Excerpt from The Cyclopædia of Fraternities: A Compilation of Existing Authentic Information and the Results of Original Investigation as to More Than Six Hundred Secret Societies in the United States
In the Cyclopiædia of Fraternities the first attempt is made, so far as known, to trace, from a sociological point of view, the development of Secret Societies in the United States.
Freemasonry, of course, is shown to be the mother fraternity in fact, as well as in name; but particular interest will attach to details connecting many of the more important fraternities with Freemasonry. Broader, and fully as interesting, is the fact that in free and democratic America there are more secret societies and a larger aggregate membership among such organizations than in all other civilized countries.
The probable extent of the influence of secret society life may be inferred from the fact that more than 6,000,000 Americans are members of 300 such organizations, which confer about 1,000 degrees on 300,000 novitiates annually, aided, in instances, by a wealth of paraphernalia and dramatic ceremonial which rivals modern stage effects. More than 30,000 members are annually added to the rolls of Masonic Lodges in the United States; quite as many join the Odd Fellows, and one-half as many the Knights of Pythias; more than 100,000 join other secret societies, the lodges, chapters, or councils of which dot the country almost coincidently with the erection of churches and schoolhouses.
It is rarely that one in ten of the active members of secret societies is familiar with the origin and growth of his own fraternity, and not one in a hundred has a fair conception of the relation of his own organization to like societies, or of the origin and evolution of leading organizations which form the secret society world. For this reason not only the 200, 000 new members of such societies each year, but older brethren as well, should find in the Cyclopædia Of Fr…