What is the Order of the Eastern Star?
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What is the Order of the Eastern Star?
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  • History of the Order

    The history of the Eastern Star is divided into three Eras:

    1. The First Era extended from 1850 to 1866, under the leadership of Dr. Rob Morris, Poet Laureate of Masonry.
    2. The Second Era extended from 1860 to 1876, under the leadership of Robert Macoy of New York.
    3. 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 and women).

    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 worth.

    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 include:

    • Affiliated Master Masons in good standing,
    • the wives
    • daughters
    • legally adopted daughters
    • mothers
    • widows
    • sisters
    • half sisters
    • granddaughters
    • stepmothers

    • stepdaughters
    • stepsisters
    • daughters-in-law
    • grandmothers
    • great granddaughters
    • nieces
    • great nieces
    • mothers-in-law
    • sisters-in-law

    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 society?
    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 consuming?
    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.

    The Heroines of the Order
    (Click here for more information)

    ​ ​​​​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 crucifixion."


    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.

    Rob Morris

    From the book "History of the Star Points, Order of the Eastern Star" by John Kennedy Lacock

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