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Patriotic Order Sons of America, Washington Camp No. 338 (Downingtown, Pa.) records


Held at: Downingtown Area Historical Society [Contact Us]PO Box 9, Downingtown, PA, 19335

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Downingtown Area Historical Society. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Patriotic Order Sons of America was organized by Dr. Reynell Coates of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 10, 1847. Originally named the Junior Sons of America, the group was open to native born or naturalized American young men aged 16 to 21. After reaching the age of 21, one's membership was transferred to the Junior Sons of America's parent organization, the United Sons of America. The purpose of the organization was to educate young men about American ideals and inspire them to uphold and defend the "American way of life." Soon after its inception, the organization expanded throughout the state of Pennsylvania with various local chapters called "camps." Each local chapter was named "Washington Camp" with a number designating the chapter. Just over a decade later, the organization had chapters in twenty states.

Although the United Sons of America disbanded in the 1850s, the Junior Sons of America endured. Since many members enlisted as soldiers in the American Civil War, the number of active camps dwindled, and many camps located in the southern states disbanded completely. After the war, the remaining members decided to reorganize the Junior Sons, renaming it the Patriotic Order Sons of America and getting rid of the age limit requirement. The group was officially incorporated on February 27, 1867. The Order expanded throughout the United States from 1870 to 1900, especially along the Eastern Seaboard. As of 2014, the Order is still active nationally although almost all of the remaining camps are located in Pennsylvania. Women as well as men are currently eligible for membership.

Patriotic Order Sons of America, Washington Camp #338 was established in Downingtown, Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1888. It merged with Washington Camp #351 (Parkesburg, Chester County, Pennsylvania) around 1948 and Washington Camp #595 (Guthriesville, Chester County, Pennsylvania) in 1951. Downingtown's Washington Camp #338 became inactive in the 1990s or early 2000s.


Patriotic Order Sons of America. "Information." 2013. Accessed August 1, 2014.

Patriotic Order Sons of America National Camp. "History." 2014. Accessed August 1, 2014.

This collection consists of administrative and financial records, legal and property related papers, ephemera such as pamphlets and programs, publications produced by Camp #338, and other materials.

Administrative and financial materials include various editions of the Downingtown camp and state and national constitutions and general laws; minutes, 1924-1947; financial ledgers, 1929-1966; materials related to rituals; sick, death, and funeral benefits ledgers, 1880-1978; annual reports; correspondence, circa 1900-1981; membership lists, 1888-1980s; membership proposals, 1888-1964; and correspondence and other materials associated with the Camp's mergers with the Parkesburg and Guthriesville camps. Many of the membership and benefits ledgers list the member's name, age, occupation, residence, date of initiation, the sick or death benefits received, and other remarks.

Some items in the collection relate to the state (Pennsylvania) and national level camps, including programs from conventions, proceedings, and newsletters.

Other materials in the collection include publications, a yearbook (1946), certificates and plaques, programs from dedication ceremonies, and more.

A summary listing of contents is given below; a more detailed inventory is available on-site. Annual Convention 1966 Annual Convention 1967 Annual Convention 1968 Annual Convention 1969 Annual reports Annual reports Bequest from Channell Blank Relief Forms Booklet - The Genesis of the American Flag Booklet - Valley Forge - Patriotic Order Sons of America Brochure - Dedication of Swarner fireplace, Kerr Park Camp News, 1980's Certificate of Honor to Gilbert W. Cox Christmas Donations Constitution and General Laws, member list 1888-1928 Constitution Books, Badges, Code Card Correspondence of 1900's Correspondence of 1920's and 1930's Correspondence of 1940's Correspondence, 1951-1981 Day Book, 1943-1952 Day Book, 1952-1966 Dedication of Fireplace, 1952 Finance Secretary Day Book Camp 338, 1937-1943 Finance Secretary Day Book, Camp 338, 1929-1932 Finance Secretary Day Book, Camp 338, 1933-37 Fire Department Memorial Services Funeral Benefit Claims Grave Marker Hymnal Initiatory Ode Lease Agreement - IOOF and Pos of A Ledger of Benefits, 1880-1943 Ledger of Members - 1950's - 1980's Members' Names and Addresses, 1929-33 Membership Application Membership Campaign of 1921 Membership Ledger, 1932-1954 Membership Proposals, 1888-1919 Membership Proposals, 1919-1964 Membership Rosters, 1955-1982 Merger of Guthriesville with Downingtown Merger of Parkesburg with Downingtown Camp Merit Appreciation presented Camp 338 Minutes, 1924-1932 Minutes, 1932-1940 Minutes, 1940-1947 National Camp Sessions National Constitution and General Laws Officers Roll Book, 1970-1988 PA 105th Session of State Organization Proceedings of National Camp, 1983 Publications Publications Registration booklet Relief Reports Sick Benefits and Death Benefits Register, 1891-1978 State Camp Annual Session 1984 State Camp Sessions State Camp, 1985-86 State Laws, 1954 Treasurer's Record, 1936-1955 What Happened to Patriotism.1954 Wood Plaque Wood Plaque Yearbook of 1946

A majority of the collection was a gift of Hervey Painter, 2004. Smaller gifts from Gilbert Cox, 1983 and 2007, and Weldon and Miriam Bicking, 1985.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Downingtown Area Historical Society directly for more information.

Downingtown Area Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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