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June 2013

New to the Collection: Modern Woodmen of America Banner

2012_016_1DP2DBThe Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently added a collection of Modern Woodmen of America objects and documents to its holdings, including this banner. As we explained in a previous post, banners were an important component of American fraternal activities. These colorful textiles were used inside lodges and also in public parades, at cornerstone layings and at other ceremonies. This banner was originally used by Modern Woodmen’s Belknap Camp in Tilton, New Hampshire. Unfortunately, we know little about the history of this camp today. A photograph from our collection, showing a Modern Woodmen of America drill team from an unknown location, shows that fraternal groups often included their banners when they posed for a formal picture. 2003_022_1DS1

As mentioned in previous posts, Joseph Cullen Root founded the Modern Woodmen of America in 1883 in Lyons, Iowa, as a fraternal benefit society. The organization’s rituals and symbols mixed “Roman dignity and forest freedom.” By 1910, the Modern Woodmen numbered one million members. Today, the Modern Woodmen of America are the third largest fraternal benefit society in the United States and count more than 773,000 members.

References:

Barbara Franco, Fraternally Yours: A Decade of Collecting, Lexington, MA: Scottish Rite Masonic Museum of Our National Heritage, 1986.

Albert C. Stevens, The Cyclopedia of Fraternities, New York: E.B. Treat and Company, 1907.

Modern Woodmen of America Banner, 1890-1930, unidentified maker, United States. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase through the generosity of Louis L. Williams, 2012.016.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

Members of Modern Woodmen of America Camp 7742, 1895-1920, unidentified photographer, United States. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, 2003.022.1. Photograph by David Bohl.


Museum Staff Attend ICHF Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland

Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library staff members Aimee Newell, Hilary Anderson Stelling, and Catherine Swanson attended the ICHF conference in Edinburgh, Scotland from May 24 through May 26, 2013.  This was an extraordinary opportunity to hear the latest scholarship on the history of Freemasonry.  The location was  ideal--being held in Edinburgh, Scotland this year. 

Papers were delivered at the Grand Lodge of Scotland (as seen above).  Aimee Newell, Director of Collections, and Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Exhibitions, gave papers.  All three attended lecture sessions and networked with colleagues from around the world. 

Newell and Stelling presented their papers on the first day of the conference as part of a session focusing on American Freemasonry. 

Newell's paper was entitled, "A Ludicrous Affair:  Harmonic Lodge and Boston Freemasonry in the 1790s."  Using Harmonic Lodge as a case study, Newell explored how the internal dissent in Boston Freemasonry during the 1790s.  In 1797, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts voted to revoke the charter of Harmonic Lodge because of improper behavior, with Grand Master Paul Revere (1734-1818) voting "Yes" and Isaiah Thomas voting "No."  During the 1790s the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was trying to establish its authority and this act can be seen as an attempt to maintain a sense of order within the fraternity. Newell gave convincing evidence of this during her presentation. For two years after the incident with Harmonic Lodge, starting in 1798, no new lodges were chartered in Massachusetts. 

Stelling's paper was entitled, "Elucidating the Various Masonic Emblems:  The Influence of Jeremy Cross and Amos Doolittle's Engravings on Nineteenth Century American Masonic Material and Visual Culture."  She examined the creative collaboration between Jeremy Cross (1783-1860) and Amos Doolittle (1754-1832) in making The True Masonic Chart or Hieroglyphic Monitor and the influence their work had on shaping visual expression in America.  Through extensive analysis of objects, Cross's diary, correspondence, and Masonic publications from the 1800s, Stelling gave a compelling argument for Cross and Doolittle's long-term impact.

The highlights of the conference for Swanson were attending keynote addresses on "The Rise and Fall of Empires: Britain's and the UGLE's Compared" by J. W. Daniel (United Kingdom) and "The Rituals of the Union" by Jan Snoek (Netherlands).  Among the sessions she attended were "The Royal Arch and the 1813 English Union," "Freemasonry in Scotland," and "Enlightenment Visions of Masonry" which were all illuminating.  She enjoyed meeting scholars including Diane Clements, Director, Susan Snell, Archivist, and Martin Cherry, Librarian, from the Library and Museum of the United Grand Lodge of England.

 

 

 


Astronaut John Glenn's Scottish Rite Ring

Glenn Ring Front2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Scottish Rite’s Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (see these posts for more information on the history of the Scottish Rite). The Jurisdiction’s Supreme Council founded the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in 1975. To celebrate, we are presenting a new exhibition, “A Sublime Brotherhood: Two Hundred Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.”

Opening June 15, 2013, the exhibition uses more than 100 objects and images to tell the story of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. While most people assume that the Scottish Rite began in Scotland, it was actually founded in France in the mid-1700s. Early groups met in the West Indies, eventually taking root in New York, New Orleans, and Philadelphia. Glenn Ring Inside

Among the objects on view is the 33rd degree ring originally owned by astronaut and Freemason John H. Glenn Jr. (b. 1921). The first American to orbit the earth, in 1962, Glenn circled the planet three times in the Mercury capsule Friendship 7. After retiring from the Marine Corps in 1965, Glenn pursued his interest in politics. Starting in 1974, he served Ohio for four consecutive terms in the United States Senate. The Grand Master of Ohio made John Glenn a Mason at sight in 1978. In 1998, soon after Glenn received the Scottish Rite’s 33rd degree, conferred on selected members as a high honor, he wore this ring when he returned to space in the shuttle Discovery.  On the journey he became the oldest American to participate in a NASA mission.

Starting Saturday, June 15, 2013, the exhibition will be open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On June 15, 2013, at 2 p.m., Aimee E. Newell, the museum’s Director of Collections and curator of the exhibition, will give a gallery talk. Please visit www.nationalheritagemuseum.org for more information.

Scottish Rite 33rd Degree Ring, 1998, Irons and Russell Company, New York, NY, gift of John H. Glenn Jr. in memory and honor of Vern Riffe, a good friend, 33° Mason, and the longest serving Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives in history, 2000.018a. Photographs by David Bohl.


New Book: Curiosities of the Craft Available Now!

Curiosities CoverThe Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts and the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library have partnered to produce Curiosities of the Craft: Treasures from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Collection.

On July 30, 1733, Henry Price (1697-1780), appointed by the Grand Lodge of England, gathered his Masonic brothers at a Boston tavern and formed what would become known as the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts.  Over the following 280 years, the Grand Lodge withstood wars, anti-Masonic sentiment and fires.  At the same time, the Grand Lodge amassed a collection of Masonic and historic objects, mementos and documents that tell not only its story, but also the story of Boston, New England and the United States.

Drawing on new research by authors Aimee E. Newell, Hilary Anderson Stelling and Catherine Compton Swanson, the book includes over 130 highlights from the Grand Lodge collection of more than 10,000 items acquired since 1733.  These objects represent the rich heritage of Freemasonry in Massachusetts and tell stories of life in the fraternity, in the state and around the world.  Some items were made or used by Massachusetts Masons, while others have associations with famous American Freemasons, such as George Washington (1732-1799) and Paul Revere (1734-1818).

Introduced with a history of the Grand Lodge collection, the catalog treats the themes of Traditions and Roots, Ritual and Ceremony, Gifts and Charity, Brotherhood and Community, and Memory and Commemoration.  Through the treasures of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts collection, this publication explores the ordinary men, craftsmen and extraordinary leaders who built and sustained Freemasonry in Massachusetts for centuries.

To purchase the catalogue for $44.95 (plus sales tax and shipping), contact the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts at 617-426-6040 or order online at www.massfreemasonry.org.

 


1863 Charter for Boston Council, Princes of Jerusalem

1.14 SC038DP1DB_webThis charter, one of many in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, created the Boston Council, Princes of Jerusalem, on March 11, 1863. While the Boston Council was successful, it existed for less than a decade. Why is that?

In 1871, just eight years after they were founded, the Boston Council united with the Giles F. Yates Council, also of Boston. Members of the Boston Council were received as full members and the charter seen here was surrendered. The years immediately following the "Union of 1867" - which united two previously competing Supreme Councils in the Northeast, and forming the present-day Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction - saw the consolidation of a number of subordinate bodies as the harmony that came with the union also brought with it the existence of multiple subordinate bodies in close proximity. This was especially true in cities such as Boston, where both previously competing Scottish Rite organizations flourished.

The charter is signed by both Winslow Lewis (1799-1875), in his capacity of Secretary General for the Supreme Council, and Killian H. Van Rensselaer (1800–1881), in his capacity as Sovereign Grand Commander.

Among the founding members listed on the charter is Nathaniel B. Shurtleff (1810-1874), who served as Mayor of Boston from 1868-1870, and who was an early trustee of Boston Public Library.

1.14 SC038DP1DB_seal_detailThe charter contains a vibrant, red wax seal (at right - click on the image for greater detail), which reads Supreme Council XXXIII - Deus Meumque Jus [a Latin phrase which is the motto of the Scottish Rite's 33rd degree and which translates to "God and My Right"]. In the center is the familiar image of the double-headed eagle, below which is the latitude coordinate 42° 21' 22", which refers to the Van Rensselaer-led Supreme Council's "Grand East" being in Boston, Massachusetts.

Caption:

Charter, Boston Council, Princes of Jerusalem, 1863. Signed by Killian H. van Rensselaer, Boston, Massachusetts. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, SC 038. Photograph by David Bohl.