The Independent Order of the Odd Fellows is a fraternal order that was founded in 1819 by Thomas Wildey in Baltimore, MD. It is based on the original Order of the Odd Fellows that was founded in London, England in 1730. The International Order has over 600,000 members in 10,000 lodges, in 26 countries.
The three links represent: Friendship, Love and Truth. The organization is non-political and non-sectarian, and is open to both men and women for membership. Beyond fraternal and recreational activities, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows promotes the ethic of reciprocity and charity, by implied inspiration of Judeo-Christian ethics.
Similar to Freemasonry the order offers progressive degrees to attain ever more enlightenment and philosophical insight.
Several theories aim to explain the etymological background of the name “Odd Fellows”, often spelled “Oddfellows” in British English. In the 18th century United Kingdom, major trades were organised in guilds or other forms of syndicates, but smaller trades did not have equivalent social or financial security. One theory has it that “odd fellows”, people who exercised unusual, miscellaneous “odd trades”, eventually joined together to form a larger group of “odd fellows”.