FOR THE PAST several months we have had researchers from the German Historical Institute of Washington, DC, use the Supreme Council library every Tuesday to do research for the following project.
Realms of Sociability?
Empires and Freemasons in the Atlantic World (circa 1770s-1850s)
By Jan C. Jansen
With roots in medieval and early modern stonemasons' lodges, modern ("speculative") Freemasonry took shape in early-eighteenth-century England. Rapidly spreading throughout continental Europe, Freemasons' lodges became a well-known element of sociability in Enlightenment Europe, a secluded world meant to facilitate the practice of the ideals of fraternity and humanity across social, national, and confessional boundaries. It is less known that within a few decades this secluded world transcended the borders of the European continent. At the end of the eighteenth century, a wide network of lodges was already in place stretching from Europe to North and South America, into the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. Long before the rise of governmental and non-governmental international organizations, the Freemasons built one of the first non-religious institutionalized and stable networks with an intercontinental and global reach.
Empiresâ€”be they continental or intercontinentalâ€”constituted an important framework for the expansion of Freemasonry. My project aims at examining this connection between colonial empires and freemasonry. It focusses on the Atlantic World as a major region of Masonic expansion at the end of the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth century. Starting from important hubs in the British and French Caribbean (esp. Jamaica, Barbados, Saint-Domingue/Haiti, and Guadeloupe) the project explores the international Masonic networks with their ramifications and connections to North America and Western Europe: What were the driving forces and dynamics of expansion? Which specific conflicts arose within as well as between the lodges? How did they intersect with political, social, and mental contexts? How were they used by different groups of actors?
Three analytical questions are essential to the project:
- It examines to what extent the lodges served as venues for imperial and/or transatlantic forms of sociability.
- By addressing the tensions between universalist ideals and numerous forms of exclusion, it sheds new light on the complex relationship between (Enlightenment) cosmopolitanism, slavery, and a (colonial) "civilizing mission."
- It explores if and in which way(s) the lodges functioned as an infrastructure through which ideas and forms of organization were transmitted across long distances and cultural boundaries.
Question for the Librarian
When was the Scottish Rite Creed established and why was it re-written?
In 1901 Sovereign Grand Commander James D. Richardson gave a Centennial Address introducing the Scottish Rite Creed. â€œThe cause of human progress is our cause, the enfranchisement of human thought our supreme wish, the freedom of human conscience our mission, and this guarantee of equal rights to all peoples everywhere, the end of our contention.
The Scottish Rite Creed was changed in 1990. Ill. D Walter Jessen stated â€œit is not to alter the meaning of the Creed, but to express in modern terms, using simple, clear and direct language, the essence of Scottish Rite philosophy as it relates to the important issues addressed by the Creed.â€
The new Scottish Rite Creed, â€œHuman progress is our cause, liberty of thought our supreme wish, freedom of conscience our mission, and the guarantee of equal rights to all people everywhere our ultimate goal.â€
For each degree, the bible is open to a different page. Do you know why these passages were selected, or who selected them?
1st Degree â€“ Entered Apprentice Degree â€“ Psalm 133
2nd Degree â€“ Fellowcraft Degree â€“ Amos 7:7-8
- â€œUnity is essential in a Masonic Lodge; unity of purpose and execution. The 133rd Psalm then is a glorification of the beauty and necessity of brotherly love and unity, which I why this Scripture is an integral part of the Entered Apprentice Degree.â€ Short Talk Bulletin, Vol. 85 September, 2007, No. 9.
- â€œThe lesson from Amos is that we are to judge our work by our own plumb-line, not by anotherâ€™s; if we erect that which is good work, true work, square work by our own working tools, working tools provided by Godâ€”in other words, by our own standardâ€”we will do well. Only when a Fellowcraft is not true to his own God-inspired conscience is he building that which is defective.â€ Short Talk Bulletin, Vol. 85 October, 2007 No. 10.
3rd Degree â€“ Master Mason Degree â€“ Ecclesiastes 12:1-7
- â€œThe whole is a reminder to start early to remember the Creator (worship God), as you canâ€™t catch up in later life, for while the dust returns to the earth, the spirit must return to God for his judgement at the end of our lives. The proper living of our lives and worship of our God must last our lifetime, in order to obtain eternal life with our God when this life is over.
- Whatever stage of our life, it is imperative that we as men and Masons: REMEMBER NOW THY CREATOR!â€ Short Talk Bulletin, Vol 85 November 2007 No. 11.
The library is proud to have received an interesting and unique gift recently. I received a call from Mr. William B. Harrison about donating a Rainbow Girls scrapbook to our library. His late wife Joan Moore Harrison, a Worthy Associate Advisor in the Order of Rainbow for Girls in the Tampa (Fl.) Assembly, had the scrapbook in her possession for all of their 54 plus years of marriage. Joan passed away July 27, 2015. The scrapbook contains a section on Tampaâ€™s Gasparilla and Centennial celebrations along with articles and pictures on the activities of the Assembly during the year.
I was not familiar with such a scrapbook, but I told Mr. Harrison that we would love to have it for our collection. After only being on display now for a couple months I have already had interested patrons either from past Rainbow Girls recognizing the book or from people curious about the uniqueness of the volume.
The cover (pictured top) is made of wood and the Rainbow Girls logo is painted on it with the colors of the rainbow and the letters BFCLR.
Pictured (l-r) Joan Moore, Worthy Associate Advisor; Pat Moore and Martha Dreadin, are members of the committee that made the scrapbook.
Thank you again Mr. Harrison!!
Book Donations for the Library
Cathedrals Built by the Masons
By Russell Herner, 2015
â€œThe book documents the origin and development of Freemasonry and how it descended directly from the Operative Stonemasons of the Middle Ages. It tells the story of how the Master Builders and craftsmen designed and built the beautiful masterpieces of architecture called cathedrals.â€ Russell Herner, 33 Degree Valley of Toledo, NMJ.
Books donated by James O. Wolfe, 33Â°, Orient of Nebraska:
The Sesquicentennial History of the Grand Lodge of Nebraska 1857 to 2007
By Bro. Russell G. Reno, 2007
The Omaha Valley Scottish Rite Freemasonry 1867â€“2014
By Wm. Larry Jacobsen, 33Â°, 2015
The Alchemical Keys to Masonic Ritual
by Timothy Hogan, 2007
Travels Through History An Amateur Battlefield Historians Ramblings
By John T. Parsons, 33Â°, 2011