Supreme Council, NMJ

Talking About Rituals in Atlantic City

1936 Ritual CommitteeIn September 1936, the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's Supreme Council held their Annual Meeting in Atlantic City, NJ at the Hotel Traymore. This photograph, likely taken in a room at the Traymore, shows the Council's Committee on Rituals and Ritualistic Matter sitting around a table. The Committee was - and is - responsible for all of the Scottish Rite degrees sanctioned by the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, as well as other aspects related to ritual. In 1936, the Committee approved a design for an "Emeritus Member of Honor." The small hinged box sitting in the center of the table possibly holds one of these jewels.

The members of the Committee pictured above are (left to right): John S. Wallace, Norris G. Abbott, William H.H. Chamberlin, Frederick W. Hamilton, Melvin M. Johnson, Frank S. Sayrs, Charles H. Spilman, Samuel H. Baynard, Jr., and Delmar D. Darrah

The photo above, which is in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, appears in the new book, A Sublime Brotherhood: Two Hundred Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.

Caption:

Melvin Johnson and the Ritual Committee, 1936. Fred Hess & Son, Photographer. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, SC 154.


Memories of World War I

2000_059_8DP1As the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library’s curator, I write a collections-related article for the quarterly publication of the Scottish Rite fraternity, The Northern Light.  This is a task that I enjoy very much and I can always tell when the issue is hitting mailboxes across the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, since calls and emails start coming in response to my article.  However, I was somewhat unprepared for the large response to my most recent piece on World War I, which appeared in the February 2014 issue.

In commemoration of the beginning of the centennial of the war, I highlighted several World War I-era items from our collection, including this trench art lamp, which we previously showcased in a blog post.  The lamp was presented to Union Lodge No. 31 in New London, Connecticut, on December 25, 1922, by member Robert T. Woolsey (1893-1944).  In the past few weeks, since the magazine was mailed to members, I have received more than twelve phone calls, emails and letters.  Several respondents told me stories about their own family World War I souvenirs – including two similar lamps.

Another caller wanted to clarify the significance of the Statue of Liberty motif that is painted on a World War I helmet in our collection.  The helmet, which was originally worn by soldier Timothy Mahoney (b. 1889), is also painted with the identification of his unit – part of the 77th Division.  In the article I mentioned that the Statue of Liberty was a common helmet decoration, reminding soldiers of what they were fighting for.  However, in this case, as the caller reminded me, it had a more formal connection since the 77th Division was known as the “Statue of Liberty Division.”  The men had shoulder patches showing the statue inside a blue truncated triangle, much as it appears on the helmet. 80_29_1cDI1

Several other responders generously offered World War I material from their own family collections as a donation to the Museum.  So far we have received a trench telescope used by a British soldier, a Masonic “Welcome Home” badge from Excelsior Lodge No. 175 and several items of ephemera from a soldier who fought in the 315th Infantry, including a menu for a Masonic dinner that he attended in 1919.  We rely on donations in order to refine and improve our collection, so we are extremely grateful for these gifts.  We look forward to cataloging them and using them for future research and exhibitions.  If you have something that you would like to donate to our collection, see our staff contact page and get in touch!

Masonic Trench Art Lamp, 1918-1922, France or United States, Museum purchase, 2000.059.8.  Photograph by David Bohl.

World War I Helmet, 1918, United States, gift of Eva M. Mahoney, 80.29.1c. 


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.

 


Boston's Statler Building - A Supreme Council Headquarters for 40 Years

Statler_building_webTwo objects in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library - a postcard and a photograph - give us a sense of what the headquarters of the Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction looked like for nearly half of the twentieth century.

In the early years of the twentieth century, the Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, although officially headquartered in Boston (known within the Scottish Rite as its "Grand East"), still maintained a presence in New York City, where its Grand Secretary General continued administrative tasks, while the organization's archives were located at the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. At the Supreme Council's annual meeting in September 1926, then-Sovereign Grand Commander Leon M. Abbott (1867–1932) announced that the lease for the premises at 299 Broadway in New York City, used by the Grand Secretary General, was coming up for renewal on May 1, 1927, and that "it will become necessary to take some action at this annual meeting, looking to the renewal of the lease or the securing of other quarters." Present at that annual meeting was a man named Ellsworth M. Statler (1863-1928) - one of America's great hoteliers and a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Mason.

1.20 94_040_2DP1DB Statler Bldg_webE.M. Statler had started construction on a grand hotel in Boston in 1925. By the time of the 1926 annual meeting, the hotel was just half a year away from completion. The Hotel Statler and Statler Building (see postcard above) opened on March 10, 1927, as the newest in E.M. Statler's hotel chain. Located at 50 Park Plaza at Arlington St., the Boston Hotel Statler and Statler Building was a mixed-use building that combined both office space and a hotel. When the hotel opened it claimed to be the eighth largest hotel in the world - with 1,300 rooms. (The Hotel Statler building stands today - operating as the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.)

Statler urged the Supreme Council to lease space in his office building and, to further encourage them, offered that the Supreme Council "name its own terms." The lease began on May 1, 1927, for 3,090 square feet in rooms 1117 through 1124 on the eleventh floor. The new space in the Statler Building allowed the Supreme Council to consolidate its administrative offices and archives into one space. Yet it wasn't just office space that the Supreme Council occupied. As the photo above shows, one room was fitted up as a Supreme Council chamber.

By 1967, the Supreme Council was starting to outgrow its space in the Statler Building. That year they acquired 2,200 more square feet on the eleventh floor of the Statler Building, for a total of almost 5,000 square feet. In addition, they appointed a special committee to start investigating the possibilities of securing "a building of our own to be located in the Boston area." After forty years of being headquartered in the heart of Boston, the Supreme Council relocated a few miles west, to the town of Lexington. But that's a story for another day.

Captions:

Postcard of Hotel Statler and Statler Building, Boston, Massachusetts, ca.1930. Tichnor Bros., publisher, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Museum purchase. A2012/37/1.

Supreme Council Meeting Room, Statler Building, 1927-1960. Atlantic Foto Service, Boston, MA. Gift of the Estate of James Farr, 94.040.2. Photograph by David Bohl.

References:

Abstract of Proceedings of the Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the Thirty-third and Last Degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America. [Boston: Supreme Council, 33°, N.M.J., 1926], 51.

Abstract of Proceedings of the Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the Thirty-third and Last Degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America. [Boston: Supreme Council, 33°, N.M.J., 1967], 61-62.

George Adelbert Newbury and Louis Lenway Williams. A History of the Supreme Council, 33° of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America. (Lexington, MA: Supreme Council, A.A.S.R., N.M.J, 1987), 203-4.


Now Available: Book of Wisdom Compiled by Jean Doszedardski

Doszedardski Book CoverCompiled by Freemason Jean Doszedardski (b. 1770) during the early 1800s, the “Book of Wisdom” contains “statutes and general regulations” for Lodge le Choix des Hommes, located in Jacmel, San Domingo.  Now translated from the original French, the book provides an entrée into the lodges of the West Indies during the late 1700s and early 1800s.  In addition to details about how the lodge pursued its routine business, the end of the book includes a history of the development of Scottish Rite Freemasonry as it traveled from France to the West Indies and, eventually, to the United States.

The original manuscript is part of a collection of documents compiled by Doszedardski, now in the collection of the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.  Kamel Oussayef, 33°, completed the translation over several years as a volunteer at the Museum & Library.  Director of Collections Aimee E. Newell, Ph.D., provided an introduction and historical notes for the text.

Book of Wisdom: Freemasonry through the Veil of an Ancient French Manuscript is available now for $34.95 plus shipping from the Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, at https://shop.scottishritenmj.org/.


Albert Pike's 1870 33° Ritual

Pike_33rd_page_1_webAlbert Pike (1809-1891), Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite’s Southern Jurisdiction from 1859 to 1891, revised all of the Scottish Rite degree rituals, including the 33°, during his tenure. A handsomely bound book, containing Pike's reworked version of the 33°, was presented to the Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (NMJ) in 1870. This manuscript version of Pike's 33° ritual is currently on view in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives reading room exhibition, Secret Scripts: Masonic and Fraternal Ritual Books, at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

The inscription (see below) inside the book reads:

This Copy is most respectfully Presented to the Supreme Council of the Northern Jurisdiction of the U.S., by special permission of M∴ P∴ Albert Pike, Sov∴ Gr∴  Commander of the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction, U.S., by RMCGraham, 33° Gr∴ Rep∴, New York, March 19, 1870.

Robert McCoskry Graham (1830-1890) was an Active Member of the NMJ's Supreme Council and Grand Representative from that Supreme Council to the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction (SJ) from 1867 until his death in 1890. Graham lived in New York City and was actively involved in both the SJ's and NMJ's Supreme Councils.

In June 1870, three months after Graham inscribed the Pike ritual to the NMJ's Supreme Council, Albert Pike attended the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's annual meeting, held that year in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although Sovereign Grand Commanders from the NMJ and the SJ regularly attend each other's annual meetings today, Pike observed in 1870 that "It is, I think, the first time when the Grand Commander of one of our Supreme Councils has been present at a session of the other..." Although the 33° was conferred upon fourteen men at the 1870 annual meeting, the NMJ's annual Proceedings from 1870 do not indicate whether the Committee on Rituals had adopted the Pike ritual and whether that was the version of the 33° ritual that was used.

Pike_33rd_inscription_page_webThat Graham would have presented the ritual to the NMJ's Supreme Council is unsurprising. Not only was Graham the NMJ's Grand Representative to the SJ's Supreme Council, he was also close friends with Pike. Pike himself wrote the obituary for Graham that was published in the SJ's Official Bulletin. The obituary (later reprinted in Pike's collection of obituaries, Ex Corde Locutiones) is dated March 10, 1891 - less than a month before Pike's own death. Writing about Graham, Pike not only makes it clear that Graham was a friend, but that he was intimately involved with the activities of the Southern Jurisdiction's Supreme Council: "During the last ten years he had regularly been present at our sessions, feeling like one of us, and looked upon by us as one of ourselves, so much so that he sat with us in our confidential sessions, always welcomed and beloved by all."

The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction used Pike’s 33° ritual from 1870 until 1880, at which point they adopted Charles T. McClenachan’s revision of Pike’s ritual. A version of this ritual was used until 1938, when the Supreme Council approved a rewritten ritual composed by then-Sovereign Grand Commander Melvin M. Johnson. It is a version of this ritual that the NMJ's Supreme Council still uses today.

For further reading:

de Hoyos, Arturo. “On the Origins of the Prince Hall Scottish Rite Rituals,” Heredom 5 (1996): 51-67. [In this article about how the NMJ assisted in the production of the United Supreme Council (PHA)'s book of Scottish Rite rituals, de Hoyos, using primary sources in the collection of the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, provides a few concise paragraphs (pp.60-61) on the development of the NMJ's 33rd degree through the nineteenth century.]

Caption:

Albert Pike, Manuscript Ritual for the 33°, 1870, Washington, D.C., Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Collection, R-40.


Beginning the Next 200 Years

Repro Charter SGCs Actives ResizedIf you read our post yesterday, you know that August 5th, 2013, marked the 200th anniversary of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction,  To commemorate that event and to begin the next 200 years, the Supreme Council celebrated in New York City at the Grand Lodge of New York.  Sovereign Grand Commander John William McNaughton welcomed his counterpart from the Southern Jurisdiction, Sovereign Grand Commander Ronald Seale, as well as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York (see the photo below), and many of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's Actives and Deputies to New York City.  During a short ceremony,Grand Master of NY with Dignitaries Resized Commander Seale presented Commander McNaughton with a reproduction of the 1813 charter (seen in the photo above).  The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library looks forward to continuing to collect material related to the past, present and future of the fraternity.

 


Astronaut John Glenn's Scottish Rite Ring

Glenn Ring Front2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Scottish Rite’s Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (see these posts for more information on the history of the Scottish Rite). The Jurisdiction’s Supreme Council founded the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in 1975. To celebrate, we are presenting a new exhibition, “A Sublime Brotherhood: Two Hundred Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction.”

Opening June 15, 2013, the exhibition uses more than 100 objects and images to tell the story of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. While most people assume that the Scottish Rite began in Scotland, it was actually founded in France in the mid-1700s. Early groups met in the West Indies, eventually taking root in New York, New Orleans, and Philadelphia. Glenn Ring Inside

Among the objects on view is the 33rd degree ring originally owned by astronaut and Freemason John H. Glenn Jr. (b. 1921). The first American to orbit the earth, in 1962, Glenn circled the planet three times in the Mercury capsule Friendship 7. After retiring from the Marine Corps in 1965, Glenn pursued his interest in politics. Starting in 1974, he served Ohio for four consecutive terms in the United States Senate. The Grand Master of Ohio made John Glenn a Mason at sight in 1978. In 1998, soon after Glenn received the Scottish Rite’s 33rd degree, conferred on selected members as a high honor, he wore this ring when he returned to space in the shuttle Discovery.  On the journey he became the oldest American to participate in a NASA mission.

Starting Saturday, June 15, 2013, the exhibition will be open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On June 15, 2013, at 2 p.m., Aimee E. Newell, the museum’s Director of Collections and curator of the exhibition, will give a gallery talk. Please visit www.nationalheritagemuseum.org for more information.

Scottish Rite 33rd Degree Ring, 1998, Irons and Russell Company, New York, NY, gift of John H. Glenn Jr. in memory and honor of Vern Riffe, a good friend, 33° Mason, and the longest serving Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives in history, 2000.018a. Photographs by David Bohl.