Now on View - Recent Acquisitions in the Library & Archives

A2021_021_006_webThe exhibition currently on view in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives reading room features some recent acquisitions. This circular is among the items.

On June 7, 1893, the worst fire in Fargo, North Dakota’s history, destroyed much of the town, including its city hall, the business district, and homes of most of Fargo’s 6,000 residents. This circular describes the destruction, which included “every Lodge Room in the City.” The General Relief Committee of Northern Light Lodge No. 1 sent out this appeal for donations to other Odd Fellows. It noted that fifty members of the lodge “lost home, business and everything they possessed.” If you are interested in learning more about the fire, the North Dakota State University Archives has a page about the fire, including photos that depict the devastation.

The Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives is one of the premiere repositories in the United States for the study of Freemasonry and fraternalism and is recognized as one of six major Masonic libraries in the country. Its collections reflect the Museum’s scope of Freemasonry, fraternalism, and American history. The Library & Archives holds one of the world's most comprehensive collections on the subject of Freemasonry, as well as other fraternal organizations, such as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias, whose development paralleled or was influenced by Masonry.

The Library & Archives collections pre-date the founding of the Museum in 1975, with the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction’s Supreme Council library collections forming the nucleus of the Van Gorden-Williams Library. Since its inception, the Library & Archives has continued to add to its holdings—from unique manuscripts to the latest scholarship on fraternalism—through purchases and donations.

The Library & Archives encourages both serious and casual researchers to consult its collections and learn more about American history, especially the wide variety of fraternal groups that have been part of our national story, and which demonstrate the role that Masonic and fraternal organizations have played—and continue to play—in American life.

Do you have something you're interested in donating? Feel free to get in touch with us through the museum's website.

Caption:

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Circular Letter, 1893
Issued by Northern Light Lodge, No. 1
Fargo, North Dakota
Museum Purchase, A2021/021/006


The Masonic Hall of Fame: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark

As we passed on it seemed as if those scenes of visionary enchantment would never have an end. Meriwether Lewis, 1805

NPS_INDE_14096_MeriweatherLewisByCWPeale_600 smaller
Meriwether Lewis, ca. 1807. Charles Willson Peale. Independence National Historic Park.

In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson charged Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) and William Clark (1770-1838) to lead an expedition to explore and map the land that the United States had gained with the 15-million-dollar Louisiana Purchase. This area stretched from Louisiana to what is now Montana. Jefferson asked the explorers to find a water route across the continent, make scientific observations, and establish diplomatic relations with the Native American tribes over whose land they traveled. Lewis and Clark, with the other members of the Corps of Discovery, made progress on all of these goals. As well, the keenly observed impressions that the pair recorded in their journals about geography, plants, animals, and people, have sparked the imagination of generations to dream about exploration, discovery, and the American West.

Corps of Discovery

In twenty-eight months of exploration, from 1803 to 1806, Lewis and Clark’s party traveled over 8,000 miles from St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia River. Lewis and Clark’s group of volunteers from the Army as well as interpreters, including Sacagawea (c. 1788-1812), a Lemhi Shoshone woman and her baby, witnessed many wonders. They also endured unpredictable weather, shortages of supplies, illness, accidents, and uncertainty. Lewis and Clark made their initial report of the expedition to Jefferson in 1806. A narrative of their expedition, based on their journals, was published in 1814.

Friends and Brothers

Lewis and Clark first met when they served together in the Army in the 1790s. Lewis had become a Freemason during that time, at Door to Virtue Lodge No. 44, in Albemarle, Virginia, in 1797. In 1809, Clark took his degrees St. Louis Lodge No. 111, where Lewis had served as founding Master just a year before. Their time as members of the same lodge was cut short by Lewis’s unexpected death in 1809.

"The Masonic Hall of Fame: Extraordinary Freemasons in American History"

Lewis and Clark are included in the  Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library’s new exhibition, "The Masonic Hall of Fame: Extraordinary Freemasons in American History." This

William Clark portrait 1921-055-0001
William Clark, ca. 1810. John Wesley Jarvis. Missouri Historical Society.

exhibition showcases inspiring American Freemasons and introduces visitors to the history of Freemasonry in the United States. The exhibition will be on view through October of 2024. Throughout the exhibition, visitors will meet extraordinary Masons, like Lewis and Clark, who, through their outsized contributions to Freemasonry, government, the arts, and social justice, made a profound impact on their world and ours.

 


Golden Rule Lodge No. 5


5-1-2 Golden Rule Lodge 89_038DS2croppedThis holiday season as we think about ideas of unity and goodwill toward all, we highlight this 1934 photograph of members from Golden Rule Lodge No. 5 on Owl’s Head Mountain in Vermont. Since 1857, members of the lodge, located in Stanstead, Quebec, Canada, have hosted this annual gathering. They meet in June at the summit of Owl’s Head Mountain, 2,425 feet above Lake Memphremagog. The lodge, originally founded in 1803 in Derby Line, Vermont, and named Lively Stone Lodge No. 22, included members from both Canada and the United States.

During the War of 1812, local governments prohibited Lively Stone Lodge from meeting, prompting Canadian members of the lodge to establish a new lodge in Stanstead. The new lodge, named Golden Rule Lodge, received its first charter from the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813. In 1856, the lodge received a new charter from the Grand Lodge of Canada. In 1857, the Grand Lodge of Canada granted the group a dispensation to carry out an outdoor Masonic communication at the summit of Owl’s Head Mountain. In 1861 the lodge petitioned the Grand Lodge of Vermont for the charter of Lively Stone, which had surrendered its’ charter in 1826.

In addition to the annual gathering—open to Masons from both countries—Freemasons from three American and Canadian villages in the area—Derby Line, Vermont and Rock Island, and Stanstead, Quebec—have often gathered for parades and other celebrations. This photograph shows a 1903 Masonic Golden Rule Lodge 1903 Arcadia Publishing parade in Rock Island (below). 

Members of Golden Rule Lodge No. 5 still make the annual trek to Owl’s Head Mountain each June. The excursion is open to all Masons. Each year, a candidate for the Master Mason degree at the meeting on top of the mountain, carries a wicker basket that contains ropes, the flags of Quebec, the United States, and Canada, and Masonic tools, including a Bible, and a square and compasses. This ongoing tradition illustrates the power of brotherhood to transcend political borders and war. Do you know of other border lodges like Golden Rule Lodge No.5? Let us know in the comments below

Captions

Members of Golden Rule Lodge No. 5, 1934. Derick Studio, Orleans, Vermont. Gift of Philip N. Grime, 89.38.

Masonic Parade, Three Villages, 1903, from Matthew Farfan, The Vermont-Quebec Border: Life on the Line( South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2009), 58-59.

References

Matthew Farfan, The Vermont-Quebec Border: Life on the Line (South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2009)

Lee S. Tillotson, Ancient Craft Masonry in Vermont (Montpelier, VT: Capital City Press, 1930).


The Masonic Hall of Fame: Benjamin Franklin

92_025 dealer photo BF portrait smallerBoston-born Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) established what became a successful printing business in Philadelphia as a young man. From an early age, Franklin developed and followed a philosophy of continual self-improvement. He also practiced this ideal in his community, helping found and improve organizations that contributed to individual and public good, including Freemasonry.

Thinker and Diplomat

After he retired from business in his early 40s, Franklin turned his curiosity to his vast interests, including politics, science, philosophy, literature, and diplomacy. In Paris in the late 1770s, he successfully sought French support for the American fight for independence. He later served as ambassador to France for the new United States. Upon his return to Pennsylvania as a respected elder statesman, he became President of the Pennsylvania Assembly, helped shape the new nation at the Constitutional Convention, and worked to abolish slavery.

A Freemason for the Ages

Franklin became a Freemason as a young man, in 1731. In 1734, Benjamin Franklin produced the first book about Freemasonry that was printed in North America. Franklin based his Constitutions—which contained the history, laws, and regulations of Freemasonry—on the English edition published in 1723. Able and active, he served as Grand Master of Pennsylvania just three years later and as Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania in 1749. Alongside his many endeavors, Franklin held many lodge and Grand Lodge offices. Near the end of his life, his Pennsylvania brethren honored Franklin as “An illustrious Brother” of “distinguished merit” entitled to the “highest veneration.”

"The Masonic Hall of Fame: Extraordinary Freemasons in American History"

This November,  Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library opened a new exhibition, "The Masonic Hall of Fame: Extraordinary Freemasons in American History." This exhibition Constitutions BF publishedshowcases inspiring American Freemasons and introduces visitors to the history of Freemasonry in the United States. The exhibition will be on view through October of 2024. Throughout the exhibition, visitors will meet extraordinary Masons, like Benjamin Franklin, who, through their outsized contributions to Freemasonry, government, the arts, and social justice, made a profound impact on their world and ours.

Photo credits:

Above, Benjamin Franklin, ca. 1782. Painted by Joseph Wright (1756–1793), Paris, France. Special Acquisitions Fund, 92.025.

The Constitutions of the Free-Masons, 1734. Printed by Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Acquired through the generosity of Mount Lebanon Lodge, Boston; St. Andrew’s Lodge, Boston, and Kane Lodge Foundation, New York, RARE 31 .A547 1734.

 


Franklin Delano Roosevelt Inaugural Medal

GL2004_4206DI1with real backgroundIn 1933 the United States Inaugural Committee commissioned sculptor Paul Manship (1885-1966) to design this commemorative medal for Franklin Roosevelt’s (1882-1945) first inauguration. The medal, pictured at left, features a relief bust of Roosevelt, along with his name and that of his Vice President, John Nance Garner (1868-1967) and the years of his first presidential term. On the reverse is the U.S.S. Constitution, with an angel, and a verse from the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1869 poem, The Building of the Ship. The medal was made in bronze, silver, and gold. 

Manship designed the high relief portrait medal the same year he created the bronze sculpture Prometheus, one of his most famous works, at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Using dies cut by Medallic Art Co. of New York, the United States Mint struck about 1,500 of the bronze medals. Fifty thicker medals were later struck by the Medallic Art Co. Three more inaugural medals, designed by Joseph Anthony Atchison (1895-1967) and Jo Davidson (1883-1952), respectively, were struck in 1937, 1941, and 1945, for Roosevelt's following inaugurations. 

GL2004_4206DI3 white backgroundThe medal is currently on view in the lobby exhibition “American Masonic Presidents,” in Travis Hall at the Museum & Library. Learn more here: https://www.srmml.org/exhibitions/current-exhibitions/american-masonic-presidents/ 

 

Caption:

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Inaugural Medal, 1933. Paul Manship (1885-1966), United States Mint, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.4206.


The Masonic Hall of Fame: Extraordinary Freemasons in American History

Collage left 10-6-01The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library presents “The Masonic Hall of Fame: Extraordinary Freemasons in American History,” a new exhibition that showcases inspiring American Freemasons and introduces visitors to the history of Freemasonry in the United States. The exhibition opens to the public on November 1, 2021 and runs through October 2024. 

Throughout the exhibition, visitors will meet extraordinary Masons who, through their outsized contributions to Freemasonry, government, the arts, and social justice, made a profound impact on their world and ours. Ten Hall of Fame inductees will be featured this year. More will be added in 2022 and 2023. This year’s inductees are:

  • Benjamin Franklin
  • George Washington
  • Prince Hall
  • Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
  • Mark Twain
  • Harry Truman
  • John Lejeune
  • Irving Berlin
  • John Glenn
  • John Lewis

Drawing on images and objects from the Museum & Library’s collection, the exhibition also looks at the history of Freemasonry in the United States from its beginnings in the 1700s to the present day. “The Masonic Hall of Fame: Extraordinary Freemasons in American History” illuminates some of the ways that the United States and Freemasonry have grown, thrived, and changed together.

Throughout the exhibition visitors will encounter both remarkable and everyday Freemasons who helped to build communities, establish charitable institutions, and shape American society.

The Museum & Library is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 to 4:00pm. Have questions or comments? Leave a comment below or email info@srmml.org. 


Andrew P. Gilkey: Treasurer of his Lodge

2008_038_16DS1 Andrew P. Gilkey
Andrew P. Gilkey, 1860-1870. Probably Maine. Gift in Memory of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, 2008.038.16.

Sometimes even a small clue can lead to information about an object or image in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. This photographic portrait shows a man wearing Masonic regalia, standing on a patterned floor in front of a plain background, with one hand resting on a stylish side chair. Along with an apron, he wears an interestingly shaped sash (which may have actually been a separate collar and sash that appear as one piece in this image), and an officer’s jewel suspended from a ribbon around his neck. His jewel is in the shape of two crossed keys. In Freemasonry, this symbol indicates the lodge office of Treasurer. To add pizazz to the image, an artist painted the sash blue and gold and added gold to the apron and jewel. This special treatment enhances the simple portrait and draws attention to the sitter’s regalia. An inscription on the back of this photograph, produced in the pocket-sized carte-de-visite format popular in the 1860s, records the name of the sitter, Andrew P. Gilkey, along with the information that he was the “Treasurer Royal Arch Masons.” This inscription offers valuable clues about the subject of the portrait.

Census takers recorded a man named Andrew P. Gilkey (1809-1890). This man was a resident of Islesborough, Maine, from 1840 through 1880. An 1876 business directory listed Gilkey as a carpenter and builder in the same community—an island town in Penobscot Bay. Membership records at the Grand Lodge of Maine show that Andrew P. Gilkey received his degrees at Island Lodge No. 89 in Islesborough in 1857. From 1860 through 1870, the Grand Lodge noted that Gilkey served as Treasurer of his lodge. A notice in the Portland newspaper confirms that he held this office in 1870.

Although the inscription on the back of the photograph suggests Gilkey was a Royal Arch Freemason, his name does not appear in the Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Maine as the treasurer of a chapter during the 1860s. As well, the apron he wears in this portrait features symbols related to Craft, rather than Royal Arch, Freemasonry. It is possible that the inscription on the back of the photograph noted the name and office of the sitter but misstated his connection with Royal Arch Masonry.

Married twice, Gilkey outlived both of his wives and four of his children. His grave marker, near those of family, bears his name, his age at his death, and a symbol of Freemasonry, a square and compasses with the letter G, emphasizing his long-time association with the fraternity.  

References: 

“Masonic,” Daily Eastern Argus (Portland, ME), March 15, 1870, [3].

Maine Business Directory(Boston, MA: Briggs & Co., 1876), 63.

John Pendleton Farrow, History of Islesborough, Maine (Bangor, ME: Thomas W. Burr, 1893), 212-213.


The Shaving Mason

2001_072aeS1cropped for blogIn 1904, American innovator and Freemason King Camp Gillette (1855-1932), first a member of Adelphi Lodge in Quincy, Massachusetts, who later belonged to Columbian Lodge in Boston, began manufacturing a safety razor with disposable blades. While some form of a safety razor had been in use for decades, Gillette patented the first disposable blades with a double-edged safety razor. This innovation made shaving easier—men no longer needed to sharpen their blades. In the late 1800s and early 1900s tastes and styles in men's facial hair changed. A growing number of men preferred to be clean-shaven and Gillette's new razor dovetailed with this trend. 

In this same period, membership in fraternal societies was at an all-time high. Manufacturers, including the Gillette Company, made products decorated with Masonic and fraternal symbols, appealing to the high number of Masonic and fraternal consumers in the United States. This shaving kit, with a two-piece double-edged razor and a box for disposable blades, features a Masonic emblem at the center—a square and compasses with the letter G.

Other shaving related products gained in popularity with this clean shaven trend, including shaving mugs, soaps, and brushes. Ernest Price EPrice shaving mug 2016_044_3 for blog(1892-1966), a carpenter from Watertown, Massachusetts, had this standard shaving mug personalized with his name and Masonic symbols. Price, a member of Sydney No. 84 in Nova Scotia, emigrated to Massachusetts in 1920. in 1945 he affiliated with Pequossette Lodge, in Arlington, Massachusetts. The Museum has several examples of personalized fraternal shaving mugs in the collection. These mugs illustrate the connection between consumer goods and fraternalism in the early 1900s.

To see more shaving related material from the collection visit our online collections site here: https://bit.ly/3iSJxfw

Captions:

Shaving Kit, 1920-1950. Gillette, United States. Gift of Richard W. Parker, 2001.072a-g. Photograph by David Bohl.

Shaving Mug, 1920-1950. United States. Gift of Mabel P. Mills, 2016.044.3.

References:

Robert Blake Powell, Occupational & Fraternal Shaving Mugs of the United States Catalog, (Hurst, TX: Publications Company Hurst, 1978).

Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Masons Membership Cards 1733–1990. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. Ancestry.com. Accessed July 27, 2021.


Digital Collections Highlight: Check Signed by President Garfield and Albert Hawkins

Hawkins check frontThe G. Edward Elwell, Jr., Autograph Collection contains around one hundred documents collected by G. Edward Elwell, Jr., 33°, a member of Caldwell Consistory (Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania), a professional printer and Scottish Rite Mason. In 1898, the 12-year-old Elwell wrote a letter to Admiral George Dewey (1837–1917), a hero of the Spanish-American War. Dewey’s reply became the first signed document in Elwell's collection. The items in the collection span nearly 500 years of history (1489-1960), and each contains the signature of a well-known figure from American and European history.

One of the items that has always caught my eye is this check, dated June 30, 1881. President James A. Garfield (1831-1881) signed this check, which was issued to Albert Hawkins, the White House's coachman, two days before the President was shot. The sixty-dollar check was Hawkins' monthly salary. After the death of President Garfield, his widow, Lucretia Garfield, gave the check to the historian Edward Everett Hale, who notes the history of the check on the reverse.

Hawkins check backThere is little doubt that Elwell collected this item because of its association with President Garfield, but today, we can see that it helps tell a more complete story, that of Albert Hawkins, a Black man who served as the White House's coachman under six U.S. presidents. The White House Historical Association, in writing about Hawkins, states that “Albert Hawkins was a coachman who began his service under Ulysses S. Grant. By the 1880s, he was among the most celebrated of Washington’s African American community…”

You can see a high-res image of this check at our Digital Collections website.

Caption:
Check issued to Albert Hawkins, 1881 June 30. Gift of Caldwell Consistory, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, A74/002/043.


A Portrait of Samuel Larison, Freemason and Winemaker

2008_038_17DS1 Samuel Larison
Samuel Larison, 1860-1869. California. Gift in Memory of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, 2008.038.17.

Around 1853 the subject of this photograph, Samuel Larison (also spelled Larrison), drawn by the promise of the Gold Rush, emigrated to California. Larison mined for a few years and “met with more or less success.” Eventually he left prospecting and purchased land to farm. He settled with his family near the town of Cloverdale in Sonoma County, California. There he became a pioneer winemaker, a cooper for the new wine industry, and a charter member of the town’s Masonic lodge. 

In the 1870s Samuel Larison (1821-1899) advertised multiple times as a cooper, declaring, “Wine-Growers, Attention! Cooperage of all kinds on hand and made to order….” A note in the local paper detailed that he used white oak from neighboring Lake County to make wine-pipes (specialized wine barrels) that held 150 gallons (about 750 modern bottles of wine). Starting in 1868, he cultivated grapes, with 18 acres planted with Zinfandel, Burgundy, and other varieties by 1883. Ten years later one observer drew attention to his product, noting that on a visit to the Cloverdale Winery “a load of Burgundy grapes grown by Samuel Larison…were the best we ever saw.”

Larison had first become a Mason as a young man in Ohio. He was a member of Yuba Lodge No. 39 in Marysville from 1856 to 1857. Later he was one of the charter members of Curtis Lodge No. 140 in Cloverdale, founded soon after he settled in town. The lodge received its charter in 1860; that same year Larison served as the lodge’s Tyler. Decades later, his obituary recalled that Larison was “an ardent admirer of masonry and for fifty years was a member of that order.”

This photograph shows Larison wearing the regalia of a Royal Arch Mason sometime in the 1860s. His obituary stated that he was a “chapter mason,” or member of a Royal Arch Chapter. When Larison first became a Royal Arch Mason or which chapter he belonged to is not known. Though many details about Larison’s Masonic career remain to be uncovered, this portrait of Larison in his apron suggests the pride he felt in his association with the group.

Many years after this photograph was taken, Larison continued to demonstrate his devotion to Freemasonry. In 1895 he was the oldest living member of the lodge and attended an installation of lodge officers. The local paper recorded of Larison that on this occasion, even though he did not travel into to town often, “his fraternal love for Masonry was to[o] overpowering to resist this opportunity to meet again with his brothers.”

If you'd like to more photographic portraits in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's collection, visit our online collections database or take a look at our flickr albums of cabinet cards and daguerreotypes.

 

Many thanks to Thomas Krummell, Assistant Grand Secretary/Recorder, Grand York Rite of California, for his help in researching Samuel Larison's Masonic activities in California.

References:

Tom Gregory, History of Sonoma County, California with Biographical Sketches (Los Angeles, CA: Historic Record Company, 1911), 668, 671.

Proceedings of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of California (San Francisco, CA: Frank Eastman, Printer, 1857), 175.

Proceedings of the M. W. Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of California (San Francisco, CA: Frank Eastman, Printer, 1860), 476.

“Wine-Growers, Attention!,” Sonoma Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA) December 14, 1872, 7.

"Samuel Larrison of Cloverdale…," Los Angeles Daily Herald (Los Angeles, CA) July 9, 1874, 2.

“Cloverdale,” Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA) September 19, 1883, 2.

“Local Items," Cloverdale Reveille (Cloverdale, CA) September 24, 1892, 3.

“Samuel Larrison, a charter member…,” Cloverdale Reveille (Cloverdale, CA) December 28, 1895, 3.

“Samuel Larrison Passes Away,” Cloverdale Reveille (Cloverdale, CA) May 27, 1899, 3.