« April 2013 | Main | June 2013 »

May 2013

Call for Papers - April 2014 Symposium - Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism

UN2000_0131_49DS1The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library announces a call for papers for its symposium, “Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism,” to be held on Friday, April 11, 2014, at the Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is an American history museum founded and supported by Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States. As the repository of one of the largest collections 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 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; proposals are invited from a broad range of research areas, including history, material and visual culture, anthropology, sociology, literary studies and criticism, gender studies, political science, African American studies, art history, economics, or any combination of disciplines. 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.

Proposal Format: Submit 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, Ph.D., Director of Collections, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, by email at anewell[at]monh.org or by mail to 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA 02421. Deadline for proposals to be received is September 3, 2013.

For more information about the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, see www.nationalheritagemuseum.org. For questions, contact Aimee E. Newell as above, or call 781-457-4144.

Masonic Magic Lantern Slide – Master Mason’s Lodge, 1880-1900, American, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Collection, UN2000.0131.49.


Five years of blogging - and another Masonic impostor

MasonicImposter_Engle_smallerOur blog turns five years old this month and, in keeping with our previous anniversary posts, we take yet another look at a Masonic impostor.

This year we feature Albert B. Engle. The brief description under his photograph in the Album of Masonic Impostors reads, in part, "It was with the greatest of difficulty we obtained even this picture. In his tramping about, is accompanied by two sons. He has served several sentences for obtaining money from Masons by false pretences."

The October 1902 issue of the Quarterly Bulletin of the Iowa Masonic Library featured a short article on Engle, titled "An Imposter in Iowa," which reported that Engle had been active in Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. The Bulletin article reports that he was arrested and charged with obtaining money under false pretences. (You can read the whole article here.)

Engle appears to have been active - and on the move - for quite some time. A Los Angeles newspaper item from 1909 - seven years after the Iowa article mentioned above - reported that Albert B. Engle and his sons, Henry and William, had been sent to the county workhouse for vagrancy. The article states that "According to Detectives Boyd and Jones, who made the arrests, the trio have been beating their way from eastern cities to Los Angeles on the plea that they are Masons who had been held up and robbed of all their money and playing upon the sympathies of Masons for financial reasons. (You can read the whole article here.)

If you want to learn more about Masonic impostors and the Album of Masonic Impostors, just check out our previous posts on the topic, which we link to in the first paragraph above.

[Portrait of Albert B. Engle, in] General Masonic Relief Association of the United States and Canada. Album of Masonic Impostors. New York: Press of Eclipse Printing Co., 1903.
Call number: 19.78 .A345 1903

New to the Collection: Tall Cedars of Lebanon Sign

2012_056DP1DBAs regular readers of our blog know, we add to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection every year. While we primarily rely on the generosity of donors who have or find an interesting object that fits our collecting parameters, we do have a small acquisitions budget that allows us to purchase a few items each year. This sign is one of our recent purchases. We were the successful bidder at an auction last November.

The plaster sign, cast in the shape of a moon, with facial features, includes a Tall Cedars of Lebanon hat, known as a pyramid because of its shape. The Tall Cedars is part of the Masonic fraternity. The group seeks to promote a stronger bond with all Freemasons and to further the goals of Freemasonry, to help find a cure for Muscular Dystrophy and neuromuscular diseases, and to recognize the need for fun and relaxation.

Since the pyramid on the sign is marked “Baltimore T.C.L.,” it seems likely that the sign was created in 1929 when the Tall Cedars of Lebanon Annual Supreme Forest Convention (their annual meeting) was held in that city. The Tall Cedars of Lebanon was formally established in 1902 in Trenton, New Jersey. Initially, the group existed only in the United States, but in 1971, a Tall Cedars Forest (like a lodge) was instituted in Canada.

If you know of any accounts or photos of the 1929 Supreme Forest Convention in Baltimore, please let us know in a comment below!

Tall Cedars of Lebanon Winking Moon Sign, ca. 1929, unidentified maker, United States. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Purchase, 2012.056. Photograph by David Bohl.

Nicolas Robinot, Charles DeValois and Loge Saint Edoüard

A2013_4_1DS1_Loge Saint EdouardAs I was cataloging recently, I came upon a very early manuscript book of Regulations of the Venerable Loge Saint Edoüard. The manuscript is dated 1748 and contains information about a Masonic lodge which was located in Paris, France. According to French historian Alain Bihan, it was a very early lodge that could have received its constitution and regulations from the Grande Loge de France. Freemasonry was introduced to Paris about 1725 from England, although the official history of the Grand Lodge of France didn't begin until 1743. 

The lodge members list included in this manuscript gives members names, occupations, and street addresses in Paris. The list reveals that lodge members had diverse occupations: doctors, notaries, painters, professors and many members who were noblemen or had royal positions. These royal positions included Turaut who was Apothecary to the king, Martinet who was a noblemen and valet to the king, and Jandin who was Interpreter of the Affairs of the king. Some are listed as just gentlemen or "Bourgeois de Paris" meaning they came from a very  privileged class of people. Other Masonic members held military posts such as De St. Martin who is described as "Chevalier de l'ordre Militaire de Louis Amien Brigadier de Mousquetaires". Translated  from the French this means that this Mason held a very elite position as Knight of King Louis XV in the Amien Brigade of Musketeers. This certainly was an elite and bourgeois group of Masons.

The "Très Venerable Mâitre" of this lodge was Nicolas Robinot (b. 1713/active 1748-1765). He was an "Ecuyer, Conseilleur secrétaire du Roi, maison et couronne de France et de ses finances", translated to English he was a Nobleman and Secretary and Finance Minister to the King of France, Louis XV (1710-1774) . Robinot was the son of Nicolas Robinot (1679-1735) who held the position of Secretary to the king before him. The "Secrétaire" of the lodge was Charles DeValois (active 1748-1765). He certified the text of the regulations. He was an "Ecuyer" or nobleman.

Robinot and DeValois were also a members of the Ordre de la Coignée, another fraternal order in Paris. Robinot held the position of "Second Inspecteur" and DeValois held the position of "Perpetuel Secrétaire".  Like the Loge Saint Edoüard, the Ordre de la Coignée was composed of elite members of French society.                                                                                                      A2013_4_1DS2_Loge Saint Edouard


Reglements de la très Venerable Loge St. Edoüard, Paris, 1748.  Scottish  Rite Masonic Museum and Library, A2013/4/1.


Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, 1927, v. 40, p. 94, 104-105.

Coil, Henry Wilson. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia. Richmond, VA: Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., 1995, p. 258-262. 

Le Bihan, Alain. Loges et Chapitres de la Grand Loge et du Grand Orient de France. Paris: Bibiothèque Nationale, 1967, p. vii-xv, p. 128-130.