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February 2014

Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History - Our New Lecture Series

A Plan of the Action at Bunkers Hill 1775We are pleased to announce the Museum's new lecture series: “Speaking of Maps: An Exploration of Cartography and History.” In the Spring and Fall of 2014, we will offer a series of programs related to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library’s collection of historic maps. Click here to see the most up-to-date topics, speakers, and dates. All programs are free to the public once again thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation.

Maps were among the first objects that the Museum collected after its founding in 1975. Our collection holds maps dating from the 17th century to the present. Using this collection as a touchstone, the series reflects current research that helps us grasp the value of historical cartography. In addition, we don't want to miss the oppportunty to explore the new digital technologies that are changing the nature of maps and enhancing our ability to create them. We hope you are as eager as we are to delve into the past worlds historic maps describe and forge paths to the new ones that digital mapping promises to chart.

Here are the first four programs in the series. Three focus on the use and production of maps in the 1700s, when North America was a theatre where conflict between great European powers played out and colonists suddenly stepped onto the stage to change the course of history. Our image above shows a strikingly detailed map of the British "intrenchments" during the siege of Boston (April 1775-March 1776). This map will be on view in the "Journeys and Discoveries: The Stories Maps Tell" gallery through April 5 - don't miss your chance to see it and many more fascinating witnesses to history. The second half of our maps lecture series will commence in September, 2014 - stay tuned!

On Saturday, March 15, at 2 p.m., Matthew Edney, Osher Professor, History of Cartography, Univ. of Southern Maine will present a talk entitled: General Hugh, Earl Percy's Use of the Map of New England during the American Revolution. How did British officers know the landscape of New England at the start of the revolution, whether strategically, tactically, or logistically? This lecture considers the evidence provided by the annotations made on Hugh, Earl Percy's personal copy of the standard map of New England, together with the variety of maps available in the period, to outline the distinct kinds of geographical knowledge possessed by the British military in Boston in 1774-1775.

On the same Saturday, March 15, we've planned a 12 noon gallery tour of "Journeys and Discoveries: The Stories Maps Tell" in anticipation of Matthew Edney’s lecture at 2 PM. Polly Kienle, Public Programs Coordinator, will focus the tour on some of the Revolutionary War-era maps from the Museum’s collection. While London mapmakers published views of the American colonies and towns where British soldiers and colonists fought for territory, other maps of North America reflected power struggles between European nations as well as Native American nations’ lessening influence on the continent.

Melinda Kashuba of Shasta College will join us on Saturday, April 12, at 2 p.m. for the series' second talk. Her topic will be: Organizing Wonder: Using Maps in Family History Research. From sixteenth century maps depicting the location of Irish clans to maps of DNA test results showing ancient migration patterns, family historians use maps in many ways to tell the story of their ancestries. No longer content to use maps for reference, modern genealogists create maps using a variety of software products and social media to research and share their ancestries. Join Melinda Kashuba and explore the wide range of maps family historians employ to research and document their families’ story. You may be inspired to start mapping your own family's journey. After the lecture, the presenter will offer an informal discussion with interested audience members.

For our final spring map lecture, we will welcome David Bosse, Librarian and Curator of Maps, Historic Deerfield, to the Museum & Library on Saturday, June 7. His 2 p.m. presentation will be on: Map and Chart Publishing in Boston in the 18th Century. For much of the 18th century, map publishing in America was a financially precarious undertaking. The same held true in Boston, where individuals from many walks of life ventured into commercial map-making.  This lecture explores the work of several Boston mapmakers during this period of ad-hoc publishing.

For further information, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or check our website: www.monh.org.

Image credit:

A Plan of the Town of Boston with the Intrenchments & c..., 1777. Surveyed by Thomas Hyde Page (1746-1821). Printed by William Faden (1749-1836). Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives, 073-86.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Nathaniel Hyatt's Mark Medal--New to the Collection

2013-54-2 Hyatt mark sideAs regular readers of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library blog know, we love to talk about new acquisitions.  Recently we were lucky to add another intriguing mark medal to our collection, this one likely made for Nathaniel Hyatt (1781-1873) of New Castle, New York.  You can read previous posts discussing mark medals crafted for Frederick Phile, Ezra Bennet and Ezekiel Bascom.   

Hyatt’s medal is a plain circle, about two inches in diameter.  A hole punched in a sturdy tab at the top of the medal likely accommodated a loose ring so the silver disk could be suspended from a ribbon.  On both sides of the medal, simple engraved patterns decorate the outer edge.  On one side, pictured to the left, the mnemonic HTWSSTKS, engraved in script letters, surrounds Hyatt’s personally selected mark, a square and compasses on top of an open Bible.  The other side of the disk, illustrated below at right, bears Hyatt’s name, the name of a Masonic lodge--Armour’s Lodge No. 100--and a sun with a face enclosed by a delta.

Information about Armour’s Lodge No. 100 or any mark lodge associated with it, is scarce.  Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York, note that Armour Lodge, located in Rye, New York, received a warrant in 1803.  Members named their organization after one of the petitioners, Samuel Armour (dates unknown).  The lodge made its last return to the Grand Lodge in 1827.  In that same year, a New York City directory listed Armour Lodge as meeting in Sawpits, a village of Rye.  By 1834 the lodge had forfeited its charter.  (Later New York Masons revived the name for a lodge in Port Chester, Armour Lodge No. 186, founded in 1850.)  Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of New York record that in 1818 members of the Armour Lodge submitted a “…petition for Armour Mark Lodge, No. 100, [which] was not proper either in form, address or recommendation, and should be returned.”  From the proceedings, it does not seem that the petition was re-submitted. Although the records in the Grand Chapter Proceedings are not clear,  Hyatt’s medal, bearing the name of the lodge, suggests Armour Lodge members eventually established a mark lodge. 2013-54-2 Hyatt name side

The 1830 census lists a Nathaniel Hyatt as a resident of Rye, New York, with a family of seven children. This man likely owned the medal and is quite possibly the man listed in an online resource, Craft Masonry in Westchester and Putnam Counties, New York, as a member of Hiram Lodge No. 72 in Mount Pleasant, New York, along with his father, Abraham Hyatt (1747-1830).  Abraham Hyatt signed the original petition for the lodge in 1796.  Nathaniel Hyatt (son of Abraham) and his wife, Amy Van Wart Carpenter Hyatt (ca. 1786-1848) were Quakers who married and worshiped in Chappaqua, New York.  Both born in New Castle, New York; they had at least nine children. 

Hopefully, further research will add to our understanding of the commissioner of this medal, his Masonic participation and the lodges he belonged to.  In the meantime, Hyatt’s handsome silver token offers enduring evidence of Armour Lodge No. 100 and one of its members. 

Photo credits:

Mark Medal, 1803-1827. Probably New York, Museum Purchase, 2013.054.2. Photos by David Bohl.


Compiled by Gary L. Heinmiller, Craft Masonry in Westchester and Putnam Counties, New York.  (Onondaga & Oswego Masonic Districts Historical Societies, May 2011).

Harold W. Jack, Mark Lodges of New England.  (Boston, Massachusetts:  The Massachusetts Chapter of Research, 1976).

Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the State of New York, Volume 1. 1798-1853. (Buffalo, New York:  Grand Chapter, 1871).

Transactions of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, 1816-1827.  (New York: Masonic Publishing and Furnishing Co., 1880).


Melvin M. Johnson's 1949 South American Diary

South American Diary original coverAt the 1948 Annual Meeting of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's Supreme Council, the Committee on Foreign Relations recommended that then-Sovereign Grand Commander Melvin M. Johnson (1871–1957) "consider making at trip of visitation into South and Central America to study at first hand Masonic conditions there and to report his findings to the Supreme Council..."

Commander Johnson took up the recommendation of the Committee and, on February 25, 1949, Johnson, accompanied by Ralph Sleeper, boarded the S.S. Uruguay in New York City for an official Masonic visit to Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. The trip took nearly ten weeks and is well documented by a diary that Johnson kept of the journey.

South American Diary published coverThe Supreme Council published a transcription of Johnson's diary in the form of a 66 page booklet (pictured at right). In it, Johnson records his observations both on board ship and while on land. He makes mention of the many Masonic dignitaries he met with and also gives his impressions of the various cities and countries he visited.

In addition to the published diary, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library also has the original diary (above left). The original diary is typescript in a three-ring binder, with some corrections and annotations made in Johnson's hand. To call it a diary doesn't quite do it justice since it's part diary and part scrapbook, containing quite a bit of ephemera that Johnson collected or produced while on the trip. The binder contains photographs, event programs, Masonic certificates, and other material that all help give a much fuller picture of his trip.

Below are two photos from the original diary, which document Johnson visiting the Grand Orient of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on March 18, 1949.

Johnson champagne toast

In the diary, Johnson describes the reception he received at the Grand Orient:

"When we arrived at the Masonic Temple, a band in the courtyard was playing our National anthem. We were escorted upstairs where we were most formally received by the Grand Master, Joaquim Rodrigues Neves, the other officers and guests. Our National anthem was again played. Then the Grand Master and I toasted each other with champagne and then broke the glasses. Next, the glove ceremony was enacted. This comes from the old English custom which required the initiate to present a pair of gloves to each member of the Lodge. The Temple was packed with brethren, probably 250 to 300. There was pomp and ceremony ad infinitum!...There were lavish floral decorations everywhere. Address after address was made, each being translated from Portuguese into English....Following my response to the numerous addresses, each brother was served champagne and we toasted each other. I have never before experienced such an elaborate reception. Photographs galore were taken throughout the evening; and it must have been 100° in the lodge room. However, I was grateful that I had the strength to go through with it."

Johnson in Masters Chair


Captions (top to bottom):

Diary of Melvin M. Johnson - Trip to Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina (February 25 - May 3, 1949), MM017.

Melvin Maynard Johnson. A South American Diary, February 25 - May 3, 1949. [Boston: Supreme Council, NMJ, 1950(?)]
Call number: 17.980 .J65 1949

Photograph of champagne toast between Melvin M. Johnson and Joaquim Rodrigues Neves, 1949.

Photograph of Melvin M. Johnson (seated) and members and visitors of Grand Orient of Brazil, 1949.

Family Programs during February Vacation

We have some engaging family programming coming up during February vacation. Get out your calendar - we hope to see you at the Museum!

Game of the StatesBring family and friends to see how fascinating maps can be in our next school vacation family program. “Mapping Our World” will be held Wednesday, February 19 from 2:00-3:30 pm. Start with an exploration of the “Journeys and Discoveries: The Stories Maps Tell” gallery and see how maps are made and what they tell us. Then, participants will work together on some hands-on mapping activities. Get ready for something different – you may be surprised at what maps can do!

The program is appropriate for ages 8 through adult. This approximately 1.5 hour program wil cost $6/family (members); $9/family (non-members). No registration is necessary.

Don’t forget this annual favorite! NTRAK Model Train Show on Saturday, Feb. 15 (10 AM – 4:30 PM) and Sunday, Feb. 16 (Noon – 4 PM). Admission: $5/individual; $5/family (members of either organization); $7/family (non-members). See our previous post for more information.

Since spring is just around the corner (though it may seem hard to believe at the moment), we'd like to let you know about the two family programs we have planned for April vacation:

Get to Know Our Flag on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 1:00 PM & 2:30 PM

This family program explores the origins, history, legends and myths of the American flag. With the Museum’s historically significant 15-star flag as a backdrop, participants will enjoy hands-on activities. Bring family and friends to discover some surprising April flag history. $5/family (members); $7/family (non-members). No registration necessary for this approximately one-hour program.

The Lexington Alarm on Thursday, April 24, 2014, 2 PM

Each year at this time, the Museum displays an exciting piece of American history, the Lexington Alarm Letter. Written on April 19, 1775 by a citizen of Watertown to notify the American colonies near and far that war had begun, the letter still conveys the urgency of the shocking news. Families are invited to work together on hands-on, minds-on activities that explore the moment and the world in which this document was set down. Appropriate for ages 8 through adult. $6/family (members); $9/family (non-members). No registration necessary for this approximately 1.5 hour program.

Photo credit:

Game of the States, ca. 1960.  Manufactured by the Milton Bradley Company, Springfield, Massachusetts. Gift of Mrs. John Willey, 2006.026.2. Photograph by David Bohl.

Model Trains at the Museum, Feb. 15 & 16


The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library launches February School Vacation Week with a weekend filled with model railroading fun. The Northeast Ntrak Modular Railroad Club will be running its trains through its modular display at the Museum Saturday, February 15 from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 16 from 12 noon-4:00 p.m. Admission to the train display is $5/individual ($3 for members of either organization) and $7/family ($5 for families with membership to either organization).

The Ntrak trains are smaller in size than traditional model trains, but are just as much fun. Because the scale is smaller, the landscapes the trains travel through encompass more. The show features an enormous bridge, train yards, and a spectacular cliff face with multiple tunnels running in and out of the rocks. Trains climb mountain passes, shunt freight cars, and use branch lines to pick up and set out cars at the many industries and stations along the way.

2010_02_14_0237_CroppedA highlight of the dipslay is a model of the Zakim Bridge (see photo). Constructing the bridge took John Dunne three months; his efforts won him a first prize at the Springfield train show. Dunne, who has been building NTRAK for 40 years, notes, “If I built that bridge in HO (scale), it would be 32 feet long.”

Watch this video about the Ntrak show, recorded by the Lexington Minuteman newspaper.

For further information contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or visit www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.


The Whitney Valentine Company

George C WhitneyThis valentine (at the left) is shown in the display "Victorian Valentines:  From England to America" on view at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library in Lexington, Massachusetts. It was created by the Whitney Valentine Company and is dated 1860-1875.

George Clarkson Whitney (1842-1915) began his career as an employee of Esther Allen Howland (1828-1904) making valentines.  In 1862, he signed up with the 51st Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, to fight in the Civil War.  By 1864, Whitney had been discharged from military service and joined his brother Edward and wife Lura Clark in the production of valentines.  At this  point they were advertising themselves as The Whitney Valentine Company.

By 1869, Edward left the company and George was in charge. He and his brothers ran the family business for many years.  George was aggressive and kept buying out his competitors.  For example, during the latter part of the 19th century he purchased the A. J. Fisher Company of New York and Esther Howland's New England Valentine Company of Worcester, Massachusetts.  By 1886, Whitney was producing his own paper, had machine dies, printing presses, and was mass producing valentines and other holiday cards.  He expanded his company and had branch offices in New York, Boston, and Chicago.

In the first decade of the 20th century, the Whitney Valentine Company grew to a large and properous concern, now called the George C. Whitney Company.  The style and sentiment of his cards changed dramatically.  One example is the card (shown below) which uses no paper lace and is made of paper stock or heavy cardboard.  The girl's bobbed hairstyle reflects the new century, much like the card itself.  It has a snappy greeting, "with oceans of love", rather than the sentimental poetry of the 19th century.  It bears the stamp "Whitney Made" on the back.

Every year, to celebrate Valentine's Day, we display a few examples from our collection of several hundred cards.  This year's selection of fifteen cards is on display in the museum lobby until March 5, 2014.  George C Whitney - 20th century example                                                                                                                                                                            



"Fly to me with love", Whitney Valentine Company, 1860-1875.  Gift of Naomi Keast, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, A79/001/6.

"With oceans of love", George C. Whitney Company, ca. 1910.  Gift of Robert W. Clarke in memory of Barbara M. Clarke, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, A94/090/1.





For Further Reading:


Shank, Barry. A Token of My Affection:  Greeting Cards and American Business Culture, New York:  Columbia University Press, 2004.

Call number: HD9839.G73 S43 2004