Here at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library we welcome all kinds of researchers to examine objects in the collection, view material in our archives or use resources in our printed book collection. The majority of researchers who visit the museum and library are Masons, historians, museum professionals, students, history buffs or genealogists working on projects that run the gamut from exploring family or lodge histories to preparing academic papers and publications. Recently, for a change of pace, we were happy to host artist and craftsman Patrick Craddock on a research visit to the museum.
Craddock, who designs and produces one-of-a-kind Masonic aprons in his Tennessee workshop, came by the museum to view examples of historic aprons and membership certificates in our collection with the goal of seeking ideas for the historically inspired aprons he creates. Working with the museum's Director of Collections, Aimee Newell, he had the chance to view dozens of aprons. Craddock noted that he pays particular attention to painted aprons dating prior to 1870, around the time apron design and manufacture became increasingly standardized.
We think he came to the right place—the museum is proud to care for one of the most extensive Masonic and fraternal apron collections in the country. Our apron holdings range in date from the 1700s through the present day. Some are beautifully embellished; others are plain. Everyday brethren owned many of the aprons in the collection while some were worn by important figures in American history. Most hail from the United States, but we also house aprons made in Europe, the United Kingdom and other places. Here Craddock views a painted apron, likely made in the 1930s, thought to have been used in Puerto Rico.
If reading about this research endeavor has sparked your curiosity, you can explore some aprons from the museum’s collection online or view examples in person at the exhibition, A Sublime Brotherhood: Two Hundred Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.
Here Craddock views a painted apron (99.010), likely made in the 1930s, thought to have been used in Puerto Rico by Dr. Antonio Marchany-Mercado (1906-1996). It was a gift to the musuem by Leo R. Neit in memory of his father-in-law, Dr. Antonio Marchany, M.D. of Puerto Rico. Staff photo.