The late 1880's was a time of much social unrest in the United States. The country was industrializing at a very fast rate and millions of farmers left their farms to seek their fortune in the cities and towns and factories and mines of America.
It was also a time of rapid technological change and the new technologies were quickly overwhelming the existing infrastructure of the country.

Whenever things change fast, there are always winners and losers. Men, as a group, began to feel that they were on the losing end of this change. Males used to be the dominant member of the family; would be the breadwinner and would be respected, at least in the home. But as women began to be more assertive and as they began to earn outside income, the balance of power was shifting. Women were playing increasingly important roles in society and the educationally emancipated daughters were no longer the "dutiful little girls".

Samples of handles on Fraternal spoons

Many men felt it necessary to preserve aspects of their importance. They began to retreat into private male only clubs. During the 1890's hundreds of these clubs and fraternities were created in every town to help men restore their "lost glory". Typically fraternal organizations would build nice buildings with bars or golf or tennis clubs and rooms which were decorated in "male approved styles", rather than the female chintz in which most Victorian homes were decorated.

Samples of handles on Fraternal spoons

These fraternal gathering places ranged from one room to large scale buildings, but all of them were of importance to the local culture and they often played an important role in business and government operations. The silver spoons shown often represent the importance of the "male only" club to the community.

Of course, women would also start forming their own civic organizations. These groups often involved themselves in charity work, preserving historical buildings and creating museums. Their role was to create a social atmosphere that balanced the demands made by men in their economic oriented organizations. Many spoons honor the various women’s clubs, preserved historical buildings and other results of the civic organizations activities.



This list is NOT comprehensive --There are probably a lot of groups that I do not know about

AAUW (American Association of University Women)

American Legion

American Woman's League

Boy Scouts of America

DAR (Daughters of American Revolution) (1/19/01)


Fish House Club

Fraternal Order of Eagles

Grand International Auxiliary

Independent Order of Foresters (IOF)

Knights of Columbus

Knights of Pythias

Knights Templar

Ladies Aid Society

Ladies of the Modern Maccabees (LOTMM)


Miniature Society Rifle Club

Odd Fellows

OES (Order of Eastern Star)

Patriotic Order  of  Americans

Royal Arcanum


United Comercial Travelers of America

Veiled Prophet


4H Homemaking

Return to Spoon World Index