Family Stories Through Membership Pins

I have quite a few small membership pins in my family history collection. Yesterday, I shared the story of the National Slovak Society, which I discovered because my grandfather was a member and this pin came down through the family:

Slav-USA Piin
Narodny Slovensky Spolok

I was able to research the abbreviated words on the pin, learn about the society and even discovered that my 17 year old grandfather was the secretary of the local Passaic chapter.

Just to give you an idea about what can be learned from family pins, here are a few more in my collection:

Star Pin
Vintage Eastern Star Pin

This pin came to me through my grandmother, Hazel Adams. Last month, I wrote a post about a new GeneaGem, which is the collection of Maine Masonic membership cards dating back to 1820, digitized and online. I think my Mason membership pin probably belonged to Hazel’s grandfather. Eastern Star is a separate organization, but it is affiliated with the Masons. I think this pin likely belonged to Hazel’s grandmother, Sarah Moriah Crouse Coleman, born in 1833 and died in 1930 in Calais, Maine.

Besides learning about the Eastern Star, this pin would make a great starting point covering the life of a woman who was born during Andrew Jackson’s presidency, but lived to see the Great Depression. I can’t imagine what she thought of all the changes that happened during her lifetime, not the least of which were the Civil War and World War I.

Here is another pin:

25 Year Pin
I.O.O.F.

In early Oklahoma, around the Noble area, it wasn’t the Masons that ruled, it was the IOOF – the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, established in 1819 in Baltimore, Maryland. Like the Mason, it is a fraternal organization whose motto is Friendship, Love, and Truth. The IOOF is politically and religiously independent, promotes social and personal development and supports various philanthropy causes.

This pin belonged to John Henry Stufflebean, 1863-1938 and honored his 25 years of membership. Many Stufflebean family members are buried in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Noble. A Stufflebean family story could be told through the eyes of each of its IOOF members.

Next, I have a pin that I think is unusual for a junior high school. This pin belonged to my father, who graduated from Wilson Junior High School in Passaic, New Jersey in the Class of ’40, as the pin denotes.

40-W JHS Pin
Wilson Class of ’40

Although I never attended Wilson Junior High School, it was important in my life. Between 1940 and the mid-1960s when I went to junior high school, the neighborhood around Wilson had changed so much that my parents didn’t want me to attend that school. That was aside from the fact that the school was ten long blocks from our house. The education of myself and my brother were of prime importance and my pending entry into junior high school was the main impetus for us moving to Wayne when I was in the middle of sixth grade.

American Red Cross Pin
American Red Cross Volunteer, WWII

My mom’s family moved around a lot because Grandfather worked for Western Union and got transferred often. During the World War II years, the family lived in Tenafly and Ridgewood. Grandmother didn’t work outside the home, but she did her part to help the war effort by volunteering with the local American Red Cross. Here’s her pin and I even have a group photo of all the ladies together.

Hazel Adams Red Cross
Hazel, 2nd from right, back row

And I have her thank you certificate:

Hazel Adams Red Cross Certificate
World War II Service

A great blog post idea would be to tell the story of the people at home who aided the war effort through volunteer activities like this one.

The last pin I’d like to share is that of my Grandfather’s 40 year pin from Western Union.

Western Union 40 year Pin
Vernon Tarbox Adams, 40 Years of Service

I’ve told Grandfather’s story in a couple of different ways, but I should have rummaged through my drawers before the post went online so I could include his service pin.

I hope this has given you an idea of a new way to tell your family’s story. By the way, don’t forget to tell your own story. Hmm – I was a Pioneer Girl and then a Girl Scout (I still have my sash and pins). I’ll have to think about that!

One thought on “Family Stories Through Membership Pins”

  1. Such interesting pins. I learned a lot about my great-grandfather through his medals from the Spanish-American War. Researching what the medals were awarded for told me what he had been up to. Membership pins would serve the same purpose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.