Growth of Shriners
The fraternity has grown from those 13 original members to several hundred thousand, with nearly 200 chapters – or Temples, as we Shriners call them, in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Republic of Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Germany and Brazil
As the fraternity began to flourish in the early 1900s, most temples had individual philanthropies, and the fraternity often gave aid to victims of natural disasters and other catastrophes.
Around 1920, members expressed the desire to establish a single official charity.
At the Shriners’ 1920 annual international convention – which we call the “Imperial Session” – a proposal was made to establish a hospital to treat kids dealing with orthopedic problems, especially those resulting from polio, which was rampant at that time.
After much discussion, the resolution passed unanimously, and a committee was chosen to plan for the future hospital. After months of research, the committee ultimately determined there was a need for not just one hospital, but a system of hospitals throughout North America. This idea appealed to the Shriners and the proposal passed at the 1921 Imperial Session.