Monday, March 30, 2009

Societies & Fraternal Organizations -- what can we learn about the women?

Fraternal organizations and societies, we know, can reveal something about our ancestors, their beliefs, interests, and activities. And in her article, "Conducting Research Through Societies and Fraternal Organizations," Judy Rosella Edwards provides background and explores the value of those organizations. One point the article makes, which I think is worth mentioning here at the end of Women's History Month, is how a typically patriarchal institution might help you learn more about a female ancestor. As the article observes, "Many member-based organizations are gender-based, but include an auxiliary for the opposite sex. Most of the older organizations are patriarchal and the auxiliary was for the ladies. Because of the auxiliary, this may be the only place where you'll learn much about a woman's life aside from being listed as spouse on a census." The article suggests ways to look for female ancestors within that context.

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