Attention Fraternal Leaders: Find New Tools and Resources in the WebFez Library. Visit Library

About Shriners

A Fraternity Defined by Fun, Fellowship and Philanthropy

Shriners International is a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. With nearly 200 local chapters and thousands of clubs on six continents, Shriners are known for their fellowship, brotherhood, compassion and generosity. The fraternity established Shriners Hospitals for Children as its official philanthropy in 1922, and continues to support it today, while striving to make the world a happier, better place.

Shriners International helps good men become better leaders, husbands, fathers, friends and community contributors. Brotherhood is the cultural foundation that distinguishes our fraternity from other groups and associations. When you become a Shriner, you join a network of nearly 200,000 brothers around the globe who are dedicated to helping and supporting each other personally and professionally.

The Founding of the Fraternity

Two Master Masons, Walter M. Fleming, M.D., and William J. “Billy” Florence, a well-known actor, founded Shriners International in 1872. Legend has it that Florence was inspired while attending an Arabian-themed party in Marseilles, France, during a time when the mystique of the near East was fashionable worldwide. He was intrigued and impressed by the colorful pageantry and suggested the fraternity adopt a Near-Eastern theme, and Dr. Fleming agreed.

Tradition and Culture

This decision influenced the imagery, attire, activities and naming conventions of the fraternity; many of which are still used today. For example, Shriners wear distinctive red fezzes as their official headgear. Local Shrine Centers have names like Egypt, Sahara, Morocco and Oasis. Images used in the fraternity’s regalia include camels, pyramids, the Sphinx and other ancient Egyptian and Arabian iconography.

Our Members

From U.S. Presidents to famous actors, business owners and blue-collar workers, men representing a broad range of backgrounds and life experiences have been Shriners throughout the fraternity’s 150 years. While Shriners International is an organization rich in history and tradition, it is also evolving and advancing as new generations of members with different interests and cultures join us. Our Shrine Centers encourage members to build their own membership experience, customizing their fraternal involvement to reflect their personality and hobbies. While there are a variety of existing activity-based clubs and units to choose from, that list is continuously expanding as members bring their new ideas of ways to have fun to fruition.

A Family Organization

Shriners International is a social organization with a strong focus on family, and our Shrine Centers host events that include spouses, children, grandchildren and community members. Many members and their families say that they have formed lifelong friendships through their involvement in the fraternity. The bond of brotherhood connects nobles as they navigate through life together, lending strength and compassion in hard times, and fun and fellowship through the years.

Our Philanthropy


In 1922, fueled by their desire to make a difference in the world, Shriners founded their own philanthropy, Shriners Hospitals for Children, now commonly known as Shriners Children's. Over the past century, it has become one of the largest pediatric sub-specialty healthcare systems in the world with locations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. An exclusive benefit as a Shriner is the opportunity to serve in several meaningful and mission critical roles in support of Shriners Children's. Learn more.

Fun and Fellowship


Founded in 1872, the organization now known as Shriners International was established as a Masonic fraternity that showcased fun and fellowship for its members. The tradition of fun and fellowship thrives today; as interests have changed through the years, Shriners' approach to fun has evolved as new members bring in fresh perspectives and creative ideas. Learn more.

Mission and Values


Shriners are a fraternity of men committed to making an even greater difference in the world through brotherhood, family, fun and philanthropy. Learn more.

Shriners: A History of Brotherhood and Compassion Documentary

Our mini-documentary provides a look at the Shriners fraternity through the stories of members. Watch the first 7 and a half minutes of this incredible story.
View Transcript
It begins in 1872 at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City led by dr. Walter Fleming and actor William J Florence 13 Master Masons form a social club for fun they create a mysterious Near Eastern theme it's called the ancient Arabic order Nobles of a mystic shrine and the popularity soars by 1880 there are 7,200 members and 48 temples by 1900 there are 55,000 members and 82 temples in 1922 they build the first hospital in Shreveport Louisiana and commit to the mission of helping children with polio soon there are 22 hospitals and the medical mission grows this is the story of this extraordinary Brotherhood and how it has changed the world

Shriners a history of Brotherhood and compassion

well as they say in the beginning in the beginning when the shrine was formed it go back into the 1870s when New York was quite a popular place for just about everything going on in the world at that time the civil wars ended and in America's biggest city New York City a group of Mason's comes together who think that it's great to be a Mason but that Lodge meetings are a little bit on the stuffy stale side they meet regularly for lunch at a place called the Knickerbocker in New York City Manhattan and decide that they need to form a club that will require you to be a Mason to be a member of it we had two very prominent people who were really the movers and shakers to start the organization Billy Florence who was a very famous and well-known actor at that time and dr. Fleming who was a very prominent physician in New York City they were familiar with some of the customs and culture of the Middle East and they decided that they would wrap this club that they were about to form around an Arabian Nights sort of pageantry kind of theme and so the ancient Arabic order Nobles of the mystic shrine is born as a social club for Freemasons in New York City it grows from there

the Fez comes from Morocco the name of the city is fans Morocco the emblems the cemetery the Crescent and so on is taken from basically the various parts of the Arabic nations

it was the mystique part of it I think that was intriguing to a lot of people both outside of Main Street and inside as well of course and that was I think a great drawing card

this is the way the men socialized they quite often socialized without their wives without their children and so this was in keeping with what they did there was a great fellowship organization and they really knew how to give great banquets and had good cigars at their festivities and there was a lot of fun in the various communities wherever these shrine temples were located they were very charitable just like other parts of masonry you know had been in their basic blue lodges

in those days you know the charity would really meant an awful lot to a lot of people because you didn't have the program do you have today in there to take care of people who were in in dire need health-wise or otherwise

some of our members went to serve and didn't come back some of our members went to serve and came back forever changed some of our citizens went to serve and came back and then we're looking for something where they could continue fellowship with their comrades and many of them did choose the Masonic fraternity and eventually Shriners as their home eventually some of the members felt that maybe there needed to be a little bit more purpose than just having a good time but we have to remember that the reason that the organization was founded was because Mason's thought that Lodge meetings were too stale and they needed to have an organization where they would have a good time so there was quite a bit of back-and-forth for several years at our Imperial council sessions over just what the Shriners ought to do

frailing at kendrick was a great leader he was a mover and a shaker he was a very persuasive individual and he really felt that this organization Shriner's should have a one central charity that would benefit what was needed so badly in society at that time and that was for treatment of children with polio in that day polio was the scourge of the nation many many children were affected by polio and crippled for life the bubble speech that was a speech that was given at an imperial council session during a debate over whether a hospital should should be founded by the Shriners and operated as a charitable institution

Partner Organizations

Men around the world further their Masonic affiliation through involvement and continued service to appendant body organizations.

Learn More

two nobles

The Path to Becoming a Shriner

Find out what you need to do to become a Shriner.

Learn More

Shriner on golf course

Our Connection with Freemasonry

While not all Masons are Shriners, all Shriners are Masons. Therefore, a man must become a Master Mason before he becomes a Shriner.

Learn More

older man mentoring young man

Join Shriners International

Take the first step in joining our global community of brothers.