Later this year, the Smithsonian will open an exhibit called Giving in America, which will explore the role of philanthropy in America. It will delve into all types of philanthropic efforts including large donations to endow museums or educational institutions, volunteer fire departments, and Fraternal Benefit Societies.
As reported in US News, “’Our goal is to help them understand what it means to be American, who we are as a people, and try to characterize what makes us distinctive,’ said Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs David Allison.
Allison said philanthropy is one element of that and the exploration seems a natural fit for an institution created by the philanthropy of James Smithson. The British citizen left his estate to his nephew, but since the nephew died without an heir, the half million dollar estate went to the U.S. for the founding of “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge,” according to the Smithsonian’s website.”
Fraternal Benefit Societies, including UCT, will be providing artifacts to help tell the story of our organizations, and how their philanthropic efforts have contributed to American society.
The American Fraternal Alliance will help coordinate the effort to make sure the Smithsonian has what they need to explain the role of Fraternals.
Keep an eye out for the exhibit, and make sure to visit if you have a chance.