The Order of the Eastern Star is a Freemasonry-related fraternal organization open to both men and women. It was established in 1850 by Boston, Massachusetts lawyer and educator Rob Morris, a former Freemason official. The order is based on teachings from the Bible, but is open to people of all religious beliefs. It has approximately 10,000 chapters in twenty countries and approximately 500,000 members under its General Grand Chapter.
Members of the Order are aged 18 and older; men must be Master Masons and women must have specific relationships with Masons. Originally, a woman would have to be the daughter, widow, wife, sister, or mother of a master Mason, but the Order now allows other relatives as well as allowing Job's Daughters, Rainbow Girls, Members of the Organization of Triangle (NY only) and members of the Constellation of Junior Stars (NY only) to become members when of age.
The Order was created by Rob Morris in 1850 when, while confined by illness, he set down the principles of the order in his Rosary of the Eastern Star. By 1855, he had organized a "Supreme Constellation" in New York, which chartered chapters throughout the United States.
In 1866, Dr. Morris started working with Robert Macoy, and handed the Order over to him while Morris was traveling in the Holy Land. Macoy organized the current system of Chapters, and modified Dr. Morris' Rosary into a Ritual.
On December 1, 1874, Queen Esther Chapter No. 1 became the first Prince Hall Affiliate chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star when it was established in Washington, D.C. by Thornton Andrew Jackson.
The "General Grand Chapter" was formed in Indianapolis, Indiana on November 6, 1876. Committees formed at that time created the Ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star in more or less its current form.
Emblem and heroines
The emblem of the Order is a five-pointed star with the white ray of the star pointing downwards towards the manger. In the Chapter room, the downward-pointing white ray points to the West. The character-building lessons taught in the Order are stories inspired by Biblical figures:
Adah (Jephthah's daughter, from Judges) Ruth, the widow Esther, the wife Martha (sister of Lazarus, from the Gospel of John) Electa (the "elect lady", from II John), the mother