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Modern Woodmen of America

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Not to be confused with the Woodmen of the World.==

Modern Woodmen of America (MWA) is one of the largest (based on assets) fraternal benefit societies in the United States, with more than 750,000 members. Total assets reached US$15.4 billion in 2016.

Though it shares the same founder, it is not affiliated financially in any way with another, similarly-styled fraternal benefit society, WoodmenLife (officially the Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society), and despite the name "Modern" is actually older than its counterpart.

Modern Woodmen of America was founded by Joseph Cullen Root on January 5, 1883, in Lyons, Iowa. He wanted to create an organization that would protect families following the death of a breadwinner.

Originally, Modern Woodmen had a unique set of membership restrictions and criteria. Religiously, the group was quite open, accepting "Jew and Gentile, the Catholic and Protestant, the agnostic and the atheist." However, until the mid-1900s, membership was restricted to white males between the ages of 18-45 from the 12 "healthiest" states -- Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas. Residents of large cities were also disqualified from membership, as were those employed in certain professions, such as railway workers, underground miners, gunpowder factory employees, liquor wholesalers and manufacturers, saloon keepers, "aeronauts," sailors on the lakes and seas, and professional baseball players.

As a fraternal organization, the society is organized around a lodge system, called chapters, Summit chapters and youth service clubs. These groups offer fellowship and community service opportunities for members. In 2016, Modern Woodmen members were part of 2,466 chapters, 283 Summit chapters and 782 youth service clubs nationwide.

Adapted from Wikipedia, CC BY-SA