Masonic and fraternal history

New Acquisition Sheds Light on a Mason and His Role in the Growth of Freemasonry in Pre-Civil War America

Recently, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library acquired a collection of documents related to the growth of Freemasonry in the state of Alabama, many addressed to the Grand Secretary for the State of Alabama, Amand P. Pfister.

Pfister, 32°, received the Scottish Rite degrees by a Deputy of the Southern Grand Consistory and served as the Grand Secretary for the Grand Chapter, the Grand Council, and the Grand Lodge of Alabama. Born in 1802 in the Bahamas, Pfister’s family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when he was 12 years old, and he was educated at the now defunct Mount Airy College in Germantown, a neighborhood of Philadelphia.  At age 16, Pfister moved to Mobile, Alabama, where he was made a Mason. For many years, he partnered with Joel White, under the name White, Pfister and Company as retail book sellers.

In addition to his many contributions to the growth of Freemasonry, Pfister was active in the fields of education and music. In 1829, he served as instructor of Music and French at the Sims Female Academy, one of the state’s first schools for women. In 1839, Pfister, the “unofficial composer laureate” for the state of Alabama, wrote the “University March” for the University of Alabama, which was played at various University ceremonies for the "next hundred years.”
    Back cover

Amand P. Pfister died on January 28, 1857, and was buried at the Church Street Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama. An elegant monument was erected over his grave by the Grand Lodge of Alabama in acknowledgement of his “unyielding devotion to the best interests of the fraternity.” 


 Scan_2015-03-12_17-38-49A. B. Dawson to Amand P. Pfister, 26 October 1840

Wetumpka, 26th Oct. 1840

Know ye, that I Armistead B. Dawson Dept. [Deputy] Grand High Priest of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of Alabama, Do hear authorize and delegate in my name, our worthy companion + [and] Brother Armand Pfister the Grand Secty [Secretary] to visit the city of Columbus in the state of Mississippi and organize the chapter in that city under the virtue of [authority] given them under charter under my hand + [and] Seal as O[ffice]. E. H[igh]. P[riest]. of the State of Alabama In [witness?] I here [indiscernible] set my hand The day above written.


A[rmistead]. B. Dawson, D[eputy]. G[rand]. H[igh]. P[riest]. T[uscaloosa?]. Alabama

 Your two letters were [duly?] recd [received] and owing to [sickness?] of which I have had [indiscernible] they were not answered. I shall be in Columbus myself in some 15 days and would be pleased to get there in time to aid and assist you. Start them to work. when I come “I can see how you have done it.” Give them instruction as to arranging room furniture +c [and charter?] + [and] see that they have it all prepared.

A[rmistead]. B. Dawson

Family yet sick


 

References:

Blandin, I. M. E. (1909). History of Higher Education of Women in the South: Prior to 1860. New York: Neale Publishing Company. https://books.google.com/books?id=C6AWAAAAIAAJ 13 March 2015.

Herndon, E., Wood, S. A. M., & Wiley, J. M. (1859). Report from Committee on the Pfister Monument. In Proceedings of the Annual Communications of the Grand Lodge of Alabama Held in The City of Montgomery, Commencing December 6, 1858, (pp. 172-173). Montgomery, Alabama: Barret & Wimbish.

Hughan, W. J. & Stillson, H. L. (1892). History of the Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, and Concordant Orders. Boston: Fraternity Publishing Company. https://books.google.com/books?id=a51r-n4e0fwC 13 March 2015.

Mitchell, J. W. S. (1859). History of Free Masonry and Masonic Digest. (Vol. 1). Marietta, Georgia: J. W. S. Mitchell. https://books.google.com/books?id=195AAAAAcAAJ 13 March 2015.

Owen, T. M. (1921). Pfister, Armand P. In History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. (Vol. 4, pp. 1355). Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing.
https://books.google.com/books?id=R2Z5AAAAMAAJ 13 March 2015.

Richardson, W. C. (1888). XIII. Tuscaloosa. In Northern Alabama: Historical and Biographical Illustrated, (pp. 513). Birmingham, Alabama: Smith & De Land. https://books.google.com/books?id=5e8xAQAAMAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s 13 March 2015.

Wiley, J. M. (1858). Annual Address of the Most Worshipful Grand Master. In Proceedings of the Annual Communications of the Grand Lodge of Alabama Held in The City of Montgomery, Commencing December 7th, 1857, (pp. 9-23). Montgomery, Alabama: Barret & Wimbish.

Captions:

Cover and Letter from A. B. Dawson to Amand P. Pfister, October 26, 1840. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 001.440.

Masonic Books and Jewels. Advertisement. Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Alabama, at its Annual Convocation, in Montgomery, December 4, 1849, back cover. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, 17.974 .A316.

 

 


The Magic Lantern

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Magic Lantern, ca. 1900. Gift of the Harrisburg Consistory, S.P.R.S. 32°, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 93.041.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

Magic lanterns, in their most basic form, were invented in the 1600s and are considered a precursor to the modern slide projector and even the motion picture. These lanterns were a mainstay in Masonic lodges throughout the world in the 1800s and early 1900s as they were a useful tool in teaching members about Freemasonry and initiatory rites. The lantern used an artificial light source, which evolved from candles and kerosene lamps to limelight and electricity, and a combination of lenses to enlarge small transparent images or miniature models and project them onto a wall or screen. Lanterns could vary from a simple wooden box with brass parts to ornately designed boxes with multiple lenses. In America, magic lanterns were often referred to as stereopticons so as not to be confused with entertainment that may be provided with more basic toy lanterns. “Stereopticons” were usually biunial or double lens lanterns. The terms “Sciopticon” and “Optical Lantern” were sometimes used in a similar manner.

Several scientists and mathematicians developed projection devices in the 1600s including Thomas Walgenstein (1622-1701) and Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695). Although Huygens is attributed with inventing the magic lantern, it was Walgenstein, a Dutch mathematician, who coined the term "Magic Lantern" and began conducting lantern demonstrations throughout Europe. In the late 1700s Etienne-Gaspard Robertson(1763-1837), a Belgian physicist and stage magician started to “conjure” ghosts for audiences. These shows lay the foundation for the popular late 18th century phantasmagoria lantern shows that featured skeletons, devils, and ghosts. Aside from these entertainment spectacles, the lanterns were used also for science, education and religious instruction by wealthy academics and Jesuit priests. As the lantern became more popular and readily available, traveling lanternists could be found hosting public performances in taverns and public meeting houses.

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Toy Lantern and Lantern Slide (Little Red Riding Hood), ca. 1900, Gift of Dorothy A. and Albert H. Richardson, Jr., 84.18.42a and 43. Photographs by David Bohl.
The lantern was gradually used more often for advertising, propaganda and entertainment purposes as it became more popular in the 1700s and 1800s. The lantern’s diverse range and use made it ubiquitous in churches, fraternal organizations and public institutions in the Victorian era.  Lanterns became more lightweight, began using standardized slide sizes and soon smaller toy lanterns were mass produced, continuing to increase their presence in schools, homes, and public lectures. The advent of cinema and the invention of smaller transparencies and the Kodachrome three-color process led to a decline in the popularity of magic lanterns.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library owns a collection of magic lanterns and glass lantern slides, many of which were donated by  Masonic and  fraternal groups like the Knights Templar, Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows. The slides vary from those specific to Freemasonry to those depicting events in world history, literary and biblical stories, folktales, and photographs. Catalogs published in the late 1800s by The M.C. Lilley Company, one of many fraternal regalia manufacturers, included product advertisements for magic lanterns and slides for lodges. According to the 1896 M.C. Lilley catalog no. 195, a Lodge or Valley could purchase a lantern for anywhere from thirty to seventy dollars and lantern slides for two dollars each.

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Masonic Magic Lantern Slide (Master Mason’s Carpet), Gift of Armen Amerigian, 90.19.8a.
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Masonic Knights Templar Magic Lantern Slide, "Emblem of KT", 1906, Harry G. Healy, New York, New York, Gift of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, Jr., 87.41.16.27.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop by the museum to see a magic lantern on exhibit (Spring 2015). The lantern on display was donated by the family of Knights of Malta former Supreme Commander Gerard Dallas Jencks. Also check out our website and online catalog in the coming months as we scan and share more images of our extensive magic lantern slide collection.

Update: Please visit the online exhibition, "Illuminating Brotherhood: Magic Lanterns and Slides from the Collection" for more information and photographs about magic lantern history.



References:

Borton, Deborah and Terry Borton, Before the Movies: American Magic-Lantern Entertainment and the Nation’s First Great Screen Artist, Joseph Boggs Beale (New Barnet, Herts, United Kingdom: John Libbey publishing, 2015)

Freeman, Carla Conrad. "Visual Media in Education: An Informal History." Visual Resources. Volume 6 (1990): 327-340.

Masonic Lodge Supplies, Catalogue 1893. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library. Found in Collection, A2002/96/1, Box 4, Masonic Lodge Supplies.



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Please Pass the Butter! A New Acquisition

2014_021a-dDP1DBAs we always like to tell people, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library actively collects not just Masonic objects and documents, but items associated with all types of American fraternal groups.  Recently we purchased this butter dish, which is engraved on one side, “Pilgrim Lodge No. 75 I.O.O.F.”  Like many Masonic lodges and groups, other fraternities, such as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows lodge that owned this butter dish, often combined social activities, like a meal, with their meetings.  This butter dish may have been part of a set of serving dishes that the lodge purchased for use at group meals.  The dish was manufactured by the Wilcox Silverplate Company of Meriden, Connecticut, which was established in 1865 and merged with several other companies to become the International Silverplate Company in 1898.

Pilgrim Lodge No. 75 was founded in Abington, Massachusetts, in 1845.  After meeting for almost 15 years, during which time the lodge paid out about $600 for benefits and buried one member, the lodge surrendered its charter in 1859.  In 1871, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, I.O.O.F., reinstated Pilgrim Lodge No. 75.  At its first meeting, three members of the old lodge joined five members from Mattakeeset Lodge No. 110 and ten new initiates to begin a new era of its existence.  In 1873, the lodge purchased the town’s old high school building and fitted it up as a hall.  This may be when they purchased this butter dish, although it is impossible to know without more information.  Over the next ten years, members from Pilgrim Lodge went on to start Odd Fellows lodges in Rockland, Bridgewater and South Abington. 95_061_25DI1

A quick search of our collections database for “Pilgrim Lodge No. 75” also turned up a World War I ID tag, or “dog tag.”  Unfortunately, we do not know who the tag originally belonged to, but it is stamped with the Odd Fellows three-link chain and the words “Pilgrim Lodge No. 75 IOOF.”  World War I marked the first time that Americans fought after identification tags were made mandatory in the Army Regulations of 1913.  However, the serial number system was not adopted until 1918, so many World War I-era tags, like this one, do not include a number.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Pilgrim Lodge No. 75 Butter Dish, 1871-1900, Wilcox Silverplate Company, Meriden, CT, Museum Purchase, 2014.021a-d.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows World War I Dog Tag, 1917-1919, unidentified maker, United States, gift of Jacques Noel Jacobsen Jr., 95.061.25.

Reference:

D. Hamilton Hurd, comp., History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis & Co., 1884.


Drawing a Fraternal Identity

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While “Masonic” is in our name and we often focus on American Masonic history, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library also actively collects, studies and presents fraternal history – stories, objects and people associated with the history of non-Masonic fraternal organizations, like the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. 

At its center, this drawing shows an arrangement of symbols used in Odd Fellows rituals.  Unfortunately, we do not know who the artist or original owner of the drawing was.  “Boquet Valley Lodge No. 681” is written along the top, so presumably the drawing was produced by or for a member of the lodge, or for the lodge itself.  Boquet Valley Lodge No. 681 met in Wadhams, New York, a hamlet, or unincorporated settlement, located along the Boquet River in the Adirondack Mountains, near Westport.  By the end of 1920, Boquet Valley Lodge counted 73 members, although other details about its history and activities are proving elusive.

Originally founded in England in 1745, the American branch of the Odd Fellows was organized in Baltimore in 1819 by Thomas Wildey (1782-1861).  The group took several cues from Freemasonry – they share a three-degree structure for initiation, although the specific rituals are different.  They also share some symbols, like the all-seeing eye, winged hourglass and the scales of justice on the drawing.  However, the three-link chain with the initials “FLT” (for Friendship, Love and Truth), also seen on the drawing, is a symbol unique to the Odd Fellows.

This drawing could have been framed and hung on the wall at the lodge or in a member’s home.  In a home, it would serve to identify the owner as a member, and in a home or a lodge, it would help members to learn and remember the lessons taught during ritual work.  To see examples of similar Masonic drawings, visit our current [December 2014] exhibition, “Every Variety of Painting for Lodges”: Decorated Furniture, Paintings and Ritual Objects from the Collection, which features over fifty paintings, aprons, furniture and other decorative and illustrated items, exploring the ways that Freemasons have expressed their involvement with the fraternity.  Visit our website for more information and leave us a comment below if you have seen similar drawings or know more about Boquet Lodge No. 681!

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Drawing, 1875-1900, Wadhams, New York, Special Acquisitions Fund, 82.3.1


Happy 201st Birthday to the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction!

2013_030DI1Today, August 5, 2014, marks the 201st anniversary of the founding of the Scottish Rite’s Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (which founded the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in 1975). A year ago today, we celebrated the momentous occasion of the fraternity’s 200th anniversary – see our posts from last year - here and here. This year, the day is passing more quietly. However, our exhibition, “A Sublime Brotherhood: 200 Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction,” which opened last year, is still on view – for a few more weeks. The exhibition will close on September 27, 2014, so if you haven’t visited, it’s time to plan a trip to the museum. We have one more gallery talk planned in the exhibit. The Museum’s Director of Collections and curator of the exhibition, Aimee E. Newell, will offer a free gallery talk on Saturday, September 27, at 2 p.m.

During the official anniversary ceremony last August, in New York City, Sovereign Grand Commander John William McNaughton welcomed his counterpart from the Southern Jurisdiction, Sovereign Grand Commander Ronald Seale. At the festivities, Commander Seale presented Commander McNaughton with a reproduction of the 1813 charter that officially created the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. Commander Seale also presented a commemorative glass vase to celebrate the occasion (see above). The vase is currently on view in our lobby as part of our display of recent acquisitions. Engraved on the front is the double-headed eagle emblem of the Scottish Rite with an inscription, “Presented to the Supreme Council, 33°, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA, in honor of its Bicentennial Anniversary 1813-2013 by the Supreme Council, 33°, Southern Jurisdiction, USA.”

To order a copy of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's recent published history, which the exhibition is based on, visit the NMJ online store.

Vase, 2013, United States, gift of the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA, 2013.030. Photograph by David Bohl.


Souvenirs from Solomon's Temple

GL2004_4583DP4DBAn inscription on the lid of this silver octagonal box tells its story:

"This piece of Magnesian lime stone was broken off from the side of one of the large foundation stones on which stood the renowned Temple of Solomon. It was procured by myself with considerable difficulty, the place being guarded by an armed Turkish soldier, in the spring of 1851 in the ancient city of Jerusalem, & it is affectionately presented to Hammatt Lodge, East Boston, as a memorial —J. V. C. Smith Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Boston. Feb. 22, 1860."

Applied to the front of the box is an open book, representing the Bible, with a square and compasses symbol. The box is lined with dark blue velvet. Inside rests the piece of white limestone.

Masonic ritual is based on the biblical story of the building of King Solomon’s Temple. The structure is described in 1 Kings 6–7, including its dimensions and the materials used in its construction. Builders erected the Temple in the tenth century BC as a sacred resting place for the Ark of the Covenant, which contained fragments of the Ten Commandments’ tablets. In 597 BC, Babylon conquered Assyria and laid siege to Jerusalem. Ten years later, the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II, destroyed the Temple and stole most of the artifacts inside; the Ark of the Covenant vanished and its location remains a mystery.

For centuries, Solomon’s Temple has captured the imagination of Freemasons. Individual Masons, as well as groups of lodge brothers (like those in the photo to the right), made pilgrimages to the site of the Temple in Jerusalem throughout the late 1800s and the 1900s. These men often brought back souvenirs made out of limestone from King Solomon’s Quarry, thought to be the source of the stone for the Temple. GL2004_11735DS1

Jerome Van Crowninshield Smith (1800–1879), who obtained the stone in this box and donated it to Hammatt Lodge, of which he was a charter member in 1860, was born in Conway, New Hampshire. He attended Brown University and Williams College, eventually becoming a physician. In 1826, Smith took the post of health officer of the port of Boston, a position he filled until 1849. He also worked as a medical journalist.

Smith became a Mason in 1822 when he joined Boston's Mount Lebanon Lodge. In 1857, he demitted from that lodge and became a charter member of Hammatt Lodge. From 1852 to 1854, he served as District Deputy Grand Master of District No. 1, and, in 1860, he was Deputy Grand Master of Massachusetts. During the early 1850s, Smith traveled, going to Jerusalem in 1851, where he procured the piece of limestone from Solomon’s Temple illustrated here. He also obtained another set of stones that he presented to Boston’s Mount Lebanon Lodge in 1852. Smith published three books about his travels: Turkey and the Turks, A Pilgrimage to Egypt, and A Pilgrimage to Palestine. He also gave lectures to Masonic groups about his trips.

When Smith returned from abroad in 1854, his fellow citizens elected him mayor of Boston; he served into 1855. He also resumed his work as a medical journalist and, in 1854, became editor of the Medical and Surgical Journal. In 1870, Smith retired and moved with his wife to New York City, where he lived until his death in 1879.

Today, this box is part of the collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, which is on extended loan at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington, Massachusetts. This box is one of more than 100 objects from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts collection featured in the recent book Curiosities of the Craft: Treasures from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Collection.  You can order a copy here.  You can see this box and other souvenirs from Jerusalem in our current (July 2014) exhibition, “Prized Relics: Historic Souvenirs from the Collection.”

Box, 1860, unidentified maker, probably Boston. Gift of Hammatt Lodge, Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.4583a-b. Photograph by David Bohl.

Massachusetts Masons at King Solomon’s Quarry, 1899, unidentified photographer, Jerusalem. Gift of King David Lodge, Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.11735.

Sources:

Joseph Gutmann, “The Temple of Solomon and Its Influence on Jewish, Christian and Islamic Architectural Thought” in Companion to Contemporary Architectural Thought, ed. Ben Farmer and Hentie Louw (London: Routledge, 1993): 215-219.

Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1879 (Boston: Rockwell and Churchill, 1879), 67–68.


New to the Collection: A Masonic Stamp Collage

2013_051DS1The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently received this charming stamp collage as an addition to its collection.  The Masonic square and compasses symbol, representing reason and faith, along with the G in the middle, symbolizing God, geometry or both, is made out of postage stamps cut to fit the shape.  Above the symbol, the maker trimmed the portraits of George Washington (1732-1799) and six other presidents who were Freemasons out of stamps and applied them to the page.  More presidential portraits appear below the square and compasses emblem.

The collage is signed at the lower right corner: "John J. Buechler / 1929."  Unfortunately, although Buechler would seem to be a less common last name, a search of the 1930 U.S. Census records turned up several possibilities and we are currently unable to precisely identify which Buechler made this collage. 

We are very pleased to add this piece of intriguing folk art to our collection.  Donor Albert K. Resnick, who purchased it at a stamp show, generously gave it to the Museum & Library after enjoying it for forty years.  As he explained, "It represented my two main interests - Freemasonry and stamp collecting."  We look forward to preserving it for and exhibiting it in the future.

Masonic Stamp Collage, 1929, John J. Buechler, United States, gift of Albert K. Resnick, 2013.051.  Photograph by David Bohl.

 

 


Registration Extended! April 11, 2014, Symposium - Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism

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We are pleased to announce that registration for our symposium, "Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism," on Friday, April 11, has been extended to APRIL 4.  Visit our website for more information and a registration form.  Please note that the deadline for the discounted hotel rooms remains MARCH 28.  Make plans to join us now for what promises to be a wonderful day!

 


Register Now! April 11, 2014 Symposium - Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism

UN2000_0131_49DS1Don't miss out!  Register now for the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library symposium on Friday, April 11, 2014 - Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism.  This day-long symposium seeks to present the newest research on American fraternal groups.  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.

The day will include:

"Mid-Nineteenth Century Lodges: Middle-Class Families in the Absence of Women," Kristen M. Jeschke, DeVry University

"Bragging Brethren and Solid Sisters? Contrasting Mobilization Patterns Among Male and Female Orders During the Spanish-American War," Jeffrey Tyssens, Vrije Universiteit Brussels

"Painted Ambition: Notes on Some Early Masonic Wall Painting," Margaret Goehring, New Mexico State University

"Pilgrimage and Procession: The Knights Templar Triennial Conclaves and the Dream of the American West," Adam G. Kendall, Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Grand Lodge of California

"The Colored Knights of Pythias," Stephen Hill Sr., Phylaxis Society

"'The Farmer Feeds Us All': The Origins and Evolution of a Grange Anthem," Stephen Canner, Independent Scholar

Participants will also have their choice of a tour of our exhibition, "A Sublime Brotherhood: 200 Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction," a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum collection, or a tour of highlights in the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives.

Registration is $65 ($60 for museum members) and includes morning refreshments, lunch and a closing reception.  The day runs from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.  To register - BY MARCH 21 - visit our website and complete a registration form.

The symposium is funded in part by the Supreme Council, N.M.J., U.S.A.

 


Masonic and Fraternal Ritual Objects from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

96_050T1Starting February 5, 2014, one of our hallway cases will feature a selection of Masonic and fraternal ritual objects from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection. 

Among the more than twenty objects on view will be favorites such as a trick chair, one of our ritual bells and a ritual beehive thought to have been used in a Masonic lodge.  We will also be showcasing two altars, as well as several officers' staffs and ritual props.  In addition to objects used in Masonic lodges, material from the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen of America, the Daughters of Rebekah and other fraternal organizations will be exhibited. 

Masonic and fraternal organizations teach new members about their groups’ values and symbols through ritual. These ceremonies often feature props, special furniture and other paraphernalia. All of the intriguing objects that will be exhibited were designed to not only help convey certain concepts and illustrate important symbols, but to also focus initiates’ and members’ attention.  Imaginatively-wrought ritual props were often oversized and brightly decorated. Ritual props did not need to function as the actual objects that inspired them did.  For example, static metal feathers and gold-painted dowels represented arrows in the whimsically colored and ornamented quiver pictured here. Combined with a darkened lodge room, dramatic lighting and bright costumes, props and other specially-designed objects enriched the presentation of Masonic and fraternal ritual.  In the accompanying photograph members of Lodge Room in Baxter Springs, Kansas a York Rite chapter that met in Baxter Springs, Kansas, many wearing regalia, posed for a portrait in the lodge room where they likely presented ritual.  Shutters covering the buildings’ windows both protected members’ privacy and assisted them in creating an appropriate setting for ritual. Along with a suitable venue, ritual objects helped make the time initiates and members spent in the lodge room--and the lessons they learned there--memorable. 

Photographs:

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Ritual Quiver and Arrows, 1850-1900.  American.  Museum Purchase, 96.050.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Royal Arch Degree Team, 1890-1900. Baxter Springs, Kansas. Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.112.