdini, Vince Lombardi and Babe Ruth.


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