Rare books

New acquisition: 1750 Masonic ritual exposure

Masonry DissectedThrough a recent donation, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library acquired the very rare book pictured here. It is one of only three copies of the 1750 edition of a famous Masonic ritual exposure that are known to exist. Generously donated by the granddaughter of Roger Keith (1888-1968), Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts from 1948-1950, this 32-page pamphlet is a 1750 reprint of a Masonic ritual exposure originally printed in London in 1730 (see a digitized version here). The book was reprinted several times in London between 1730 and 1750, but this is the first American edition of the book.

The book is reprinted verbatim from earlier London editions, although the book also contains references to a sermon by Charles Brockwell that was not published until January 1, 1750. The title page does not say where or by whom the book was printed, noting only that it was done in 1749. Bibliographer Kent Walgren explains the discrepancy between the publication date and the quotation from the 1750 Brockwell sermon by noting that, "prior to 1752 the legal year began on Annunciation Day, March 25. [The book was therefore] probably printed between 1 Jan. and 25 Mar. 1749/50." (Read more about the 1752 calendar change here.)

Walgren makes a case for this book having been produced at Newport, Rhode Island, by Ann Smith Franklin (1696-1763), Benjamin Franklin’s sister-in-law, and a printer in her own right. Walgren suggests that the book might have been issued to exploit the public's interest in Joseph Green's Entertainment for a Winter's Evening, an anti-Masonic satire of Charles Brockwell's Brotherly Love Recommended in a Sermon Preached before the Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons in Christ-Church, Boston, on Wednesday the 27th of December, 1749 (see a digitized copy of that book here). Both were published in 1750.

Walgren also notes that, although the text of Masonry Dissected is a Masonic ritual exposure, the book might have been printed for Freemasons, as an aide-mémoire for the members of Newport's first Masonic lodge. The Provincial Grand Lodge in Boston chartered this lodge on December 24, 1749. Freemasons purchasing ritual exposures may not be as strange as it seems at first. At a time when officially-sanctioned printed Masonic ritual was not available, the biggest customers for ritual exposures were likely not opponents of Freemasonry or curious non-members, but instead Masons themselves. For more on this topic, be sure to check out earlier blog post, Are Early Masonic Ritual Exposures Anti-Masonic?

Do you have a rare book that you'd like to donate? We'd love to hear from you! Send us an e-mail and tell us more.


Samuel Prichard
Masonry Dissected, 1749 [i.e. 1750]
Possibly Newport, Rhode Island
Possibly printed by Ann Smith Franklin
RARE 19.5 .P947 1750
Gift of Carolyn Keith Silvia

Staff Picks: Jeff Croteau, Director of Library & Archives

RPG Wright title page and ownership label_web
Title page and ownership label from Thomas Smith Webb's The Freemason’s Monitor; or Illustrations of Freemasonry (Salem: Published by Cushing and Appleton, 1816). RARE 14 .W368 1816f. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, Lexington, Massachusetts.

My favorite object in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's collection is a copy of Thomas Smith Webb’s book The Freemason’s Monitor, formerly owned by Richard P.G. Wright (1773?-1847).

This book is my favorite object because it tells a fascinating story that is not apparent at first glance. It is one of four copies in the library’s collection of the 1816 edition of Webb’s Monitor, published in Salem, Massachusetts. But it is only this particular copy that is my favorite, because of its history of ownership. I have always loved the idea that marks in books can tell us something beyond the object itself. As the rare books librarian Roger Stoddard observed in his 1985 book Marks in Books, Illustrated and Explained, “When we handle books sensitively, observing them closely so as to learn as much as we can from them, we discover a thousand little mysteries...”

This copy of Webb’s Monitor has both paper ownership labels inside, as well as handwriting, indicating that the book was originally owned by Richard P.G. Wright, who acquired it in 1822. I was not originally familiar with Wright’s name, and it was only when I noticed that someone had pasted a short newspaper article about African-American participation in Freemasonry into the back of the book that I wondered whether Wright himself was black. I asked myself whether, if I dug a bit deeper, perhaps this book might tell a bigger story. And it did.


RPG Wright and family ownership marks_web
Wright family ownership marks from Thomas Smith Webb's The Freemason’s Monitor; or Illustrations of Freemasonry (Salem: Published by Cushing and Appleton, 1816). RARE 14 .W368 1816f. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, Lexington, Massachusetts.

A little investigation revealed that Richard P.G. Wright was a black abolitionist and a Freemason who, along with his more well-known son, the preacher Theodore Sedgwick Wright (1797-1847), was active in predominantly white lodges in Schenectady, NY, as early as 1818 until their deaths in 1847. We can assume that this book held important meaning in Wright’s family since this copy of Webb’s Monitor also contains ownership marks indicating that it was later passed down to Wright’s daughter, Lydia L. Thompson, and then to his grandson,  Samuel Thompson.

Inspired by my curiosity from the markings in this book, I eventually followed a trail that showed that, at the same time that they were active Masons, both Richard P.G. Wright and Theodore Sedgwick Wright were heavily involved in the abolitionist movement. Both men were members of the American Anti-Slavery Society and the Committee of Vigilance. Richard P.G. Wright’s Schenectady barbershop was located along the Erie Canal, and was known to be part of the Underground Railroad. Theodore S. Wright came to abolitionism through his father, Richard P.G. Wright, who himself attended abolitionist meetings at least as early as 1816, and who named his son after Theodore Sedgwick, a Massachusetts jurist and legislator who successfully defended an enslaved Massachusetts woman against her master, from whom she had fled.

Richard P.G. Wright, then known as Prince G. Wright, was raised a Master Mason in a lodge of black abolitionists – Boston’s African Lodge No. 459 – in 1799. Yet upon relocating to Schenectady, both he and his son were members of, or visitors to, at least five different predominantly white Masonic lodges or chapters. In Scottish Rite Freemasonry, Wright served as both Treasurer and Tiler in Schenectady’s Delta Lodge of Perfection as early as 1822, serving alongside Giles Fonda Yates (1799-1859), who would later become Sovereign Grand Commander of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction’s Supreme Council.

Unlike much archival material, books – even the rarest of books – are not unique. However, individual copies of books, with interesting histories of ownership, like this one, can tell a story different from every other copy of this book in existence. We can be grateful that the Wright family wrote their names in this book so that we can tell their story today.

The oldest book in our library collection: A Geneva ("Breeches") Bible, 1580

1580 Bible NT TPAs the librarian here at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, I occasionally get asked "what's the oldest book in your collection?" While age alone is not an indicator of rarity or value (whether financial or intrinsic), it's clear that people are moved by the survival of old books.

The oldest book in our collection is over 430 years old - a copy of the Geneva Bible, printed by Christopher Barker in London in 1580. The British Library gives a quick synopsis of the Geneva Bible: "English protestants in exile in Calvinist Geneva, Switzerland, produced a translation of the New Testament in 1557...followed by a translation of the complete Bible in 1560. Editions were printed in England from 1576 onwards."

The Geneva Bible, which was the first English translation from the original Hebrew and Greek texts (rather than from the Latin Vulgate), is sometimes known as the "Breeches Bible" for its rather unusual (some might say comical) translation of a passage in Genesis 3:7 about Adam and Eve: "They sewed figge tree leaves together and made themselves breeches." In our copy, a former owner noted the passage in red ink (see photo below).

Breeches pageSince we are discussing the oldest book in our library, it would be useful to add some historical context to when this Bible was printed. When this Bible was printed in 1580:

- The first performance of a Shakespeare play was still 10 years away (ca. 1590)
- The publication of the King James Version of the Bible (a reaction to the Geneva Bible) was over 30 years away (1611)
- The arrival of the Mayflower in modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts was 40 years away (1620)
- And the beginning of the American Revolution was almost 200 years away (1775)

Although we don't know when - or with whom - our copy made its journey from England to North America, two ownership marks tell us that the book was once in Madison, Wisconsin and then in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Pictured at top is the title page for the New Testament in our copy.

The Bible, translated according to the Ebrew and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in diuers languages; with most profitable annotations vpon all the hard places, and other things of great importance ... [Geneva Bible]
London: Christopher Barker, printer to the Queenes Maiestie, 1580.
Call number: RARE BS 170 [1580]

Masonic & Fraternal Gift Books: "To the Wives, Daughters, Sisters, and Sweethearts of Freemasons"

Masonic_Offering_cover_webGift books were a popular mid-nineteenth-century publication. Usually issued in a highly decorative binding and illustrated with engravings, gift books were collections of poetry, fiction (both usually of a sentintmental nature), and various non-fiction selections. Among middle-class Americans they were a conspicuous way to express friendship or love - with their fanciful bindings, gift books were intended to be displayed in the parlor where they could be seen. The audience for gift books was primarily - perhaps exclusively - women. Women also contributed to gift books; a number of the collected poems and stories in gift books were written by women. So it may come as some surprise that there were a number of gift books published in the 1840s and 1850s that were associated with exclusively male organizations like the Freemasons and the Odd Fellows. Covers of two of these books are pictured here: The Masonic Offering for All Seasons (above) and The Odd Fellows' Offering for 1849 (below).

In the collection of the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, we have a number of fraternal gift books. One otherwise excellent source on gift books placed fraternal gift books under the heading "Gift Books as Propaganda," writing, "the Odd Fellows, Freemasons, Sons of Temperance and Know-Nothing Party often published 'souvenir' books of similar make-up to literary annuals but with content to serve their purposes." While it is true that these fraternal gift books contain a majority of material that is either directly related to the organization, or which focuses heavily on the goals and tenets (e.g. friendship, love, truth, charity, benevolence, etc.) of the group, it is possible to look at these fraternal gift books in a slightly different way.

Odd_Fellows_Offering_for_1849_cover_webFreemasonry in the nineteenth-century lodge room was an exclusively male event. Home life, however, was different. As we've written in earlier posts, nineteenth-century women were familiar with Masonic symbols and participated in Freemasonry through the decoration of Masonic aprons, the making of Masonic-themed samplers, the making of quilts embellished with Masonic symbols, and even the illustration of a Masonic "Mark book." Perhaps it is not too much of a stretch to imagine that a man who was a Mason might have wanted to share his enthusiasm about Freemasonry or other fraternal organizations with a female member of his family in a way that was both culturally and fraternally approved. A fraternal gift book, given as a birthday, Christmas, or even New Year's gift, would have fit the bill perfectly.

The evidence of Masons wanting to share their knowledge about the teachings of Freemasonry with female loved ones is made explicit in these gift books. In the preface to The Masonic Offering for All Seasons, published in the early 1850s and dedicated to the "Wives, Daughters, Sisters, and Sweethearts of Freemasons," the editor writes:

"Every Society of any standing has its Annual [i.e. literary annual, or gift book]; and why not the Masonic Order? It has principles inferior to none--evidences equal to any; and, if antiquity has aught to do with the matter, Masons undoubtedly take precedence.

The gentler sex should learn more of Masonry; and this is one object of this book. It sets forth these truths that will not only prove a blessing to them, but to those around the social circle; and it will enable them more powerfully to wield that influence they are so admirably adapted to exercise, for the benefit of themselves and others."

While not all of the gift books in our collection are inscribed, some are, and show evidence of these books having been used as intended. Nearly all of these books contain elaborately decorated presentation pages, intended to be filled out by the gift-giver to the recipient. One of our copies of a Masonic gift book called The Emblem: A Gift for All Seasons, for example, reflects the nineteenth-century activity of exchanging gifts at New Year's and is inscribed to "Mollie K. Randolph, New Year's 1859."

If you're interested in learning more generally about gift books, a couple of good online resources can be found below.

"Gift Books and Annuals." American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States.

"Tokens of Affection: Art, Literature, and Politics in Nineteenth Century American Gift Books." Publishers' Bindings Online, 1815-1930: The Art of Books.

 To see what gift books we have in our collections, do a subject search for "gift books" in our online catalog.


Rev. John Perry and Paschal Donaldson, eds. The Masonic Offering for All Seasons: Faith, Hope, Charity. New York: Cornish, Lamport & Co., [between 1851 and 1853]. Gift of Wallace M. Gage.
Call number: RARE 60 .P463

The Odd Fellows' Offering for 1849. New York: Edward Walker, 1849. Gift of Grant B. Romer.
Call number: RARE HS997 .D676 1849
[A digitized copy is available via Google Books]

Masonic Melodies: Singing in the Lodge

Masonic_Melodies_cover_webWhen the average person thinks about Freemasonry, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is not singing. Yet there's a rich history of music and Freemasonry. In fact, the very first Masonic book ever printed - Anderson's Constitutions, published in London in 1723 - contained not only the lyrics of Masonic songs, but even some musical notation. Irving Lowens's A Bibliography of Songsters Printed in America before 1821, in which he defines a songster as "a collection of three or more secular poems intended to be sung," lists Benjamin Franklin's 1734 edition of Anderson's Constitutions as the very first songster printed in America.

The book pictured here is from our collection - a clearly well-used copy of Masonic Melodies: Adapted to the Ceremonies and Festivals of the Fraternity, published in Boston in 1844. The songs were written, or in some cases, collected by Thomas Power (1786-1868), who served as Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts from 1820-1833.

The January 1, 1844 issue of Charles W. Moore's Freemason's Monthly Magazine, contains a positive review of Power's book, noting that 

"[the songs are] chaste in style, pure in diction, and classical in allusion. As a merely literary work, it will be honorable to the Institution; while its practical utility and refreshing moral influence, will render it a popular and desirable acquisition in every Lodge, and to every Brother, who has an ear for music, or a taste for poetry. It is designed to drive out from among us, and, we trust, out of remembrance, the coarse and vulgar Bacchanalian songs, which, however tolerable in the age when they were written, are now a disgrace and a reproach to the Institution. If it shall effect this, it will entitle its accomplished author to the lasting gratitude of his Brethren."

Perhaps that's a slightly unfair quote to pull, since Charles W. Moore (1801-1873) was hardly a dispassionate observer. The title page states: "published by Oliver Ditson, 135 Washington Street; and at the Office of The Freemason's Magazine, 21 School Street." Although the title given is slightly different (i.e. The Freemason's Magazine, instead of Freemason's Monthly Magazine) they are one in the same and indicate that Moore was one of the two publishers of this book. A London Masonic periodical from 1844, however, raves equally about Power's work:

"As a repertory of Masonic Lyrics, it is incomparably beyond any previous competitor, and embraces every point it professes to treat of, and may be referred to by every Lodge, Chapter, and Encampment. We consider ourselves fortunate in having a copy, and would advise any Brother desirous of these Melodies to enquire of Brother Spencer, the Masonic Librarian, London, as to the readiest mode of obtaining one for himself."

Although presumably intended for use by members of the fraternity, our copy, interestingly, is inscribed by Thomas Power to a "Mrs. Rachel Carnes." More research may reveal who Rachel Carnes was and why Power might have given her an inscribed copy of his book.

If you're interested in reading more on this topic, you might start with Sion M. Honea, "Nineteenth-Century American Masonic Songbooks: A Preliminary Checklist," Heredom, vol. 6 (1997), 285-304. (The article originally appeared under the same title in Music Reference Services Quarterly, vol. 3, no. 4 (1995), 17-32.)

And if you are interested in singing some Masonic tunes, Harvard's copy of Masonic Melodies has been digitized and is available via Google Books.


Thomas Power. Masonic Melodies: Adapted to the Ceremonies and Festivals of the Fraternity. Boston: Oliver Ditson, and at the Office of the the Freemason's Magazine, 1844.
Call number: RARE 65.1 .P887 1844

New Acquisition: First Masonic Almanac Published in the United States

Free Mason's Calendar title pageThe Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives recently acquired The Free Mason's Calendar and Continental Almanac for the Year of Our Lord 1793. It was the first Masonic almanac published in the United States.

According to Kent Walgren's descriptive bibliography Freemasonry, Anti-Masonry, and Illuminism in the United States, 1734-1850 only nine other libraries own a copy of this almanac. The addition of this almanac to the library's collection makes ours the tenth known copy.

Samuel Stearns (1741-1809), the author whose name appears on the cover of The Free Mason's Calendar, was a physician and astronomer. In addition to the Free Mason's Calendar, he issued other almanacs, including the North-American Almanack, published annually from 1771-1784, as well as the first American nautical almanac, The Navigator's Kalendar, or Nautical Almanack, for 1783.

The copy of The Free Mason's Calendar that we acquired has a fairly detailed provenance (i.e. a list of previous owners of the book). Starting with the first owner, Thomas Noyes, there are eight known previous owners of this book. The most recent owner, Edward B. Jackson, who had owned the book since 1997, generously donated it to our Library & Archives this year.

The previous owner that I'm choosing to focus on in this post is Jonas H. Brown (1821-1897), who wrote a presentation inscription opposite the title page. Although the text indicates that Brown was presenting this to someone else, the recepient is not named. Brown's inscription reads:

Presented by Jonas H. Brown, Warren, Mass., No. 1 Carl street, late of 34 regt. Mass. H Company, Vol. Infantry. [Indecipherable] of Post 65 Clara Barton, Department of Mass., G.A.R. 1894.

Brown's inscription provides a lot of biographical information - where he lived, that he was a Civil War veteran, and that he later joined the Grand Army of the Republic. As the inscription notes, Brown served in Company H of the 34th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry. Following this lead, I was able to discover that Brown served with the 34th Regiment for the for the entirety of its existence. Brown volunteered as a Private on July 23, 1862 (at the age of 41) and was discharged on June 16, 1865. Following the war, Brown was active in his G.A.R. Post - he was named Commander of Clara Barton Post 65 at the end of 1879. Brown died in 1897 at the age of 81.

And although this is a Masonic almanac, it's not clear whether Brown was a Mason. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has no record of him being a Massachusetts Mason, and it appears that Brown was a lifelong Massachusetts resident. The 1850 Census names his place of birth as Massachusetts and all subsequent censuses place him in that state. If you know more about Jonas H. Brown, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below.

The Free Mason's Calendar and Continental Almanac for the Year of Our Lord 1793. New York: Printed and sold, wholesale and retail, by Samuel Campbell, no 37 Hanover Square, [1792].
Call number: RARE 01 .S799 1792
Gift of Edward B. Jackson

Hindoo Theology for the Use of Missionaries (A Masonic Cipher)

Hindoo_Theology_for_Missionaries_webWhen I first came across a small 74-page book in our collection called Hindoo Theology for the Use of Missionaries, I knew that I couldn't take the title page at face value.

First of all, the publication information on the title page indicated that it was printed in Rome in 1814. As a librarian who has seen a lot of books printed in the early 19th century, I was sure that this book was not printed that early - and pretty sure it probably wasn't printed in Rome, either. It looked to me like it was more likely to have been printed in the late 19th or early 20th century. Secondly, the book was quite clearly some kind of fraternal ritual cipher book. We have many cipher books in our collection and a few of them - like Magicians' Magic Movements and Ceremonies - have deliberately misleading titles. I suspected that Hindoo Theology was another case of Masons having some fun at disguising ritual books.

It was while I was in touch with Arturo de Hoyos, Grand Archivist of the Scottish Rite's Southern Jurisdiction about another book when he mentioned Hindoo Theology for the Use of Missionaries in passing. He stated that it was a cipher for the rituals of the Royal Arch Chapter for the State of New Jersey. And yet I wanted to know more about this book - and about its odd title.

After sleuthing around a bit more I was able to find a definitive printed source that talked about this little book. In the 1950 Proceedings of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of New Jersey, there's a report of the Grand Historian, Harold V.B. Voorhis, entitled "The 'Manual' and The 'Hindoo.'" Voorhis was a top-notch Masonic scholar, so I knew that I had found a good resource. Voorhis writes:

Let us now look into the advent and adventure of that Masonic oddity known as the "Hindoo." We have no authentic data concerning the author or authors of the "Hindoo" or when it first saw the light of day. However, it is substantially certain that it appeared shortly after the 1864 Gould "Guide to the Chapter" and was published by [James L.] Gould in Connecticut. Consequently, it is not without normal surmise that Gould was responsible for its production. It is doubtful if the name has any significance - "Hindoo Theology for the Use of Missionaries -- Rome -- 1814." It must have been that he compiled it at the instigation of Companion John Sheville, with whom he collaborated in producing the Manual, because, so far as is known, the "Hindoo" was only used in New Jersey, where Companion Sheville had been Grand High Priest.

Although Voorhis concluded that "Hindoo" was only used in New Jersey, there are clear indications that it was also used in Iowa, as well. The 1896 Proceedings of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter for the District of Columbia, for example, state that "We observe that in Iowa the Grand Chapter issues and uses the 'Hindoo ritual.'" Looking at various Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Iowa in the 1890s in our library collection indeed turns up numerous uses of the phrases "Hindoo Theology" and "Hindoo ritual." In the 1893 Grand Chapter of Iowa Proceedings it is also noted that the Grand Chapter of Nevada used the ritual and that "some few years ago we supplied the Grand Chapter of Kansas with copies of our Hindoo Theology."

As to why "Hindoo" theology, I'm still not sure. It's possible that this is simply a case of the West exoticizing an unfamiliar Eastern religion - the same kind of Orientalism that gave rise to the Shriners and other Masonic and fraternal groups and degrees that present Eastern cultures and religions through the prism of 19th-century Western viewpoints. If any of our readers have thoughts on other cultural references that may have made "Hindoo Theology" an unsurprising choice of title, we'd love to hear your thoughts.

Hindoo Theology for the Use of Missionaries.
Rome [i.e. Paterson, New Jersey] : [Printed by Mackay Printing Company,] 1814 [i.e. ca. 1890-1902]
Call number: RARE 14.3 .H662


First Masonic book published in America

Franklinconstitutions Among the many gems in the library's collection is the first Masonic book printed in America. The book is called The Constitutions of the Free-Masons and was printed in June 1734 by Benjamin Franklin.

Why did Franklin print this book? It seems likely that Franklin had perceived that copies of the first edition of the Constitutions (which was published in 1723 in London)  were not easily available in the British colonies and, businessman that he was, he decided to print a new edition.

Franklin’s Constitutions was printed when Franklin was only 28 years old, almost exactly at the time that Franklin became Grand Master of Pennsylvania. Interestingly, Franklin did not give himself credit anywhere within the book for being the printer.  How do we know then that Franklin printed this item? One way we know is that scholars have attributed this book to Franklin’s press on the evidence of the type used – a sort of typographical forensics. There is also further, secondary evidence, such as the series of advertisements for Franklin’s Constitutions which first appeared in Franklin’s newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette in May 1734, all explicitly stating that the book is “Reprinted by B. Franklin.” It's interesting to note that Franklin called his edition a "reprint" (and didn't give himself credit as the printer anywhere in the book). In fact, if you compare his "reprint" to the 1723 edition, you can see that he tried to mimic the look of the original. (Speaking of mimicking the look of the original, a very well done digital (but not digitized) copy of Franklin's 1734 Constitutions is available here.)

Franklin’s Constitutions is an exceedingly rare book. Three fairly recent bibliographic censuses have been done for this book – in 1971, 1974, and 2003 (see the end of this post) – each of which counted less than twenty existing copies of this book in the world.  That being said, there may be more copies of the book in private hands. Our copy was described in the 1971 census by Harold V.B. Voorhis as follows. You will notice that many aspects of marks in this book are noted:

14 – Academy-Borneman Copy
I found this unbound copy in the Academy Bookshop in New York in 1933. It was purchased with a library in Long Island, New York, bound with other items and removed after purchased by the bookshop. It was sold to Brother Borneman of the Committee on Library of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania for $500. After his death it was sold at auction in the Parke-Bernet Galleries to an unknown bidder for $500. It is now rebound. On page 30 is the signature of “Lewis Evans” and on page 86 there is an unidentified word at the bottom. Several pages of the book contain circular water-marks about the size of a silver dollar. The circle is quartered by diagonal lines and in the quarters are the letters “S-P-D-S” starting at the top, reading left to right.

I will briefly address the watermark mentioned above, if only to say that while this is certainly evidence of a very interesting kind (although I’ve not been able to trace which paper maker used this watermark), it does not give evidence of who owned the book, but rather who had a hand, in a way, in making the book.

I'm interested in "marks in books" - those traces of evidence that tell us more about a book's past (for example, who owned a particular book before it came to reside in our library), and so I was excited to find out that, as mentioned above, our copy of Franklin's Constitutions contains the signature of a former owner of the book, Lewis Evans, as well as the date 1741. Lewis Evans was an important early mapmaker, draftsman, and geographer. He was an associate of Franklin's as well - and Franklin published the book that accompanied Evans's famous 1755  A General Map of the Middle British Colonies (another item in our collection, that we'll address in a future post).

A question that I'd like to answer, but haven't yet, is why did Lewis Evans purchase Franklin’s reprint of the Constitutions? I haven't found evidence that Evans was a Freemason. Also, why did Evans obtain this book in 1741, as he presumably did, seven years after the book was published? Franklin most likely printed the Constitutions with the hope that members of various colonial Masonic lodges would buy up the edition. As late as 1750, though, Franklin was still advertising remaindered copies for sale.

Did Evans buy his copy out of curiosity about Freemasonry? Or, because he was a business associate of Franklin, did Evans obtain the book at a reduced cost or possibly even receive it for free, since Franklin was clearly not having an easy time selling out the edition he printed? These are questions I don't have answers for yet. I'm hoping that, with further research, more answers may possibly come to light.

Sources for censuses of Franklin's Constitutions:

Voorhis, Harold V.B. "Benjamin Franklin's Reprint of Anderson's Constitutions of 1723: The First American Masonic Book." Transactions of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, Volume 84 (1971), pp. 69-74.

Miller, C. William. Benjamin Franklin's Philadelphia Printing, 1728-1766: A Descriptive Bibliography. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1974. Cat. no. 80, pp. 39-40

Walgren, Kent Logan. Freemasonry, Anti-Masonry and IIluminism in the United States, 1734-1850: A Bibliography. Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 2003. Vol. 1, cat. no. 1, p. 3.

Baron von Steuben's Regulations

Revolutionary Army officers created a very succinct creed at Verplanck's Point, N.Y. in 1782 where they paid homage to those they felt most deserving of credit for the Army's success.  Naturally, they included George Washington, Nathanael Greene, Henry Knox -- and Friedrich Steuben:

"...We believe that Baron Steuben has made us soldiers, and that he is capable of forming the whole world into a solid column, and displaying it from the center. We believe in his Blue Book...."

Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin von Steuben (1730-1794) was born and raised in Prussia.  He received his early military experience in the Seven Years War (1756-1763) but by the 1770's was in search of another war.  Twice he approached Benjamin Franklin in Paris for assistance to go to America, and the second time he was successful in getting a letter of introduction to General Washington.  Steuben sailed to America and arrived in Portsmouth, N.H. on December 1, 1777; by February he was in Pennsylvania, and by March he had the Continental army in Valley Forge learning how to drill, something sorely missing in the early months of the army.  Washington was so impressed that he wrote to Congress in late April:  "I should do injustice if I were to be longer silent with regard to the merits of Baron von Steuben.  His knowledge of his profession, added to the zeal..."  Washington recommended and Congress approved Steuben be promoted to Inspector General but with the rank and pay of Major General, a situation that pleased Steuben. 

Stuben_1794 In The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army, author Paul Lockhart concentrates on how Steuben went about getting the army ready for battle, the relentless drilling, and the many campaigns that followed.  But as Steuben's charge was to bring overall discipline and order to the troops, during the winter of 1778-79 he spent more time writing than drilling.  Steuben improved earlier attempts at a military manual and produced Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States (a copy of the title page of our Library's 1794 edition appears at left).  First published in Philadelphia in March 1779 with 150 pages and 8 plates, the initial printing produced over 1500 copies with blue covers (and thus it was known as the 'Blue Book').   It went on to have some seventy editions and to remain an indispensable manual for American soldiers until the War of 1812. The 'Blue Book' has even enjoyed several revivals, most recently during the Bicentennial of 1976, as it provided useful information for re-enactors. 

While early editions of the Regulations were quickly snapped up, an even larger market was created in 1792 when Congress passed the Militia Act.  As state militias began to appear, Steuben's manual filled the need for soldiers requiring instructions on everything from drilling to fighting in battle to setting up camp. The original manual usually was printed together with a more specific state manual.  

Our library is fortunate to have two copies of Steuben's Regulations, one published in Boston in 1793, and the other in 1794.  The latter was printed by Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831) and the plates engraved and signed by Amos Doolittle (1754-1832).  Donald C. O'Brien in Amos Doolittle: Engraver of the New Republic explains that, like many printers, Thomas quickly got into the business of printing the manuals after the Militia Act and likely hired Doolittle to do the engravings because his usual engraver, Joseph H. Seymour, was too busy with other jobs. 

As one of Doolittle's plates below shows, the drawings were simple.  The accompanying information was more detailed, however, clearly providing instructions for all aspects of military life from marching (e.g. the Common Step "is two feet and about seventy-five in a minute" while the Quick Step "is about one hundred and twenty in a minute") to the correct motion for taking aim and firing.

Stuben_1794_ad2 Plate VII (shown at left) details the correct Order of Encampment.  Accompanying instructions state:  The infantry will on all occasions encamp by battalions, as they are formed in order of battle.

The front of the camp will occupy the same extent of ground as the troops when formed; and the intervals between the battalions will be twenty paces, with an addition of eight paces for every piece of cannon a battalion may have.  The quarter-master of each regiment shall be answerable that he demands no more  ground than is necessary for the number of men he has actually with the regiment, allowing two feet for each file, exclusive of the officers, and adding sixteen feet for the intervals between the platoons.  He is also to be answerable that no more tents are to be pitched than are absolutely necessary, allowing one tent for the non-commissioned officers of each company, and one for every six men, including the drums and fifes.

And finally, both of our copies of the Regulations have signatures and notes in contemporary hand Stuben_1794_smith from previous owners, and the 1794 copy, in particular, may demonstrate that the Regulations were in use until the War of 1812.  There is good evidence that Capt. Wm. R. Smith (signature shown in the image at right) is William Rogers Smith (1774-1818) the only surviving son of a landowning Baltimore County family who would have had the needed financial resources to be a member of the Baltimore Blues, an outfit that fought during the War of 1812.

Additional information on Baron von Steuben may be found at websites of both the Society of the Cincinnati (an organization he helped found), and the Steuben Society of America.  Many memorials exist for Steuben, most notably statues in Washington, D.C., Valley Forge, Monmouth County, N.J., and Potsdam, Germany.

Sources consulted and mentioned above:

Lockhart, Paul.  The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army.  New York: HarperCollins, 2008.  Call number:  E 207 .S8 L63 2008

O'Brien, Donald C.  Amos Doolittle: Engraver of the New Republic.  New Castle, DE:  Oak Knoll Press, 2008.  Call number:  Call number: NE 955.2 .O27 2008

Riling, Joseph R.  Baron von Steuben and his Regulations.  Philadelphia:  Riling Arms Books Co., 1966.

Steuben, Frederick William.  Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States.  Boston:  Printed and sold by John W. Folson, Union Street.  Sold also by John Norman, Newbury Street, 1793. Call number:  RARE UB 501 1793  Gift of the J. Collier Family. 

Steuben, Frederick William.  Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, to which are added the United States Militia Act passed in Congress, May 1792, and the Militia Act of Massachusetts, Passed June 22, 1793.  A new edition illustrated by eight copperplates, accurately engraved.  Boston:  [Printed by I. Thomas and E.T. Andrews] For David West, No. 36, Marlborough Street and John West, No. 75, Cornhill, 1794.  Call number:  RARE UB 501 1794

Von Zemenszky, Edith.  The Papers of General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, 1777-1794 : guide and index to the microfilm edition.  Millwood, N.Y. : Kraus International Publications, 1984.

Many thanks to Librarian Francis P. O'Neill at the Maryland Historical Society for information on William Rogers Smith.

'Light on Masonry', the old and the new

Light_paper The advertisement at left first appeared in the Anti-Masonic Champion on May 7, 1829.  It was one of many attempts to publicize a newly published exposé on Freemasonry, and it appeared in one of the dozens of new newspapers that sprung up (mostly in the Northeast, N. Y., Pennsylvania and Ohio) during the Anti-Masonic reaction to the Morgan Affair.   'Elder D. Bernard' was David Bernard, a Baptist minister and Freemason from Utica, N.Y. and the publication was Light on Masonry: a Collection of all the Most Important Documents on the Subject of Speculative Free Masonry, Embracing the Reports of the Western Committees in Relation to the Abduction of William Morgan, Proceedings of Conventions, Orations, Essays, etc. etc.  Bernard included the craft rituals William Morgan exposed along with several higher degrees.  It was not the first exposé issued at the time, but arguably the most successful.  Light on Masonry, at over 500 pages, went through five editions alone in 1829!

Grand Archivist and Grand Historian of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, Arturo De DehoyosHoyos, has just published a new look at Light on Masonry: the History and Rituals of America's Most Important Masonic Exposé (19 .D5 2008).  The recently published work provides a facsimile of the 5th edition of Bernard's 1829 work along with an extremely interesting and informative introduction.  Of particular interest is correspondence between J.J.J. Gourgas (then Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council and later third Sovereign Grand Commander) and Giles F. Yates (Sublime Grand Master of Delta Lodge of Perfection in Schenectady, N.Y. and later Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, NMJ) after Light on Masonry appeared.

The new Light on Masonry also provides details about each of the printings and editions, so armed with it and Kent Walgren's Freemasonry, Anti-Masonry and Illuminism in the United States, 1734-1850, I decided to take stock of our holdings of the early editions.  While our catalog listed eight first editions, one 2nd edition, and six 3rd editions, I discovered we actually own four of the initial stage of the 1st edition, two of the 2nd stage and seven of the 3rd stage, along with two 2nd editions and three of the 3rd edition.  Fortunately for us De Hoyos decided to use a 5th edition to replicate as we don't own any of that rare imprint.

When you gather 18 copies of any book published in 1829 and check each for provenance and Light_spink markings, you're bound to find something interesting.  Not surprisingly for our library, several of the first edition copies were from the libraries of William L. Cummings, Alphonse Cerza, and William G. Peacher since our collection is comprised of significant holdings from each.  Two owners had interesting notes in their copies:  in one of the stage one copies is handwritten 'The Property of Saml. D. Spink, To be kept in the family' (as shown at right); one of the stage three copies has 'A. Parker, Go ye into all parts of the world and tell what Freemasonry has done.'

Everett_bookplate The most well-known previous owner of one of our copies, however, is Edward Everett (1794-1865), well-established as an Anti-Mason, and whose bookplate appears at left.  Everett's resume is about as stellar as any you'd find in 19th-century America:  educated and later taught at Harvard, represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, Governor of Massachusetts, Minister to Great Britain, President of Harvard, Secretary of State under Millard Fillmore, and always known as a great orator.  To many though, Everett is best remembered as the person who spoke for two hours at the dedication of the national cemetery in Gettysburg on Nov. 19, 1863 -- the one who spoke before Abraham Lincoln.  To Everett's credit, it's often reported, he told President Lincoln, "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes."

Sources mentioned above include:

Anti-Masonic Champion, Vol. 1, No. 10, Thursday, May 7, 1829.  Printed and Published by Patterson & Dewey, Union Village, Washington Co., NY.

Bernard, David.  Light on Masonry: A Collection of all the Most Important Documents on the Subject of Speculative Free Masonry, Embracing the Reports of the Western Committees in Relation to the Abduction of William Morgan, Proceedings of Conventions, Orations, Essays, &c. &c.  Utica:  William Williams, 1829.  Call number:  RARE 19 .B518 1829 [Online edition]

De Hoyos, Arturo.  Light on Masonry: The History and Rituals of America's Most Important Masonic Exposé.  Washington, D.C.: Scottish Rite Research Society, 2008.  Call number:  19 .D4 2008

Walgren, Kent Logan.  Freemasonry, Anti-Masonry and Illuminism in the United States, 1734-1850: A Bibliography.  Worcester:  American Antiquarian Society, 2003.  Call number:  Ref 04 .W165 2002 v. 1 & 2

Library copy of Light on Masonry with Edward Everett bookplate was a gift of Augustus P.Loring, 85-211SC

Dust jacket image of Light on Masonry used above with permission of the author.