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The three sections of the book examine white male relationships within the organizations, the development of masculine independence within the fraternal orders and how the groups helped redefine civic responsibilities.
The qualifying private nonprofit organizations specified in the bill are labor, agricultural or horticultural groups; fraternal orders; religious, charitable, or scientific groups; business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards and boards of trade; religious or apostolic corporations; domestic fraternal societies; political organizations and veterans groups.
It was young men who prized sickness insurance and who joined fraternal orders to get it.
There were competitions to select queens of social clubs, fraternal orders, magazines, businesses, and even nightclubs--which were another fashionable venue for holding finals.
In the last third of the nineteenth century, five and a half million men were members of the major fraternal orders in America and millions of other American men belonged to the smaller fraternal orders or to secular organizations which also stressed elaborate initiation rites.