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Fraternal Order of Eagles

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Fraternal Order of Eagles
FoundedFebruary 6, 1898
FocusSocial issues
OriginsSeattle, Washington
Area served
Endowment$10 million
Websitewww.foe.com Edit this at Wikidata

Fraternal Order of Eagles (F.O.E.) is a fraternal organization that was founded on February 6, 1898, in Seattle, Washington, by a group of six theater owners including John Cort (the first president), brothers John W. and Tim J. Considine, Harry (H.L.) Leavitt (who later joined the Loyal Order of Moose), Mose Goldsmith and Arthur Williams.[1] Originally made up of those engaged in one way or another in the performing arts, the Eagles grew and claimed credit for establishing the Mother's Day holiday in the United States as well as the "impetus for Social Security" in the United States. Their lodges are known as "aeries".


Terracotta ornamentation of the former Eagles Aerie No. 1, Eagles Auditorium Building in Seattle.

The Fraternal Order of Eagles, an international non-profit organization, unites fraternally in the spirit of liberty, truth, justice, and equality, to make human life more desirable by lessening its ills, and by promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.[2]

The Fraternal Order of Eagles was founded on February 6, 1898. The organization was formed by six theater owners sitting on a pile of lumber in Moran's shipyard in Seattle, Washington. They were competitors who had come together to discuss a musicians' strike. After deciding how to handle the strike, they agreed to "bury the hatchet" and form an organization dubbed "The Order of Good Things".

Early meetings were held on local theater stages, and after taking care of business, attendees rolled out a keg of beer and enjoyed social time. As numbers grew, participants selected the bald eagle as the official emblem and changed the name to "The Fraternal Order of Eagles". In April 1898, the membership formed a Grand Aerie, secured a charter and developed a constitution and by-laws, with John Cort elected the Eagles' first president.

Touring theater troupes are credited with much of the Eagles' rapid growth. Most early members were actors, stagehands and playwrights, who carried the Eagles story as they toured across the United States and Canada. The organization's appeal is also attributed to its funeral benefits (no Eagle was ever been known to be buried in a potter's field), the provision of an aerie physician, and other membership benefits.[3] The Eagles pushed for the founding of Mother's Day, provided the impetus for Social Security, and pushed to end job discrimination based on age. The Eagles have provided support for medical centers across the United States and Canada to build and provide research on medical conditions. Every year they raise millions of dollars to combat heart disease and cancer, help children with disabilities, and uplift the aged and infirm.

History of the Aerie[edit]

An aerie in nature is the lofty nest of any bird of prey, including eagles and hawks.[4] In the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the term Aerie is the name of the building in which the members meet and hold events.

History of the Auxiliary[edit]

Official logo of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Auxiliary

A "new era for the women of Eagledom" began when an amendment to the Grand Aerie Laws to establish a Grand Auxiliary passed unanimously at the 1951 Grand Aerie Convention in Rochester, New York.[5] Eagle Auxiliaries had existed before the Grand Auxiliary was formed, the first being founded on March 24, 1927, in Pittsburg, Kansas. Three days later, a second Auxiliary was established in Frontenac, Kansas. By March 1951, 965 local Auxiliaries were in existence, totaling 130,000 members. By the end of that year, 22 state and provincial Auxiliaries were also operating.[6]


  • 1898 – "Order of Good Things" established. Later that year, the organization changed its name to Fraternal Order of Eagles and formed the first Aerie.
  • 1904 – F.O.E. starts advocating for Mother's Day
  • 1927 – Creation and formation of the Ladies Auxiliary
  • 1935 – Support for enactment of Social Security Law
  • 1944 – Eagles Memorial Fund established
  • 1954 – Nearly 10,000 Ten Commandments plaques distributed
  • 1955 – F.O.E. Ten Commandments monument placed in Ambridge, PA. F.O.E. Ten Commandments monument placed on the grounds of a state capital, Denver, Colorado
  • 1957 – Nationwide "Jobs After 40" program inaugurated
  • 1967 – Jimmy Durante Children's Foundation established
  • 1972 – Golden Eagle Fund established
  • 1983 – Max Baer Heart Fund offered first grants for Aerie-sponsored CPR classes $405,000 donated to Eagles' Truman Cardiovascular Lab at Research Medical Center, Kansas City Golden Eagle Fund donated $5,000 in grants to institutions conducting Alzheimer's disease research
  • 1985 – Donations to St. Jude Hospital top $1 million
  • 1988 – Eagles matched grants up to $500 to sponsor Drug Education Seminars
  • 1991 – Eagles supported Operation Desert Storm with mail and food packages
  • 1995 – $50,000 donated for the Eagle Alcove of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Roosevelt was a lifetime F.O.E. member)
  • 2001 – Memorial Foundation established Attack on America Fund and raised $500,000 F.O.E. purchased property to consolidate international headquarters
  • 2002 – International headquarters opened in Grove City, Ohio
  • 2005 – Eagles rededicated Ten Commandments monument at international headquarters F.O.E. generously supported development of a new scoliosis brace named the "Eagle Brace" F.O.E. signed first year contract with Braun Racing for FOE.com-sponsored car
  • 2006 – Eagles worked with local government leaders to keep "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. F.O.E. signed second year contract with Braun Racing
  • 2007 – Eagles supported American Eagle & Literary Challenge in quest to name June 20 National Eagle Day, The Disaster Relief Fund was passed which will allow the Eagles to have "trailers" stocked with supplies to be a first response team.
  • 2008 – $25 million gift commitment to fund The Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center at The University of Iowa.

Structure and Organization[edit]

Elected Officers
Grand Aerie Grand Auxiliary
Grand Worthy President Grand Madam President
Grand Worthy President-Elect Grand Madam President-Elect
Grand Worthy Vice-President Grand Madam Vice-President
Grand Secretary Grand Madam Secretary
Grand Treasurer Grand Madam Treasurer
Grand Worthy Conductor Grand Madam Conductor
Grand Inside Guard Grand Madam Inside Guard
Grand Outside Guard Grand Madam Outside Guard
Grand Worthy Chaplain Grand Madam Chaplain
Grand Worthy Trustee (x4) Grand Madam Trustee (x4)

Local units are called "Aeries".[7] There were 1,400 Aeries scattered across the US and Canada in 2001.[8] The national convention is known as the "Grand Aerie" and meets annually.[9] "Grand Aerie" is also the name of the headquarters of the organization, currently at Grove City, Ohio.[10]

Aeries are known by their instituting number and the name of the city in which they are located. The Aerie instituting number is appointed based on the order in which an Aerie is instituted; at current date the Grand Aerie is instituting Aeries in the 4500 range. Aerie #1, located in Seattle, Washington, is sometimes referred to as "The Mother Aerie".[11]

The Grand Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles International Convention is held each year in a different city in either the United States or Canada. During the International Convention, delegates from all Aeries and Auxiliaries vote on the new Grand Aerie and Grand Auxiliary representatives, new by-laws and other relevant issues.[12]


Officers of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, on a local and international level, are elected each year by popular vote of their delegates. State and regional leaders are appointed each year by the Grand Worthy and Grand Madam Presidents.

The organization is led by the two highest elected positions, the Grand Worthy President and the Grand Madam President. The Grand Worthy and Grand Madam Presidents serve a one-year term touring the two countries meeting and celebrating milestone events with all Aerie and Auxiliary members.

The Grand Aerie Officers are the operating body of the Fraternal Order of Eagles between conventions and work with the Board of Grand Trustees and the Grand Auxiliary. The Board of Grand Trustees, with the exception of the chairman of the board, is also an elected body. The chairman of the board is the immediate past Grand Worthy President.


At one point the qualifications for membership were that one must be 21 years old, possess a good character, not be a Communist and be a Caucasian. By the late 1970s the all-white provision had officially been rescinded, but, because the Order used the blackball to admit new members, it was difficult for minorities to gain membership. In 1979 the FOE tried to get a lawsuit dismissed that alleged it was violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by not allowing African Americans to use their athletic facilities. The article stated that a local Eagle official could only cite Joe Louis as a black member of the FOE.[13]

In 1979 the Order had 800,000 members, a figure said to have been relatively constant over a decade.[9] In 2011, it had 850,000 members in the main organization and 250,000 members of the women's auxiliary.[8]

As of 2019, membership is open to any person of good moral character, and believes in the existence of a supreme being, and is not a member of the Communist Party nor any organization which advocates the overthrow of the United States government.[14] Currently, either gender can become a member of an Aerie, however, only women can become a member of an Auxiliary. In recent history, numerous Aerie chapters have absorbed their Auxiliaries to form one unified chapter that allows all genders, to which the Grand Aerie and Grand Auxiliary responded with enacting a law that any Auxiliary members who wish to leave the women's only chapter and join the Aerie, must be a non-member of the entire organization for one full year, which has discouraged countless members from doing so.[citation needed]

The FOE no longer uses secret passwords or "roughhouse initiation" rites. But, in 1979, it still had a ritual. The prospective member was asked to promise before God and on his honor, not to disclose the rituals of the Order to anyone outside of the FOE. The initiation took place in a lodge room furnished with an altar and a Bible and included religious phrases and prayers.[9]

The FOE had an insurance program in its early years, but discontinued this in 1927. Instead it offered sick and death benefits for members who would pay higher fees. Therefore, the FOE now has two membership categories, beneficial and non-beneficial.[15]

Charitable giving[edit]

"People helping people" is a statement that guides the charitable actions of the Fraternal Order of Eagles and has led the Eagles to donate more than $100 million annually.[16] As part of the charitable philosophy, the Eagles give back 100 percent of the contributions received in the form of grants. All administrative costs are paid by the International Organization through membership dues.[17]

In 1941 the FOE donated funds for the construction of a dormitory at Boys Town, Nebraska. Father Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town, was member of the order. A few years later the Order sponsored the creation of Eagle Hall at the Range for Boys at Sentinel Butte, North Dakota. The High Girl Ranch, near Midland, Texas has also received a dormitory.[13]

The Memorial Foundation was founded in 1946, and regularly supports medical research projects.[15] In the 1970s the FOE joined environmentalists in efforts to save the bald eagle from extinction. They also lent their efforts to help the golden eagle as well.[15] In 1959 the FOE began construction on a retirement home for elderly members in Bradenton, Florida. Today this home is part of Eagle Village, where there are other facilities available to the elderly.[15]

Government Relations[edit]

Since the time of the New Deal the FOE has promoted social legislation, particularly old age and mothers pensions, Social Security and workmen's compensation. By 1980 it was advocating for seniors to work after age 65 and to return the Social Security system back to its original purpose.[15]

Mother's Day[edit]

Frank E. Hering as team captain/coach of Notre Dame football in 1896

Frank E. Hering, a Past Grand Worthy President of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in South Bend, Indiana, campaigned for "a national day to honor our mothers", nearly 35 years after social activist Ann Jarvis first proposed a similar U.S. holiday. The idea of advocating for Mother's Day came to Hering when he was a faculty member at the University of Notre Dame. Walking into the classroom of a fellow instructor, Hering found his colleague distributing penny postcards to students. Each student addressed his or her card and scribbled a message on it. Hering was informed the students could write anything, as long as it was addressed to the students' mothers.

Hering leveraged his connection with the Fraternal Organization of Eagles to organize its members in promoting the holiday, and in 1914, legislation in the U.S. Congress requested a presidential proclamation to designate the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. This date was encouraged by Anna Marie Jarvis, daughter of Ann Jarvis who continued her mother's work in crusading for a U.S. memorial day for mothers. President Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation and May 10, 1914, became the first official Mother's Day.[18]

In 1925, the "Society of War Mothers" invited Hering to participate in a special Mother's Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.[19] There, at the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier", before a large audience including many congressmen and senators, Hering was introduced as "the Father of Mother's Day". That was 11 years after President Woodrow Wilson by Proclamation officially made Mother's Day the second Sunday in May.[20]

Today the Eagles' work to acknowledge mothers on Mother's Day is recognized by the Anna Jarvis Birthplace Museum – a museum honoring the daughter of Ann Jarvis. Grand Madam President Margaret Cox (2007–2008), was named "2008 Mother of the Year" by the Anna Jarvis Birthplace Museum in partnership with the International Mother's Day Shrine in Grafton, WV. Cox was honored at the 100th anniversary of the holiday during the Mother's Day Founder's Festival, May 10 and 11, 2008.

Ten Commandments[edit]

In the 1940s, E.J. Ruegemer, a Minnesota juvenile court judge and member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, launched a nationwide campaign to post copies of the Ten Commandments in juvenile courts across the country. His stated goal was to provide a moral foundation for troubled youth.

In 1956, director Cecil B. DeMille's epic film "The Ten Commandments" opened across the country. DeMille and Ruegemer drummed up publicity for the film by working together to erect granite monuments of the Ten Commandments across the nation.

Although there is no official record of how many monuments were erected, estimates range from less than 100 to more than 2,000. The Fraternal Order of Eagles kept the project going long after the film opened, and some monuments didn't get erected until up to 10 years later. Many monuments went up in public places like parks, city halls, and courthouses.[21] On August 30, 1961, the Fraternal Order of Eagles of Texas presented the State of Texas with a 6-foot-high monolith inscribed with the Ten Commandments, which in 2006 became the subject of a divisive and controversial legal dispute (Van Orden v. Perry) that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.[22] The case was ruled 5–4 in favor of the defendant, the State of Texas, and the monument was allowed to remain on the grounds of the State Capitol.

Notable Eagles buildings[edit]

Notable Eagles[edit]

United States Presidents[edit]

Seven United States Presidents have held membership in the Fraternal Order of Eagles:






Notable Auxiliary Members[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Murray Morgan, Skid Road, Ballantine Books (1960). pp. 144–146 cites for Cort, John Considine, Leavitt, and Leavitt's departure.
  2. ^ Fraternal Order of Eagles Mission Statement[full citation needed]
  3. ^ Fraternal Order of Eagles Ritual and Constitution, predate 1954
  4. ^ Webster's Dictionary, 2007 edition[full citation needed]
  5. ^ Proceedings from the Grand Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles Convention, 1951
  6. ^ October 1951 issue of Mrs. Eagle publication
  7. ^ Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press pp. 25–26
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Fraternal Order of Eagles Facts". Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press p. 96
  10. ^ Contacts Archived 2013-08-29 at the Wayback Machine, FOE.com.
  11. ^ Data pulled from monthly new Aerie/Auxiliary report.[full citation needed]
  12. ^ Proceedings from the Grand Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles Convention[full citation needed]
  13. ^ a b Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press pp. 95–96
  14. ^ Title 111, Section 70.2 Articles of Incorporation Constitution and Statutes 2007
  15. ^ a b c d e Schmidt, Alvin J. Fraternal Organizations Westport, CT; Greenwood Press p. 95
  16. ^ All financial and dated data pulled from Proceedings of the Grand Aerie Convention, 1959–2007 and Grand Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles Annual Financial Audit
  17. ^ Grand Aerie Fraternal Order of Eagles Annual Financial Audit
  18. ^ Anna Jarvis Birthplace Museum
  19. ^ February 1925 issue of The American War Mother
  20. ^ From the Memoires of Frank E. Hering
  21. ^ Minnesota Public Radio (10 September 2001). "MPR: The Ten Commandments: Religious or historical symbol?".
  22. ^ "Van Orden v. Perry".
  23. ^ Considine, Bob (28 March 1968). "Tony Galento Reports on His Work in Eagles Lodge". St. Joseph News-Press. St. Joseph, Missouri. King Features Syndicate.


External links[edit]