Ten Facts about Royal Neighbors

Women working in the Royal Neighbors office in 1899

While fraternal benefit societies for men existed since the 1870’s, they all excluded women, so the founders of Royal Neighbors of America discussed incorporating as a society centered on insurance for women.

  1. It all began with a newspaper ad in 1888 inviting the wives of Modern Woodmen of America to meet for a social get-together. Nine women met, and a year later, they organized a secret social organization called Royal Neighbors of America, which grew to become a fraternal benefit society chartered in 1895.
  2. Our founding women chose the name Royal Neighbors of America to adhere to the belief, “For better is a neighbor that is near than a brother that is far off.” (Proverbs 27:10). By combining the biblical word “neighbor” with the word “royal,” it signified their belief in the nobility of the work.
  3. The first Supreme Office (now called the Home Office) was located in Peoria, Illinois, and moved to Rock Island in 1908.
  4. The Home Office is still headquartered in Rock Island, Illinois. The current building was completed in 1928 and cost $600,000 – a dollar for every member of the Society at that time.
  5. The women of Royal Neighbors were ahead of their time in many areas. In addition to being one of the first to offer life insurance to women, they took the progressive step of limiting cigarette smoking in their buildings, launched health initiatives, and stood firmly behind the women’s suffrage movement. In 1911, it was noted at the National Convention in Denver, Colorado, that the Society’s full force was put behind universal suffrage so that “we might carry home to our states our influence, that we promote this great movement for women.”
  6. Royal Neighbors was one of the first fraternal societies to recognize mortality studies establishing that women live longer than men and to reflect that difference in life insurance premiums.
  7. Royal Neighbors was one of the first fraternal benefit societies to begin insuring children in 1918.
  8. The Royal Neighbor has been the Society magazine since January 1900. This magazine documents and celebrates what it means to be a Royal Neighbor and is still published today.
  9. While Royal Neighbors was chartered as a fraternal benefit life insurance society, “Dedicated to providing insurance benefits, fraternalism, and volunteer opportunities for all Americans through women and their families,” Royal Neighbors also welcomed men as Members.
  10. Royal Neighbors of America has five principles of the Society: faith, unselfishness, courage, endurance, and humility. All five graces are represented in our logo today.