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September 2010

Have you explored our online collection?

GL2004_6181a-bT1 Last winter, we unveiled a new way to browse selections from the National Heritage Museum collection online.  A new interface allows web visitors to search for specific names, dates, descriptive terms and more.  Each record has a photograph of the object, along with a brief description and information about its origin and history, if known.

In August 2010, we added almost 100 records, which join the initial 125 records.  The new batch includes a variety of highlights from our object collection, along with a selection of treasures from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts collection, on long-term loan to the Museum.

Included among the items from the Grand Lodge collection are this wooden gavel and tray, presented to Grand Master Arthur D. Prince in 1921 when he visited Canal Zone Lodge in Panama.  In 1912, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts granted a dispensation for Canal Zone Masons, many of whom were Americans working to build the canal, to establish Sojourners Lodge.  Today, there are four lodges in Panama that operate under the authority of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.  The Grand Master first visited the Panamanian lodges under his jurisdiction in 1914.  Subsequent Grand Masters usually visit once during their three-year term of office.

To access the online collection, visit our website, www.nationalheritagemuseum.org, and click on the “online collection” link.  We appreciate all comments and feedback.  Please feel free to contact Dr. Aimee Newell, Director of Collections, at anewell@monh.org.  And, remember to check back as new records are added.

Gavel and Tray, 1921, Panama, Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts at the National Heritage Museum, GL2004.6181a-b.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Fall Public Programs at the Museum

Fall is a busy time, so be sure to mark your calendar with the following public programs at the National Heritage Museum. We look forward to seeing you!

Gallery Talk: Curators’ Choice Theodore Ross and His Wife's Spirit, 85_80_25cS1

Saturday, October 9, 2 p.m.

Join Museum staff as we explore favorite objects from our broad collection in “Curators’ Choice: Favorites from the Collection,” a brand new exhibition opening today. Free.


DeanLahikainen Lecture: The Art of Collecting: A Curator's Personal Journey

Saturday, October 23, 2 p.m.

Dean Lahikainen, Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Peabody Essex Museum, will discuss our fascination with historical objects and show us some of his personal favorites. This lecture complements the exhibition, “Curators’ Choice.” This free public lecture is funded by the Lowell Institute.


Lecture: What Is It about Diners? More Than a Meal, That's for Sure RJSG at CAM lg  

Saturday, November 20, 2 p.m.  

Richard J. S. Gutman, director and curator of Johnson and WalesCulinary Museum in Providence, RI, will hold an illustrated lecture that complements the exhibition, “Night Road: Photographs of Diners by John D. Woolf.” Gutman will elaborate on the staying power of the classic diner, based on 40 years of eating and research. This free public lecture is funded by the Lowell Institute.


Yosemite Gallery Talk: Treasured Lands

Saturday, December 4, 2 p.m.

Join Museum staff and enter worlds of stunning natural beauty in the popular exhibition, “Treasured Lands: The Fifty-Eight U.S. National Parks in Focus.” Free.


Finally, looking ahead to winter, we know you've been waiting for the holiday train show dates – we've received inquiries. Note that the Museum will be open for both Saturday and Sunday on this mid-December weekend.


Model Trains 2010_02_14_0237_Cropped

Saturday, December 11, 10 AM–4:30 PM and Sunday, December 12, Noon–4 PM

An annual favorite, the HUB Division of the National Railroad Association will delight fans large and small with their model train display. $5/family (members); $7/family (non-members).


All programs take place at the National Heritage Museum, located at 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, Massachusetts (at the corner of Mass. Ave. & Rte. 2A). Admission and parking are free.


Please note our winter hours:

From Monday, October 4, 2010, through May 3, 2011, the Museum will be open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.


The Museum is wheelchair accessible. Hearing assistance devices are available for all lectures.

For more information, call 781-861-6559 or visit www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.


Photo credits:

Dean Lahikainen. Courtesy of Dean Lahikainen; Richard J.S. Gutman. Courtesy of Richard J.S. Gutman; Theodore Ross with His Wife’s Spirit, 1862–1875. W.H. Mumler (1832-1884). Boston, Massachusetts. Gift of the Supreme Council, 85.80.25c; Yosemite National Park, California, January 2002. Quang-Tuan Luong. © by the artist; Train Show. National Heritage Museum.

Dressing Up Like a Crusader: Knights of the Golden Eagle


The Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives has hundreds of regalia catalogs, for both Masonic and other fraternal groups.  The image on the left is one example of an illustrated catalog for the Knights of the Golden Eagle.  These catalogs provide images, descriptions, and prices for regalia. The Museum's curators often use these catalogs to identify fraternal costumes and accessories, including coats, trousers, chapeaus, swords, belts, badges, in addition to other lodge supplies. This particular regalia catalog was published by Louis E. Stilz & Bro. of Philadelphia in 1906.

Examples of the coats and chapeaus for the Knights of the Golden Eagle can be seen below.  The regalia of the Knights of the Golden Eagle was influenced by the style of Civil War uniforms and the Knights Templar uniforms. KGE_coat

The Knights of the Golden Eagle is a fraternal benefit society founded in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1873.  At the peak of membership in 1900, this organization was active in 20 states with approximately 20,000 members. It began to decline about 1943-1944, during World War II. Some historians believed that this fraternal organization had become extinct.  This is untrue and this group was still active in 2001 in three states:  New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.  One of their charities is maintaining scholarships for college students. Another focus of the organization is to provide mutual relief for its members in finding employment, as well as relief during sickness or death and providing for widows. The headquarters for the Knights of the Golden Eagle has moved from Philadelphia to Wales and back to Pennsylvania at Doylestown. Many of their lodge (or "castle") minute books are in a collection at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

A2010_29_1_DS_chapeauThis Knights of the Golden Eagle bases its ritual and ceremonies on the pageantry of medieval Crusaders. Unsurprisingly, the themes of the the three degree rituals - Pilgrims (or Golden Chain), Knights, and Crusaders - emphasize the Crusades from a Christian point of view.  The Knights of the Golden Eagle maintained Commanderies that were organized in a very similar manner to the Knights of Pythias and Knights Templar. 

Image Captions:

Illustrated Catalogue of Uniforms for the Knights of the Golden Eagle, Louis E. Stilz & Bro. Co., Philadelphia, 1906, cover, p.4, and p.9, Museum purchase, A2010/29/1

All Dressed Up: The Loyal Order of Moose

2009_045_1DP1 Is this a theater troupe? A group photo at a costume party? Neither – it’s a photograph of members of a fraternal group, dressed in costume for a ritual. Judging by the moose-shaped pendants that they wear, these men probably belonged to the local Loyal Order of Moose lodge in Maynard, Massachusetts.

Originally founded in 1888 in Louisville, Kentucky, the Loyal Order of Moose offered sick benefits to members and worked to construct a school in Illinois to provide vocational training for orphaned children of members. Today, the fraternity has almost 800,000 members in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Bermuda.

Unfortunately, the National Heritage Museum does not have any Moose costumes in its collection. So, if you have any regalia or items associated with the Loyal Order of Moose and would consider making them a donation to the Museum, please post a comment below or contact us by phone or email.

Fraternal Group, ca. 1915, George D. Elson, Maynard, Massachusetts, National Heritage Museum collection, Museum Purchase, 2009.045.1.  Photograph by David Bohl. 

New to the Collection: Masonic Protective Association Fobs

2009_048_4DS1 Recently, the National Heritage Museum was given not one, but two interesting fobs, both with identical text: “The Masonic Protective Assoc’n.  Worcester, Mass.  Pays Sickness and Accident Indemnity to Masons Only.  Telegraph this Number to the M.P.A.  It Will Identify Me If Injured or Unconscious.”  And, both fobs have a five-digit number, one is 28298 and the other is 69147.  Unfortunately, we no longer know who originally owned either fob.

Back in the early 1900s, these fobs allowed members of the Masonic Protective Association (MPA) to indicate that they had insurance in case of injury or death.  Formed in 1895 in Worcester, Massachusetts, the company operated as a mutual cooperative, selling to Freemasons only.  The company offered accident, disability and life insurance at a time when few employees had sufficient insurance through their job.  2009_039_27DS1

In 1930, the Paul Revere Corporation was formed as a subsidiary to the MPA to expand its business beyond selling to Freemasons, but by 1966, the MPA was “retired” and the former subsidiary bought out its parent company.  Today, Unum owns what was once the MPA.

If you will be visiting the Museum in the next couple of months (it’s now September 2010), be sure to stop by our display of recent acquisitions in the lobby – one of the fobs is on view until late 2010.  And, if you have one of these fobs yourself – or know a story about them or the company, please leave a comment below!

UPDATE - April 2013 - As you will see in the comments below, many people have written to let us know that they have a fob - we love hearing from you!  Many of those who have left comments have asked if there is a way to match the number on the fob to the name of a person.  Unfortunately, there is no centralized list allowing us to match the numbers to policyholders. It requires identifying the company that originally produced the fob, figuring out whether they are still in business (perhaps under a different name) and then contacting them to find out what kind of corporate archives they maintain. I have not been successful in tracking down the people associated with any of our fobs. Regardless, these are interesting objects that help to remind us of how the insurance industry has evolved.  If anyone has had success with identifying a fob owner, let us know.  And, keep commenting to tell us about the fobs you find!

Masonic Protective Association fob, 1895-1922, Worcester, Massachusetts, gift of Gordon Lothrop, 2009.048.4. 

Masonic Protective Association fob, 1895-1922, Worcester, Massachusetts, gift of Jacques Noel Jacobsen Jr., 2009.039.27. 

People Who Love Masonic Libraries & Museums: Cedar Rapids in 1928 & 2008

1928_Masonic_Librarians_Cedar_Rapids_web Beginning in 1928 with the first Conference of Masonic Students and Librarians and continuing throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, professional librarians and their avocational counterparts have met to discuss issues and present papers relevant to Masonic libraries.

Librarians from Masonic libraries had no doubt met informally in small groups previous to 1928, but it was during that year that the first documented meeting of librarians from Masonic libraries took place. In May 1928, the first Conference of Masonic Librarians was held at the Iowa Masonic Library at the Grand Lodge of Iowa, in Cedar Rapids (see photo above). The conference was realized through the efforts of Robert I. Clegg and J. Hugo Tatsch, two prominent early twentieth-century figures in Masonic librarianship. Twenty-eight people attended the conference. Although the minutes were not printed, an abstract of the meeting makes clear that some of the topics discussed were of a very practical nature. William L. Boyden presented a paper entitled “The Operation of a Masonic Library,” in which he drew on his thirty-four years of experience as librarian for the Supreme Council 33° Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction in Washington, DC. Other papers delivered at this first conference addressed “the problems of the smaller library,” focusing on the Los Angeles Masonic Library; library classification which was “informally discussed... in a separate room by those familiar with the technical operation of a library”; Masonic “traveling libraries”; and a talk on “Masonic Journalism” delivered by James A. Fetterly, whose “remarks were interspersed with amusing and witty comments.”

Mlma_2008participants_fs Exactly eighty years later, in 2008, a group of people devoted to Masonic libraries and museums again met at the Iowa Masonic Library and Museum in Cedar Rapids. Founded in 1995, the Masonic Library and Museum Association (MLMA) held its 2008 annual meeting in Iowa (see photo at right). The mission of MLMA is “to assist and support, through education, facilitation of communication, coordination of effort, and other means, those individuals charged with the collection, management, and preservation of the Masonic heritage.” Its members range from museum and library professionals who do this work for a living, to dedicated members of the fraternity who work voluntarily and have all different levels of experience. Membership in the MLMA is open to any person who expresses an interest in Masonic libraries or museums. Institutional membership is open to any Masonic body considered “regular” by most Grand Lodges in the United States.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is a proud member of this organization. Museum & Library staff attend the MLMA’s annual meeting and in 2006 co-hosted the meeting with the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts at the museum. Recent meetings were held at the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania's Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania (2007), the Grand Lodge of Iowa's Iowa Masonic Library and Museum (2008), and the Grand Lodge of California's Henry W. Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry (2009). This year’s meeting will be held October 21-23 in Alexandria, VA and Washington, DC, co-hosted by the George Washington Masonic Memorial, the Grand Lodge of Virginia Library, Museum & Historical Foundation, and The Library and Museum of the Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction.

Photo captions

Top: Photo of attendees of Conference of Masonic Librarians from Grand Lodge Bulletin, Volume 29, No. 5 (May 1928). Cedar Rapids: Grand Lodge of Iowa, 1928), p. 566.

Bottom: Photo of attendees of Masonic Library and Museum Association's annual meeting at the Iowa Masonic Library and Museum, Grand Lodge of Iowa, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Photo used by permission of MLMA)

Masonic Fun Down on the Boardwalk!

2009_034_2DP1 While the National Heritage Museum collects and appreciates formal photographs of Masonic and fraternal groups – see last week’s post on a photograph of the officers of Boston’s St. John’s Lodge – we have a soft spot for less formal images too.  So, when Carole Collins Slattery brought us this photograph of her father and some of his Masonic brothers walking along the boardwalk in Atlantic City, we were very excited.  If you look closely, the men are carrying their Masonic apron cases!  This is just the kind of object that helps us explore Freemasonry for our visitors – not just the rituals and formal activities, but the brotherhood that members feel for each other. 

Mrs. Slattery could also identify one of her father’s friends in this photo and passed along the information that the men were attending a Masonic meeting in Atlantic City when the photo was taken.  The photo was taken in 1952 when Mrs. Slattery’s father, Cecil L. Collins (1900-1979), was Master of Azure Lodge No. 129 in Cranford, New Jersey.  Collins is depicted second from the left in the photo.  The man to his right, with his coat open, is Harold “Pappy” Hansen.

Do you have any photographs showing more informal lodge events?  If so, let us know in a comment below!

Azure Lodge Members in Atlantic City, ca. 1952, Central Studios, Atlantic City, New Jersey, National Heritage Museum collection, gift of Carole Collins Slattery, 2009.034.2.  Photograph by David Bohl.