This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Library display: Odd Fellows

The Rensselaer branch of the Jasper County Public Library has a display in its lobby of Odd Fellow paraphernalia--pictures, banners, some interpretive cards, and funny hats. One of the people who work in the library owns this material.
 
The Odd Fellows must at one time to have been pretty active in Rensselaer because one of the largest buildings downtown was their old lodge. They sold the building a while back, and now remaining Odd Fellows meet at a lodge in Monticello. 

The Odd Fellows has as their mission "to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan." For some reason groups like this (Masons, Knights of Columbus, etc.) also enjoy ceremony and funny regalia. Below you can see a couple of the funny hats. 
 
The Odd Fellows have been in decline for some time. One explanation is that the development of the welfare state has reduced the need for the private charitable activities that they sponsored. However, that leaves the question of why they could not have responded with an alteration of mission. For example, the March of Dimes was founded to fight polio. When that fight was suceeded with the development of the Salk vaccine, the March of Dimes did not die, but it changed its mission so that the organization could continue.

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