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December 2019

Recent Acquisitions: A Spanish-American War Commemorative Fan

2019_006_9DP1JF
Fan, ca.1898. United States. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gregory L. McKinley, 2019.006.9. Julia Featheringill Photography.

Manufacturers made a variety of political and military memorabilia in the late 1800s and early 1900s commemorating William Mckinley’s (1843-1901) presidency and the Spanish-American war (April 1898-August 1898). This 1900 fabric and wood fan featured black and white photographs of President William McKinley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), and seven U.S. naval military leaders who participated in the Spanish-American war, including Admiral George Dewey (1837-1917) and William Rufus Shafter (1835-1906), also known as “Pecos Bill.”

The United States won the brief conflict and effectively ended Spanish rule in the Americas. Their victory produced a peace treaty, in which Spain ceded control of Cuba and relinquished control of Guam and Puerto Rico to the United States. In this same treaty Spain also agreed to sell the Philippines to the United States for $20 million. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty on February 6, 1899, by only one vote. Author Cynthia Fendel noted that these popular patriotic photographic fans also sometimes featured McKinley’s presidential cabinet or the American and Cuban flags. 

This recently donated fan is part of a collection of nearly fifty campaign and memorial items related to President and Freemason William McKinley. Many of these items are currently on display at the Museum & Library. Visit our website to learn more about these items. 

References:


Cynthia Fendel, Novelty Hand Fans, Fashionable Functional Fun Accessories of the Past, (Dallas, TX: Hand Fan Productions, 2006).


Digital Collections Highlight: Frederick P. Wahlgren's life-long Masonic membership

A1996_041_9aDS1_webBetween 1902 and 1909, Frederick Peter Wahlgren (1859-1935) made a lifetime commitment to Freemasonry by paying for lifetime memberships in the eight different Masonic bodies of which he was a member. Wahlgren was a 24-year-old Swedish immigrant when he arrived in the United States in 1883. He owned a house painting business and lived in the Roslindale neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1899, at age 40, he became a Master Mason in Prospect Lodge in Roslindale. A few years later he joined all four Scottish Rite bodies in the Valley of Boston, as well as Boston's York Rite bodies.

A1996_041_6aDS1_webA small collection of certificates and receipts in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's collection show evidence of Wahlgren's decision to become a lifetime member of his Blue Lodge, all four subordinate bodies in the Scottish Rite, as well as all three subordinate bodies of the York Rite. By becoming a lifetime member in these organizations, Wahlgren paid a larger membership fee up front, with the guarantee that he would not have to pay any other membership fees for the rest of his life. One receipt in the collection shows that in 1902 Wahlgren paid $180 to become a lifetime member of all four subordinate bodies in the Valley of Boston: Lafayette Lodge of Perfection, Mount Olivet Chapter Rose Croix, Giles F. Yates Council Princes of Jerusalem, and Massachusetts Consistory. Wahlgren received attractive lifetime membership certificates for each of the four bodies, two of which are shown here. In 1904, he became a life member of the York Rite bodies and, finally, in 1909, he became a life member of Prospect Lodge.

How were the life membership fees calculated? In 1900, the Massachusetts Council of Deliberation unanimously adopting a resolution which stated that

the minimum fee for life membership in any of the subordinate bodies shall be fifteen times the annual fee of that body, and shall in no case be less than thirty dollars in a Lodge of Perfection, a Council of Princes of Jerusalem, and a Chapter of Rose Croix; nor less than forty-five dollars in Massachusetts Consistory, provided, however, that in the Consistory, the fee for the life membership of a member who resides more than ten miles from Boston shall be ten dollars less than the fee herein established.

The 1900 resolution further mandated that the total fee to belong to all four Scottish Rite bodies in the Valley of Boston should be no less than $135. Two years later, Wahlgren paid $180. Nonetheless, it still would have made financial sense for Wahlgren to pay the fee, as he lived for another 33 years. Wahlgren died on April 30, 1935, just four days after his wife, Ida S. (Dufva) Wahlgren (1855-1935). His lifetime commitment to Freemasonry is evidenced by the life member certificates he was issued. We have digitized and made available most of the Frederick Peter Wahlgren certificates in our collection. You can view them at our Digital Collections website, along with hundreds of other documents that we have digitized and made available.

Captions:

Life membership certificate issued by Massachusetts Consistory to Fredrick Peter Wahlgren, 1903. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Gift of Mrs. Lucian D. Warner, A1996/041/009a.

Life membership certificate issued by Boston Lafayette Lodge of Perfection to Fredrick Peter Wahlgren, 1903. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Gift of Mrs. Lucian D. Warner, A1996/041/006a.