The history of the Eastern Star is divided
into three Eras:
- The First Era extended from 1850 to 1866, under the leadership of Dr.
Rob Morris, Poet Laureate of Masonry.
- The Second Era extended from 1860 to 1876, under the leadership of
Robert Macoy of New York.
- The Third Era extends from 1876, when the General Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, was
established to the present time.
Of these eras, the first is perhaps the most important as it prepared
the way for the other two.
The real origin of the Eastern Star, like Masonry, will always be shrouded
in mystery. Many researchers believe it had a French origin as early as
1703. By some, this is claimed to be the first inception of "Female
Masonry" or "Androgynous Degrees" -- (degrees for both men
There appeared at this time, to be a demand for "Side Degrees"
or Degrees conferred on ladies, and quite a list sprang up -- "Heroines
of Jericho", "Danger in the Dark", "Tall Cedars of Lebanon",
etc. These were extensively used but soon fell into decay, for lack of lasting
As to the real origin of Eastern Star Degrees in its Initiatory form,
there is not the least shadow of doubt that the honor belongs to Dr. Rob
Morris and its real origin comes under the First Era.
Dr. Morris had traveled many years. He had written many books on Masonry
which are now valued references in many Masonic Libraries.
Never quite satisfied that all the good in Masonry should be confined
to men, Dr. Morris felt that Masonry should be for the whole family. But
by the laws of that Ancient Order, women are not eligible for its degrees.
Knowing he could not change the Ancient Landmarks of Masonry, Dr. Morris
sought some method by which women could share with the Masonic Brother the
same inspiration that "prompts man to noble deeds."
Although he harbored these feelings for years, it wasn't until 1850,
while confined to his home after an accident, that Dr. Morris fully developed
the Eastern Star Degrees in their present initiatory form.
During this time, he carefully thought out the symbolism and significance
of the floor plan and the corps of officers. He conferred the degrees upon
his wife and daughters, and some neighbors, presumably having an idea to
clothe the ladies with certain words or signs whereby they might make themselves
known to Master Masons.
These signs and so-called mysteries of the Order were communicated freely
to all Master Masons and their relatives. Dr. Morris and other prominent
Master Masons gave many lectures and conferred the degrees on many ladies
throughout the nation.
Eastern Star Membership
Who may join: Only men who are Masons are eligible and
only women with specific Masonic affiliation may be members. These affiliations
- Affiliated Master Masons in good standing,
- the wives
- legally adopted daughters
- half sisters
- great granddaughters
- great nieces
and daughters of sisters or brothers of affiliated Master Masons in good
standing, or if deceased were in good standing at the time of their death;
as well as members - either active for three(3) years or majority - of the
International Order of the Rainbow for Girls or of the International Order
of Job's daughters, each of whom having attained to at least the age of eighteen (18)
years, are eligible to membership in the Order of the Eastern Star.
How to join: To inquire about membership, talk to a current member, or contact
a local chapter. To find chapters in your area, contact the Grand Secretary of that state or province. In Maryland, you can email the Grand Secretary,MD Grand Chapter. You can email the Membership Chairman as well.
Petitions are carefully
read, eligibility investigated and election to membership must be by unanimous
vote. The Order strives to select persons of mental, moral and spiritual quality
who will work together in harmony to perform its objectives.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is the Order of the Eastern Star a secret
A. No. Secret societies are underground
and hard to find. We are easily found within the community but we enjoy a distinctive
means of identifying each other. Only members are allowed in a closed meeting.
Q. Can I afford membership In the Order
of the Eastern Star?
A. Yes. Financial position is not considered
in the Order. Members come from all economic stations of life.
Q. Is my religious faith allowed In the
Order of the Eastern Star?
A. Yes. Members of all religions may belong
to the Order of the Eastern Star. We only require a belief in a Supreme Being.
Q. Is the Order of' the Eastern Star time
A. After your Initiation into our Order,
you may attend as your time permits.
Q. Is there any memory work?
A. There is no mandatory memory work except
the means of making yourself known if you wish to visit a Chapter or if you
become an officer.
Q. Is the Order patriotic and democratic?
A. Yes. Members are taught an allegiance
to preserve the good of their country.
Eastern Star Chapters donate funds to a wide variety of worthy charities. Some
examples are: Cancer Research Project, Arthritis Fund, Heart Fund, Knights Templar,
Eye Foundation, Shriners' Hospital for Crippled Children, orphanages and many
other charities within each Grand Jurisdiction. In the United States alone,
Masonic organizations give $1.5 million a day to charity.
Youth Projects. Eastern Star gives support
to young people who are members of Rainbow for Girls, Job's Daughters, and the
Order of DeMolay These fine young people who are training themselves to be leaders
are likely prospects to become valued Eastern Stars or Masons. The Order of
the Eastern Star and the Masonic fraternity are highly rewarded by their support
of and interest in these youth organizations.
ESTARL. (ESTARL (Eastern Star Training Awards
for Religious Leadership), is a scholarship fund for those who are going to
school for the purpose of religious training. Each state administers their own
ESTARL program. Those wishing to apply for an ESTARL Scholarship should contact
the Grand Secretary of the
state or province in which they reside.
Eastern Star Homes. Many Grand Jurisdictions
have homes for their senior members. These homes range in function from full
fledged "retirement homes" to organizations that provide services
to those who are in need. To find out more about the services of your state
contact your Grand Secretary.
Dr. Rob Morris' own statement as to the names given the Star Points
may be of interest. It is as follows: "From the Holy Writings I
culled four biographical sketches to correspond with my first four
points, viz., JEPHTHAH'S DAUGHTER (named ADAH), RUTH, ESTHER and MARTHA.
These were illustrations of four great congeries of womanly virtues,
and their selection has proved highly popular. The fifth point
introduced me to the early history of the Christian Church, where
amidst a "noble army of martyrs" I found many whose lives and death
overflowed the cup of martyrdom with a glory not surpassed by any of
those named in Holy Writ. This gave me ELECTA,
"the Elect Lady," friend of St. John, the Christian woman whose
venerable years were crowned with the utmost splendor of the
THE STORY OF THE "STARS"
Here is a story of the grand, old time,
A tale of virtues, tender, yet sublime,
Inscribed on sacred page to give us faith,
In woman's constancy, in life and death;
Here, in God's book, the bright narration see,
And five brave hearts make up the history.
ADAH, great Jephthah's daughter, soul of truth,
RUTH, flower of Moab, humble, pious Ruth,
ESTHER, the Crowned, and worthiest of a crown,
MARTHA, His friend, whom saints and angels own,
ELECTA, strong the martyr's cross to bear --
These are the heroines of the Eastern Star
Fairest among ten thousand deathless names,
How altogether lovely do they glow!
Time's annals yield no brighter, noble themes,
No purer hearts the ranks of heaven know;
Here, then, oh Sisters, sister-virtues trace,
And light from these your lamps of truth and grace.
From the book "History of the Star Points, Order of the Eastern Star" by John Kennedy Lacock