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The Story of Our Name
Foresters (Drill Teams)
Tuberculosis Sanatorium
Modern Woodmen Stories

Historical Timeline
  • Modern Woodmen founded

    In 1883, Chester A. Arthur was the president, the nation's flag held 38 stars and Joseph Cullen Root organized Modern Woodmen of America in Lyons, Iowa.

    From the beginning, Root wanted to create a fraternal benefit society that would protect families and their financial futures following the death of a breadwinner, offer more stability than other fraternals of that time, and strengthen families, communities and the nation.

    Learn more about Modern Woodmen's name.

  • First head office organized

    In 1884, leaders of Modern Woodmen organized the first head office in Fulton, Ill.

    Learn more about the home office hometown today.

  • First member publication published

    In 1885, Modern Woodmen's first member publication, The Woodmen's Echo, was published.

    Today, the Modern Woodmen magazine is a family and financial resource written and designed exclusively for Modern Woodmen members and their families. Sent free to all members quarterly, topics cover financial planning, family life and community involvement.

    Learn more about The Modern Woodmen magazine today.

  • First Forester drill team founded

    In 1894, members in Hutchinson, Kan., organized the first Modern Woodmen Forester drill team.

    Modern Woodmen Foresters were one of the most celebrated precision drill teams in America. Known for their elaborate uniforms, shiny axes and meticulous drills, Forester teams from member camps (chapters) across the U.S. were a powerful force in promoting Modern Woodmen's growth and popularity.

    Learn more about Modern Woodmen Forester drill teams.

  • Head office moved

    In 1897, leaders moved the Modern Woodmen head office from Fulton, Ill., to Rock Island, Ill. Modern Woodmen records were moved by boat and train but Fulton residents were upset about it and blocked the movement of the records three times.

    Modern Woodmen's home office is still located in Rock Island, Ill., today.

  • Life insurance milestone reached

    In 1901, Modern Woodmen continued growing, reaching $1 billion of life insurance in force.

    With Modern Woodmen, members were protected with life insurance and also enjoyed fraternal benefits and gatherings, like this building raising in 1900.

    Learn more about Modern Woodmen today.

  • Tuberculosis Sanatorium opened

    In 1909, the Modern Woodmen Tuberculosis Sanatorium opened just outside Colorado Springs, Colo. The facility provided free treatment for more than 12,000 members afflicted with tuberculosis between 1909 and 1947.

    The treatment at that time emphasized rest, wholesome food, pure air, exercise and the right mental attitude. Tent cottages at the sanatorium featured a conical shape with an open top for maximum ventilation.

    Learn more about the Tuberculosis Sanatorium.

  • One million members reached

    In 1910, Modern Woodmen membership totaled 1 million. Fraternal benefit societies like Modern Woodmen soared in popularity and social activities like this picnic took place across the country for members.

    Learn more about today's Modern Woodmen membership.

  • Product and membership expanded

    In 1929, Modern Woodmen began to insure women and children.

    The organization also introduced its first life insurance products with cash and paid-up values.

    Learn more about today's life insurance options.

  • Modern Woodmen showcased strong brand

    In 1937, Modern Woodmen showcased fraternal life insurance at the World's Fair in Chicago. This was one of many World's Fairs in which Modern Woodmen had participated. It was considered an early form of marketing and a brand awareness effort.

    Learn more about today's branding efforts.

  • First youth service club founded

    In 1942, member Allen Clauser formed the first Modern Woodmen youth service club in Reading, Pa. Today there are more than 900 clubs across the nation, designed around volunteerism, education, patriotism and fun.

    Learn more about today's youth service clubs.

  • First youth educational program launched

    In 1948, Modern Woodmen launched its first youth educational program, a civic oration contest (today's School Speech Contest). Today, the School Speech Contest is one of six free youth educational programs available to schools and youth groups across the country. More than 100,000 students participate each year.

    Learn more about today's School Speech Contest.

  • First polio benefit received

    In 1951, member Timothy Weber, age 3, Windsor, Colo., received the first Modern Woodmen polio benefit. Today, Modern Woodmen offers many free fraternal benefits for members' health, home and peace of mind.

    Learn more about today's fraternal member benefits.

  • First annuities offered

    In 1963, Modern Woodmen sold its first annuities. Today, Modern Woodmen continues to offer a variety of annuities to help members plan for the future.

    Learn more about Modern Woodmen annuities.

  • New home office opened

    In 1967, Modern Woodmen's home office building in Rock Island, Ill., opened to fanfare from the local community.
  • First fraternal college scholarship awarded

    In 1970, Modern Woodmen awarded its first fraternal college scholarships. Since then, $8.3 million in scholarship money has been awarded to students.

    Learn more about the college scholarship program.

  • Matching Fund Program debuted

    In 1979, Matching Fund Program launched to support members' fundraising efforts for local causes. Today, more than $8 million is contributed annually to community projects, local organizations and individuals in need.

    Learn more about today's Matching Fund projects.

  • Good Neighbors Program launched

    In 1991, the Good Neighbors Program launched to support members' hands-on community beautification projects.

    Learn more about today's Good Neighbors projects.

  • Join Hands Day began

    In 2000, members participated in the first Join Hands Day, bringing adults and kids together to improve communities. After more than a decade, the annual event is still taking place and nearly 1,300 groups participate each year.

    Learn more about Join Hands Day.

  • MWA Financial Services formed

    In 2001, broker dealer MWA Financial Services Inc. was formed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Modern Woodmen of America. This allowed licensed agents to distribute securities products.

    Learn more about MWA Financial Services.

  • General Agency created

    In 2002, Modern Woodmen General Agency was formed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Modern Woodmen of America. This allowed licensed agents to offer members nonproprietary insurance products, including major medical, disability income and long-term care insurance.

    Learn more about Modern Woodmen General Agency.

  • Modern Woodmen Bank opened

    In 2003, Modern Woodmen Bank opened as a wholly owned subsidiary of Modern Woodmen of America, offering members personal banking services online.

    Learn more about Modern Woodmen Bank.

  • Modern Woodmen reached 125 years

    In 2008, Modern Woodmen celebrated its 125th anniversary and launched new branding elements.

    Modern Woodmen also purchased naming rights to John O'Donnell Stadium in Davenport, Iowa.

    Learn more about Modern Woodmen Park and the Quad City River Bandits.

  • Modern Woodmen builds on a strong past to help members achieve secure futures.

    Tomorrow, the future depends on people like you.

Photos taken from the Modern Woodmen of America Archives Collection.

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Media Center

Michelle Opsahl
Michelle Opsahl
Public Relations Specialist

(309) 793-5660

(309) 793-5603

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