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New York Masonic Temple Postcard Collection

We are delighted to announce that our New York Masonic Temples postcard collection is now digitized and available for view in our online museum. This impressive online postcard collection wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of RW Howard J. Lasker, member of Wadsworth Lodge no. 417. His incredible collection of Masonic postcards consisting of 4,250 items was donated to our museum in 2008, and they have contributed exceptionally to our valuable ephemera collection.

Being part of fraternal organizations was highly popular among men in the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, and resulted in numerous Masonic Temples being erected and dedicated to accommodate the members. However, as the membership declined in later years, many of Masonic buildings went through change and renovation, change of ownership or were demolished. The images of Masonic buildings published on postcards by various publishers have, unintentionally, preserved the visual history of Masonic architecture in its prime.

 

Variants of Albany Masonic Temple Postcards. Each has slightly different details from the others.

 

The majority of our New York Masonic Temple postcard collection consists of:

Lithographic postcards, known for colorful and eye-pleasing visuals and commonly traced from the real photograph or negative.

Postcards of Brooklyn Masonic Temple with different coloring and details from different publishers.
Postcard of Buffalo Masonic Temple, dedicated in 1888 and demolished in 1971.

 

Postcards of Utica Masonic Temple, very likely sourced from the same photograph.

 

The real photo postcards whereas the negative was developed directly onto the postcard paper.

Photographic postcard of Newport Masonic Temple, dedicated in 1903.

 

And a reproduction of the photograph printed on the postcard.

Two postcards of Sacket Harbor Masonic Temple, they are the same photograph but the left one is the real photo postcard while the right one was printed on the postcard.

 

The New York Masonic Temple postcards are the first batch of our massive postcard collection that are digitized, as they are the excellent visual resources and references of the New York Masonic Temples history and their diverse architectures. We are hopeful that we will be able to make more of our fascinating Masonic postcards available to the public soon.

 

References:

“Postcard History.” Smithsonian Institution Archives, 19 Sept. 2013, siarchives.si.edu/history/featured-topics/postcard/postcard-history.

Bassett, Fred. “Wish You Were Here!: The Story of the Golden Age of Picture Postcards in the United States.” Postcard Collection – New York State Library, New York State Library, 24 May 2021, www.nysl.nysed.gov/msscfa/qc16510ess.htm.

Nigro, Carmen. “Using Postcards for Local History Research.” The New York Public Library, The New York Public Library, 3 Apr. 2018, www.nypl.org/blog/2015/12/04/postcards-local-history-research.

Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, 2009, p. 307.

Recent Acquisitions to Our E-Book Collection (July 2020)

We are continually adding new titles to our physical and digital collection and below are a few of the highlights available through our e-library on Odilo. Click the links below each book’s synopsis to preview the book in Odilo.

Note: For Masons in New York State, If you are interested in receiving borrowing privileges or check your library registration status please contact our Librarian at, Jpatzner@nymasoniclibrary.org  or Call (212)-337-6620.  

Schism by Ric Berman (E-Book)

This book examines the creation of the Antients Grand Lodge and traces the influence of Ireland and the London Irish, especially that of Laurence Dermott, the Antients’ Grand Secretary, in the development of freemasonry in the second half of the 18th century. It demonstrates the relative accessibility of the Antients and contrasts this with the exclusivity of the ‘Moderns’–the original Grand Lodge of England. The Antients instigated what became a six decades-long rivalry with the Moderns and pioneered fundamental changes to the social composition of freemasonry, extending formal sociability to the lower middling and working classes and creating one of the first modern friendly societies. “Schism” does not stand solely as an academic work but introduces the subject to a wider Masonic and non-Masonic audience and supplements dated historical works. The book contributes to the history of London and the London Irish in the long 18th century and examines the social and trade networks of the urban lower middling and the working-class, subjects that remain substantially unexplored. It also offers a prism through which Britain’s calamitous relationship with Ireland can be examined.

E-book

The Book of Law by Aleister Crowley (E-Book)

The Book of Law is the foundation for readers looking to explore occult texts and understand  Crowley’s belief system of Thelema.

E-book

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Craft How Freemasons Made the Modern World (E-Book)

John Dickie’s The Craft is an enthralling exploration of the world’s most famous and misunderstood secret brotherhood, a movement that not only helped to forge modern society, but has substantial contemporary influence, with 400,000 members in Britain, over a million in the USA, and around six million across the world. Yet the Masons were as feared as they were influential. In the eyes of the Catholic Church, Freemasonry has always been a den of devil-worshippers. For Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco, the Lodges spread the diseases of pacifism, socialism, and Jewish influence so had to be crushed. 

E-Book

 

 

 John Jacob Astor and the First Great American Fortune by Alexander Emmerich (E-Book)

This biography explores M.W. John Jacob Astor’s (Holland Lodge No.8)  rise from poor German immigrant in 1784 to the first modern millionaire Many consider him to be the fourth wealthiest American of all times. Some argued that he must have been greedy and cold. While there were calls for Astor to return his money to the United State many others praised him for his genius and vision.  Astor is the founder of a number of New York’s fine hotels the Astor House and the Waldorf-Astoria, as well as a developer of the American West and a fur trader. Many American cities and sites are named after him.

E-Book

 

 

 

The Drillmaster of Valley Forge By  Paul Lockhart (E-Audiobook)

In the first book on Steuben since 1937, Paul Lockhart, an expert on European military history, finally explains the significance of Steuben’s military experience in Europe. Steeped in the traditions of the Prussian army of Frederick the Great-the most ruthlessly effective in Europe-he taught the soldiers of the Continental Army how to fight like Europeans. His guiding hand shaped the army that triumphed over the British at Monmouth, Stony Point, and Yorktown. And his influence did not end with the Revolution. Steuben was instrumental in creating West Point and in writing the “Blue Book”-the first official regulations of the American army. His principles have guided the American armed forces to this day.

Steuben’s life is also a classic immigrant story. A failure in midlife, he uprooted himself from his native Europe to seek one last chance at glory and fame in the New World. In America, he managed to reinvent himself-making his background quite a bit more glamorous than it really was-but redeeming himself by his exceptional service and becoming, in a sense, the man he claimed to be.

E-Audiobook

 

Houdini  by Adam Begley (E-Audiobook)

 

Nobody knows how Houdini performed some of his dazzling, death-defying tricks, and nobody knows, finally, why he felt compelled to punish and imprison himself over and over again. Tracking the restless Houdini’s wide-ranging exploits, acclaimed biographer Adam Begley tells the story of a mystifying man’s astonishing career.

Born Erik Weisz in Budapest in 1874, Houdini grew up an impoverished Jewish immigrant in the Midwest and became world-famous thanks to talent, industry, and ferocious determination. He concealed as a matter of temperament and professional ethics the secrets of his sensational success.

E-Audiobook

Transferring Physical Display to Online Display: Jewelry Collection

Decades ago, the Grand Lodge Library and Museum had very different exhibit displays from today. Thousands of artifacts were displayed in several cases and cabinets within the Grand Lodge Library and Museum on the entire south end of the 17th Floor. As the collection grew bigger along with its popularity, the Board of General Activities determined to display as many artifacts as possible, to make the collection easily accessible to the public.

 

North side of the 17th Floor Library. Published in “The Masonic Treasures of New York” booklet by Wendell K. Walker. Photographer unknown.

 

South side of the 17th floor Library. Published in “The Masonic Treasures of New York” booklet by Wendell K. Walker. Photographer unknown.

 

In 1996, the library and museum relocated to 14th floor, the artifacts were moved and the exhibits were completely rearranged. These display trays were part of the original museum exhibits through the years. The jewelry trays were removed from the original display drawer, but they were yet to be rehoused and stored properly.

 

 

The jewelry trays from the early 1900s.

 

The medals being rehoused after they were removed.

 

The artifacts were tightly pinned to the felt board with nails. Over time, the storage material could damage the artifacts, possibly from rust, insects, or acidity. To preserve them, I spent a week carefully removing them from the trays and matching them to the old catalog number assigned by the library staff at the time, an inconsistent cataloging system. Then, I assigned them the new catalog number, photographed them and properly stored them.

 

 

 

A Knights Templar badge before being removed.

 

The Knight Templar badge was previous pinned to the tray. It was removed and given the new ID number (J6inv-2806), previously B475 as shown in the old index card. The badge is now available in online museum.

The index card contains the information and the previous location of the badge.
The Knights Templar badge ID J6inv-2806, one of the artifacts removed from the tray.

 

 

Although we can physically display very few the artifacts compared to the past, the technology now allows us to display our collection online. We are working hard to steadily process our collection to be accessible to the public again. These jewelries and many in our jewelries collection are now available on display in our online museum.

 

Photo credit:

Unknown photographer, “The Masonic Treasure of New York” by Wendell K. Walker, The Masonic Service Association, 1956

Ratirat Osiri

1875 Masonic Hall Exhibit

To celebrate the 151st Anniversary of laying the cornerstone of the original New York Masonic Temple at the 23rd Street, our artifacts of the 1875 Masonic Hall are now on display.

In 1842, the brethren proposed the project of the new Masonic Hall in place of the former Masonic Hall (also known as Gothic Hall) at Broadway between Pearl and Duane Street. After several fundraising events, it was pushed back by the Grand Lodge schism, the Civil War and by insufficient funding. In 1869, the trustees of the Hall and Asylum Fund finally purchased the land at the corner of 23rd street and 6th avenue for the cost of $340,000.

The trowel used at the laying the cornerstone of the building.

The cornerstone was laid on June 8th, 1870 by the Grand Master MW James Gibson. More than 50 items, consisting of coins, newspapers, badges and other souvenirs contributed by several lodges and officers were deposited inside the cornerstone by the Grand Treasurer during the ceremony. Designed by Napoleon LeBrun, the famous architect at the time, the building was completed and dedicated in June 1875.

 

The bond issued to raise the fund for Masonic Hall construction.

 

 

Image published in Harper’s Weekly newspaper on June 25th 1870, from a sketch by Stanley Fox.

 

Later in 1911, the Grand Lodge of New York made a decision to replace the building with the current Masonic Temple, or the Grand Lodge of New York building that we know today. The original building was torn down, and thus the cornerstone artifacts were recovered only 36 years after they were sealed. They are now on exhibit in a display at the Robert R Livingston Library and they are available to view in our online museum.

 

Samples of the coins deposited inside the cornerstone.

 

 

 

 

Reference:

Lang, Ossian Herbert. “The Masonic Hall.” History of Freemasonry in the State of New York, Grand Lodge of New York, 1922.

 

Photo credit:

Sketched by Stanley Fox, Harper’s Weekly newspaper, June 25th 1870.

 

 

Robert R Livingston Library’s Knights Templar Triennial Conclave Souvenir Ribbon Collection

The Knights Templar’s special communication held every three years is called the Triennial Conclave. The Knights Templar commanderies across the country often commission regalia manufacturers to produce souvenirs to commemorate such special occasions, commonly badges, medals, pins or ribbons.

 

Ribbons were one of the popular souvenirs, made with silk with a unique decorative print, and often with metal pin and fringes attached.

 

Commemorative ribbons of the 22nd Triennial Conclave at San Francisco, California in 1883.

 

 

 

Commemorative ribbons of the 24th Triennial Conclave at Washington D. C. in 1889.

 

 

Commemorative ribbons of the 25th Triennial Conclave at Denver, Colorado in 1892.

 

 

More Knights Templar artifact, the Triennial Conclave Commemorative Ribbon Collection and many fascinating Knights Templar items are now available on view in our online museum.

 

 

 

 

The Fascinating Journey of The Traveling Silver Trowel of Justice Lodge no. 753

The story of the historic Traveling Silver Trowel of Justice Lodge no. 753 began with RW C. Fred Crosby, the Senior Master of Ceremony of Justice Lodge no. 753, New York. In 1905, He suggested the idea of sending the trowel on a journey from lodge to lodge across the North America, carrying the message of brotherly love and bringing the brethren closer. Read More …

Announcement of Digital Library Launch and Patron Survey!

Dear Patrons,

After diligent research and preparation over the past two years by the librarian, Joseph Patzner, director Alex Vastola, and the Trustees of the Robert R Livingston Masonic Library we are proud to announce the library will be launching a digital library hosted by Odilo on Monday, March 1st.

Odilo is a digital content platform, which will allow patrons to borrow and enjoy the digital versions of reading course books and other library materials as PDFs and ePubs from their e-reader, phone, tablet, or computer. Additionally, we hope this service will help reduce long waits for books from our most popular courses allowing patrons to continue their personal Masonic education.

Patrons will be able to check out up to 3 books at a time and books will be loaned for 21 days and are returned automatically at the end of the loan period.

You will soon be receiving a link to our patron survey. We request all patrons complete this survey. Our goal is to have clearer insight into our patron’s reading habits, feedback on our reading courses, and verify contact information. Your responses will inform how we grow our print and electronic collections to best serve our patrons and researchers.

Please note the information collected during the survey will be used internally for research purposes only and not shared with anyone outside the Livingston Masonic Library.

Sincerely,

Livingston Library Staff

Odilo Digital Library

 

 

Grand Lodge Certificate of Appreciation to Worshipful Presented to Worshipful Brother Daniel O. Williams

Pictured from left are Grand Master Sardone, Worshipful Bro. Williams and Right Worshipful Steve King, President of the Livingston Library Board of Trustees.

On Monday, February 22, 2021 Most Worshipful William M. Sardone presented the Grand Lodge Certificate of Appreciation to Worshipful, Brother Daniel O. Williams, for his unstinting contribution of time and imagination to the Livingston Library.

Brother Dan was instrumental in managing the relocation of the Utica Library annex from the Masonic Care Community (MCC) to locations

in both the Utica Masonic Temple and in the Fraternity’s New Rochelle Campus.  The project began last June, and in the time since then Dan has been a constant presence on the Masonic Care Community campus securing, packing, and transporting many of the Library’s volumes and artifacts to the new site in downtown Utica.

For those who don’t know, the former Library Building at the MCC is being repurposed as part of the general refurbishing of buildings on the campus.

Bro. Williams presently serves as Master of Amicable Lodge No. 664 in Utica.

The Grand Lodge of New York and 1918 Influenza Pandemic

The COVID-19 epidemic is not the first epidemic the New York brethren have faced.

In 1918, the first World War and the influenza worldwide pandemic were happening at the same time. The Grand Lodge of New York’s War and Relief Administration Committee aimed to aid the brothers and/or their sons who were sick from influenza or wounded from the war. The Grand Lodge of New York organized the Visiting Representatives, consisting of volunteering brothers assigned to the hospitals across New York State. The volunteers frequently visited the hospitals to search and aid the brothers and/or their sons in need.

The influenza was mentioned several times in the Grand Lodge Proceedings during the years of 1918-1920. In 1919, RW William J. Wiley, the superintendent of the Masonic Home in Utica, reported that 124 children had gotten sick with influenza, and all had recovered under the care of the Masonic Home. RW Horace W. Smith, the Grand Lecturer at the time, reported that the influenza had interfered with his itineraries, causing postponement and cancellation of many events.

Also, in 1920, several foreign correspondence reports mentioned other Grand Lodges that lost their members to the influenza epidemic and their efforts to help with the cause. For example, the report from the Grand Lodge of Alberta stated that, “The several lodges there at once co-operated with the result that an office was provided for them in the nursing headquarters, telephones were installed and a voluntary office staff of six or eight brothers from different lodges took charge of day and night work, and as the result hundreds of volunteers were placed on duty, helping the nurse or working alone. This was continued until the pressure relaxed so that schools, churches, and theatres were re-opened.”

MW William S. Farmer, the Grand Master of New York at the time, addressed the influenza pandemic as follows:

“For our brethren who have been and are confined to their homes on account of illness, either of themselves or families, we bespeak a goodly measure of sympathy, fraternal greetings and good cheer, and assure them of the kindliest thoughts of the brethren of this Grand Lodge. May they and theirs speedily recover.”