Insignia

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First Approval for Patches

Up until 1926, pins were the only insignia approved for use by Arrowmen. This had been the rule in both the first Constitution of Wimachtendienk in 1916 and the constitution framed at the 1921 Grand Lodge Meeting. When the Order expanded to a dozen lodges at least two of them desired patches as insignia.

Membership Cards

Many organizations create a membership card as a way to show a person is a member in good standing (current on annual dues). The Wimachtendienk and later the Order of the Arrow was no different in this regard. In many cases the local lodge created their own card.

In 1923, at the third Meeting of the Grand Lodge the Extension and Registry Committee made the following recommendation to create the first nationally printed membership card:

First Vigil Honor Sash

The only known photograph of the original sash for Third Degree (Vigil Honor) members is from the rededication council fire at Camp Biddle during the 1921 first meeting of the Grand Lodge. The photo shows the three part “bib” type sash around both E. Urner Goodman’s and Carroll A. Edson’s necks. One side of the triangle had an arrow pointing over the right shoulder signifying the First Degree. One side of the triangle had an arrow pointing over the left shoulder signifying the Second Degree. The third side of the triangle had an arrow pointing to Goodman’s left as he wore it. The third arrow and side completed the triangle, which was the sign of the Third Degree. There are no other known pictures showing this bib; nor are there any known bib type sashes in collections or displays. There is also no evidence that anyone other than Goodman and Edson ever wore this sash.

The Grand Lodge

When Wimachtendienk, W.W. started at Treasure Island they were a lone camp fraternity without a national charter. In 1921, the eleven active Wimachtendienk groups decided to have a meeting and form a national organization. The usage of the term “Grand Lodge” appears to have come from the Masonic fraternal system that also calls their national organization a The Grand Lodge. 

First Official Jeweler

During its first year of existence, the Grand Lodge entered into an agreement with the National Jewelry Company (NJC) of Philadelphia to be the first Official Jeweler of Wimachtendienk. NJC would manufacture First Degree arrow pins and lodge totem pins. These were the only authorized insignia by the Order and pre-date patches

First Meeting of the Grand Lodge

In 1921 Wimachtendienk, W.W. (a common way at the time of referring to what we know as the Order of the Arrow) was ready to have a national structure. Patterned similar to the Freemasons, it was decided that each lodge would become a member of the Grand Lodge. On October 7 and 8, 1921, the first Grand Lodge Meeting hosted by the Philadelphia lodges, Unami and Unalachtigo was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and at their Camp Biddle. These meetings would later become known as National Meetings and are the distant predecessors of today’s NOACs.

First Membership Cards

To the best of our knowledge the Wimachtendienk did not issue membership cards prior to the formation of the Grand Lodge in 1921. However, there is an example of a receipt for dues paid that dates back to 1918-19.

First Insignia

For years and years generations of Arrowmen have swapped and collected OA badges. Over 2,000 new pieces of OA insignia are issued every single year. However, in the beginning it was not patches, it was pins, some as small as a dime that were issued as insignia. Wimachtendienk was started as a fraternity and fraternities frequently use pins, starting with a pledge pin.

First Insignia -Totem Pins

For years and years generations of Arrowmen have swapped, exchanged and collected Order of the Arrow cloth and felt badges. Over 2,000 new pieces of OA insignia are issued every single year, many primarily for trading. However, while most Arrowmen and collectors of OA memorabilia only think of cloth badges, the earliest insignia of the Order were pins. The reason why it was pins in the beginning is because Wimachtendienk started as a fraternal organization, and pins were the insignia of choice for fraternities. The simple silver arrow pin served very much like a fraternity pledge pin.

First Totem

A requirement from the beginning has been that each lodge shall have a totem. Totems would later become a required element for insignia. While today’s lodge sometimes issue patches without their lodge totem on them, it is not the standard practice and it was virtually unheard of pre-1970. At the first ceremony on July 16, 1915 both Goodman and Edson wore tortoise shaped totems on their ceremonial robes. The 1916 Wimachtendienk Constitution specified the tortoise as their totem.

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