Rare membership and lodge data from a late nineteenth-century American fraternal order provide support for the existence of “bridging ties” among its members along class and neighborhood lines, though not across racial or gender lines. Lodge-related political activity centered on issues of exclusivity, such as the desirability of non-English speaking members. The order's system of government was more top-heavy and hierarchical than democratic; decisionmaking power resided with established members at the organization's national level. Overall, the data paint a picture of an American fraternal lodge unlike that represented in the contemporary literature about social-capital formation in the Golden Age of Fraternity.
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© 2004 Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Inc.