Artisans’ Order of Mutual Protection


The Artisans’ Order of Mutual Protection was founded in 1873 as a fraternal benefit life insurance society for men in the United States. The Artisans’ Order of Mutual Protection is an absolutely typical American fraternal benefit society. It was first conceived in the late 1860s as a means of providing better beneficial protection for artisans, but, apparently unwilling simply to start a mutual insurance society, the founders devised elaborate rituals based largely on masonic rituals. Despite the “artisans’ label, the leading light among the founders was a doctor—and Freemason, also involved in the Ancient Order of United Workmennamed James Bunn.

Even for the time when the order was founded, the ritual was too long, too tedious, and too blatantly a Masonic knock-off to suit the majority of its members.

Accordingly, it was simplified within a short time. There was no women’s department until 1955, although a junior department was founded in 1933, for males aged 30 days to 18 years. It was in the 1950s that the order reached its all-time high of 36,000 members, but has declined since then. There were 32,000 members in 1967; under 26,000 in 1978; and only 18,000 or so a decade later. The non-insurance activities of the society include scholarships and children’s programs, as well as the usual charitable projects.

Initiation ritual