The History of Our Order

The origins of the Society are entwined with that of another organization, the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis (SRICF). In 1878 a small group of American Master Masons (Charles E. Meyer, Daniel Sutter, and Charles W. Parker) traveled to England to be admitted into the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia. They were initiated into the First Grade of Zelator at the Yorkshire College of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia in the city of Sheffield on July 25, 1878, after which they applied for a charter to begin an American branch of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia. However, a charter from the English group was never granted. Undeterred, the Americans turned to the Scottish branch of the Order, the Societas Rosicruciana in Scotia. A college of the SRIS in Edinburgh granted them a charter on December 27, 1879 and the first college in America was established in Philadelphia.

The following year, the SRIS granted a charter for another college in New York. On April 21, 1880, members of both colleges met in Philadelphia and created a High Council—at this point an autonomous American order was born. The new fraternity was initially called the SRRCA or the Societas Rosicrucianae Reipublica Confoedera America. This name was eventually changed to Society of Rosicrucians in the United States. In 1880, three more colleges of the Order were started in Boston, Baltimore, and Burlington, Vermont. Charles E. Meyer was named the first Supreme Magus of the SRRCA. In 1912 the High Council of the Order formally adopted the rituals used by the English and Scottish Rosicrucian Societies. Of these four early colleges, all eventually became dormant except for the one in Massachusetts.

On February 10, 1885, Sylvester C. Gould was admitted to the Boston college where he proved to be a very productive member. Nevertheless from 1896-1808 the Massachusetts College, the lone college of the SRIUS, struggled to survive after the deaths of four of its leading members.

In 1907 Sylvester C. Gould, along with other Rosicrucians, formed a new Order, the Societas Rosicruciana in America, and adapted the rituals and materials of the SRIUS for general use. During this time Gould also began a publication called The Rosicrucian Brotherhood. But ultimately his goal was to create a Rosicrucian Order that was not restricted to Masons alone, but which would be open to non-Masons. Thus the old Boston College of the SRRCA would find itself being split into two different components—the modern day Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis which maintained its Masonic requirement and affiliations, and the Societas Rosicruciana in America which is today open to both men and women on an equal basis. Both groups are entirely separate and autonomous.

After Gould died in 1909, George Winslow Plummer, a Mason and Rosicrucian who had co-founded the Society with Gould, took over leadership of the Society–a position he held until his death in 1944. He immediately set about the reconstituting the organization, based upon the broadest and most inclusive principles of the Rosicrucian Art. On June 21, 1910, Plummer wrote to the English SRIA to request a charter, but the charter was not granted to him. Undeterred, Plummer pushed ahead. On December 11, 1911, Plummer held an organizational meeting at his home in Grantwood, New Jersey. On December 22, 1911, Grantwood College held its first meeting. The newly established High Council of the Societas Rosicruciana in America met on May 1912, and the Society was incorporated on September 8, 1912.