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USA: Missouri, Saint Louis
Photograph on paper
overall: 11"h x 13-3/4"w
Gift of J.F. Smith
Sepia-toned photgraph showing "Members of the General Masonic Relief Association of the United States and Canada / First Annual Session Held in St. Louis, November 17, 18, and 19, 1886"; photograph shows a group of men wearing hats, overcoats, ribbon badges; across bottom "John Moore, Photographer, 1741 N. Broadway, St. Louis"; with typewritten names on applied paper margin identifiying men.
Marchers wearing ribbons on clothing and hats at processions to identify them as members of a group is long-standing tradition. Often printed on silk and pinned to garments, ribbons worn at processions were intended to be used just once or only a handful of times. Event organizers used ribbon badges of different colors and designs to distinguish members of a group and sometimes to signify a wearer’s role—such as a guest at or organizer of a meeting. Ribbon badges also served as souvenirs of special occasions. The light-colored ribbons attached to the coats of the men pictured here, gathered for an 1886 meeting of the General Masonic Relief Association of the United States and Canada held in St. Louis, helped identify them as members of the group.