Danish Brotherhood in America
The 1870s brought thousands of Danish immigrants to the United States. Living in various parts of their new country, the Danish immigrants soon found it necessary to come together to refresh their memories of their previous homeland. Various groups were formed. One Mark Hansen, a former Danish soldier, in 1881 organized the Danish Arms Brothers and in the same year the Omaha branch, named Lodge No.1. Soon other Danish lodges were organized in Iowa, Il1inois, and Wisconsin. In January of 1882 these midwestern lodges met in convention in Omaha, Nebraska. It was at this convention that the name The Danish Brotherhood in America was chosen to unite the several lodges in existence. At the convention a constitution was formulated, along with the selection of a new board of directors.
Virtually from its inception, the DBA assumed the posture of a fraternal benefit society. By 1889 the organization had established an assurance capital of $1,100, with a membership of 883 members. In the typical fashion of fraternal benefit functions, the DBA paid sick and death benefits to the survivors of deceased members. The society operated on the assessment plan in its early years of existence. The order also took a strong interest in perpetuating memories and traditions from Denmark for the benefit of future generations. Unlike many other fraternal benefit societies, the DBA makes no claims to being a secret society.
Over the years the DBA grew and increased its programs. Today it offers camp grants that provide aid to the physical and mental growth of Danish-American young people. Scholarships are awarded to eligible members on a four-year basis. This program began in 1960. Besides that, the society provides a variety of fraternal insurance benefits.
Membership in the DBA is open to individuals who are of Danish descent or married to someone of Danish background. There are approximately 10,000 members in the society today. The society's membership has fluctuated from time to time. In the mid-1960s it had a slightly larger membership than it has currently.
The DBA, like most fraternal benefit organizations, has a juvenile membership department, the Young Vikings. In addition to obtaining insurance benefits, the Young Vikings have available to them a number of activities, one being a trip to a summer jamboree, attained by competition and contests.
The emblem of the DBA is a shield portraying an anchor. Below the anchor appears the inscription, "Since 1882."
Local units are called "Lodges" by the society. As of 1979 there
were 150 lodges in the DBA. Regional groups are known as "Districts."
The national convention acts as the supreme or highest authority. It meets every
four years. The head offices of the society are headquartered in Omaha,