Archive Internship Experience

By Debra Grech

For the spring semester, I was given the opportunity to intern at the archives of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library as part of my coursework towards a Masters in Library and Information Science, with certification in Archival and Cultural Heritage Preservation from Queens College. This was my first internship experience since entering this masters program and my time here has been invaluable.

As an intern, I was given the chance to apply theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom to practical and hands-on experience in a professional setting. My tasks included rehousing and inventorying pre-1900s individual lodge papers from Series 2 that were originally housed in bound volumes and placing them into acid-free boxes and folders. The papers were placed in the folders based on their content and metadata was added in order for the papers to be easily accessed for future researchers. Previous inventories did not contain date range and lodge location categories, however, my supervisor and I decided that was important information that could be added to further increase accessibility. Additionally, I worked on a digitization project where I scanned previously filed and inventoried lodge papers from Series 2 in an effort to preserve the originals in digital form in case the physical copy gets damaged. These papers were created by numerous Freemason lodges in New York State and range from lodge creation materials such as petitions and warrants to elections of new officers.

I am very thankful for the opportunity given to me to intern at the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library. During my time at this institution, I learned about notions of privacy that are specific to this archive. My knowledge of Freemasonry has also expanded by working with various types of Masonic materials as well as a highly knowledgeable staff that was always there to answer any of my questions.






Archiving at the Library

By Sarah Jacobs, Archives Intern

For the past three months, I have been interning at the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library in their Archives. I have used my experience at this institution, to supplement the completion of my Masters in Library and Information Science Degree (MILS), with certification in Archival and Cultural Heritage Preservation from Queens College.

Prior to my internship, my knowledge of Freemasonry was incredibly minimal. Interning here has given me a unique opportunity to not only expand my knowledge, but to do so through the examination of original Masonic paperwork. In some cases, this paperwork dates back to the early 1800s.

My time here has given me invaluable archival skills. My primary responsibilities included inventorying, processing, and rehousing various forms of Masonic material from their current locations in bound volumes to acid-free archival folders and boxes. During this process, it was my job to ensure that each individual item was placed in the proper folder and given the proper descriptive metadata, so that it may be easily located in the future. I was able to engage with interesting and unique pieces, such as handwritten and detailed petitions for the formation of lodges. I was even given the opportunity to scan and digitize some of these materials, for future preservation. Other responsibilities included the creation of two finding aids for previously unprocessed collections. In writing these finding aids, I not only broadened my archival experience, but got a more intimate look into the personal papers of two individual Masons–and the chance to make these documents more accessible to those who wish to examine them in the future.

 I am immensely grateful for the opportunities I have been given, as an intern at the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library. Not only have I garnered new skill sets, but I have been given the chance to handle and examine documents of rare and immense informational value, and make their access and utilization simpler for those hoping to also expand their Masonic knowledge.

A Recap of “The First Jewish Grand Master: A Lecture with MW Daniel Semel”

On November 30, 2017, the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library was honored to have Most Worshipful Daniel Semel as our Speaker for the Month. His lecture, The First Jewish Grand Master, was extremely well received by our robust audience.

Tracing back into our Grand Lodge’s history, M∴W∴ Brother Semel highlighted several prominent New York Jews who were members of the Fraternity. He noted that M∴W∴ Harry Ostrov (1962-1963) was thought to be the earliest Jewish Grand Master in New York State – M∴W∴ Brother Ostrov is characterized as such in his 1995 obituary in our Grand Lodge Proceedings. Brother Semel challenged this idea, by focusing on M∴W∴ Isaac Phillips (1849-1852) and M∴W∴ Mordecai Myers (1853-1856). Both were New York Grand Lodge Grand Masters who were Jewish, but have been overlooked and, until recently, omitted from our list of Past Grand Masters. M∴W∴ Brother Semel delved into the colorful history of both men, and their public service in addition to their Masonic contributions.

M∴W∴ Semel’s hope is that members of the Fraternity will take this information, and research further into men like M∴W∴ Isaac Phillips and M∴W∴ Mordecai Myers.

Our Lecture Series typically run on the last Thursday of every month! Don’t forget to RSVP to our next lecture on December 14, with RW Pierre de Ravel d’Esclapon reprising his lecture, “Solomon’s Temple: Separating Fact from Fiction.”

Check Out New Books in the Library!

Next time you come to the Library, make sure to check out our 3 new books that were recently added to the collection!

Reclaiming the Soul of Freemasonry by Sovereign Grand Commander John Wm. McNaughton

[Call Number: M11 M232]

If you were ever interested in seeing contemporary Freemasonry being  presented as infographics, this is the book for you! In our technology driven society, McNaughton has collected statistical analysis on survey data. He uses this data to support many valid points concerning how Freemasonry resonates with Millennials, and future endeavors of increasing membership.


A Place in the Lodge: Dr. Rob Morris, Freemasonry and the Order of the Eastern Star by Nancy Stearms Theiss, Phd

[Call Number: 921 T34]

Theiss has written a fascinating new biography on Rob Morris, that stems from her transcription and research into Morris’ family letters that were previously unpublished. Known as the man who worked to establish the Order of the Eastern Order, these letters help to give the reader a better sense of the man himself.



Haunted Chambers: The Lives of Early Women Freemasons by Karen Kidd

[Call Number: M80 K54]

Tracing back to the medieval era, Kidd unveils the lives of women who were involved as both Operative and Speculative Freemasons. Through her research, she has been able to compile one of the most complete lists of early women Freemasons. By presenting Freemasonry from this particular perspective, Kidd highlights an often marginalized part of history.

Check Out Our Two New Exhibits on Music and Movies!

Come to the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library to see 2 new exhibits, displaying material from the Library and Archives Department!

If you are interested in music, make sure to check out our new exhibit, Keys of the Craft: Masonic Musicians Through the Ages! We highlight a few major composers whose work was influenced by their Masonic background, including John Philip Sousa and Jean Sibelius. Ranging from tickets to vinyl records, this exhibit highlights the wide breadth of musical material that our collection holds!

Click here to see our playlist, with songs that helped inspire this exhibit!

Keys of the Craft: Masonic Musicians Through the Ages, as curated by Joseph Patzner (Digital Technician)

If you have seen the famous 1975 movie by John Huston, entitled The Man Who Would Be King, please stop by our other new exhibit, Rudyard Kipling: From Book To Screen. Having found original movie stills from the film, we have displayed these photographs, alongside both the source material and original screenplay! If you have time, make sure to stop by the Library’s front desk to ask to see our other stills from this movie that did not make their way into the exhibition case.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936): From Book To Screen, as curated by Jo-Ann Wong (Librarian)

We look forward to seeing you, at the Library!

Assessing Materials Prior to Digitization

By Joseph Patzner

As there is increasing motivation to digitize records to expand accessibility, evaluating the breadth and condition of the materials selected for digitization is required. Additionally, making note of any idiosyncrasies, like photos glued onto a sheet of paper, loose pages within a bound book, or a tight binding, can help aid in understanding how materials will be processed.

Book with damaged spine and loose pages

When assessing the condition of materials selected for scanning, each item is given an individual entry, where I take notes about the type of material (bound, loose material) and damage. During my most recent project, I found that materials from the 19th century tend to have spines and bindings that are in poor condition, primarily due to age, while more modern material tends to consist of loose material in binders. If I find any damage, I photograph the damage to assure the Lodges that the material was not damaged while on loan to be digitized. When looking at the types of material, if there are loose news clippings or photographs, I’ll note that these materials need to be rehoused in order to ensure the longevity of preservation.

Book with missing spine and detached boards

What to look for when preparing to digitize material:

  1. Loose or Missing Boards
  2. Loose Binding
  3. Torn or Missing Pages
  4. Loose Papers inserted into a Bound Book
  5. News Clippings
  6. Loose Photographs

 If you would like individual materials or materials from your lodge digitized, contact our Digital Technician at .

How to Do a Genealogy Search: Freemasonry Edition

At the library, one of my main duties involves the answering genealogy requests from both Brothers and the public. These requests are often trying to gain a better understanding of family members who were Freemasons, and their level of involvement.

A genealogy search in this collection entails knowing how to use and interpret the collection’s

Books, Microfiche, Manuscripts, Card Catalog

To begin such a search as this:

1. I first ask if they have the birth and date years of the person that is being looked for. As our collection has a vast amount of resources, materials used for genealogy are often separated by time periods. Thus, knowing the time period in which an individual lived in would direct me to the proper resources.

  • Pre-1900 material: Found in our archives/ microfiche
  • Post-1900 material: Microfiche/ digitized in the Online Historical Lodge Files

2. If the patron knows the Lodge from which the person derives from, I would often go directly to the files that we have on that Lodge, and physically look through the material to see if I could find their names and possible positions within the Lodge itself.

3. If the patron does NOT know the Lodge, I would start by looking in the archival material/card catalogs we have that pertains to members. In the hopes that the person might have held a position in the Grand Lodge of New York F. & A. M., I also look in our related catalogs concerning who held these positions.

Card Catalogs pertaining to Membership and Positions
  • A last resort is asking if the individual knows what particular area in New York that the person might have lived in. If so, I can usually check to see which lodges were operating in that particular area during the time frame of the person. Thus, I would be able to narrow down the number of lodges that I would look at, to find this person.
  • If the person was also part of a concordant body and I was given the year of their death, I would often use the proceedings from these concordant bodies, as their Necrology sections are often accurate and reliable sources.
Microfiche Collection

4. Once a person’s Lodge is found, using the returns that are found in the microfiche and archives collection is a good way to look for a specific confirmation of Lodge membership. When supplied with a death year, I would often use the Return from that year to find where it was notated that he died, and to then use the Returns to trace back to when he joined.

5. Further information about said person can be found in the files pertaining to that individual’s lodge.

If you are interested in having a genealogy search done, please contact

Driving in the Comfort of the Classroom

By Joseph Patzner

Whilst researching for a future library project, our Associate Librarian Jo-Ann Wong found and shared a folder containing a press release that detailed the introduction of the ÆtnaDriveotrainer “behind-the-wheel” Driving Lesson Program into the New York City education system.  The program was introduced, as the schools were finding the current driving education system to not be as financially sensible. Hence, they attempted this transition towards a portable Drivotrainer system. While the students look somewhat ridiculous seated in a classroom full of motionless cars that resemble bumper cars, one of the main goals of the program was to provide teenagers with the opportunity to acquire invaluable driving skills without the risk of injury or driving accidents. At the moment, while this material was found in our stacks, it is unclear whether or not the Masons were a major proponent in getting these programs into the school. However, the Masons are well-known for being a large supporter for the education of the youth of society.

While much of modern driving education occurs through on-the-road training, during the 1950s Ætna developed the Driovotrainer “behind” the wheel training course as a way to pioneer a safer and effective method for teaching driving skills. The system that is reflected in these photographs were loaned to the Brooklyn High School of Automotive Trades on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. The system consisted of 15 Ætnacars, with the controls of a standard automobile including pedals, a shift knob, speedometer, turn signals and a high-low beam switch, as well as a set of twenty-two films to be projected at the front of the classroom that simulate various driving situations for which the students “drive” in. As the student are “driving,” each student’s progress is recorded and printed in the rear of the classroom as to allow the instructor to track student progress and correct driving errors as they occur. It is to no surprise that the final film is a twenty-five-minute road test, to test whether or not the students are able to apply the skills gained from the first twenty-one films.  Upon successful completion of the three-hour training course, the students would receive a discounted rate from insurance providers.

These driving simulators were produced throughout the 1970s, before returning to the way they had been prior to the Driveotrainer. Although Ætna is no longer around, the concept of driving simulators still exists as a way to not only teach individuals how to drive, but as an aid in understanding driving habits.

The film “Teach Them Now,” produced by the Ætna insurance company, explains why the company developed the training system and can be viewed below courtesy of the National Archives.





Time to Press!

By Jo-Ann Wong

In our archives, our documents from the late 19th century and onward will often have an imprint, also known as a seal impression. These imprints indicate the specific Lodge or Masonic organization that the paper is originating from, and are extremely important in tracing back a Lodge’s history and their correspondence with others.

The device that was most commonly used to create these imprints are known as seal presses. Traditionally, these presses would be used to emboss wax seals, but overtime, embossing an imprint became more in fashion. It is believed that this transition from wax to embossing a seal directly onto the paper started around 1782.

In our Museum collection, we have dozens of these seal presses. Particularly, our collection contains many “Lever” seal presses. These were made out of iron, and would often have either fanciful metalwork, such as this one that includes a lion head (which was also known as the Lion Seal Press):

or have designs painted onto it, like this one:


As you can see, the name “lever” comes from the fact that this is how one would operate this device. Taking the lever, you would push down hard to create the impression on the piece of paper that is slid into the device. The harder you pressed down, the more defined the impression would be. These seal presses, because they are made of iron, are heavy, and can range between 3 to 10 lbs each.


As such, while there are no dates on the seal presses themselves, there are clues throughout that hint at their age. The first clue comes from the imprint itself. For the press that had designs painted onto it, the imprint is this:

Note the Masonic symbol of the All-Seeing Eye and the Hour-Glass

Indicating that it is from the Masonic Veterans, the imprint also notes that it was incorporate in 1872.

Similarly, the press with the lion’s head has an imprint that looks like:

Note the Masonic symbol of the Compass, as well as the outline of a mans face.

Belonging to a specific lodge, the imprint indicates that this lodge was instituted in 1909.

The other clue for dating these devices is looking at their bases. The press that is from the Masonic Veterans has a flat, smooth bottom, which is indicative of early  to mid-1800s seals. The other press has a large pour hole, which indicates that it is from the  The former is indicative of being made in the early 1900s. As such, with information from the imprint and from the base of the presses, it can be assumed that the Masonic Veterans press was made around 1860-70s, while the other press was made around 1910s.

To see more devices like this one, come visit our Library & Museum!



Early Office Museum


Masons on an Alternative Diamond

By Joseph Patzner

With the first pitch of Major League Baseball season set to cross the plate in just under three weeks, I began to explore the relationship between Freemasonry and baseball. While the Civil War hero Abner DoubIeday was long recognized as the founder of the “Modern” game of baseball, he was falsely attributed as the “Father of Baseball.” Rather, Alexander Joy Cartwright, a member of Le Progress de I’oceanie and Hawaiian Lodge, had developed the game using the rules of the English game of rounders whilst playing pick-up games of “town ball.” He soon established the Knickerbocker Baseball Club in 1842. While playing mostly pick-up games with the team throughout the early to mid 1840s in vacant New York City lots, the first official game under Cartwright’s rules took place between the Knickerbockers and the New York Nine on June 24, 1846 at Elysian Field in Hoboken, New Jersey.

In addition to learning that a Mason was the founder of our national past-time, I found a number of news clippings and articles highlighting players from the early to mid-20th century that were involved in Freemasonry.  One of the most interesting clippings came from The Masonic World, which had a photograph of Charles Hostetler, Paul Trout, Harold Newhouser, and Robert Swift of Lodge 417* in Michigan, being raised to the degree of Master Mason. Similarly, in 1932, the Masonic Outlook published a story that highlighted members of the New York (Baseball) Giants team who were part of The Craft. When asked why the men joined, the players mentioned that their fathers were also Masons.

(* in our records, the Lodge’s name was not specified)

The referenced article from “The Masonic World” about the Detroit baseball players.

In addition to publishing articles about baseball players involved in Freemasonry, the Grand Lodge of New York F. &A.M. contacted the front offices of multiple teams throughout the league during the 1946 off-season, asking about which players in the league were also Masons. Although numerous responses were sent, replies varied, with most replies noting that, while the information was not made available to them, the Grand Lodge of New York F. &A.M. might be better off contacting the players directly. While it is unclear whether or not the players had been contacted directly, a list was compiled by The Royal Arch Magazine that identified 275 prominent players who were also a part of Freemasonry. On this list, some of the most notable names included Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Mickey Cochrane, and Dazzy Vance. While it is unclear whether or not any players joined the brotherhood beyond the mid and early 20th century, the Masons maintained their relationship with the New York baseball clubs, by holding Brotherhood Night in the ’70s and ’80s to help promote unity throughout the city.

The cover of the “Royal Arch Mason Magazine’s” list of baseball players

If you are interested in learning more about the relationship between Freemasonry and Baseball, there is currently an exhibit dedicated to the subject at the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library & Museum.


It’s All in the Case: Bible Boxes

Traditionally, Bibles were held in containers known as “Bible Boxes.” A box such as this would be used to store a Bible, as well as protect it while it was being transported. Popular in the 17th century, boxes were ornate and made out of wood, metal, or even ceramics.

However, as modern forms of mailing and transportation came about, these Bible Boxes became subdued in style, but more pragmatic for modern shipping. The boxes started to look more like what we consider today as a FedEx box.
        Our collection of Bibles in Bible Boxes.
Let us deconstruct one of our Bibles that is encased in a Bible Box.
                               Our example.
Bibles would be sold in these boxes by the publishers, which would often be indicated on the side of the box. This particular Bible was being distributed by the publisher Nelson.
                               Side of the box.
Then, as seen by this example, the top of the box could be pasted over with paper, stamped, and shipped out to another recipient. In our example here, there are two 3 cents stamps on the pasted paper, along with a postmark. The postmark, unfortunately, does not include a date.
However, on this top cover, it faintly reads (in pencil!) that the recipient is “Hon. Samuel Nelson Sawyer,” who was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York F. & A.M. from 1908-1909. And, the Bible inside the box, which is from Sea & Field Lodge No. 1 F. & A. M., is dated as being from 1918. In the back of the Bible, there is a library due card stamped with dates from 1936. As such, it can be determined that Hon. Samuel Nelson Sawyer received this Bible from between 1918-1936.

Examples like this are reminders that, not only is the object itself important, but so is the case that it came in.
                                       Top cover of the box.
And, don’t forget to visit our new display, Selections from the Bible Collection at the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Library & Museum, that is currently being exhibited in the Library!

The Effects of Tape on Paper Documents

By Joseph Patzner

Recently, we received a request from a patron to digitize loose materials to aid his research about a lodge. As I was preparing the materials for digitization, I found repairs had been made to the torn pages by applying pressure sensitive tape. While the tape helps to repair damage at the moment, the tape can cause damage over time, as the chemicals in the adhesive will darken and stain documents.  As a result of the stains, text can become obscured. And, the ink can be transferred to the tape, thereby removing the text from the page if the tape is separated from the paper.

While pressure sensitive tape was once the primary solution for paper repairs upon its release in the 1930s, the use of Japanese papers with Kozo fibers has become the standard practice by conservators for mending tears within paper collection. Japanese papers with Kozo fibers are translucent and do not discolor over time, thereby preventing text from being obscured.  Despite the recommendation for use of Japanese papers, certain objects may still require the use of an adhesive. According to the NEDCC , the adhesives selected for repairs must not discolor the paper to which it is applied, adhesion should be maintained indefinitely, and the repair needs to be reversible without damaging the original object.  Most of the commercially available adhesives should also be avoided, as they do not meet the NEDCC criterion and are likely to damage the paper they adhere to.

New Acquisitions

If you are interested in history and its relation to Freemasonry, come visit the library, and check out our recent acquisitions to the book collection!

 Sworn in Secret: Freemasonry and the Knights Templar by Sanford Holst

In this book, Sanford Holst’s research details the roots of Freemasonry, when it was still operating as a secret society before 1717, and its development during this time period. Also, the book explores Freemasonry’s relations with the Knights Templar and the Vatican. Holst was able to gain access to many related documents that are not generally accessible to the public and most Masons. Thus, his research has culminated into an important text that provides new information and perspectives on Freemasonry’s history.

Loyalists and Malcontents: Freemasonry & Revolution in the Deep South by Ric Berman

Author of The Foundations of Modern Freemasonry and Schism, Ric Berman provides another important text regarding the relations between Freemasonry and the United States. Berman traces the history of freemasonry in South Carolina  and Georgia to its beginnings in the colonial era, into the end of the 18th century. As such, this text covers how the culture of the South and the American Revolutionary War would impact the development of freemasonry in this part of the United States.

Digitizing Materials from the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library

By Joseph Patzner

Over time, the materials that make up books will naturally breakdown, with the potential of accelerated degradation, due to non-ideal conditions leading to materials to be at risk of damage with regular use. Since much of the information in our collection is of value and significance to independent researchers, Lodges, and Masons, it is important that the content contained in these documents remain accessible beyond the lifetime of the physical document were it to become damaged or destroyed. To support preservation and access to information from collection materials,  the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library is currently digitizing select bound material, like Grand Chapter Proceedings, and unbound documents from the collection including Lodge Historical Files. Moreover, by creating digital facsimiles, we help to expand access to the collection.

Though it would be great to have digital copies for each book in the collection, it is not sensible to attempt to digitize “everything,” as there may not be a demand for access to certain books or copyright restriction may limit the number of electronic copies that can be created for distribution.

Current Digitization Projects:
Grand Chapter of New York Proceeding Volumes
Free and Accepted Mason Reading Course Books
Lodge Historical Files, including Lodge notices and ephemera from Lodge events

In addition to digitizing items currently in the collection, the Library also offers researchers and Masons the opportunity to have items from their Lodge or personal collection digitized.

As we continue to digitize materials, learning how and which materials patrons are using will help us gain an understanding into how we can adapt our digitization program to support the needs of current patrons, while also expanding our reach to Masons and researchers who may be unable to visit the Library but are interested in working with the collection.

For more information about digitization services, click here.

Experience as an Archives Intern

By Jo-Ann Wong

jw-blog-postWorking as an archives intern at the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library has given me an extraordinary amount of insight regarding archival work and the operations of a special collections. Here, I was given the opportunity to work with an archival collection that contained a mass amount of history, dating back to the late 1700s. While going through the manuscripts, I was able to learn more about the history of masonry, as well as aspects regarding the general pervading views of different time periods. For instance, working with papers dating to the Civil War had different concerns and worries than papers found in the era of the 1920s.

With this archival collection, my main duties included reorganizing, rehousing, and creating an inventory of the material, as well as updating the finding aid to make the collection more accessible to the public. Throughout this process, I was able to come across interesting materials that were previously hidden in the archives, such as correspondence from both Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With the work I have done physically organizing and revising the finding aid, I hope that I have made manuscripts like these more accessible to both the masons and the public.

Overall, learning about this part of American history while exercising my archival skills in a professional setting has been a truly rewarding experience.


Watch now! Library lecture with Armin Kuljis

Based on three key elements: art, science and spirituality Armin’s mission is to “awake consciousness” of the miracle and beauty of life from the simplest to the most complex events. He seeks to transmit this combination of thoughts, feelings and knowledge through his artwork which includes: painting, drawing, engraving, urban art, digital design and photography. Armin’s art flows by either combining techniques or applying each one of them separately. Within its abstract nature many of his pieces have a strong spiritual content amalgamated with miscellaneous shapes, colors and architectonic designs. Through his photography, enriched with light, shade and beautiful reflections, Armin invites us to focus our attention to the magnificence of simple daily life images.

“Serendipia” represents the way Armin Kuljiš -through lines, strokes and highlights- lets and makes things happen to share his gratefulness for life. It is also an invitation to enjoy art from different perspectives.

About the artist:
Armin Kuljis was born in La Paz, Bolivia in 1981. He graduated as an Architect Summa Cum Laude from Universidad de Aquino in La Paz, Bolivia in 2005. Later, his passion for art and culture brought him to Mexico City where he also earned a Master’s degree in Architecture with an honorable mention at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in 2009.  In order to enrich his techniques Armin studied painting, drawing and composition, screen painting art and engraving at the Real Academia San Carlos in Mexico City. In addition, he worked as a professor at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels at the Universidad La Salle in Mexico, DF.

From 2007 to 2015 Armin has participated in several Collective and Individual art exhibits in Bolivia, Mexico and United States. As an artist, his main source of inspiration is nature in all its manifestations; in fact, he devotes an important amount of time studying and teaching architectural biomimechry and sacred geometry.

New Acquisiton: Renaissance Man & Mason by R∴W∴ Piers A. Vaughan

renaissanceRenaissance Man & Mason by R∴W∴ Piers A. Vaughan

R∴W∴ Piers A. Vaughan graciously donated two copies of his new book, Renaissance Man & Mason, to the Livingston Library this past week. Described as a “miscellany of talks” delivered over the past two decades, this book is intended to appeal to both those interested in Masonic history and the more esoteric. Thorough discussions on the symbolism of Blue Lodges and Concordant Bodies allow both novices and experts to find light in these pages.

We wish to congratulate R∴W∴ Piers A. Vaughan on this accomplishment, and we look forward to having him at the Livingston Library for a lecture and book signing on November 17th!

Hope to see you there!

Featured Book: Mid 19th century Masonic Gift Books


Having read this great blog post by the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum in Massachusetts on Masonic gift books, I found myself searching our stacks for similarly beautiful books.

I stumbled upon a small collection of books, alternatively titled The Emblem or The Freemasons Annual, dedicated to the “wives, daughters, sisters and sweethearts of Freemasons”.

Illustrated with engravings depicting beauty, justice, faith, hope, and charity, and peppered with Masonic odes and poems, these books were meant to be not only useful but ornamental. Read the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum’s piece to learn more about the history of this wonderful genre of book.

WATCH NOW! Angel Millar on Freemasonry and Traditionalism in the East and West

Angel Millar’s August 24th, 2016 lecture is now streaming online!

The main focus of this lecture is Freemasonry’s relationship to various societies and movements in both the East and West over the last three centuries and their attempt to ‘ride the tiger’ of modernity.

Watch the lecture below or click here to check out our YouTube channel, and be sure to catch our next lecture at the library on August 25th!


Watch now! Livingston Library Lecture with Jean-Luc Leguay, Master Illuminator.

For the Masonic Fraternity, the concepts of light and geometry are central to the Masonic Rituals. As Jean-Luc Leguay is a Brother Freemason, this lecture, held on June 23rd, 2016 and now available to stream below, touches on topics that will be of great interest to Freemasons, to those who are interested in Freemasonry, to those interested in the rare knowledge of illumination, to those who have a love of art, and to those touched by the tragedy of 9/11.




Featured Book: The Knights Templars, A Historical Tragedy

Featured Book from The Library Division


“This Religious and Military Order, whose virtue and prowess emblazon the historical page, and the memory of whose unmerited persecution will evoke the tribute of a sign from every generous breast, originated in Jerusalem, A.D. 1118.”

In honor of the upcoming Grand Encampment at Grand Lodge, the Livingston Library delves into the history of a seminal work essential to the Order of the Knights Templar’s literary history.

Francois J. M.  RayIMG_0313nouard’s play, Les Templiers (1805), was among the first modern literary portrayals of the Order of the Knights Templar. Raynouard was a political radical, having been imprisoned for his support of the Girondists political party in France during the time of the Revolution. The Girondists advocated the end of monarchy but feared the chaos spawned by the Revolution, and rightly so. Though Raynouard was only imprisoned, there were mass executions of those affiliated with the Girondists during the Reign of Terror.

Napoleon’s battlefield victories brought spoils to France from around the world. It was during his conquest of Italy that papers from the Vatican Archives were retrieved. Raynouard spent years studying these works, eventually writing a historical piece called Monuments Historiques Relatifs a la Condemnation des Chevaliers du Temple [Historical Documents related to the Condemnation of the Knights Templar]. Most notably, he found no conclusive evidence regarding secret Gnostic doctrines or mystical practices. Inspired by his historical work, he wrote Les Templiers to be performed for the Emperor himself.

It was Raynouard’s play that KTMolayperpetuated one of the many false claims associated with the Knights Templar. Having confused the Mongol general Mulay with Grand Master Jacques de Molay, Raynouard claimed Grand Master Molay led the Mongols in their attack, capturing Jerusalem and the imaginations of many. At the height of the confusion in 1846, a large painting was created by Claude Jacquand, titled Molay Prend Jerusalem, 1299 (“Molay Takes Jerusalem, 1299”), which portrays the moment of capture. Today the painting hangs in the Hall of the Crusades in VersaillJacques_de_Molay_Grand_Maitre_de_l_Ordre_du_Temple_prend_Jerusalem_1299es.

Raynouard’s playwright career came to an abrupt halt when his play Les Etats de Blois (1810) offended Napoleon due to themes related to freedom of speech. He became a well-respected linguist and died near Paris, France in 1836.

The library holds two copies of the English translation of Raynouard’s Les Templiers. Published in 1809 by the translator Matthias James O’Conway in Philadelphia, this edition includes both An Interesting History of the Knights Templars and the play itself, entitled The Knights Templars, a historical Tragedy. The frontispiece of the book of Jacques de Molay was engraved by Benjamin Tanner, an engraver of Philadelphia, just four years after he moved to Philadelphia from New York City. The copy featured was presented to the Grand Lodge of New York by the Brooklyn Masonic Veterans in 1933. It has a number of ownership signatures, including a manuscript notation that was at some point cut out of the book.

For more information on Raynouard and the Knights Templar, check out Gordon Napier’s The A to Z of the Knights Templar: A Guide to Their History and Legacy and Thomas Keightley’s The Knights Templar and Other Secret Societies of the Middle Ages. To read about Benjamin Tanner’s engraving career, check out the blog The Ephemera of Business.

The Livingston Library will be open on Saturday during the Great Encampment! Come check out our special Knights Templar displays!

Featured Artifact: Most Worshipful John W. Simons, PGM 1860 Knights Templar Grand Encampment Apron

Featured Artifact from The Museum Division

Most Worshipful John W. Simons, PGM 1860
Knights Templar Grand Encampment Apron

F4inv-219 Apron, KTBlack velvet apron with patterned-gold ribbon and red velvet doubled cross with metallic ribbon border.
Grand Master Simons was a member of  Palestine Commandery No. 18, Morton Commandery No. 4 and DeWitt Clinton Commandery No. 27. He served as Most Eminent Grand Master and Commander of the Grand Encampment of the State of New York in 1855 and 1856. MW Simons. was a member of Independent Lodge No. 7, which, after several mergers, is now Cornerstone Lodge No. 178.  Click here to view his biography in the Online Museum.


Listen to the Livingston Library on the air!

A few weeks ago the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Library was featured on WFDU 89.1 FM’s program, The Metro Beat! Susan Teltser-Schwarz interviewed Morgan and Catherine on Freemasonry and everything the Livingston Library has to offer. If you didn’t catch it live, or want to listen again, click the play button below:

A soldier’s fate: Lt. Col. James Huston

A recent donation to the Livingston Library brought to the surface the incredible story of Lt. Col. James Huston.

Born into the tumultuous political environment of Ireland in the early 19th century, the future Mason James Huston took an early interest in military science. Though he was at first a loyal follower of the Great Liberator Daniel O’Connell, Huston’s found a more radical home in the Young Ireland Movements. His background in military tactics marked him early on for leadership.

Adding to his fine physique that charm of manner and address that marks the educated gentleman, he was splendidly equipped to be the leader of men.

The English soon discovered Huston’s involvement in fighting for Irish Independence. In 1848, the English Government claimed to have received information regarding Huston drilling large numbers of men to fight the English. It was this allegation that decided Huston’s fate. A bounty of 500 pounds was set on Huston’s head, with a hanging to look forward to if caught.

Huston fled to Scotland, sailed to France, and finally settled in New York City taking a position as a clerk. He joined Manahatta Lodge No. 498, becoming a Master Mason in April of 1861. That same month Fort Sumter was fired upon, beginning this country’s Civil War. Huston went to the front as Captain of Company E. in the Second Regiment N.Y.S.M. It was said he was incapable of fear!

[Huston was] the beau-ideal of a soldier, stalwart, well-knit, lithe and active.
Though he was a strict disciplinarian, his constant concern for the comfort and welfare of men was endearing. He received his commission as Colonel on the march to Pennsylvania and led 374 men of the 82nd New York regiment onto the field at Gettysburg. He was killed there at the age of 44 before he could be mustered in.

Thank you to the Kubishen Family for this wonderful gift.

Written by Morgan Aronson.