The Royal Arcanum is neither royal nor arcane; it is a fraternal benefit life insurance company
founded in Massachusetts in 1877, and which still boasted 28,111 members in
This group was organized by two founders of the Knights of Honor, who, without effort attempted to have the Knights of Honor adopt a graded assessment life insurance plan.
The milk-and-water oath of the Royal Arcanum carried
the penalty that if it were broken, the members should be expelled from the
fraternity. The Royal Arcanum is a tribute to the extraordinary predilection of
19th-century Americans for pasting all manner of curious rituals and
restrictions upon an insurance organization. Members had to believe in a Supreme
Being, and “Mongolians, whether of pure or of mixed blood, no matter what they
believe, are ineligible.” Today, this and other restrictions have been
The present size of the Arcanum is almost 100,000
members smaller than it was its heyday of the early 1920s.
The Loyal Ladies of the Royal Arcanum is the female auxiliary, founded in 1909 and formally recognized by men in 1923.