WHY this site?
A because of previous neglect;
Three major Reasons -
B because of the central importance of
fraternal societies to all 'European'
C because of the need for a new
Please Note: The use of 'fraternal' does not exclude women - see ANY QUESTIONS for further explanation.
I identify fraternal societies through their past or present use of coded regalia, secret passwords, ritual and signs, and by their use of a philosophy of brotherhood/sisterhood, which is itself a mix of self-help and mutual aid.
I group them into four categories, or strands: the first three being Freemasonry, trade-oriented, and friendly (or benefit) societies. The fourth group involves all those societies which meet the definition but which don't fit into the first three categories, eg, the Loyal Orange Lodges, the Buffaloes, the Sons and Daughters of Temperance, and so on.
Neither the practices of fraternal societies nor the actions of individual members have always been in line with the avowed theory.
Fraternal societies, set up to be support vehicles for the life journeys of their members, were often curtailed through human foibles and failings, or through the impact of larger outside forces.
The first tasks have been to document the existence of the mostly invisible societies, while protecting the surviving evidence.
The next tasks have been to understand why 'the old history' has been written the way it has,
to work out what 'a new history' needed to contain,
and then to write that 'new history' in non-academic language.
The last task has been to reach and change the minds of decision-makers brought up on the 'old history.'
Although the interim text, They Call Each Other Brother is now available,
none of these tasks has been satisfactorily completed in January, 2012:
entrenched attitudes remain strong, and
the many books of the 'old history' continue to be accepted as 'truth'.
Neglect of fraternalism in what passes for our 'history' is similar to past neglect by our historians of women and of indigenous populations.
A new fraternal history needs to encompass
* the organisational journeys of specific societies.
* the philosophic/spiritual journies of ideas, and symbols.
* the physical 'paraphenalia' - regalia, ceremonial, buildings, photos and other sorts of records.
* personal journeys.
Political, economic, religious and social history are all involved.