Despite their celebration of brotherhood, nineteenth-century fraternal groups followed contemporary exclusionary cultural norms when they defined “brotherhood.” This lithograph serves as a symbolic chart for the African American counterpart to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Peter Ogden, a black sailor who had joined the Odd Fellows in England, founded the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in the United States in 1843.
African American men had already established their own American Masonic groups by the late eighteenth century. Prince Hall (1738–1807), a freeborn African American, was rejected for membership in the established Boston Masonic lodges. In 1775, he joined a lodge attached to a British regiment stationed in the city. In 1784, after the war ended, he petitioned the Grand Lodge of England to form a new lodge on American soil. The governing body granted his request, creating African Lodge No. 459. When Hall died in 1807, African American Masons chose to name their fraternity in his honor and to distinguish it from the white lodges that excluded blacks.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Chart," exhibition label for Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2016.