1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Knights of Columbus

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KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS. — The American order of Knights of Columbus is a fraternal beneficiary society of Roman Catholics, founded by Rev. Michael Joseph McGivney in New Haven, Conn., on Feb. 2 1882, and organized under a charter granted by the state of Connecticut (March 29 1882). Beginning with 11 members the society grew rapidly; branches or councils were established throughout the state, then in other states, and finally in adjacent countries. In 1921 there were 2,200 councils, with a membership of over 800,000, found in every state of the United States, in Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, the Canal Zone, and Panama. From its beginning the order maintained a system of insurance, in which originally all members were required to participate; but after 1893 non-insurance members were enrolled as associates. On Jan. 1 1919 there were 128,935 insured members of an average age of 35 years; the Mortuary Reserve and Death Benefit funds amounted to $8,740,000. The society is not a “secret” one, and no oaths are administered. Much attention is given to educational work. A chair of American history was founded by the society at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and 50 scholarships endowed at the same institution. The Knights of Columbus endeavour to combat socialism and radicalism by public lectures and publications. Beginning with the Spanish-American War (1898) they engaged in humanitarian relief. When America entered the World War (1917) about $1,000,000 was at once raised among the members, and work was undertaken at the various training camps in the United States. Further public appeals were made, and in recognition of their excellent service $40,000,000 in all was raised for war relief work. In America 350 buildings were maintained in the camps, and recreation was provided for enlisted men. Similar service was undertaken overseas and 250 recreation centres established. Comforts were provided on board transports and at piers. After the Armistice the Knights established employment bureaus and assisted ex-service men in finding work.