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"Down in a Shell Crater We Fought:" World War I Stereoviews

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"Down in a Shell Crater We Fought like Kilkenny Cats--The Battle of Cambrai," 1917. Keystone View Company, Meadville, Pennsylvania. Gift of Karen Jacobsen Lenthall, 2014.074.40.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The United States entered World War I, often referred to as “the war to end all wars,” on April 17, 1917. Many Americans on the home front witnessed the war through stereoviews, also known as stereocards or stereographic views. These cards featured two identical photograph prints mounted on card stock. Stereocards were viewed through a stereoscope in order to produce a three-dimensional image. To learn more about stereoviews visit our previous blog posts here.

Most of the World War I views were created and manufactured by the Keystone View Co. and Underwood & Underwood Publishers, two of the most well-known American stereoview manufacturers. The views were produced over a period of three years and circulated in books and collections long after the war ended in 1918. The stereocards depict life in the trenches, European cities, and military meetings and ceremonies during the war.

The stereocard above shows men hiding in shell craters during the 1917 Battle of Cambrai in France.The battle began on November 20, 1917, when British forces launched a surprise attack on the German front in Cambrai. The attack marked the first large-scale use of tanks in a military offensive. The battle officially finished by December 7th and paved the way for new forms of  warfare in strategic military battles. The title of the stereoview "Down in a Shell Crater, We Fought like Kilkenny Cats" references a famous Irish limerick and story about two tenacious cats, tied to one another by their tails, who fought to their deaths. Many historians and writers believe the story refers to Irish civil disputes and turmoil in the late 1700s and early 1800s and is often used to describe a "no-holds-barred" fight.

The stereocard  below shows a view of an underground trench kitchen along the Salonica Front (also known as the Macedonian Front) which stretched from Albania to the mouth of the Struma River in Greece.

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"View in a Trench Kitchen Underground on the Salonica Front," 1914-1918. Underwood & Underwood Publishers, New York, New York. Gift of Karen Jacobsen Lenthall, 2014.074.13.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit our Flickr page and online collections site to see other World War I stereoviews in our collection.

Interested in learning more about World War I on the home front? Come visit our exhibition, "Americans, Do Your Bit: World War I in Posters," opening June 3, 2017.

 

 

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40th Anniversary: Masonic Symbols in Decorative Arts

Forty years ago, the Scottish Rite Mason86_32aDP2DBic Museum & Library published the book Masonic­­ Symbols in American Decorative Arts to accompany an exhibition on the topic. The book, written in 1976 by former museum curator Barbara Franco, highlighted and contextualized 146 American decorative arts objects with Masonic symbols. Decorative arts, often defined as the design and decoration of functional objects, include glassware, furniture, ceramics, textiles, basketry, and clocks. Artist's and craftsmen commonly incorporated Masonic symbols into their designs in the 1700s and 1800s; a period of rapid growth for American Masonic and fraternal organizations.

The Museum has acquired more Masonic decorative arts objects since 1976. Many of the artifacts featured in Franco's publication have been re-photographed and continue to be a part of our exhibitions. Two of these items are highlighted below and have recently been exhibited at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

This pocket watch is featured in our current exhibition “Keeping Time: Clockmakers and Collectors" open through 2017. The watch, designed and manufactured by the Dudley and Hamilton Watch Companies, was made in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, around 1925. William Wallace Dudley's (1851–1938) company produced distinctive watches with movement parts shaped like Masonic symbols. This particular watch includes a trowel, square and compasses, level, bible, and shoe.

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This Worshipful Master’s Chair made around 1870 and marked by maker John Luker (b. 1838) was featured in the exhibition "‘Every Variety of Paintings for Lodges’: Decorated Furniture, Paintings and Ritual Objects from the Collection." You can find out more about the chair in this 2008 blog post.The chair is also currently included in the online exhibition of the same name, available here.

Find these objects and more in our new decorative arts album on Flickr! Like, share, and comment on objects you find on our Flickr page.

 

 

 

 

Captions:

Pocket Watch, ca. 1925, Dudley Watch Co. and Hamilton Watch Company, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Gift of Hazel D. Hubley in memory of Bert H. Hubley, 86.32a-b. Photograph by David Bohl.

Masonic Worshipful Master's Chair, ca. 1870, John Luker, Vinton County, Ohio, Gift of the Estate of Charles V. Hagler, 85.20.1.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

Reference:

Barbara Franco, Masonic Symbols in American Decorative Arts, Lexington, Massachusetts: Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Inc., 1976.

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The Unusual Cabinet Card

88_42_65DS1Cabinet cards, introduced in the 1860s, were similar to carte-de-visites (small paper photograph prints mounted on card stock). They served as a popular alternative to cased photographs like daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes. Cabinet card photos measured approximately four inches by six inches and were mounted onto card stock. The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library owns hundreds of cabinet cards featuring portraits of Masonic and fraternal members. Portraits were the most common type of photograph featured on cabinet cards, which is why it is always interesting to find a non-portraiture card like these two staff favorites in the collection.

The photograph on the left, purchased by the Museum & Library in 1988, depicts a caricature of a Masonic Shriner wearing a fez and riding a camel. The image is a combination of an illustration and a photograph. The Shriner’s head is a photograph atop an illustrated figure and camel. We found little information about the photography studio “F.S. Fowler” in Herkimer, New York, but were able to identify a Shriner (Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine) group in upstate New York near Herkimer. Mason Frazier W. Hurlbut helped to establish the Ziyara Shriners in Utica, New York, in 1877.  The group covered nearly 50,000 square miles of territory from Rochester to Albany and boasted a large membership through the 1970s. For more information about the Shriners visit these past blog pos88_42_101DS1ts

The photograph at right, also purchased by the Museum & Library in 1988, shows a posed scene with  props. At the lower right hand corner of the photograph it reads “photographed from life.”  In the photograph a man dressed up as Father Time, holds the hair of a young woman kneeling at a broken column. The scene includes many Masonic props and symbols: the hourglass, square and compasses, the broken column itself, a sprig of acacia, and the all-seeing eye. The photograph may also be described as a depiction of "Time and the Virgin." This same depiction is in The True Masonic Chart and Hieroglyphic Monitor by Masonic author and lecturer Jeremy L. Cross (1783-1860). Some sources credit Cross with creating the "Time and the Virgin" symbol.

Edward C. Dana’s (1852-1897) photography studio created the card in Brooklyn, New York, in 1896. Dana, a native of Massachusetts, received training from Boston photographer James W. Turner before opening his own studio in 1875. We have found no evidence that Dana himself was a Mason but have questions about how or why the photograph was commissioned,  or if the photograph was part of a collection of “theatrical” portraits produced by the Dana Studio. To see these cabinet cards and others in our collection visit our Flickr page!

Have you seen cabinet cards similar to these? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Captions:

Masonic Shriner on Camel, 1870-1920, F.S. Fowler, Herkimer, New York, Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.65.

Masonic Broken Column or Time and the Virgin Symbol, ca.1896, Edward C. Dana, Brooklyn, New York, Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.101.

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"Look Before You Leap!": Highlights from the Stereocard Collection on Flickr

Stereocards, also known as stereoview cards or stereographic views, are comprised of two identical photograph prints mounted on card stock. They are viewed through a stereoscope in order to produce a three-dimensional image. The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library owns over 200 stereocards and has added many of them to our new stereocard album on Flickr. [Please visit our Flickr page to see a selection of detailed stereocard images from our collection,including these two cards from a series titled “Look before you Leap!”  Lodge 9581.]

88_42_89aDS1 88_42_89bDS1These stereocards, produced by the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company, feature a comic depiction of a Masonic initiation. Photographer Alfred Silvester (1831-1886) created the original photographic series in 1860.

The Look before you Leap! series included three stereocards: The Initiate!, The Ordeal!, and The Obligation! This particular series has several editions, including some tinted with color. There is an advertisement for this specific stereoscope series in an 1859 edition of Athenaeum: Journal of Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts. The short ad is titled “Masonic Mysteries” and touts “these extraordinary slides should be in the possession of every one who desires to gain an insight into the secret rights of Freemasonry…”  

George S. Nottage (1823-1885), a former Mayor of London, founded The London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company, with his cousin, Howard John Kennard (1829-1896) in 1854. The company was active through 1922 and functioned as a photography studio and supply company before specializing in the mass production of stereoscopic photographs. To find out more about other stereocards in our collection see our previous blog posts here. Or visit our online collection at http://www.srmml.org/collections/online-collections/.

Captions:

The Initiate!, 1860, Alfred Silvester, photographer; London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company; publisher, London, England, Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.89b.

The Ordeal!, 1860, Alfred Silvester, photographer; London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company; publisher, London, England, Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.89a.


Railroad Brotherhood

85_69_1DI2The transcontinental railroad was completed one hundred twenty years ago on May 10, 1896, in Promontory, Utah. It connected the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads, revolutionizing travel, shipping, and commerce in the United States. Journeys that had taken months by wagon train or weeks by boat now took only days. The laborers who constructed the railway endured long hours of perilous work for little pay. Laborers formed dozens of organizations that also functioned as benevolent fraternities or societies, providing relief, contractual mediation, and representation.

There were a number of "railroad brotherhoods" in the United States by 1900, including the American Railway Union, Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, and the Order of Railway Conductors. (To learn more about the Order of Railway Conductors visit our previous blog here.) These labor groups often incorporated ritual and regalia into their organizational structure and meetings.  The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library owns and collects badges, charts, and ritual books from these fraternities. This 1890 Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen chart is one example from our collection and outlines the three tenets of the brotherhood: benevolence, sobriety, and industry.

The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen was founded as a labor organization for railroad employees in Oneonta, New York, in 1883. It was the largest brotherhood of operating railroad employees before merging with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, the Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen and the Switchmen’s Union of North America to form the United Transportation Union in 1969.

 To see a detailed image of the chart featured here, and others like it, visit our Flickr page at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalsrmml/sets.

Caption:

Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen Chart, ca.1890, Enterprise Litho Co., Cleveland, Ohio, Gift of Richard Gutman, 85.69.1.

References:

Paul Michel Taillon, Good, Reliable, White Men: Railroad Brotherhoods, 1877-1917, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009.


Commemorating the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth Day

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Ambrotype of Unidentified Man in Masonic Apron and Independent Order of Odd Fellows Collar, 1855-1865, unidentified maker, United States, Museum purchase, 85.41. Photograph by David Bohl.

June 19th will be the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth day, also known as Emancipation Day, in the United States.  Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 declaring that slaves in all states still at war with the federal government were free and would remain so.The proclamation was not fully realized until June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger (1821-1876) announced freedom for all slaves in the Southwest including Texas, the last rebel state to allow slavery following the end of the Civil War. The day is believed to have been named “Juneteenth” by those freed in Texas in 1865.The 13th amendment outlawing slavery everywhere in the United States was subsequently ratified in December 1865.

Since that time, nationwide grassroots celebrations have commemorated this significant moment in American history. In June 2014, the U.S. Senate passed legislation formally recognizing June 19th as “Juneteenth Independence Day” and supporting the nationwide celebration of the holiday.  In light of this anniversary the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is taking a moment to highlight some of the items in our collection related to African American Freemasonry (commonly referred to as Prince Hall Freemasonry) and fraternalism.

The Prince Hall Monument
The Prince Hall Monument in Cambridge, MA was unveiled on May 15, 2010.  Image courtesy of The Prince Hall Monument Project.

African American Freemasonry emerged in 1775 when Prince Hall (1738-1807), an active Methodist and leading citizen in Boston’s African American community, attempted to join Boston’s Masonic Lodges but was denied membership. In response, he and fourteen other African Americans who had been rejected by the established Boston lodges turned to a Masonic Lodge attached to a British regiment stationed in the city. Initiated in 1775, Hall and his Masonic brothers met as members of the British lodge until the Revolutionary War ended. In 1784 Prince Hall and the other members of the British lodge, petitioned the Grand Lodge of England to form a new lodge on American soil. The governing body granted his request, creating African Lodge No. 459.

When Prince Hall died in 1807, African American masons chose to give their fraternity his name to distinguish it from predominantly white “mainstream” lodges that generally excluded blacks throughout the 1800s and early 1900s. Today, there are reported to be over 4500 Prince Hall Lodges worldwide. After the civil war, Prince Hall Freemasonry and other fraternal groups, like the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows and Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks of the World spread throughout the North and South, helping to establish community institutions and benefits for freed families. Prince Hall and other African American Masonic leaders like Moses Dickson (1824-1901) and Lewis Hayden (1811-1889) were  influential activists in the abolitionist and civil rights movements of their era. Their leadership and influence emphasizes how Freemasonry and fraternalism impacted civil rights efforts and afforded African Americans the opportunity to organize toward an equal and free black citizenship in American society.  

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is continuing to look for items related to African American Freemasonry and fraternalism and welcomes inquiries about potential donations. To see items related to African American Freemasonry and fraternalism currently in our collection please visit our museum Flickr page.

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99_044_7DP1DBThis apron originally belonged to an unidentified member of Wilmington, North Carolina’s James W. Telfair Lodge No. 510 who was initiated in March 1915. The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina was chartered in 1870. The lodge was named for James W. Telfair Jr. (1837-1914), a slave who later became a reverend at St. Stephen’s African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, North Carolina. Telfair served as Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of North Carolina.  

 

 

Caption: Prince Hall Master Mason Apron, United States, 1915, unidentified maker, United States, Museum purchase, 99.044.7. Photograph by David Bohl.

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  RARE 90_H414 1866In December of 1865, Lewis Hayden, Grand Master of the Massachusetts Prince Hall Grand Lodge, delivered a stirring address to members of that Grand Lodge, calling into question the continued discrimination of African Americans in some Masonic lodges and American society.

Caption: Caste among Masons; address before Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Massachusetts, at the festival of St. John the Evangelist, December 27, 1865 By Lewis Hayden, Grand Master.(Boston, Massachusetts: Edward S. Coombs & Company, [1866])

Call number: RARE 90.H414 1866.

 

 

 

 

 

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80_9_1DI1 The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows was created in Europe and is a fraternal group that includes mutual benefits. Peter Ogden created the American counterpart of GUOOF in 1843 after obtaining a charter from the fraternal society of England. Membership exploded after the Civil War when African Americans were able to organize lodges in the south. The Grand United Order of Odd Fellows reported a membership of 108,000 in the late 1990s.

 Caption: Grand United Order of Odd Fellows Chart, 1881, Currier & Ives, New York, 80.9.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

 

 

 

 

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  95_049_2DI2The Improved Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks of the World is an African American fraternal order founded in 1897. The IBPOEW offered leadership training, professional networking opportunities, social fellowship, and community service.

Caption: Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World Apron, 1900-1920, USA, Unidentified maker, Museum purchase. Photograph by David Bohl.

References:

Jeffrey Croteau. "Prince Hall: Masonry and the Man." The Northern Light Feb. 2011: 10-13.

Peter P. Hinks and Stephen Kantrowitz, eds. All Men Free and Brethren: Essays on the History of African American Freemasonry (New York: Cornell University Press, 2013).

Nina Mjagkij, ed. Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations (New York: Garland Publishing, 2001).

Aimee E. Newell, The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library (Lexington, MA: Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 2015), 222-224.

Previous Blog Posts:

Jeffrey Croteau. "Moses Dickson and the Order of Twelve." Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Blog. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. May 26, 2008

Aimee Newell. "A New Discovery about an old photo." Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Blog. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.May 1, 2012.

Aimee Newell. "From Boston to Washington D.C.: Prince Hall Freemasonry." Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Blog. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. February 4, 2010.


Connecting to our Collection: Museum & Library launches new Flickr page

FlickrAs the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library continues to digitize its collection we are constantly searching for new and exciting ways to share our online resources with our members and the general public. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to access our objects and photographs and the stories they tell. So we are excited to announce the launch of our new Flickr museum page on May 26th.

The page will feature a curated selection of artifacts and photographs that reflect the variety and scope of our collection. We encourage folks to comment, like, and share the objects and photographs on our page.  Although you can browse through our page without joining Flickr, you can only comment, like, or share our images if you have a free Flickr account.On the Flickr page you can scroll through our objects via our “photostream” or look at items we have categorized within different “albums.” For example, you can find an image of the 1870 print Washington as a Freemason in the “George Washington: Master Mason” Album. Information about the different albums and the museum can be found under album titles and our profile page. Each object includes some basic provenance information and a link back to our online collections database. In our database you can search for a specific item or accession number you are interested in.  We will add more content to the site in the coming months and are happy to have yet another way for you to browse and research our collection online.

This museum Flickr page is just the first phase of a much larger digital access project. We intend to utilize other digital tools in order to better engage our audiences with our objects as well as develop new online exhibitions, tours, programs, and digital mapping and storytelling projects to enhance the general understanding of American Freemasonry and fraternalism. We also aim to create content specifically for members of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, many of whom may not have the opportunity to see our museum and collection in person.


You can find our Flickr museum page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalsrmml. Also look for a link to our Flickr page on our website Homepage and Collections page.


If you have any questions about how the site works or questions about a particular item please send an inquiry to ylaxton[@]srmml.org.