Images of the Month Gallery
November 2000

The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organization founded in Washington in 1864, dedicated to "the cause of universal peace" and "pledged to the promotion of understanding among men of good will." Pythian lodges were organized in Louisiana by the late 1860s, but most of the lodges disbanded in the 1870s in the face of controversy over admitting African-American members. The New Orleans lodge reorganized in 1876, and thirty years later, there were 118 lodges in the state and more than 7000 members, enrolled in the "Endowment Rank" (which provided life insurance to its members) and/or the "Uniform Rank" (in which members modeled themselves after soldiers and held uniformed drills and parades).

For nine days in October, 1906, New Orleans hosted the "Twenty-Fourth Convention of the Supreme Lodge Knights of Pythias and the Biennial Encampment of the Uniform Rank," a giant event which brought as many as 20,000 visitors to the city from all parts of the country. Members of the Uniform Rank camped at the City Park Race Track, where they paraded and drilled before crowds of onlookers. Elsewhere in town, the Pythians were treated to receptions, speeches, theater performances and dinners. The newspapers of the day are full of the grand activities of the Pythians.

The wonderful period photographs featured in this month's Gallery are taken from the elaborate program of the 1906 convention. Captions used with the photos are those given in the program.

Click on the images below to see a larger version and accompanying text.

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10/29/2000 iw