We are the family of Oddfellowship, composed of Men, Women, and Youth, who have come together in our local community to be a part of something great. Through working in our local Communities, States, Provinces, or Nationally we understand that we can make a difference in the lives of people in our World.
The exact date of our first founding is “lost in the mist of antiquity”. The Manchester Unity Oddfellows (in United Kingdom) state on their website that Oddfellows can trace its roots back to the Trade Guilds of the 12th and 13th centuries. Some believe that there are records in Scotland which show that the Oddfellows in its original form may have arisen in the 1500s.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was founded on the North American Continent in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 26, 1819 when Thomas Wildey and four members of the Order from England instituted Washington Lodge No. 1. This lodge received its charter from Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows in England.
The degrees in Odd Fellowship emphasize a leaving of the old life and the start of a better one, of welcoming travelers, and of helping those in need. The command of the IOOF is to“visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan.” Specifically, IOOF today is dedicated to the following purposes:
- To improve and elevate the character of mankind by promoting the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity and universal justice.
- To help make the world a better place to live by aiding each other, the community, the less fortunate, the youth, the elderly, the environment and the community in every way possible.
- To promote good will and harmony amongst peoples and nations through the principle of universal fraternity, holding the belief that all men and women regardless of race, nationality, religion, social status, gender, rank and station are brothers and sisters
There are two theories about the origin of the name “Odd Fellows”:
- In the 18th century, major trades were organized in guilds or other forms of syndicate, but smaller trades did not have any social or financial security. For that reason, people who exercised unusual trades joined together to form a larger group of “odd” fellows.
- They were called “odd” because in the beginning of Odd Fellowship in the 18th century, at the time of industrialization, it was rather odd to find people who followed noble values such as benevolence, charity and fraternalism.