Louis H. Hollis collection on the Improved Order of Red Men


Collection 1689

1817-1902, undated (bulk, 1842-1887)
(2.0 Linear feet ; 5 boxes, 1 volume)

Summary Information

Repository
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Title
Louis H. Hollis collection on the Improved Order of Red Men
ID
1689
Date
1817-1902, undated (bulk, 1842-1887)
Extent
2.0 Linear feet ; 5 boxes, 1 volume
Author
Finding aid prepared by Cary Hutto.
Sponsor
Processing made possible by a generous donation from the Abington Junior High School History Club.
Language
English
Abstract
In 1813, at Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania, a group of men met to form a fraternal organization that they called the Society of Red Men. The name was changed to The Improved Order of Red Men in 1834. This collection, assembled by Louis H. Hollis, documents the creation of the work the History of the Improved Order of Red Men by Morris H. Gorham and William G. Hollis (Philadelphia, 1884). It dates primarily to the early to late 1800s and includes Gorham's manuscripts, minute books of a few East Coast chapters of the order, membership records, account books, a scrapbook, and miscellaneous papers.

Preferred citation

Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Louis H. Hollis collection on the Improved Order of Red Men (Collection 1689), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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Background note

In 1813, at Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania, a group of men met to form a fraternal organization that they called the Society of Red Men. The name was changed to The Improved Order of Red Men in 1834. According to the current organization, the order modeled itself after Iroquois Confederacy. The organization became national in 1847 in Maryland, with the formation of the Grand Council of the United States. The Improved Order of Red Men still exists today, and believes in democracy, free government, the United States of America, and “perpetuating the beautiful legends and traditions of a once-vanishing race and the keeping alive some of the traditional customs, ceremonies, and philosophies” (IORM website - http://www.redmen.org/redmen/info/).

The order uses American Indian-inspired terminology for its structural organization and correspondence. For instance, tye call their chapters “wigwams” and name then after different tribes, such as Tecumseh Tribe, Number One, in Pennsylvania. Their calendar is based on the Columbus's voyages to the New World, with A.D. 1491 being year one of the organization.

Morris H. Gorham wrote the History of the Improved Order of Red Men, which was published in 1884. Gorham appeared to have been a very active member of the order during his lifetime, having attained the high rank of “Great Incohonee” within the Great Council of the United States at 1879 (Lindsay et. al., 1893).

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Scope and content note

The Louis H. Hollis collection was assembled to write the History of the Improved Order of Red Men by Morris H. Gorham, with additions by William G. Hollis (Philadelphia, 1884). Records of the order were gathered into the collection for research, and they include minute books from chapters in Pennsylvania, Maryland and New York state, member lists, account books, a scrapbook, and a small amount of correspondence, ephemera, and miscellanea. The collection also contains several manuscripts by Gorham that he made in preparation for his book on the history of the order.

The Hollis collection spans five boxes, one volume, and one item. It dates discretely from 1817 to 1902. While Gorham's manuscripts are all undated, they are attributed to the late 1870s to early 1880s. While some scattered information could been gleaned about the Hollis family from a few miscellaneous items, the collection primarily documents the history of the Improved Order of Red Men from its beginnings in 1813 to the 1880s, with scant information available up to 1902 in one of the membership books.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania , 2018

1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19107
215-732-6200

Access restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Provenance

Gift of Louis H. Hollis, 1951.

Processing note

The scrapbook (Volume 1) and Centennial memorial certificate (Item 1) have been removed from the collection for repair and are unavailable at this time. Researchers wishing to use them should contact the library for further information.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Improved Order of Red Men. Great Council of Maryland.
  • Improved Order of Red Men. New York (State).
  • Improved Order of Red Men. Pennsylvania.
  • Improved Order of Red Men.

Occupation(s)

  • Fraternal organizations--History.

Personal Name(s)

  • Gorham, Morris H.
  • Hollis, Louis H.
  • Hollis, William G.

Subject(s)

  • Fraternal organizations--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.
  • Fraternal organizations--United States--19th century.
  • Secret societies--History.
  • Secret societies--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--19th century.
  • Secret societies--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia.

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

"The Society of Red Men: Its History and Origin from its organization at Fort Mifflin in the year 1813" - manuscript by Morris Gorham, chapters 1-11 undated 

1 1-11

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"The Society of Red Men of Maryland" - manuscript by Morris Gorham undated 


    Box Folder
Text   1 12
    Box Folder
Text   2 1

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Box Folder

Miscellaneous written notes, including handwritten index undated 

2 2

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"The History of the Society of Red Men," chapters 1-3, No. 1, manuscript undated 

2 3

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"Lectures: The Society of Red Men; Tammany, the Tammany Societies, and their Relation to the Society of Red Men" manuscript undated 

2 4

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Lectures undated 

2 5

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"An Address Delivered before Chippew Tribe (No. 51) Improved Order of Red Men 1879 

2 6

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"Preface" manuscript undated 

2 7

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Improved Order of Red Men correspondence 1837, 1879-1901 

2 8-11

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Miscellaneous documents regarding the Improved Order of Red Men, including Maryland Council membership list undated 

2 12

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Letter and notes from William Hollis to Committee on the history of the Improved Order of Red Men of the Grand Council undated 

3 1

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Notes regarding the history of the Improved Order of Red Men undated 

3 2-3

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Society membership list 1817-1828 

4 1

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Membership list, including titles, for Red Men society (in 2 volumes) 1817-1831 

4 2-3

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William G. Hollis account book for "History of the Improved Order of Red Men" 1883-1887 

4 4

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Membership list and dues account book 1888-1902 

4 5

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Items removed from scrapbook (Volume 1), including miscellaneous documents and ephemera undated 

4 6

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Constitution, by-laws, and rules of the order of Tecumseh Tribe, Number 1, of the Improved Order of Red Men, Pennsylvania undated 

4 7

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Degree book, adopted by the Great Council of the Improved Order of Red Men of Maryland undated 

4 8

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Great Council of Maryland minute book (original and copy) 1842-1849 

5 1-2

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Osceola Wigwam #2, New York, minute book 1848-1851 

5 3

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Oneactah Wigwam #4, New York, minute book 1848-1851 

5 4

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Items removed from scrapbook (Volume 1), including correspondence, ephemera, and miscellaneous documents crica 1850s, undated 

5 5-6

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Volume

Improved Order of Red Men scrapbook 1866-1879 

1

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Item

Centennial Exhibition memorial certificate and holder 1876 

1

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