What Are Fraternal Benefit Orders?
8/2/2011
Records from fraternal benefit orders (FBOs) are another resource to add to your genealogy arsenal.

Records from fraternal benefit orders (FBOs) are another resource to add to your genealogy arsenal. Determine whether your ancestor was a member by asking relatives, looking for old membership cards and benefit statements, examining obituaries and cemetery records for an FBO's name, and studying photos and tombstones for insignia.

Research potential societies using city directories, local histories and web searches (search on the city or state, the ethnicity and the word society). Then contact the administrative office to ask about old records. If the organization no longer exists, records may be with regional repositories or historical societies. Run a Google search and consult the Immigration History Research Center (IHRC) book Records of Ethnic Fraternal Benefit Associations in the United States: Essays and Inventories (it's at the Family History Library and other major genealogical repositories). You also might check with the IHRC in Minneapolis, which houses an excellent collection of ethnic FBO records.