This photograph was donated to MDAH in 1970. It was dubbed “The Black Cats Social Club” for lack of further information, until 1991 when it was published in the Mississippi History Newsletter (Vol. XXXIII, No. 10) with a public appeal for any information about it.
From the response to the newsletter, we learned that it pictured members of the Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo, a social club of lumbermen, founded in 1892. The founders, who dreamed up the club while waiting for a delayed train, wanted to create an organization for the lumber industry that was different than other clubs of the day. They settled on the name “Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo” because of its originality: “concatenate” meant “to unite” and the word “hoo-hoo,” which was coined by one of the founders, had come to denote anything out of the ordinary. The group quickly adopted the black cat as its mascot (the number nine gained special significance because cats supposedly have nine lives) and borrowed Egyptian history and the work of Lewis Carroll to frame its terminology. In the MDAH photograph above, nine men are pictured wearing robes with the cat logo, while a tenth holds a figure of a cat.
The club is now called the International Order of Hoo-Hoo and counts over 100,000 members, with clubs located worldwide.
“A History of Hoo-Hoo International,” International Order of Hoo-Hoo, http://www.hoo-hoo.org/pdf/HHI-History.pdf (accessed October 6, 2011).
“The Hoo-Hoo Club Photograph, PI/1991.0020,” control folder, Image and Sound Section files, MDAH.