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June 2009

POW Powder Horn

Rollins powder horn cropped 77_11_2 web large
Powder horn, ca. 1863, Henry S. P. Rollins (1832-1869), Tyler, Texas, National Heritage Museum, 77.11.2. Photo by David Bohl.

Thirty years ago, when the Museum was just beginning to build its Masonic collection, staff purchased a Civil War-era powder horn decorated with Masonic symbols.  It also bore this evocative inscription: “H. S. P. Rollins Prisoner of War Tyler Texas Captured at Sabine Pass Sept 8th 1863.” Purchased at a New England auction, the horn came to the museum with no known history. Our files contained descriptions of the battle at Sabine Pass--where fewer than fifty Confederate soldiers captured two U.S. gunboats and several hundred soldiers and sailors-- but it did not tell us who H. S. P. Rollins was or where he came from.

Drawing on some of the great resources available on the Internet (thank you, Google books!), museum and library staff not only identified the powder horn’s maker as Henry S. P. Rollins of Exeter, New Hampshire, but also discovered that he played an important role in the battle that led to his imprisonment. During what was, in many ways, a badly managed battle on the Union side, Rollins’ performance earned him special notice.  In his report on the battle, Frederick Crocker, the Acting Volunteer Lieutenant in charge of the U.S.S. Clifton, commended Master’s Mate H. S. P. Rollins and a fellow shipmate “for the gallant manner in which they fought their guns and performed every duty.” 

In spite of  his efforts, Confederate troops captured Rollins and marched him to the prison camp   along with 350 other Union men. One prisoner later described the Camp Ford as: "… four acres-barren of timber and grass. Sand blows desperately." 

Rollins survived his imprisonment, only to die of stomach disease in New Hampshire a few years after the war.  Records preserved at the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire show that Rollins received his degrees at Star in the East Lodge, No. 59, of Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1861.  The following year, he served his lodge as Tyler.

Many thanks to Roberta Langis of the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire.


Texas Beyond History, “From Training Camp to Prison,” University of Texas at Austin, http://www.texasbeyondhistory.net/ford/prison.html

"Capture of the United States Steamers Clifton and Sachem: Report of Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Frederick Crocker," Edgartown, Mass., April 21, 1865. In Annual Reports of the Navy Department: Report of the Secretary of the Navy, Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1865, p. 401-2

Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts Exhibition Subject of Cover Story in Antiques & Arts Weekly

AntiquesandArts  The Museum’s exhibition on "The Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts" is the subject of a cover story in Antiques and the Arts Weekly. It's chock full of photos and terrific information. Have a look!

The exhibition closes on October 25, so be sure to visit us soon!

Calling All Masonic and Fraternal Scholars!

91_033T1 The National Heritage Museum announces its first symposium, to be held at the Museum on Friday, April 9, 2010 - New Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism

We are now seeking proposals for papers to be presented at the symposium.  As one of the largest repositories of American Masonic and fraternal objects, books and manuscripts in the United States, the Museum aims to foster new research on American fraternalism and to encourage the use of its scholarly resources.

The symposium seeks to present the newest research on American Masonic and fraternal groups from the past through the present day.  By 1900, over 250 American fraternal groups existed, numbering six million members.  The study of their activities and influence in the United States, past and present, offers the potential for new interpretations of American society and culture.  Diverse perspectives on this topic are sought; perspectives on and interpretations of all time periods are welcome.

Possible topics include:

• Comparative studies of American fraternalism and European or other international forms of  fraternalism
• Prince Hall Freemasonry and other African-American fraternal groups
• Ethnically- and religiously-based fraternal groups
• Fraternal groups for women or teens
• Role of fraternal groups in social movements
• The material culture of Freemasonry and fraternalism
• Anti-Masonry and anti-fraternal movements, issues and groups
• Fraternal symbolism and ritual
• The expression of Freemasonry and fraternalism through art, music, and literature
• Approaches to Freemasonry – from disciplinary, interdisciplinary, or transnational perspectives;  the historiography and methodology of the study of American fraternalism

Proposals should be for 30 minute research papers; the day’s schedule will allow for audience questions and feedback.

To submit a proposal: Send an abstract of 400 words or less with a resume or c.v. that is no more than two pages.  Be sure to include full contact information (name, address, email, phone, affiliation).

Send proposals to: Aimee E. Newell, Director of Collections, National Heritage Museum, by email at anewell[at]monh.org or by mail to 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA  02421. 

Deadline for proposals to be received is August 15, 2009.  For questions, contact Aimee E. Newell as above, or call 781-457-4144.

Masonic checkerboard, ca. 1890, Collection of National Heritage Museum, Special Acquisition Fund, 91.033.  Photograph by David Bohl.

"The Way We Worked" Reviewed in The Boston Globe


 Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Feeney reviewed the Museum’s new exhibition “The Way We Worked” in today’s edition of The Boston Globe. Here is a link to the review.

Archive photos assure our labor is not lost - The Boston Globe

Posted using ShareThis

Photo caption:
Clover Gap Mine (Harlan County, Ky.)
By Russell Lee, 1946
Courtesy National Archives

Behind the Scenes With Museum Staff and Friends

MR painting in the gallery 6 May view one Design, construction, writing text panels, creating graphics, and plain old painting the walls are just a few of the behind-the-scenes tasks undertaken by Museum staff as they prepare for an exhibition to open. Many staff members are actively pitching in to help the Museum conserve resources in these difficult economic times by taking on projects formerly performed by outside vendors. Here, Museum Designer Michael Rizzo paints the gallery walls the handsome color he chose to enhance the photographs in “The Way We Worked.” Maintenance Supervisor Gerard Marchese Gerard_Ralph_Saw and Building Technician Ralph Roscoe have become central to exhibition construction. The SawStop table saw and a large panel saw are two new pieces of equipment that allow the Gerard and Ralph to step up and help build the walls and case work that are part of every exhibition.

Chris and Sean moving clocks May 2009  The conservation of 25 clocks in preparation for the opening of “For All Time: Clocks and Watches from the National Heritage Museum,” a new exhibition opening August 15, is being undertaken by furniture conservators Sean Fisher and Chris Shelton of Robert Mussey Associates. The treatments the clocks will undergo will stabilize their cases, improve their long-term preservation, and enhance their appearance for display in the gallery.  “We are so pleased to present this part of the collection, which has been out of sight for a number of years,” said Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs. “We are especially lucky that these beautiful objects can be restored by the renowned conservators at Robert Mussey Associates. The clocks will be shown to their best advantage.”

Museum Designer Michael Rizzo Paints the Gallery in Preparation for "The Way We Worked."

Maintenance Supervisor Gerard Marchese and Building Technician Ralph Roscoe Assist with Exhibition Construction

Chris Shelton and Sean Fisher of Robert Mussey Associates Transport a Clock for Conservation

425 Horses and Thousands of Knights Templar

Ktwashingtonst1895_web In an exhibition on view here at the National Heritage Museum, The Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts: Celebrating 275 Years of Brotherhood, there's a section devoted to the 26th Triennial Conclave of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States that was held in Boston from August 27-30, 1895, featuring many objects related to (or created expressly for) this meeting of Knights Templar.

You might be thinking, "What's the big deal? Did anyone in Boston even notice this Conclave?" In fact, it was a huge event. Just read the NY Times account of the parade held on August 27, 1895 where they report that "Boston has seldom, if ever, been so elaborately decorated. Practically every building along the line of the march, besides many of the side streets, is clothed in color, with appropriate mottoes and Masonic emblems, intertwined with streamers and bunting."

Interested in learning a bit more about this event, I checked to see what we have in the library's collection. Not surprisingly, we have a few different publications that were published expressly for (and about) the 1895 Triennial Conclave. The Report of the Triennial Committee is perhaps one of the richest. It's the official report of all of the various activities that took place over those three days.

Here are just a couple of interesting excerpts, which, I think, give a flavor of the events:

Ktprocession1895_web Committee on Horses and Horse Equipments: "By careful canvassing and advertising the Committee were able to provide 425 horses suitable for the purposes of parade..."

Committee on Receptions: "One of the earliest arrivals was that of the California Commandery, which was enthusiastically hailed by the large throng which awaited its coming at the Union Station. They were cordially welcomed by the Committee, and the ladies conducted to carriages. The Commandery having mounted their horses were escorted to their headquarters by Boston Commandery, 360 strong, receiving a continual ovation along the line of the route."

Committee on Music: "The majority of the visiting commanderies, however, brought their best local bands with them...One hundred thirty-seven bands, besides numerous drum corps, were distributed throughout the line [of the parade]."

But perhaps photographs of the event, two of which can be seen here, give the best sense of what it was like to be there. The top photo above shows a crowd of parade-watchers on Washington St., waiting for the parade to pass by; the bottom photo shows the staff of the Chief Marshall as the parade passes through Copley Square. The photos seen here are from:

Report of the Triennial Committee of the Grand Commandery of Knights Templars of Massachusetts and Rhode Island for the 26th Triennial Conclave of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States, held in Boston, Mass., August 27th-30th, 1895. [Privately printed, 1895].
Call number: 17.973 .U58

But if you really want to see photos, we've got a 500-page book (both too big and too fragile to scan), that goes a long way in documenting the events:

Mason, William A., ed. Photographic Souvenir: Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, 26th Triennial Conclave, held at Boston, Mass., Aug. 26-31, 1895. Boston : A.A. Rothenberg and Co., 1895.
Call number: 17.973 .U58 1895

Additionally, we have a number of postcards related to the 1895 Boston Conclave in our Duncan collection of postcards (MM 025) in the Archives.

From Insurance Executive to Masonic Apron Designer?

Gl2004_0139s1 Edward Horsman (1775-1819), a Boston engraver, created a particularly popular Masonic apron design around 1814.  The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts recommended Horsman’s design “as a judicious selection of the emblems of the Order, arranged with taste and propriety.”  Horsman became a Mason in 1802 in Boston’s Mount Lebanon Lodge.  He can be documented as Grand Secretary of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Massachusetts from 1804 to 1806.  Newspaper advertisements and Boston directories from 1807 through 1813 list him as the secretary of the Massachusetts Fire and Marine Insurance Company.  But his prominent signature on the plate that he engraved around 1814, which reads “Master Masons apron or flooring Copy Right Secured E. Horsman Pinx,” suggests that he might have changed careers at that time.  An 1817 newspaper ad “respectfully informs the fraternity that a fresh supply of Masonic aprons and sashes for the several degrees, are for sale at the Picture and Looking Glass Store…He likewise informs the public, that he Paints 'Coats of Arms,' plain, and in superb style…”  The ad closes with a mention of “his store” and his house located on Carver Street in Boston.  Horsman’s apron design was apparently still in demand after his death in 1819, as newspaper advertisements directed prospective customers to “the shop of Mr. Wm. Bittle” in the early 1820s for aprons “from the plate of the late Edward Horsman.”89_66di1_cropped

That copper plate is now in the collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, at the National Heritage Museum.  In addition, the Grand Lodge and the Museum hold a combined total of fifteen Horsman aprons.

Engraving Plate, ca. 1814, Edward Horsman (1775-1819), Boston, Massachusetts, Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.0139, photograph by David Bohl.

Masonic Apron, ca. 1814, Boston, Massachusetts, National Heritage Museum, Special Acquisitions Fund, 89.66.

"The Way We Worked" Exhibition Explores America's Labor History

Bib Mills #1 Work and the workplace have gone through enormous changes between the mid-19th century, when 60 percent of Americans made their living as farmers, and the late 20th century. “The Way We Worked,” a new traveling exhibition opening on June 6, features 86 photographs from the National Archives focusing on the history of work in America and documenting work clothing, locales, conditions, and conflicts. The exhibition is part of a 14-city national tour.

“The Way We Worked” is drawn from the National Archives, home to thousands of photographs of work and workplaces taken by government agencies for many reasons: to investigate factory safety, track construction progress, office training or to emphasize the continuing importance of humans in a technologically modern environment. The images featured in the exhibition, though possibly taken merely for purposes of record keeping, often reveal much more about how social forces such as immigration, gender, ethnicity, class, and technology have transformed the workforce.

The exhibition is divided into five sections:

Pineapple factory • “Where We Worked” explores the places Americans worked, from farms to factories, mines to  restaurants, as well as how race and gender often determined roles and status.

• “How We Worked” examines the effects of technology and automation on the workplace with images of people on assembly lines or using their tools of trade.

• “What We Wore to Work” looks at the way uniforms serve as badges of authority and status, and help make occupations immediately identifiable.

• “Conflict at Work” looks back at not just the inevitable clashes between workers and managers over working conditions, wages, and hours, but also how social conflicts, such as segregation, have influenced the workplace.

• “Dangerous or Unhealthy Work” features many of the photographs taken by social reformers hoping to ban child labor, reduce the length of the work day and expose unsanitary workplaces.

Spanning the years 1857-1987, the images in the exhibition cover the entire range of photographs on the topic in the National Archives holdings. The exhibition will also present a video showing a variety of workplaces.

The National Archives and Records Administration serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. Among the billions of records at the National Archives are more than 11 million still pictures in the Washington, DC, area alone. In addition, there are millions of photographs in the National Archives Presidential libraries and thousands more among the records held by regional records facilities.

"The Way We Worked," was created by the National Archives with the support of the Foundation for the National Archives, and is organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).


"Bibb Mill No. 1, Macon GA.," 1909. Lewis Hine. Courtesy National Archives

"Canning Pineapple in Hawaii," 1928. Edgeworth. Courtesy National Archives

An Undeclared War and the Ship, the "Industry"

A91_041_1_Ship_Industry_J_Adams_scan_detail_WEBIn preparing the new vault after its recent renovation, the Librarian and Archivist were going through some flat files that contained uncataloged backlog material. Most of what was there were unidentified photographs and facsimile documents. To our surprise, though, we found a rare and interesting document which sheds light on the story of the so-called XYZ Affair, and the United States undeclared war with France during 1798-1800. The document we came across is an original document signed by John Adams!

The original manuscript and printed certificate for the ship, the "Industry," with Isaac Cutter as Commander, permitted the ship to travel from Boston to Aux Cayes, a French colony on Hispaniola (now Les Cayes, Haiti.)  The certificate is dated 1797.The document certifies that this is a ship of the United States of America and asks those who encounter the ship to let it navigate waters and enter ports during its travels. The "Industry" was laden with many goods:  butter, beef, fish oil, tea, and other merchandise. The document is signed by then-president of the United States John Adams and spells out its terms in four languages:  French, Spanish, English, and Dutch.                                        

Here's the story...

The relationship between France and United States became strained in the late 18th century for several reasons.  France was at war with Great Britain and the United States was trying to remain neutral.  The United States ran into difficulties due to the harassment of its merchant vessels by both the English and the French.  When Jay's Treaty was signed on November 19, 1794, it was an attempt to improve the relationship between England and the United States.  However, the French saw this treaty as a violation of earlier agreements signed with their government, as well as a violation of American neutrality.  Because of this, the French government passed several decrees permitting their ships off the coast of North America and the West Indies to capture American merchant vessels, like the "Industry."

The French inflicted substantial losses on American shipping. Secretary of State, Timothy Pickering, reported to Congress on June 21, 1797 that the French had captured 316 American merchant ships in the previous eleven months. In his State of the Union address to Congress at the close of 1797, President John Adams reported on France’s refusal to negotiate and spoke of the need "to place our country in a suitable posture of defense."

Dated December 22, 1797, the certificate for the ship, the "Industry" was signed exactly at the time the United States was going to take this defensive action. Because ships such as the "Industry" were threatened with being seized by the French and probably, as a result, were given special certificates for traveling. This certificate for the "Industry" was signed by Timothy Pickering, countersigned by Benjamin Lincoln Coll, as well as John Adams.  You can see a detail of the certificate (USM 001.309) on the right.

A91_041_1_Ship_Industry_J_Adams_scan_WEB United States diplomats tried to convince the French to revoke the decrees but failed. Both the United States and France were frustrated, but neither formally declared war.  However, the United States formed a small navy and allowed merchant vessels to carry arms to defend themselves.  It revoked former treaties with France.  The relationship bewteen France and the United States continued to be hostile until the signing of the Convention of Mortefontaine on September 30, 1800.

Certificate for the Brig the "Industry", 1797, Boston, Massachusetts
Gift of William Caleb Loring, Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives, A91/041/1