Members of the Independent United Order of Mechanics
James Van Der Zee (1886-1983)
USA: New York, New York City
Photograph on paper
overall: 8-1/8"h x 10"w
Special Acquisitions Fund

Members of the Independent United Order of Mechanics; black and white photograph of four rows of African American men and women wearing fraternal robes and collars; two women in front wearing crowns, one has collar that reads "ORGM / I.U.O.M."; painted on wall at back is "Brotherly Love / Relief / Truth / In God is Our Trust / Secrecy / Fidelity / Benevolence"; lower left reads "VANDERZEE / NYC / 1928"; reverse stamped twice with "G.G.G. Photo Studio Inc / 109 West 135th St"; reads "James Vanderzee" in pencil.

James Van Der Zee was a well-known New York City photographer during the 1920s and 1930s, sought after by the famous and not-so-famous alike. This photograph shows members of the Independent United Order of Mechanics. The group formed in England in 1757 as a Friendly Society, a type of mutual benefit society that also served ceremonial and friendship purposes. The IUOM became established in the United States in its present form on January 3, 1910, and is headquartered in New York. Membership is open to men and women, boys and girls, of "high moral and ethical standards, who believe in "A Supreme Being" who rules and governs the Universe." For further information, see blog post, May 1, 2021, http://nationalheritagemuseum.typepad.com/library_and_archives/2012/05/a-new-discovery-about-an-old-photo.html

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