It all started in Manhattan in 1870 when some members of what’s considered the world’s oldest fraternity – Masonry – were hanging out at their favorite tavern. They felt that Masonry, which traces its roots to stonemasons and craftsmen of the Middle Ages, was a little too focused on ritual. These guys wanted a fraternity that stressed fun and fellowship.
Shriner with Patient


Two Masons — Walter M. Fleming, M.D., and Billy Florence, an actor — took the idea of fun and fellowship for Masons, and ran with it. Florence came up with the idea for a Near Eastern-themed fraternity after attending a party thrown by an Arabian diplomat.

When Florence returned to the U.S., he explained the theme to Fleming, and the two men began laying the foundation for the Shriners fraternity, which was officially named the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, and informally known as Shriners of North America. Today the fraternity’s name is Shriners International.

Fleming added the structure, drafting the fraternity’s name, initiation rites, rituals and rules. Together, Fleming and Florence designed the fraternity’s emblem, devised a salutation and determined that the red fez with the black tassel, (with the name derived from the city of Fez, Morocco), would be the group’s official headgear. The fez is worn by Shriners at official fraternal functions.

The first Shriners International chapter, Mecca Shriners, met in New York City in 1872.
As word got out about the new organization, membership grew rapidly and in the early 1900s, so did the call for establishing an official charity.

In 1919, the Imperial Potentate-elect (President-elect) proposed establishing a hospital to provide medical care at no cost for children with orthopaedic conditions.

A committee explored the idea and concluded there should not be just one hospital, but instead, an entire health care system throughout North America that provides pediatric orthopaedic medical care regardless of the families’ ability to pay. The first hospital opened in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1922.

Today, Shriners International is a fraternity with nearly 200 chapters in several countries, and thousands of clubs around the world. Members are known for their compassion for others, and for being active participants in their communities. Shriners, through their generosity, fundraising and assistance to those in need, truly help make the world a better place.


Every Shriner believes in:


Shriners are members of a brotherhood of men committed to family, engaged in ongoing personal growth, and dedicated to providing care for children and families in need.


Many of our activities involve family, promote shared values and help develop next-generation leaders. Groups for women and children, emphasizing personal growth, fun and friendship, participate with Shriners.


Shriners count among our ranks presidents, senators, business leaders, professional golfers, music stars, astronauts and race car drivers. We are leaders in our personal lives. Our unique brotherhood helps good men become better — at home, at work and in business.

Giving Back

Shriners Hospitals for Children was founded in 1922 to provide excellent specialized medical care for children, regardless of the families’ ability to pay for services. Shriners' philanthropic efforts help support the international health care system's locations and pediatric medical care.
To Help More.

To Be More.


Shriners International founded Shriners Hospitals for Children as its official philanthropy in 1922. The organization, which began as one hospital, is now a world-renowned health care system with locations in three countries. The fraternity continues to support this unique health care system.
Shriners Hospitals for Children is a unique health care system with a reputation for finding answers and giving families hope. At our locations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, children receive specialized care and rehabilitation for congenital and acquired orthopaedic conditions, acute burns, spinal cord injuries, cleft lip and cleft palate, and neuromusculoskeletal conditions and injuries, regardless of the families’ ability to pay.

Shriners Hospitals for Children is committed to conducting high-quality, innovative research in the areas of burns, orthopaedic/musculoskeletal and neurological injury and disease in order to improve the care and quality of life of children with these conditions and challenges.

Since opening our first hospital in 1922, the health care system has improved the lives of more than 1.4 million children
Shriners Hospitals for Children logo


The best way to enjoy your membership in the Shriners fraternity is to get involved. A great way to participate is to join a “club” or “unit.”

Worldwide, Shriners International has nearly 200 chapters serving members at the local level. Shriners have the opportunity to join clubs and units that offer an array of activities geared toward specific interests. Our fraternity is made up of men of integrity from all walks of life, and our chapter clubs and units reflect that.

Clubs, which are essentially mini-chapters, provide an outlet for Shriners who are geographically distant from their chapter to gather more frequently closer to their home. Any number of chapters may also form a “Shriners Association” based on their geographical location by region. Shriners Associations can also be centered on “units” and special interests.

Units are made up of groups of Shriners with similar interests, and chapters are encouraged to establish new units regularly, based on the interests of their new members. Shriners units participate in a wide range of activities that cater to a variety of interests and hobbies, including craft beer brewing, ATVs, camping, cigar smoking, singing/chanting, dining out and so much more.

There are also service units that benefit a chapter's membership and/or local community, such as providing maintenance, first aid, hospitality or even umpires for little league teams; and performing units that provide entertainment for fellow Shriners or members of the community.


Fulfill your
Personal Mission
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