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Old 01-09-2004, 07:19 PM
AJCook AJCook is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
What is the secret organization "PEO"

My grandma grew up, lived, and died in Nebraska. When she died a few years ago, during her euology, it was mentioned that she was a member of "PEO". Recognizing an acronym when I hear one, I later asked my dad (her son) what "PEO" was.

All I could find out from anyone was:
* NONE of the men in the family knew what "PEO" was (as an organization OR an acronym)
* My mom is a member of PEO, too
* The men don't know because they're not allowed to know. The members swear a secrecy oath to take it to their grave
* The only thing anyone outside the "membership" is allowed to know is that someone is a member

So this, of course, leads to great curiosity. When I ask my mom what it's all about, she just smiles and says she can't tell me.

Tonight, on a lark, I googled "PEO", and found a web page ( for an organztion calling itself "PEO", that apparently started in 1869 in Des Moines, IA (pretty darn close to Nebraska, and old enough).

In fact, somewhere on the page is a picture of a brass five-point star with the letters P. E. O. (and nothing else). I've seen this stuck on a rod in the ground at graves where my grandma is buried.

The web page flashes the phrase "Promoting Educational Opportunities for women" over and over.

So, that phrase fits "PEO", and its age, geography, and "for women" orientation all fit in.

However, no where on the web site (that I could find in a cursory scan) specifically STATED what PEO stood for, nor did it refer to any kind of secrecy, and the very presence of the web site, with descriptions of projects, etc., sort of bely any secrecy.

So, I don't know if I found the answer to my quest, or not.

Does anyone know what PEO is?

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Old 01-09-2004, 07:55 PM
kniz kniz is offline
Join Date: Mar 2001
PEO Sisterhood - There is an unusual degree of secrecy regarding the P.E.O., their name, and rituals. It is not for certain, but their initials are thought to stand for Protect Each Other. The P.E.O. Sisterhood is considered a woman's secret society with it's main purposes as social and educational. It was was founded in 1869 in Iowa.
  • I can't cite the source of this information, because they'd kill us both.
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Old 01-09-2004, 09:18 PM
hajario hajario is online now
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Santa Barbara, California
Posts: 13,233
There's a phone number on the web site for their headquarters in Des Moines. Why don't you just call them?

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Old 01-09-2004, 09:25 PM
Alereon Alereon is offline
Join Date: Jul 2001
Here's a link to kniz's cite.
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Old 01-09-2004, 10:47 PM
aahala aahala is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
The P.E.O. owns and operates Cottey College, a two-yr. girls school located in Nevada, Mo.

A teacher of my daughter suggested she applied to Cottey and she was accepted but decided to go to a closer school. Anyway, that's why we visited the campus back in then.

I had never heard of it before that and when I was told there were only about 350 kids I didn't expect much. Well,was I shocked! The campus must have covered 10-12 city blocks and several of the buildings could have individually housed the entire student body at least once.
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Old 01-10-2004, 10:21 AM
AJCook AJCook is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Sounds like Kniz essentially confirms (and suplements) what I learned. I guess I was closer than I tought.

Thanks everyone.

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Old 01-10-2004, 11:07 AM
kferr kferr is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
When I was at University of Missouri - Rolla we would do an occasional road trip to Cottey College for some of their socials. This was a good mix with Cottey as an all girls school, and UMR a science/engineering school with a male-female ratio of about 7-1 when I was there in the early 80's.

The only 'answer' we got about the meaning of PEO was "Pigs Eat Onions". I suspect the meaning is quite mundane but they keep it secret to drive us crazy.
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Old 01-10-2004, 01:59 PM
kniz kniz is offline
Join Date: Mar 2001
Originally posted by Alereon
Here's a link to kniz's cite.
  • You had to go and do it, didn't you. Beware of any midwestern women who kiss you on the cheek.
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Old 01-10-2004, 04:04 PM
fluiddruid fluiddruid is offline
B. O. B. O. D. D. Y.
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: West Des Moines, Iowa
Posts: 5,929
Hmm.. being female and living in central Iowa (I work in Des Moines), I've never heard of this.

The HQ is actually right on my commute. I guess I could check to see if it looks anything like a Masonic temple.

Seriously, though -- would a local be of help here?
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Old 01-10-2004, 04:32 PM
Bean Counter Bean Counter is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
Pssst... come close and I will tell you what I know. I can only post this now because my wife is currently taking a nap. If she finds this post, well... I might have counted my last bean.

According to my wife, P.E.O. stands for Philanthropic Education Organization. It's main goal is to promote education for women. It has already been listed that they run a college. They also give scholarships and aid to women in school.

Their meetings are secretive. They actually had one at our house in our basement. I was banished to the upstairs during the meeting but I could hear some things. Mostly it involved laughing and giggling. I am sure it was brought about by some nefarious means.

My father-in-law, whose wife is also a member, refers to them as the penis envy organization.
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Old 01-10-2004, 04:50 PM
Tusculan Tusculan is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Yes, but do they have a song?
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Old 01-10-2004, 09:10 PM
kniz kniz is offline
Join Date: Mar 2001
I was just kidding, but Bean Counter I believe you just may be a dead man if your wife ever finds out about your post.
  • But all dopers salute you!
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Old 01-10-2004, 11:05 PM
CrankyAsAnOldMan CrankyAsAnOldMan is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
Damnit, just because it's a junior college doesn't make it a "girl's school." Call it a woman's college, because that's what it is.

The P.E.O isn't *that* secretive. I mean, it may keep many of its details secret, but they don't go to efforts to hide or deny its existence.
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Old 01-10-2004, 11:21 PM
kniz kniz is offline
Join Date: Mar 2001
A little Cranky today, are we?
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Old 01-11-2004, 03:09 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
Join Date: May 2003
I'm moved to tears. So many of you risking being Lorena Bobbitted by the wife, just to help fight ignorance.

Then again, maybe you're just ticked off at the wives...
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Old 01-11-2004, 09:46 AM
SuperNelson SuperNelson is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Central Nebraska
Posts: 863
Because he had to leave the house on the nights my Mom hosted the meetings, my father called it Phil Eats Out.
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