Vol. XVII No. 8 — August 1939

How We Grew

With more truth than humor it has been said that all liars may be divided into three classes: plain, damned, and statistical.

The Editor of these pages will not attempt to defend himself if any brother places him in the first two categories, but will vigorously insist to the contrary when his truth-via-statistics is questioned!

The April issue of The Short Talk Bulletin, under the title of “Masonic Population,” attempted to demonstrate, via figures, that in spite of the losses which the Fraternity has suffered since 1929, Masonic population was still ahead of normal expectancy; that in spite of the great war with its increase in initiations, our present Masonic population is greater than growth during the previous thirty years (1888 to 1917) would indicate as normal.

Arose many a critic to call down anathemas upon the head of this Masonic publication! It was wrong because plain ruling was used for the chart instead of geometric or ratio ruling. It was wrong because all gains were, ipso facto, normal gains and must be counted, no matter what the cause. It was wrong because forty-nine grand lodges have, figuratively speaking, wept and gnashed their teeth over diminishing figures from year to year!

Hence the Editor attacked the problem from a new angle. There must be, he reasoned, a relationship between growth of the civil population, and growth of the Masonic population. If the state which had one million people in 1888 and has two million today, had ten thousand Masons in 1888, should it not have twenty thousand Masons today? If the growth of Masonic population were greater in proportion than the growth of the Civil population, figuring in all losses, perhaps his previous figures would he justified and his critics silenced!

The result of these thoughts was a Digest showing the curves for both civil and Masonic populations for each state and the District of Columbia, and for the United States as a whole.

The figures from which this Digest was compiled not only should confound the critics of the previous Digest, “Why Worry,” and Bulletin, “Masonic Population,” but contain so much food for thought and give rise to so many interesting speculations, that this Bulletin seemed a necessity.

In 1888 the United States had a population of 61,665,000. In 1937 (fifty years after) the population was 129,262,000. The growth was, therefore, 2.096+ times.

In 1888 the United States had a Masonic population of 607,365. In 1937, the Masonic population was 2,552,220. The growth was, therefore, 4.202+ times!

In other words, the Masonic population of the United States multiplied four times in fifty years while the civil population multiplied twice.

These figures are for the beginning and ending of the fifty-year period and not for the “peak” years of Masonic population — 1929 and 1930. These figures include all losses, but in spite of all losses, our Masonic growth has been twice what our civil growth has been.

The figures for individual grand jurisdictions show wide variations, although in every grand jurisdiction the Masonic population has increased faster than the civil population. In some states, such as Connecticut, the increase of Masonic growth over civil growth is very small, but it is an increase. In other states — notably Oklahoma — the increase of Masonic growth over civil population is enormous.

The final pages of this Bulletin set forth three tables.

It is not expected that anyone will read them as wholes, but that readers will pick the jurisdiction in which they are particularly interested.

Table I shows the factors of civil population growth: that is, the number of times the civil population has increased in the fifty years from 1888 to 1937. They should be read:

“In the fifty years from 1888 to 1937, the population of (state) has multiplied (here read the figure) times.”

Table II shows the factors of Masonic population growth: that is, the number of times the Masonic population has increased in the fifty years from 1888 to 1937. They should be read:

“In the fifty years from 1888 to 1937, the Masonic population of (state) has multiplied (here read the figure) times.”

Table II shows that the Masonic population increased most in Oklahoma and least in New Hampshire.

As states differ in size and population, as well as “times” of growth, obviously the ratio of growth by which one state can be compared with another must take into consideration both civil and Masonic population growth. The state which triples its civil population and triples its Masonic population has grown no faster, Masonically considered, than the state which doubles its civil population and doubles its Masonic population.

The figures for ratio of growth, giving a fair comparison of the several states, is obtained by working out a proportional equation in which the Masonic growth is to the civil growth as x is to unity.

In simplest terms, dividing the “times” of Masonic growth (Table II) by the “times” of civil growth (Table I) gives the growth ratio by which one state can be compared to another. These growth ratios are set forth in Table III. It shows that during fifty years Oklahoma has had the greatest increase in Masonic population, compared to her increase of civil population, and that Connecticut has had the least increase in Masonic population compared to her increase in civil population.

He is a clever reasoner who can read into these ratios any sectional influences. The three grand jurisdictions showing the greatest Masonic growth in proportion to civil growth are middle west and far west; the three states showing least are middle west and New England. New Mexico and Maryland are almost the same. So are the District of Columbia and Wisconsin. Illinois and Colorado are almost identical, as are Florida and Maine. Something other than geography must be considered as the reason why one state has grown faster Masonically than another.

Revert to the opening paragraphs of this Bulletin: it is submitted that, regardless of the reasons why, these figures show that every state in the Union has increased in Masonic population at a greater rate than in civil population, even with all losses of the last ten years figured in.

It is natural that Masonic population should increase faster than civil population. Ten lodges will naturally attract more petitioners than one lodge, and as lodges grew in numbers so did their populations. But there have been comparatively few lodges chartered in recent years — very few, indeed, during the last ten years. And growth of lodges cannot account for Masonic population growth differences in the several states.

It may be argued that differing rates of growth in different sections are to be accounted for by greater or lesser standards of admission; that some lodges accept all petitions and others reject many.

However attractive such an argument may seem in theory, it falls of its own weight when applied to individual jurisdictions. To suggest that Oklahoma, North Dakota, Utah, New Mexico, Maryland, and Wyoming — the states with the largest ratio-of-growth factors — have accomplished that growth by lowering standards, while Connecticut, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Florida, Maine and Tennessee — the states with the smallest ratio-of-growth factor — have higher standards of admission, is obviously nonsense. Standards of admission to the fraternity are the same the country over; here and there is a lax lodge or an over-strict lodge, of course, but in the main, all lodges in all jurisdictions accept only men known to be of good character, after careful investigation. The reasons for difference in growth rates is not there to be found!

Nor can this Bulletin answer the question “why do some states grow Masonically so much faster than others?” It is probably a combination of climate, average income, occupations, age, state history, doubtless other factors. These figures can but suggest the train of thought; the reader must hunt the answer for himself.

The following facts, however, seem plain: All states have grown faster Masonically than in civil population. The losses in no grand lodge have been great enough to make its fifty year growth just equal to, or less than, its civil population growth. Twenty-two grand lodges are below, twenty-seven are above, the national average of ratio growth. Had all grand lodges had the average ratio growth (2.004) without losses, every one would have been supremely well satisfied. As the figures, including losses, show more grand lodges above national average than below, and all grand lodges in the plus column (no red ink here!) the previous Digest “Why Worry” — and the previous Bulletin, though its graph was plotted on plain ruling and not ratio paper — are proved to be truthful.

The figures demonstrate that those mournful brethren who think that because depression has caused a great drop in membership, therefore the Fraternity is on the down grade, are mistaken.

The Ancient Craft has more than held its own; the ratio growth figures in Table III are a very definite proof of the right of brethren all to feel encouraged and strengthened with our population position.

Table I — Civil Growth

From 1888 to 1937, each state increased its Civil popula­ tion by the number of times shown.

Oklahoma 9.850
Idaho 6.334
Washington 5.469
California 5.367
Arizona 5.209
Florida 4.537
Montana 4.380
Wyoming 4.308
Oregon 3.537
New Jersey 3.136
Texas 2.922
Colorado 2.884
District of Columbia 2.846
New Mexico 2.767
Utah 2.621
West Virginia 2.536
Connecticut 2.409
Michigan 2.407
New York 2.224
North Carolina 2.215
Minnesota 2.193
Illinois 2.139
Massachusetts 2.057
Rhode Island 2.049
Nevada 2.011
Pennsylvania 2.006
South Dakota 1.985
Alabama 1.975
Louisiana 1.966
Arkansas 1.921
Ohio 1.879
Wisconsin 1.805
Georgia 1.732
Tennessee 1.677
South Carolina 1.672
Virginia 1.661
Maryland 1.643
Indiana 1.614
Kentucky 1.605
Delaware 1.588
Mississippi 1.586
Missouri 1.545
North Dakota 1.527
Nebraska 1.442
Kansas 1.385
New Hampshire 1.375
Iowa 1.374
Maine 1.299
Vermont 1.152

Table II — Masonic Growth

From 1888 to 1937, each grand lodge increased its Masonic population by the number of times shown.

Oklahoma 109.783
Washington 16.925
Wyoming 13.634
Arizona 13.381
Idaho 12.193
Montana 11.724
Utah 9.936
New Mexico 9.800
North Dakota 8.665
California 8.416
West Virginia 7.590
Colorado 6.923
Oregon 6.824
Florida 6.223
District of Columbia 6.187
New Jersey 6.786
Maryland 5.605
Louisiana 5.305
Ohio 5.304
Illinois 5.149
Indiana 4.595
Pennsylvania 4.536
Minnesota 4.521
Texas 4.480
Virginia 4.187
Rhode Island 4.174
Wisconsin 3.911
Michigan 3.796
North Carolina 3.773
Nebraska 3.751
Alabama 3.712
Kansas 3.687
Massachusetts 3.549
New York 3.538
Delaware 3.516
South Carolina 3.502
Missouri 3.455
South Dakota 3.372
Georgia 3.322
Iowa 3.060
Kentucky 3.039
Nevada 2.993
Mississippi 2.832
Connecticut 2.458
Tennessee 2.439
Arkansas 2.057
Vermont 2.002
Maine 1.784
New Hampshire 1.611

Table III — Ratio Growth

Dividing Masonic Growth (Table II) by Civil Growth (Table I) gives these figures:

Oklahoma 11.145
North Dakota 5.674
Utah 3.790
New Mexico 3.541
Maryland 3.411
Wyoming 3.164
Washington 3.094
West Virginia 2.992
Indiana 2.846
Ohio 2.822
Louisiana 2.698
Montana 2.676
Kansas 2.662
Nebraska 2.601
Arizona 2.568
Virginia 2.520
Illinois 2.407
Colorado 2.400
Pennsylvania 2.261
Missouri 2.236
Iowa 2.227
Delaware 2.214
District of Columbia 2.173
Wisconsin 2.166
South Carolina 2.094
Minnesota 2.061
Rhode Island 2.037
Oregon 1.929
Idaho 1.925
Georgia 1.918
Kentucky 1.893
Alabama 1.880
New Jersey 1.845
Mississippi 1.785
Vermont 1.737
Massachusetts 1.725
North Carolina 1.703
South Dakota 1.698
New York 1.590
Michigan 1.577
California 1.568
Texas 1.533
Nevada 1.488
Tennessee 1.454
Maine 1.373
Florida 1.371
New Hampshire 1.171
Arkansas 1.070
Connecticut 1.020

The Masonic Service Association of North America