Fraternal Organizations

Fraternal organizations are groups that are formed based on a common bond, as with social or academic interests. Examples of fraternal organizations include college fraternities and sororities which are based on religion, previous members, or just common interests. Sometimes these organizations provide great networking opportunities that allow graduates a smoother transition into the workforce. They are often granted preferential tax treatment as 501(c)10 organizations and provide certain benefits to members such as discounted life or health insurance coverage.

These organizations have a storied and prominent place in the history and development of the U.S.; however, during the American Civil War fraternal institutions were largely dormant outside the military because the nation was preoccupied with the war. Prior to the Civil War, fraternal organizations had experienced an increase in popularity, while organizations that opposed them experienced a decline. Some early fraternal organizations were based on faith-driven precepts that encourage cooperation and support among members within the group. While the concept of a fraternal organization is derived from the idea of brotherhood, and many organizations continue to be exclusively comprised of men; however, today, memberships do not necessarily have to be restricted by gender.

Trade guilds, which were predecessors to trade unions, made up of professionals from a given trade are also forms of fraternal organizations, with groups such as Freemasons as persistent examples. In addition to the guiding principle that led to the formation of a fraternal organization, many groups also perform community service or charitable tasks.

The photograph composite is courtesy of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), a strategic partner of Americans All. They are made up of Irish and Irish-Americans dedicated to the promotion, protection and preservation of Irish culture and traditions in America. 

Legacy Stories from the Americans All Heritage Honor Roll

We are pleased to host and share these legacy stories created by honorees’ family, friends and associates. They, like us, appreciate that heritage and culture are an integral part of our nation's social fabric and want to help students participate effectively in our nation's economy, workforce and democracy.

Last Name of Individual
First Name of Individual
Group name

Ancient Order of Hibernians "AOH" New Jersey (c.1836 - ?) Irish Fraternal Organization, American History

The Reformation that swept Europe in the 16th century was marked by conflicts over the practice of religion. Elizabeth I declared the Church of England the State religion, and although she considered Ireland part of her state, the Irish did not. As a result, Ireland became a battlefield in a campaign to reduce Catholic power. The persistence with which the Irish clung to their religion drove the Crown to extremes . . . 

AOH Division 8 and LAOH Division 8/9 New York (January 1967 - ?) Irish Fraternal Organization, AOH, LAOH

Suffolk County, Long Island, New York AOH Division 8 was organized in January 1967 by AOH NY State Organizer Jack Reynolds. Charter Officers were President Bob McGrory, Vice President Joe McCarthy, Secretary Bill Regan, Financial Secretary Ed Reynolds, Treasurer John Keane and Chaplain Father Sheridan. By November 1967, an enthusiastic group of ladies formed an Auxiliary with Nora Reynolds as President.

Commodore John Barry Pennsylvania (March 25, 1745 - September 12, 1803) Irish, Ireland, U.S. Navy First Flag Officer, Politician, Continental Congress

September 13th is Commodore John Barry Day. It is not a new commemorative day, for it has been commemorated on the American national calendar more than once. There were even statues erected in his honor back in the days when Americans remembered with gratitude the contributions of this dedicated man. Today, how many remember his deeds? 

Honorable Richard Joseph Daley Illinois (May 15, 1902 - December 20, 1976) Irish, Catholic, Illinois State Senator, Mayor of Chicago, Politician

Richard Joseph Daley was a six-term mayor of the city of Chicago (1955-1976) and the influential chair of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee from 1953 until his death in 1976. Described by one writer as “the most powerful local politician America has ever produced,” Daley also wielded state and national political influence during his terms in office.

John Holland New Jersey (February 29, 1840 - August 12, 1914) Irish, Ireland, Inventor, Engineer, Finian

His name was John Philip Holland and he was born in Liscannor, Co. Clare, Ireland, on February 24, 1841. He was only three when the potato failure devastated his country. He survived but suffered poor eyesight for the rest of his life. His father was a member of the Coast Guards and young John inherited a love of the sea.