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Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Phoenixville lodges records


Held at: Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area [Contact Us]204 Church St., Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, 19460

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area. 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

An altruistic and benevolent fraternal organization, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) was originally organized in England in the 18th century by "ordinary people from different trades and walks of life" who "found it necessary to group together as brothers and sisters and contribute some of their hard-earned wages to a common fund which they could use for unfortunate times such as sickness, losing a job and even death." The Odd Fellows have also become known in many areas as "The Three Link Fraternity" due to its "Three Link Emblem" which stands for Friendship, Love and Truth.

The first I.O.O.F. branch in the United States was started in 1819 by Thomas Wildey and four other members of the Order from England: Washington Lodge No. 1 in Baltimore, Maryland. The members, who came to the city at a time when the city was suffering both a yellow fever epidemic and mass unemployment, dedicated the organization to "Visit the sick, relieve the distress, bury the dead and educate the orphans."

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was the first national fraternity to include both men and women, adopting the Rebekah Degree, based on biblical scripture, in 1851. As of 2013, Odd Fellows and Rebekahs continues to exist with nearly 10,000 lodges in approximately 26 countries.

The Phoenixville branch of the I.O.O.F. in Chester County, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1848 when Phoenix Encampment No. 79 was granted a charter from the Grand Lodge of the United States. The branch came to include the subordinate lodge, Phoenix Lodge No. 212, Adelaide Rebekah Lodge No. 42, and the junior division Three Link Club.


Independent Order of Odd Fellows. "About Us." Accessed September 30, 2013.

This collection documents the Phoenixville branch of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows over a 125-year period. Minutes form the largest portion of the collection, but there are also membership records, financial records, ephemera, and other related materials. The collection consists of four series: I. Phoenix Lodge No. 212; II. Phoenix Encampment No. 79; III. Adelaide Rebekah Lodge No. 42; and IV. Three Link Club.

Phoenix Lodge No. 212 records consists of about 25 volumes including the following: minutes, 1847-1932; question books/forms for prospective members, 1896-1914; member dues books, 1896-1916; proposition books, 1913-1921; constitution, 1853; home account books 1847-1946; and register of sick benefits. There are also some loose meeting minutes (mixed with some Phoenix Encampment No. 79 minutes), 1929-1974.

Phoenix Encampment No. 79 records include: minute books, 1848-1907, 1912-1918, and 1961-1982; dues books, 1896-1904; and a bank book, 1913-1937. Some loose Encampment minutes from 1929-1974 are mixed with minutes from Phoenix Lodge No. 212.

Records of Adelaide Rebekah Lodge No. 42 include: minutes, 1891-1911 and 1924-1936; officer roll books, 1896-1937; and secretary and treasurer's cash books, 1917-1953.

Three Link Club records include: minutes, 1955-1970; and check books, 1960s.

The collection also includes various loose minutes, some anniversary booklets, souvenir programs, and other ephemera, as well as a two published histories about the I.O.O.F. and a couple of artifacts.

Gift of International Order of Odd Fellows, 2003.

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 Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area directly for more information.

Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton 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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