The trustees, staff, and volunteers of the Robert R Livingston Masonic Library extend the warmest holiday greetings to our Brothers, their families, and all of the Library’s friends. We thank you for your generosity and goodwill through this most difficult year. Your participation in the Library’s programs will help us meet our mission of sharing the Light of Masonic history and culture throughout our Grand Jurisdiction. As we speed through another Holiday Season, we hope that you and your families enjoy in full the spiritual gifts of your Holiday traditions. Peace and joy to all!
Best fraternal regards,
President, Robert R Livingston Masonic Library Board of Trustee
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.”
Due to the rapidly changing situation in New York City around novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and as a precaution to protect the health and safety of our staff, the Livingston Masonic Library will remain closed until further notice. We believe that we must do all that we can to ensure a safe and healthy environment for our community, which at this time calls for us to minimize gatherings while maintaining the cleanest environment possible.
As a result of our closure we are unable to accept the return of and/or request for books until we re-open. At this time we request patrons hold onto borrowed material at home refraining from mailing books to the library until we re-open. We also request patrons do not leave their books outside the library or with the security desk at Masonic Hall as this may result in books becoming lost. Additionally, at this time due dates for loaned books have been extended.
In the meantime, we encourage patrons to visit our website, nymasoniclibrary.org to search our library catalog and remotely conduct research. If you have any questions or more detailed research requests please e-mail Info@nymasoniclibrary.org and we will be sure to guide your request to the appropriate staff member.
On behalf of the Trustees and Staff of the Robert R Livingston Masonic Library, I extend warmest Holiday greetings to our Brothers, their families and to all of the Library’s many friends. We thank you all for your generosity, support, and goodwill this past year. Through your participation in the Library’s programs, it is our goal to share the Light of Masonic history, tradition and culture throughout this Grand Jurisdiction and throughout the world. We hope you’ll continue to frequent our reading rooms and website in the new year. As we speed through another Holiday Season, we hope that you and your families may enjoy in full the spiritual gifts of your Holiday traditions. Peace and joy to all!
Best fraternal regards,
R∴W∴ Steve King
President, Robert R Livingston Masonic Library Board of Trustees
Director, The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge
During the Special Communication of Freemasons at the Utica campus on October 5th, 2019, I was honored when M.’.W.’. William Sardone, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons of the State of New York, invited me to come to the Communication to open a time capsule with him. This time capsule was from the cornerstone of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital, located on the campus of the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y., which was sealed in the cornerstone on September 20, 1919. M.’.W.’. Sardone had to use metal cutting pliers, visible on the top of the box in the above image, showing the time capsule after it was transported to The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge in New York City.
The box was made of copper plating, as shown in the above images, and was welded shut, which resulted in the items inside being in remarkably good condition even one hundred years after the time capsule was sealed shut.
The Context of the Time Capsule:
The origins of this time capsule date back to September of 1919, as World War I has ended, and the Masonic Home Campus in Utica, N.Y., was beginning to grow under the leadership of Superintendent William J. Wiley, 27 years after the Masonic “Asylum” was first established in 1893 as a home for worthy indigent Masons, their widows, and orphans. With Masonic veterans returning from the war in need of medical care, it was clear that a new hospital building on the campus was needed. At the end of World War I, there was a fund consisting of $700,000.00, which had been raised to assist servicemen during the war. The Masonic Home decided to use this money to help construct The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital on the Masonic Home campus in Utica, N.Y. In May of 1919, MW William S. Farmer, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York had stated the following:
“For years there has been a crying need for a hospital. At present the trustees are compelled to reject many an application for admission to the home, for the reason that the subject of the application is suffering from disease, either chronic or acute, and therefore not admissible. The result of this is that the very patient most in need of our benefaction is turned down and in many instances compelled to spend the period of his incapacity either in an alms house or become the subject of some private charity.”
He also stated that the hospital would serve as both a memorial to the Masons from New York who died during the Great War, and as a place where Masonic Veterans from the War could come to get “medical care free of all expense.”
The Laying of the Corner Stone: September 20, 1919:
After the Masonic Home decided to erect a new hospital building on the Utica campus, the cornerstone that enclosed the time capsule was laid on September 20th, 1919. It was reported in the September 20, 1919 issue of the Utica Saturday Globe that thousands of Masons marched in a parade from Genesee Street in Utica to the campus of the Masonic Home, where the corner stone ceremony took place.
What was Inside the Time Capsule?
So what treasures did our library and museum staff and myself find within this time capsule?
The first item removed from the time capsule was a large American Flag. This flag was at least 6.5 feet tall, and was hand-made: I noticed that every stripe and star in the flag was stitched together by hand. The flag had 46 stars, dating it to the period when Oklahoma was admitted as a State to the Union on November 16, 1907, and was the official U.S. flag for four years under U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft until 1912, when New Mexico and Arizona became U.S States. My theory for why this flag was included was that it may have flown from one of the flag poles at the Utica campus, and rather than retiring the flag, they folded it and placed it in the time capsule. In addition to the large flag, there were six smaller flags rolled up in an issue of The Masonic Standard from 1919: the flags were: American, British, Union Jack, French, Italian, and Belgian, one for each of the Allied Nations during World War I. The Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I, was signed in 1919, so these flags may have been included to commemorate this.
The Typed Inventory of Items:
Under these flags was a typed Inventory of the items included in the time capsule, typed on good-quality paper stationary from the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y.
There were several photographs in the time capsule, such as one that was mentioned in the Inventory, of the Masonic Home campus in Utica, N.Y., showing the Old Administration Building in the center, and the Tompkins Memorial Chapel on the left. However, the photographs included in the time capsule of people were not listed in the Inventory, suggesting that they may have been placed in the time capsule on the day the corner stone was laid and the time capsule sealed – eight photographs in all.
One of these photographs was of Freemason Charles H. Johnson, or “Charlie.” He was a Freemason member of Ancient City Lodge No. 542 in Albany, N.Y. He also served as Grand Master from 1930-1932 and Grand Secretary from 1932-1947. He lived in Albany and was a retired minister, working primarily on social welfare, superintending institutions for children and he wrote articles and gave lectures on children, the mentally ill, and the incarcerated. In 1914, he was appointed as Deputy Warden of Sing Sing prison, and served as NYS Commissioner of Social Welfare from 1916-1932. The Memorial Hospital was significant to him since he lost his only son, Orville, who was killed in action on July 18, 1918 at Chateau-Thierry in World War I as a Second Lieutenant of the 112th Machine Gun Battalion of the 26th Division.
The second photograph discovered was of Freemason John Stewart. John Stewart was a member of Albion Lodge No. 26 (now called St. John’s Lodge No. 1). He served as a Trustee of the Masonic Hall & Asylum Fund and was Treasurer of the Board of Trustees during the building of the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y. He also served as the Deputy Grand Master of the State of New York from 1894-1895, and was elected Grand Master in 1896 (hence the date on the photograph). In 1906, he again served as Trustee of the Masonic Hall & Asylum Fund and its Treasurer, and when he died in 1908, he was on the Committee charge of building the present Grand Lodge Building at 71 West 23rd Street.
The third photograph that was found was of Freemason George T. Montgomery. He served as District Deputy Grand Master from 1903-1904. He also served as a trustee of the Masonic Hall & Asylum in 1907 and 1909-1918/19. In addition,when the corner stone was laid in 1919, he was serving as the Treasurer of the Masonic Home in Utica, N.Y.
The fourth photograph observed was of Freemason William S. Farmer. He was a member of Central City Lodge No. 305 in Syracuse, New York. In 1889, he was the vice president and managing Director of Farmers and Traders Bank, and worked as a lawyer with the firm Kimball in South Dakota. In 1915, he moved to Syracuse to practice law with the firm W. S. and H. H. Farmer and was appointed a Judge of the Municipal Court, a position he served in until his death. Furthermore, he was also the Chairman of the New York Committee on the George Washington Memorial – where he did fundraising for this monument and worked hard to establish it in Alexandria, Virginia.
The fifth photograph examined from the box was of Freemason Robert H. Robinson. He was a retired wholesale drapery merchant for the Mills & Gibbs Corporation of 2 Park Avenue, and lived at 170 West 73rd Street, N.Y.C. He was also a noted orator, serving as Treasurer of the general Synod of the Reformed Church of America, speaking on the significance of the Bible and other subjects. He was a 33rd degree Mason and member of Crescent Lodge No. 402, and from 1914-1916, he served as Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York; also serving as Deputy Grand Master from May 1918-May 1920, and finally as Grand Master from May 1920-May 1922. In addition, he served on many Masonic Committees, including the Grand Lodge Committee on the Hall & Asylum in 1916, the Masonic Home in Utica, and the War Relief Committee in 1918.
The sixth photograph was of Freemason S. (Samuel) Nelson Sawyer. A lifelong resident of Palmyra, New York, he was a 33rd degree Mason who was a member of Palmyra Lodge 248 in Palmyra, New York, and served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York from 1908-1910. In his professional life, he served as a NY Supreme Court Justice from October 1908-December 31, 1929. In addition, he was supposedly the one who first suggested the idea of the Chapel at the Utica Masonic Home campus (the previous chapel was in a small room in the Old Administration Building), which led to Superintendent Wiley and the grand master discussing the chapel, and the new chapel was built (in April of 1910, he laid the cornerstone of this building). He also had much Committee involvement, as he was a nearly twenty year member of the Committee of the Hall & Asylum, the War Relief Commission, and the Committee that erected the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Memorial Hospital in Utica. It also makes that that he would have been involved with this time capsule to preserve these artifacts, as he was a longtime member of the New-York Historical Society.
The seventh photograph included in the time capsule was of Freemason and Superintendent William J. Wiley. He was the first superintendent of the Masonic Home who served for a lengthy period – due to his care of the children at the home – he was nicknamed “Dad” Wiley, and worked at the home from 7 in the morning to 9 at night, seven days a week.He served as superintendent for nearly 40 years: from 1906 to 1945, and was a 33rd degree Mason, and a member of Copestone Lodge No. 641 in N.Y.C.In addition,on May 7, 1936, he was elected Past Grand Master of the NY Grand Lodge, and previously in 1930, he was voted the “outstanding citizen of Utica.”Superintendent Wiley was also the one who discontinued the education of orphan on the Utica campus, instead working to have them educated in the Utica Public Schools.Furthermore, superintendent Wiley was also a builder for the campus, as during his tenure, the following building were constructed:The Charles Smith Infirmary, 1907;The Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Chapel, 1911;The Knights Templar Building, 1917; The Scottish Rite Building, 1922;the 1923 “Cottage”; The John W. Vrooman Memorial Dormitories, 1928, and Wiley Hall, 1928.
Finally, the eighth photograph was of Mrs. Veturia I. Wiley with her daughter, Miss Veturia I. Wiley. The Masonic Standard of 1911 called Mr. Wiley and his wife and daughter “Santa Claus And His Assistants” due to their service to the children of the Masonic Home. The mother, Mrs. Veturia I. Wiley, was Superintendent Wiley’s wife and Matron of the Masonic Home in Utica, New York, called “Mamma Wiley” by the children. Mrs. Wiley obituaries stated that she was well-loved by the children, always ready to address their needs. Her daughter, Miss Veturia I. Wiley, was the organist for the Masonic Home in the Daniel D. Tompkins Memorial Chapel.
Newspapers with Inventory:
In addition to photographs, there were also several 1919-era newspapers included in the time capsule, which recorded the current local and nationwide events of the time. Here is an example of one of these newspapers, The Utica Saturday Globe, which mentioned the corner stone laying event of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital. The biggest event mentioned in all the newspaper was the 1919 Steelworkers’ Strike. There was also a written list of the newspapers that were placed in the time capsule.
The time capsule also had several Masonic publications as well. One example was a small facsimile, or reproduction, contained in a green box, of the St. John’s Bible, upon which Freemason George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States.
There are also copies of the Constitution, Regulations, Definitions, and Rules of order of the New York Grand Lodge and the Code of Procedure of the New York Grand Lodge from the time period the time capsule was sealed.
There was also a 1918 Grand Lodge pamphlet book from Miss Suzanne Silvercruys and others that was in an envelope from the Office of the Grand Secretary. In this book, Miss Silvercruys thanks MW Thomas Penny for the Grand Lodge of the State of New York sending $5,000.00 to Belgian Relief to help Belgium recover from the devastation caused by World War I.
In addition, there were other Masonic publications as well. For instance, there was a copy of the 1919 Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York, the Minutes and Proceedings of the Conference of Grand Masters of the United States in New York City from 1918 (note the flag of the Allied Nations to the left of the title page).
There was also a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation and By-Laws of the War Relief Administration. The War Relief Administration (or WRA) was set up by the New York Grand Lodge after America’s entry into World War I by 1917 and the Grand Lodge found that 50,000 New York State Masons were serving in various branches of the services, many overseas. The WRA made arrangements with other American Grand Lodges to set up relief work in France, headed by MW Townsend Scudder – who raised funds and selected personnel. However, the conditions at the front combined with a lack of transportation for men and goods made it hard for the WRA to progress far with its plans before the Armistice. It was the money left over from the WRA that helped to fund the hospital.
Furthermore, there was a copy of Brotherhood, and inserted within the pages of this journal was a photograph of Freemason John Lloyd Thomas, Secretary of the Masonic Home, Utica, N.Y. and a member of the Scottish Rite Bodies in the Valley of N.Y.C. John Lloyd Thomas was a 33rd degree Mason who lived in Utica, N.Y., and was a member of Benevolent Lodge No. 28, and was a writer and lecturer. He was also a onetime President of the Masonic Hall and Asylum Fund. His photograph was probably included in the copy of Brotherhood because he was the editor of this publication – dedicated to the Scottish Rite and other Masonic subjects of interest and published by the New York Bodies of the Scottish Rite and circulated to its membership from 1913 until it was discontinued in 1920.
Finally, there was even a book stamped by the Children’s Library at the Masonic Home in Utica, New York, that was found in the box – a copy of Literary Digest. Given the Masonic Home’s extensive history of caring for children before they transitioned more toward senior care, I was surprised that this book was included. It was not in the original inventory, but it has a sticker with “W. J. Wiley” printed on it, so I think Superintendent Wiley placed it in the box.
Medals and Plaque:
Furthermore, the time capsule contained an envelope with medals and a plaque inside that commemorated various significant New York Masonic events. These items were donated by R.’.W.’. Frederick J. Milligan, a Railroad Clerk by trade from Suffern, New York. He was a member of Lafayette Lodge No. 64, and was the Grand Sword Bearer in 1895. He later served as Acting Grand Secretary from June 1931-May 1932, and Grand Secretary Emeritus from 1932-1933. Following the death of MW Jesse B. Antony in 1905, he actually served as Superintendent of the Masonic Home in Utica until the appointment of William J. Wiley as Superintendent. The hospital might have meant something to him, as he was a member of Masonic Veterans.
One of the medals from the time capsule was this silver medal commemorates the dedication of the Masonic Temple in New York City on June, 2, 1875, that existed before the present New York Grand Lodge building. You can see the building on one side of the medal, and the other side of the medal shows the seal of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York. It took the Masons some time to raise the funds for the construction of this Grand Lodge Building, as due to inflation from the Civil War and the passage of time, the cost of the building increased to $1.5 million from an initial estimate of $35,000.00. Once built, the Grand Lodge Building proved to be more of a financial liability, as the debts from its construction were not settled until the 1880’s.
The second medal found in the time capsule was a Bronze Medal to Commemorate the Freedom of the Craft from Debt, on April 24, 1889. This was an important date in New York Masonry, for it marked when Masonry had paid off all its debts from the construction of the 1875 Grand Lodge Building in N.Y.C. Grand Master Frank R. Lawrence was the Mason who was able to settle the debt: when he took office in 1885, the debt was $700,000.00, by the end of his term, there was a surplus of $200,000.00 in funds, which were soon earmarked for the construction of the Masonic Home in Utica. Therefore, not only was did this event mark when Freemasonry in New York became financially sustainable, but it also led to the construction of the Masonic Home campus in Utica, where the Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Memorial Hospital was built.
The third medal found in the capsule was a Gilt Medal to Commemorate the Laying of the Corner Stone of the Masonic Asylum, Utica, New York, on May 21, 1891. The front of the medal shows the Old Administration Building. The gold bar on the medal’s ribbon, with the years 1842 and 1891 signifies the first time the idea of the Masonic Hall and Asylum was first suggested by Brother Greenfield Pote in 1842, and when the corner stone of the Masonic Hall and Asylum was laid in 1891. The Administrative Building was dedicated in October of 1892 and occupied by 1893. It could accommodate 150 people by administrative offices – in 1965, it was demolished to make way for a more functional one-story replacement building.
Another medal found in the box was a Gilt Medal Struck by Ocean Lodge # 156. This Lodge was chartered on March 5, 1850 in New York (in Manhattan). This Lodge was involved in the dedication of the Worth Monument on Madison Square November 25, 1857; the corner stone laying of the Egyptian Obelisk in Central Park, and the dedications of both the present Masonic Hall Building and the Masonic Home in Utica. In addition, this Lodge was actively involved in fundraising for the Hall & Asylum Fund, and in June 1888 it had paid its full quota requested to help pay off the “great debt” of the Craft.
Also discovered with the medals was a Bronze Masonic Piece Struck at Pan American Exposition in 1901. My research did not reveal if the Masons has an exhibit at the Exposition, but this souvenir token may have been placed in the box to commemorate Freemason William McKinley, 25th President of the United States, who was assassinated at this Exposition.
Finally, there was a Bronze Plaque of Morton Commandery No. 4, Knights Templar (of New York City) for their Semi-Centennial in 1873, or fiftieth anniversary. It makes sense that R.’.W.’. Frederick J. Milligan (mentioned earlier) would donate this plaque, as he was a member of Columbian Commandery No. 1, Knights Templar.
Stamps, Coins, Documents, and Other Items
In addition, there were also stamps, coins, and other items found in the time capsule.
For example, a full set of 1919-era stamps were included, which give an idea of the postage used at the time: including stamps with portraits of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin (both Freemasons) as well as a Special Delivery stamp and the Curtiss Jenny Airplane stamp. The Inventory does not state who gave the stamps, but I think Freemason Charles H. Johnson gave them (whose photograph was mentioned earlier), since his biography file in the Library’s Vertical Files stated that he was “a stamp collector of more than local note.”
The Inventory states that Brother George Chase gave the coins placed in the time capsule. My research revealed that he was a member of Lafayette Lodge No. 64, and that he was a jeweler by profession.
Some of these coins dated from the early twentieth century, which gives us an idea of what the typical currency was that was used in 1919. One of these coins was a copper 1919 wheat or “wreath” penny. It was designed by Victor D. Brenner and in circulation from 1909-1958, and created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, and was the first cent to include the motto “In God We Trust.”
A second coin found in the box was a 1919 U.S. Nickel, also called the “Buffalo” or “Indian Head” Nickel. It was designed by James Earle Fraser and in circulation from 1913-1938. Fraser supposedly modeled the bison on the coin on the bison Black Diamond in the New York Central Park Zoo.
Another coin discovered in the capsule was a 1917 U.S. Silver Quarter or “Standing Liberty” Quarter. It was designed by Hermon A. MacNeil, and in circulation from 1916-1930.
Finally a 1915 U.S. Silver Dime or the “Barber”/”Liberty Head” Dime was found in the capsule. Its Obverse was designed by Charles E. Barber (chief engraver of the U.S. Mint at the time), but its reverse was created by James B. Longacre in 1860 for the Liberty Seated Dime, and it was in circulation from 1892-1916.
The time capsule also contained several nineteenth century coins that were older than the 1910’s. The first of these coins that was found in the capsule was the 1893 U.S. Silver Half Dollar from the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893. In was issued for just 2 years from 1892-1893 during the Exposition. Unlike the other coins in the time capsule, this coin was a commemorative coin, with a portrait of Christopher Columbus on one side and his ship with two globes on the other.
In addition, there was an 1864 U.S. Two-Cent Coin. An Act of April 22, 1864, included a provision for a bronze two-cent coin, designed by James B. Longacre, and in circulation from 1864-1873. This was the first time the motto “In God We Trust” was placed on a circulating coin. The two-cent coin was predicted to become widely used, by the introduction of the three-cent nickel in 1865 and the five cent nickel in 1866 decreased the demand for this coin, and the Coinage Act of 1873 abolished this form of denomination in U.S. currency.
There was also the 1819 U.S. Copper One-Cent Coin, also called the “Matron Head Large Cent.” It was designed by Robert Scot and in circulation from 1816-1836. Beginning in 1850, the U.S. Mint wanted to make smaller cents to replace the large cent to increase profits and create a coin that was convenient for users to handle. Production of large cents was officially discontinued by an Act of February 21, 1857.
Finally, the oldest coin found in the time capsule was the 1804 U.S. Copper Half-Cent Coin or “Draped Bust Half Cent.” It was designed by Robert Scot and was in circulation from 1800-1808. The Mint Act of April 2, 1792, provided the half cent as the smallest denomination in American coinage, and these cents were expected to be popularly used for commerce, but they very never very popular with the public, and the Coinage Act of 1857 discontinued their production.
There were also pamphlet in the time capsule that indicated Masonic events. A pamphlet found in the capsule describes the order of the many exercises for the September 20, 1919 laying of the corner stone of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital: some included: A Prayer, said by R.’.W.’. and Rev. C. Wallace Petty, D.D., Grand Chaplain; A Presentation of the Box by R.’.W.’. Christopher C. Mollenhauer, Grand Treasurer; A Reading of the Contents of the Box by M.’.W.’. Robert J. Kenworthy, Grand Secretary, followed by Music; and The Depositing of the Box in the Corner Stone by the Grand Treasurer. There was also a pamphlet that describes the Masonic Meeting on the ship S. S. “Noordam” on July 1, 1919. This pamphlet lists the order of events for this Masonic Meeting: the Prayers, the Chairman’s Address, other Addresses, Songs, and the Roll Call; as well as a directory of all the masons who attended the meeting and their Lodges.
Program and Letter:
There was a program from the United Grand Lodge of England’s “Peace Jubilee Celebration” from June 23-29, 1919, in London, England at the end of World War I also found in the capsule. The program lists meeting of the Masons in England during this period, and lists some of the site that they visited, such as the House of Parliament and St. Paul’s Cathedral. A letter from September 9, 1919 found in the box states that Grand Secretary Robert H. Robinson included it in the box.
Facsimile of a Certificate of Exemption and a Masonic Apron:
Also found in the box was a facsimile of a Certificate of Exemption issued to Dirigo Lodge No. 30 on January 31, 1887 – to exempt Dirigo Lodge No. 30 from paying dues to the New York Grand Lodge since they had already “paid a sum equal to Six Dollars for each Member” to the Grand Lodge (the total was $924.00).
There was also a Masonic Apron worn at the laying of the corner stone of the Masonic Asylum, in Utica, N.Y., on May 21, 1891. According to the Inventory, the Certificate and Apron were donated by R.’.W.’. Aaron Morris, of 175 Fifth Avenue, New York City, who served as the Grand Steward from 1901-1902, and was a member of Dirigo Lodge No. 30 of the 1st Manhattan District. This explains why he put the Dirigo Certificate in the time capsule.
Yearbook and Lodge Event Notice:
Additional items discovered in the box was a 1919 yearbook and Lodge event notice. The yearbook is for St. John’s Lodge No. 1, and lists the Masonic Officers of the Lodge, when the Lodge met in 1919, a directory of their members, and other information. The event notice announces an Address given by Freemason Colonel Walter C. Montgomery, Chief Surgeon of the 27th Division of the American Expeditionary Forces, at St. John’s Lodge No.1, on April 10, 1919, as a “welcome home” event, where he told his Masonic Brothers stories of his war experiences. Colonel Montgomery was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal during World War I, when, in action along the Hindenburg Line from 25-30 September, 1918, with limited medical personnel he was able to successfully evacuate 4,000 casualties in four days.
Copy of the Address Delivered by R.’.W.’. Cornelius Woelfkin, D.D., at the Laying of the Corner Stone:
The box also had a copy of the Address Delivered by R.’.W.’. Cornelius Woelfkin, D.D., at the Laying of the Corner Stone for the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital. The entire address (it is thirteen pages long) mainly discusses the larger significance of the corner stone laying, relating it to the history of international and American Freemasonry, as well as the history of hospitals in Western civilization. R.’.W.’. Woelfkin stated:
“So to-day, were are convened in the ceremony of laying a cornerstone. It is a common function which takes place with the erection of every communal or public building, whether devoted to religious, charitable or official usage. But such a ceremony, like Raphael’s painting and Israel’s Passover, has an inside as well as outside meaning. The formal placing of a stone to join the walls, the depositing of a few archives and memorials of our generation, which other generations may or may not read, these are outside features which could be performed without our presence. Why then are we assembled in such numbers and with such formality to witness this common act? We are here for something more than a holiday and the passing exchange of friendly greetings. We bring memory, imagination, conscience, reason and will to this occasion; and by a concentration of all these faculties we aim to commune with the invisible and spiritual realities toward which all our symbols point.”
A Weather Report:
Finally, the last artifact from the time capsule was a weather report from the day of the corner stone laying.This is what it said: “September 20th, 1919: Nine O’Clock A. M.: Wind southwest. It rained from about One A. M. to Eight A. M. – very high wind. At this writing the wind still continues high – the sky cloudy and looks anything but a promising day for the ceremonies of the laying of the stone. P. S. Eleven O’Clock A. M. Beautifully clear. Every prospect of a sunshining afternoon.”
So now we have reached the bottom of box, this treasure chest of history, frozen in time from the days of Freemasonry one hundred years ago.
*All images (unless otherwise noted) were used Courtesy of The Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge.
One Hundred Years of Service to Humanity. Masonic Home Centennial, 1993.
Bowers, Q. David. A Guide Book of United States Type Coins: A Complete History and Price Guide for the Collector and Investor. Atlanta: Whitman Publishing, LLC, 2006.
Yeoman, R. S. Handbook of United States Coins: 2008. (65th Edition). Atlanta: Whitman Publishing, LLC, 2007.
Subject Files, Biography Files, and Masonic Home Files and the Deceased Grand Lodge Officers and Second Grand Lodge Register, 1832-1853 Card Catalogues *(All from the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge)
“In Memory of Those Who Died: Formal Exercises in Connection with Laying of Cornerstone of New Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Hospital in Utica Takes Place To-Day.” Utica Saturday Globe, 20 September, 1919, Second Section, 5.
“Cornerstone Laying Here On Saturday: Big Masonic Event a Great Honor to City of Utica and Masonic Fraternity—Soldiers and Sailors’ Hospital at Masonic Home a Memorial to Men Who Gave Life and Service to Their Country. Parade Will Be Held; Grand Officers Coming.” Utica Herald-Dispatch, Thursday Evening, 18 September, 1919, 2.
To celebrate 60 years of Masonic service of MW Daniel M. Semel, Past Judge Advocate, the Library and Museum organized a special display consisting of documents from Lodge Historical File of Shakespeare Lodge no.750, books from the library collection, and artifacts from the museum related to MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York.
MW Daniel M. Semel is an Honorary Past Grand Master and he also serves as its Grand representative of MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, near the Grand Lodge of New York, so we put a book he had donated. We also put on display medals from MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, and reprinted Charter from African Lodge no. 459.
In 1988, MW Semel was appointed as the Chairman of Unity Committee, which was featured in the article and report we included. The Unity Committee was founded with the aim of bringing the Grand Lodge of New York and the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York into unity.
MW Daniel M. Semel was initiated, passed and raised in Shakespeare Lodge no.750 in 1959. We found two trestleboards of Shakespeare Lodge no. 750 from the same year. One listed him as “Awaiting First Degree” and one from three months later, which mentioned him as a newly raised Master Mason.
Ten years later, in 1969, he became Master of the Lodge as
we show the picture from Shakespeare Lodge no.750 Centennial Anniversary book.
He became Judge Advocate in 1979 and the program of the ceremony was also on
We were honored to be part of the celebration and it is our pleasure to honor one of the most significant members in the history of the Grand Lodge of New York.
Folded and attached to a leather case, a travel certificate is carried and used as Masonic identification when a Mason visits foreign Lodges. In the Museum collection, we have a sub-collection of travel certificates, and I am pleased to share some of the interesting pieces I have found during my work with this collection.
Illuminated “Masonic Register” Certificates
Once unfolded from its leather case, a giant and beautifully illuminated certificate is revealed. This “Masonic Register” belonged to Worshipful Rudolph Holde, Past Master of Shakespeare Lodge no. 750, and Washington Lodge no. 21, and both Charter Member and Past Master of Great Kills Lodge no. 912.1 The certificate elaborates on the details of his Masonic milestones, and is decorated with hand-painted illumination. His photographic portrait is also attached. It even includes his “Called from Labor” date, which was likely written in before the certificate was accepted into the collection.
Another certificate of similar fashion belonged to Worshipful Augustus W. Peters, another prominent member who served as Master of Acanthus Lodge no. 719, as High Priest of Constellation Chapter no. 209 and as Eminent Commander of Clinton Commandery no.14. In his non-Masonic life, he was a Chairman of Consolidated Stock and Petroleum Exchange and served as the first Manhattan Borough President.2 The certificate also shows his long list of membership and affiliations in various Masonic bodies.
James M. Austin’s Knights Templar Certificate with Robert Macoy’s Signature, 1858
Before Right Worshipful Edward M. L. Ehlers’ celebrated, 36-year service as Grand Secretary, Right Worshipful James M. Austin served as the Grand Lodge of New York’s Grand Secretary for 27 years. One of the certificates from his leather travel case is his Knights Templar certificate, which is signed by Robert Macoy as Grand Recorder. Right Worshipful Robert Macoy was the Grand Lodge’s Deputy Grand Master, the Grand Commandery Knights Templar of New York’s Grand Recorder, and the founder of Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., still in existence today.
Edward C. Ehlers’s WW1 Masonic Letter, 1918
During World War I, Right Worshipful Edward C. Ehlers, the son of Honorary Past Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary Most Worshipful Edward M. L. Ehlers, was serving as a First Lieutenant in the Medical Reserve Corps in the United States Expeditionary Force3 . Although he was stationed at Camp Gordon, Atlanta3, his Masonic identification letter came in four different languages: English, French, Italian, and German. The letter issued by Continental Lodge no. 287 confirms the holder’s Masonic identity and requests assistance from other Brothers if he is found in distress, regardless of their affiliation.
An expelled Mason’s certificate and a warning letter, 1866
Found folded within a travel certificate, the above is warning letter issued by Crescent Lodge no. 402, NYC, which describes the appearance of an expelled Mason and outlines his “immoralities”. In the letter, William T. Miller was accused for adulteries and fraud. The letter was presumably spread throughout the country to notify the Lodges to be cautious of his presence and his “evil designs”. The letter also includes his photographic portrait, which is uncommon for such a warning letter. Surprisingly, along with the letter a certificate was found which belonged to William T. Miller himself. Apparently, at one point, it was taken away from him and the notice was put with it for future reference (a precaution which has worked as intended).
The above is a sample of the vast and diverse certificate collection held by the Museum of the Grand Lodge of New York. Each reflects the history of an individual Mason as well as various aspects of the organization. Accordingly, this collection is essential to the preservation of Masonic heritage, as it provides the primary historical data source for research and study.
1. Semel, Daniel, Shakespeare Lodge no.750, Did you know that?, March 14 1974. Print
2. Harrison, Mitchell Charles. New
York State’s Prominent and Progressive Men: an Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous
Biography. Vol. 3, New York Tribune, 1902.
3. Continental Lodge no. 287, Honor Roll, May 1918. Print
Among the 60,000 artifacts in our care, we have a fascinating coin and medal collection which reflects both rich Masonic history as well as the history of the world. As I have been cataloging and studying them, I am excited to share with everyone some of the collection’s highlights that I have come across .
The Masonic Medal issued by the United States Congress
To commemorate the centennial of the death of George Washington in 1899, the United States Congress issued four commemorative medals to fund The Washington Monument Association in 1902.1 The collection feature George Washington’s profile based on Jean-Antoine Houdon’s works on the obverse with four reverse variants; Surveyor variant, Firemen variant, Husbandry variant and Masonic variant, which was suggested by a committee appointed by lodges in Alexandria. 2 They were pressed in later in 1904 in Philadelphia and were distributed for $1 each in bronze (and $1.5 in silver) 2
The four medals reflected his life and time as a citizen in Virginia where he spent his career as a surveyor, a fireman and a farmer, and served as the Master of the Lodge.3 The reverse of the Masonic variant displays a Masonic apron with a square and compasses and the inscription of Alexandria Lodge No. 22 of Virginia, the Lodge in which George Washington served as Master in 1788.
This medal is one of the only Masonic medals ever issued by the US Congress. The creation of this medal could also suggest that George Washington’s strong connection with the Freemasons was still widely acknowledged back in that time.4
The Ciphered Masonic Medal of the Netherlands
This medal was struck in 1825 at The Hague by the Grand Lodge of the Netherlands to commemorate the marriage of the Grand Master of Masons in the Netherlands, Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, to Princess Louise of Prussia. The medal was designed by Joseph-Pierre Braemt, a famous Belgian medalist & engraver. The obverse presents the female figure referred to as Latomia with ciphered lettering above translated as “Ornat Et Auget”5 which possibly means “Elegantly Increase in Wealth and Fertility” as a blessing to the royal couple.
The reverse displays an radiated delta with the letter G , with ciphered inscription around which can be translated to “In Memoriam Augustissimarum Nuptiarum Fratum Libere Ac Fidelis Silenti Lege Operantium Florentissima In Belgio Societas.”5 It could be roughly translated in English as “The most flourishing Society in Belgium of Brethren working freely under the law of faithful silence to commemorate the majestic wedding.”5
On a side note, after the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, Belgium was annexed into the Kingdom of Netherlands, and so were the Belgian Lodges.6 It could possibly be that the Belgian Brethren, who were under The Grand Lodge of The Netherlands at that time, were the ones who issued this medal, which would explain why Belgium was mentioned on its inscription.
The non-Masonic French Revolution Token
The five Sols copper token was commissioned by Monneron brothers of Paris (Monneron Frères) as “necessity money” in 1792 during the economy recession due to the French Revolution. The obverse displays the adaptation of “Fête de la Fédération” (The Festival of Federation) of July 14th, designed by Augustin Dupré, and depicting the soldiers saluting the female figure which represents Liberty.7 The inscription says “Vivre Libre ou Mourir”, which means, “Live free or die.”
The Monneron brothers commissioned Matthew Boulton of Soho Mint in Birmingham, England, to make the token. The token was made of copper, using a steam engine coin press and it was considered one of the highest-quality tokens ever produced. However, the token barely lasted a year before it was forbidden by the French government later in 1793 and slowly ceased circulation.8 (On a side note, the term ‘coin’ only applies to government-issued money, while currency issued by a non-governmental entity is instead named a token.)9
The non-Masonic Civil War Medal of Confederate General Jackson
The Stonewall Jackson medal was the medal issued by the Confederates to commemorate the death of Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, the famous Confederate General of the Stonewall Brigade. This medal is claimed to have different origins from various sources: some claim it was commissioned by a grandson of the Marquis de Lafayette of the Revolutionary War10; some claim it was Charles Lamar, a Georgian businessman and Confederate Colonel who commissioned it.11
There is also a claim that the medal is the only medal issued by the Confederate States12,although there is no official record of it anywhere. The most likely claim is that, shortly after his death, the medal was made by fundraising through subscription, along with the funding of his statue.13
The medal was designed by Armand Caque, a French medalist. The finished medals were shipped from France and arrived at the very end of the Civil War. The other shipment was purchased in Paris by Charles Lamar during a business trip in Europe, hence the assumption that he was to one who commissioned it.13
The shipment made it through the Union’s blockade to Georgia, but then Lamar rejoined the army and was killed in action before he could distribute them. The medals were kept away in the Lamar family’s warehouse for almost thirty years before they were recovered again, making headlines in newspapers.14They were later sold for $1 each through The Lady’s Auxiliary to aid disabled Confederate veterans, as advertised in 1894 in the Civil War Veteran magazine.13
The obverse of the medal shows the bust of Stonewall Jackson, facing left. The reverse shows the list of Civil War battles in which he participated. Though it was one of the most significant items associated with the Confederate, it is criticized for a number of inaccuracies on the medal such as mistakes in the list of his battles13,the wrong year of his birth and the poor likeliness of his portrait that has more resemblance to Abraham Lincoln than to Stonewall Jackson.14
Statutes at Large of The United States of America.” The Statutes at
Large of The United States of America, vol. 32, Government Printing Office,
1903, p. 715.
2. Brownell, J. H. “Monument to Washington, as a Citizen in His Home Town.” The American Tyler, edited by Arthur M. Smith, The Tyler Publishing Co., 1904.
5. Marvin, William Theophilus Rogers. “The Medals of the Masonic Fraternity : Described and Illustrated.” The Medals of the Masonic Fraternity : Described and Illustrated, Privately Printed, 1880, pp. 27–28.
6. Brennan, J. Fletcher, translator. A General History of Freemasonry : Based Upon the Ancient Documents Relating to, and the Monuments Erected by, This Fraternity, From Its Foundation, In the Year 715 B.C., To the Present Time, by Emmanuel Rebold, Cincinnati : American Masonic Publishing Association, 1872, pp. 119–120.
12. “Exonumia Auction #66 by Presidential Coin and Antique Company Inc, Public Auction Sale November 13, 1999, Suburban Washington-Baltimore Coin Convention.” Presidential Coin and Antique Company, Robert J. Centola Collection, 2000, p. 133.
The Theatre of The Occult Revival: Alternative Spiritual Performance from 1875 to the Present This volume offers a thorough exploration of the religious foundations, political and social significance and aesthetics created by some of the most influential voices of the Occult Revival including, Aleister Crowley, Rudolf Steiner, and Katherine Tingley. Lingan’s text explores how theatre contributed to the fragmentation of Western religions and how the Occult Revival influences the development of occult rituals and beliefs.
Black Freemasonry Revered Masonic research, Cécile Révauger provides a history of black Freemasonry throughout the United States from the beginning of Prince Hall lodges in Boston and Philadelphia in the early 19th century through the civil rights movement. Moreover, she attempts to explain the social role Freemasonry played in helping black Americans transcend the injustices they faced throughout time.
The Master Mason: The Reason of Being
The Master Mason explore the symbolism and allegory of the third degree of Freemasonry . In this volume Stewart seeks to explore the underlying esoteric connections within the ritual involved in becoming a Freemason.
Espionage, Diplomacy & The Lodge : Charles Delafaye and the The Secret Department of the Post office
In Berman’s latest book he provides insight into the British secret service and one of the most important figures of 18th century Britain., Charles Delafaye. Lafaye was a notable Freemason was at the center of the code breaking and Deciphering Branch within the secret department of the Post Office helping to prevent potential coups and acts of treason.
By Catherine M. Walter, Curator and Ratirat Osiri, Assistant Curator
On November 14, 2018, The Square Club of the Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan, Inc. held a General Meeting Festive Board in the Ionic Room at Masonic Hall in New York City. At the meeting, the Square Club hosted RW Demetrios G. Melis, Secretary of the Library’s Board of Trustees, who presented a brief lecture on the history of the Fourth Manhattan District and its Square Club. The Square Club can be considered one of the oldest District Associations in the Grand Lodge of New York, being a direct successor to the Square Club of the Seventh Masonic District of Manhattan, which existed as early as the 1890s.
The Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan was originally formed from 22 Lodges of the Sixth and Seventh Districts in the 1918 state-wide reorganization of the Districts of the Grand Lodge of New York. Those 22 Lodges included (to this day) Kane Lodge No. 454, the “Explorers’ Lodge,” and St. Cecile Lodge No. 568, the state’s first daylight “Lodge of the Arts.” This Lodge has special Dispensation to meet during the day, due to its membership which was largely formed of performers who could not meet at night.
Through the work of Ms. Catherine M. Walter, Curator, and Ms. Ratirat Osiri, Assistant Curator, with the assistance of Mr. Joseph Patzner, Librarian, the Livingston Masonic Library and Museum was pleased to present a Temporary Exhibit highlighting some of the fascinating artifacts held in the collections which came from Lodges in the Fourth Manhattan District. The attendees stated that they greatly appreciated the Special Exhibit and extended their grateful thanks to the Library staff for their work illuminating the history of their Lodges and Districts.
The Lodges of the Fourth Manhattan District, their organizational histories and the displayed artifacts are highlighted below.
Heritage Lodge No. 371 was formed in 1996 with the merger of Sagamore Lodge No. 371 and Corinthian Architect Lodge No. 488. It the existent Lodge after the previous mergers of Greenwich Lodge No. 467 and Sagamore-Naphthali Lodge No. 371 in 1971, and Corinthian Lodge No. 488 and Architect Lodge No. 519 in 1967. On display in the Exhibit was the below 1905 Member Pendant from the 50th Anniversary of Sagamore Lodge No. 371 [J6inv-654]. Sagamore Lodge No. 371 was warranted on July 3, 1855).
Compact Lodge No. 402 was formed in 1979 with the merger of Crescent Lodge No. 402 and Monitor Mosaic Lodge No. 418, and is the existent Lodge after the merger of Mosaic Lodge No. 418 and Monitor Lodge NO. 528 in 1971. On display in the Exhibit was the below 1903 Ashtray commemorating Crescent Lodge No. 402’s One Thousandth Communication [I38]. Crescent Lodge No. 402 was warranted on July 3, 1856.
Franklin Lodge No. 447 was warranted on June 25, 1858. On display in the Exhibit was the below Past Master’s Jewel, which is engraved with the following: “Presented by Franklin Lodge No. 447 F & AM to W.B Barnett Woolf as a token of their Appreciation of the Manner he presided Over them during 1864, 1865 & 1867. Re-presented by Franklin Lodge No. 447 to Wor. Bro. Isaac J. Woolf, on his installation as Master Dec. 17th, 1917.” Franklin Lodge No. 447 was warranted on June 25, 1858.
The existent Manahatta Lodge No. 449 was formed after a 1975 merger of Hiram Lodge No. 449 and Manahatta Lodge No. 489. On display in the Exhibit was the below 1900 lapel pin from Hiram Lodge No. 449, a Lodge with a quite complicated history. Its initial warrant was dated March 10, 1783, having been formed by members of No. 213 Army Lodge under the English registry. It became No. 7 in the renumbering of June 3, 1789, and then became No. 10 in the renumbering of June 4, 1819. On December 1, 1830, it’s number changed to No. 9 in the Proceedings.
On December 3, 1834, its warrant was suspended, and soon thereafter, surrendered. There was an attempted revival in 1852 by the Phillips Grand Lodge, which failed, and the warrant was again surrendered. A Petition to revive the warrant was made on February 6, 1858, and the warrant was revived on February 9, 1859 by the Grand Master of the Phillips Grand Lodge, in which it became No. 148. At the union of the Phillips Grand Lodge and the regular Grand Lodge of New York on August 4, 1858, it received the number 449. More research would need to be done to discover why the lapel pin marks 1792 as an important date for the Lodge.
Kane Lodge No. 454 was warranted on June 9, 1854. On display in the Exhibit was a 1900 Program for a Dinner to Kane Lodge No. 55, New Jersey, by Kane Lodge No. 454, NY. Included in the Program was a signed engraving by Jacques Reich of Elisha Kent Kane. Kane Lodge No. 454 maintains their own Museum at the Grand Lodge of New York which highlights their explorer members who traveled to and discovered the North Pole.
Columbian Lodge No. 484 was warranted on June 15, 1860. On display in the Exhibit was the below Medal commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Lodge in 1910.
Pyramid Lodge No. 490 was warranted on June 3, 1856 by the revived St. John’s Grand Lodge, and was granted a new warrant from the regular Grand Lodge on June 8, 1860. On display in the Exhibit was the below medal from their 50th Anniversary in 1910.
Park Lodge No. 516 was warranted on June 5, 1862. The first communication of Park Lodge was held at Washington Hall, 683 Eighth Avenue, on Wednesday evening, July 11, A.L. 5860, under a Dispensation granted by MW John W. Simons, Grand Master.
An early petitioner to Park Lodge was Peter Hart, who distinguished himself as one of the first heroes of the Civil War. Of this Brother, “Leslie’s History of New York” commented: “With Major Anderson at Fort Sumter was Peter Hart, a soldier who had served with him in the Mexican campaigns. Hart was a native New Yorker and had once been a sergeant on the New York Police force. Nine times during the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the Stars and Stripes were pierced by shots from Confederate batteries. At last a ball struck the staff and down came Old Glory to the dust. Thereupon, Peter Hart climbed to the top and nailed the flag to it while shot and shell were pouring all around him in a hissing shower. It remained in its proud position for two days until the surrender on April 14, 1861. It is worthy to note among the historic memories of the times a New Yorker saved the Stars and Stripes from falling in the first historic battle of the Great Civil War.” A postcard in the collection which references the Lodge was not placed on display in the Exhibit, but is featured below.
Gramercy Lodge No. 537 was warranted on June 17, 1863. A large coaster which was not placed on display for the Exhibit is featured below.
On February 20th of that year, 1863, Putnam Lodge, No. 338 sponsored the application of W..George K. Chase and twenty-three other Masons to form a Lodge they named Gramercy (which to the American Indians means “Many Thanks”). Of these petitioners, twenty-one were from York Lodge, No. 197; one from Oscar Coles Lodge, No. 241; one from Tecumseh Lodge, No. 487 and one from Hiram Lodge, No. 1, of New Haven Conn. They came from diverse walks of life: broker, tailor, lawyer, baker, plumber, brush maker, grocer, hardware and ointment merchants, to name a few… At the outset, the Lodge developed a close fraternal association with Sagamore Lodge, which presented Gramercy with a trowel.
St. Cecile Lodge No. 568 was warranted on June 28, 1865. It was the first Lodge in New York State to be granted Dispensation to meet during the day, as most of the members were entertainers who worked at night on Broadway. On display in the Exhibit was the below Certificate for Brother Al Jolson. Also on display from the Biography Section of the Library’s Book Collection was the book, Jolson: The Legend Comes to Life, by Herbert G. Goldman [Call Number in the Library: 921 J68g].
Publicity Lodge No. 1000 was warranted on May 3, 1922. Today, it is formed by the consolidation of Harlem Lodge No. 457 and Americus Lodge No. 535 which merged to become Liberty Lodge No. 457 in 1986, and by the merger of Liberty Lodge No. 457 and Publicity Lodge No. 1000 who merged in 1999 to become Publicity Lodge No. 1000. On display in the exhibit was the below certificate issued to Brother Hiram B. LeQuatte in 1962, commemorating his 50 year anniversary of becoming a Freemason. This certificate was donated in 2016 by David Wendt in Honor of Hiram B. LeQuatte.
Britannia Lodge No. 1166 was warranted on May 6, 1964. On display in the exhibit was the below Certificate of attendance during the Lodge’s 25th Anniversary celebration. It was presented to MW Wendell K. Walker, Honorary Past Grand Master (awarded in 1979) and Past Grand Secretary from 1963-1990, serving for 27 years during the terms of 15 Grand Masters. He passed away in 1991, during MW Richard P. Thomas’ term. MW Walker was an avid supporter of the Livingston Masonic Library.
Jose Rizal Lodge No. 1122 was warranted on May 16th, 1984. On display in the exhibit was the below plate, celebrating the Lodge’s 25th Anniversary in 2010 and issued during the term of W.. Arvin P. Repil. a Brother in good standing for the past 37 years.
Also on display, to highlight the Mason after whom Jose Rizal Lodge was named, was the below commemorative folder of currency, issued in the Philippines with a Masonic Square and Compasses prominently displayed. The first-named Hero in the Struggle for independence was Brother Jose Rizal, a member of Logia Solidaridad No. 53.
It was a great pleasure for the Library’s Museum Division to share some of the magnificent artifacts in the Collection with the Brethren for whom the items have most meaning. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Library if your Lodge or District would like to have a similar Special Exhibit.
Don’t miss this fantastic piece in The Gothamist! Click here to see wonderful photographs of the Grand Lodge Masonic Hall on 23rd Street and a thoughtful article based on the interview with Mr. Patzner.
*Image: The Grand Lodge of New York, 1875, 23rd Street and 6th Avenue.
Today’s highlighted artifact is one of the biggest and the oldest trowels in our collection, used in laying the cornerstone of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Harlem on this day 129 years ago, October 16th, 1889.
It was made out of sterling silver with an ebony handle by the famous Tiffany & Co. The detailed inscription records that the trowel was a gift from Republic Lodge No. 690 to the Rector, George R. Van De Water, and that the Church is located between 127th Street and Fifth Avenue.
The ceremony and the trowel were also mentioned in the following day’s New-York Tribune newspaper:
The cornerstone of the new St. Andrew Protestant Episcopal Church. Fifth-ave. and One-hundred-and-twenty-seventh-st., was laid yesterday with impressive ceremonies. The trowel used by Bishop Potter for putting the stone in place was a solid silver one present to the Rev. Dr. Van de Water, rector of St. Andrew’s, by the Republican Lodge, F. and A.M….Under the cornerstone were placed the two other [corner]stones …1
It is evident that the newspaper reporter mistakenly identified the Lodge as Republican rather than Republic Lodge. Republic Lodge No. 690 was warranted in 1869 and was working up until 1980, at which time it consolidated with Bunting-Charity Lodge No. 727, which is still in existence today.
The same report also revealed that the cornerstone was actually the third cornerstone of St. Andrew’s Church, the first church having been built in 1829 and the second one in 1872 after the first church was burned. The church then relocated to the present location and held the above-described cornerstone-laying ceremony. According to the church’s history, it is the first Episcopal church in East Harlem. 2-5
The important name appearing on the trowel and in the newspaper is George R. Van De Water, the Rector of St. Andrew Church at that time. The Grand Lodge of New York published a sermon of his to be distributed among the Lodges in 1908.6 He was later appointed as the Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York from 1910 to 19177 and delivered several sermons to the Masons during his term of service as Grand Chaplain.8
From the day the cornerstone was laid, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church has been offering services to their patrons and to the Harlem community through generations. We are proud to have in our care this artifact which reflects both the history of New York City and New York Freemasons .
6. Van de Water, George, Sermon and Address published by order of the Grand Lodge of New York of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York For Distribution Among the Lodges, 1908
7. Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, 1910 -1917
8. Van de Water, George, A Collection of Sermons, 1908-1914: Masonic Teaching, Bible Truth (1908), The Truth about Freemasonry (1911), The Plumb Line (1912), A Man and a Mason (1913), The Latent Power of Masonry (1914), Masonry and War (1916), Grand Lodge, New York, 1908-1914
Featured Cover Image and Artifact detail:Artifact photo: Ratirat Osiri, Museum Technician
If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the early history of Freemasonry and its influence of Freemasonry throughout the United States and Europe, visit the library’s reading room to browse our recent acquisitions shelf.
The 1783 Francken Manuscript
Supreme Council,33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction
The 1783 Francken Manuscript is a foundational document of Freemasonry and Scottish Rite that is of notable interest of Masons and historians alike. This volume features essays by, Alan E. Foulds, Aimee E. Newell, and Jeffrey Croteau, 316 full-color images of the original manuscript accompanied by a printed transcription on the adjacent page. While the book does not cover modern ritual this volume enables the reader to develop an understanding of the type of ritual they may have encountered during the genesis of Freemasonry in the United States.
Exploring Early Grand Lodge Freemasonry
Author, Christoper R. Murphy
This book features eight scholarly essays exploring various aspects of Freemasonry during the early eighteenth century including, early masonic lectures, the role of music and song in Lodge Meetings, speculation regarding religion, and an examination into early lodge culture. Thus, this compilation of essays helps to understand the begins of the institution of Freemasonry as well as the societal impact of the craft.
Little Lodges on the Prairie
Author, Tessa Lynn
This book explores the role in which Freemasonry played in the lives of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family. Lynn worked with records from the Order of The Eastern Star Chapter Laura and her sister Almanzo were a member, in addition to records from the Grand Lodge of South Dakota and the Grand Lodge of Missouri.
Gender and Fraternal Orders in Europe, 1300-2000
Editor, Máire Fedelma Cross
A study of religious organizations, Freemasonry, fraternal organizations, and social groups provides insight into the role gender played in the evolution of separate social spheres throughout Europe.
The Spirit of Freemasonry
Author, Kamel Oussayef
Over twelve independent chapters translated from the original French documents pictured parallel to the type set translation explore Masonic subjects that may be viewed as peculiar to the 21st-century reader. In addition to the main text, the footnotes provide readers with a guide to understand the vocabulary, symbols, calendar, rituals, and alphabet utilized throughout Freemasonry.
Author, C.R. Dunning Jr.
Expanding on his Guide to The Exploration of Freemasonry Through Contemplative Practices, C.R. Dunning Jr. provides a practical and accessible resource for Masons interested in deepening their self-knowledge through the degrees of Craft Masonry.
American Freemasonry: Its Revolutionary History and Challenging Future
Author, Alain De Keghel 33°
Renowned Masonic researcher, Alain De Keghel examines the rise of Freemasonry in the United States during the Colonial Era by exploring the relationship between Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin and the influence French lodges had on American Freemasonry. Moreover, Keghel investigates the decrease in membership and the efforts being made by the Grand Lodge of California to revitalize membership.
Book of Wisdom
Author, Jean Doszedardski, Translated by Kamel Oussayef, 33°
Translated from the original French, this Oussayef’s translation provides insight into the history of Freemasonry in the West Indies during the Late-18th and early 19th Century with documents from Lodge le Choix des Hommes located in San Domingo.
A Sublime Brotherhood
Authors, Richard B. Burgess, Jeffrey Croteau, Alan E. Foulds, Aimee E. Newell, Jerry A. Roach Jr., and Catherine C. Swanson
To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction staff members, Richard B. Burgess, Jeffrey Croteau, Alan E. Foulds, Aimee E. Newell, Jerry A. Roach Jr., and Catherine C. Swanson compiled six chapters with lavish illustrations and prose that presents the history of the events, traditions, meeting places, and members which have encouraged the development of the organization from its beginnings to the present day.
Back in colonial days, in addition to serving food and wine, taverns also played a major role as the community spot where people came for meetings, social gatherings or making business deals. The early Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York suggest that colonial New York Masons were also important regular patrons of taverns. One of the earliest records of Masonic activity during colonial New York was a public announcement found in The New York Gazette in 1737, signed by Charles Wood, Secretary.
Brethren of the Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons are desired to take notice that the Lodge for the future will be held at the Montgomerie-Arms Tavern the first and third Wednesday of every month. By the order of Grand Master Charles Wood, Secretary
The only information that I found about the Montgomerie-Arms Tavern was its location, mentioned in the Brotherhood newsletter, wherein it stated that it was “near what is now the northeast corner of Park Row and Pearl Street.” Currently, this corner is now the site of the U.S. District Court – Southern District of New York building. The area is not accessible by (unauthorized) vehicles.
According to the Proceedings, the following announcements in later years also mentioned a few other meeting places such as King’s Arms Tavern in 1753 and Province Arms in 1754.
In Old Taverns of New York, author Bayles W. Harrison explains that King’s Arms Tavern was previously known as Exchange Coffee House or New Coffee House before George Burn took over and dropped its old name in 1751, but the location was vaguely mentioned as “at the foot of Broad Street”. The King’s Arms name was found in the project report of Fraunces Tavern Block of Historic District, pinpointing the exact address of the building as 105 Broad Street, which is the northeast corner between Broad and Water Streets. It is now a deli store on the first floor, sharing the same historic block with the famous Fraunces Tavern.
According to Harrison, Province Arms was one of the biggest and finest taverns in the city, and was also known as the House of Edward Willet, a famous landlord of colonial New York. It was “at the west side of Broadway, between present Thames and Cedar Streets.” This tavern later became the historic Cape’s Tavern of the Evacuation Day. This tavern was named after the keeper, John Cape, who happened to be a Freemason. It later changed its name to City Arms Tavern. Both names appeared in the Annual Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York in later years as well, but these different names essentially shared the same location throughout years.
The location is now Trinity Centre Building, right between Trinity Church and Zucotti Park,
How different the city is today, 281 years after that announcement in 1737 by Brother Secretary Charles Wood! And yet, how constant the Fraternity.
– Authority of the Grand Lodge. (1876). Early history and transactions of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, 1781-1815. (Vol. 1). New York: Masonic and Miscellaneous. No. 2 Bleecker Street, D. Sickles &, Managers.
– Thomas, J. L. (Ed.). (1912). Brotherhood (Vol. 1).
NYC Map: Library of Congress: A plan of the city of New-York & its environs to Greenwich, on the north or Hudsons River, and to Crown Point, on the east or Sound River, shewing the several streets, publick buildings, docks, fort & battery, with the true form & course of the commanding grounds, with and without the town. Contributor Names: Montrésor, John, 1736-1799.
Andrews, Peter, active 1765-1782. Created / Published: [London, 1766] Call Number/Physical Location: G3804.N4 1766 .M6 Repository: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA dcu Digital Id: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3804n.ar110400 Library of Congress Control Number: gm71000645
It was a privilege to work at the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library, a hidden gem of New York City. My time as an intern here gave me valuable knowledge and wonderful experience … more than I could ever have hoped for. I was assigned to working with the subcollections of trowels and gavels, two important categories of Masonic working tools.
My main responsibility was to catalog, photograph and digitize the trowels and gavels in the museum and to create the digital records for them. Each of the artifacts was examined, measured and photographed before being given a record and catalog number, all by me. These records will be put later into the database for museum use, public access and future research.
I encountered artifacts made of ivory, so I also was able to help with the preservation process of ivory artifacts by rehousing ivory trowels and gavels found within the subcollections to a secure, temperature and humidity controlled storage cabinet. For some ivory artifacts that were previously stored in the cabinet, I also learned how to update their condition records, as the majority of them had been damaged in the past from exposure to light and heat. The cracks they suffered had continued to expand upon their storage, but have now hopefully stabilized in their new environment.
This internship experience was exactly what I am aiming to do in my museum career. With help from my supervisor, I have discovered my potential as a museum professional and learned so many essential skills and experiences from her that are very valuable to me. I was also given a rare opportunity to come across numerous artifacts from very significant figures in American history and I learned a lot more about Freemasonry, an organization with very fascinating members, philosophies and histories.
Note: Ms. Osiri was hired in 2018 to become our part-time Museum Technician after her highly skilled work as our museum intern during her final semester of graduate school in the Fall of 2017.
She was hired as full-time Museum Technician in September of 2018.
On April 25, 2018, Continental Lodge No. 287 was welcomed by the Livingston Masonic Library in honor of their 165th Anniversary.
A special exhibit was designed and installed in the Reading Room by Ms. Catherine M. Walter, Curator, and Mr. Joseph Patzner, Librarian pro tem, with the help of Ms. Ratirat Osiri, Assistant Curator. The exhibit focused on two prominent members of the Lodge, and also displayed artifacts, books and archives related to Continental Lodge No. 287. RW Demetrios G. Melis, Library Trustee and Secretary of the Board of Library Trustees, was on hand to welcome the Lodge and present the exhibits.
One of the two prominent members was MW Edward M. L. Ehlers, who served as Grand Secretary for 36 years under the administrations of 22 Grand Masters, from 1881-1917. In 1901, he became the Grand Lodge of New York’s second Honorary Past Grand Master. On permanent display in the Library is the RW Gutzon Borglum bust of MW Ehlers. RW Borglum was the sculptor who created Mount Rushmore.
In the temporary exhibit was shown a 1915, illuminated Certificate granting Life Membership to MW Ehlers from Continental Lodge No. 287.
An additional item highlighting MW Ehlers and his deep connection to Continental Lodge No. 287 was his Past Master Jewel, made of gold and diamond, and engraved with, “Presented to Past Master E. M. L. Ehlers, by members of Continental Lodge No. 287, F.& A. M., March 20, 1872.
The 1904 Past Master Certificate of WEdward C. Ehlers, the son of Honorary Past Grand Master Ehlers was also on display.
The other member highlighted was RW Charles Looney, who served as Grand Steward from 1908-1909. After his death in 1937, his wife, Mrs. Ida Looney, created the Charles Looney Memorial Collection by donating a number of artifacts he had accumulated, She then actively continued to collect Masonic items, and donated to the Library, up until her death in 1958, a large amount of medals, bookplates, engravings, letters and memorabilia in RW Looney’s name. The 1906 gold and diamond Past Master Jewel of RW Looney on display holds a lock of RW Looney’s mother’s hair.
General items related to the history of Continental Lodge No. 287 were featured, including a Jewel Clasp used by Officers of Continental Lodge No. 287, the Lodge Square damaged in the 1861 Union Square fire, and two coin medals: one from 1953 commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Lodge, and one from 1987, commemorating the 2,500th Communication of the Lodge.
The Lodge Square on display. “The Jewels, Aprons and Staffs were destroyed by the fire except a few portions… the Compasses were lost.”
An Architect’s Rendering of a Model Lodge Room, designed in 1934 by Kromm and Kohl for Continental Lodge No. 287, was displayed above the actual Model Lodge Room.
The Grand Lodge’s Masonic Hall Meeting Chart from 1948 showed that the Lodge met in the Craftsmans Lodge Room on the 7th floor on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of every month.
Additional items on display included: The April 1853 Petition to form Continental Lodge No. 287, the April 22, 1853 Dispensation granted by Grand Lodge [the Warrant granted May 10, 1853], a 1900 Ballot Box presented by Worshipful Frank S. Baker, and History Books related to Continental Lodge No. 287.
The highlight, however, was the Lodge Bible, which was presented to Continental Lodge No. 287 by Brother Joseph Freeman, May 11, 1855. This Bible was injured in the fire which destroyed the Lodge room at No. 8 Union Square, March 15, 1861. It was rebound on April 16, 1861.
Most Worshipful Jeffrey M. Williamson, Grand Master 2016-2018, was in attendance at the Lodge’s Anniversary event at the Library, accompanied by the Grand Line. In a surprise to the Lodge, MW Williamson unveiled the Bible to the Lodge, and informed them of its historic placement in his Official Portrait.
The Library congratulates Continental Lodge No. 287 for its historic milestone, and for its inclusion in the Grand Master’s portrait, and thanks the Lodge for its support.
The Library is thrilled to share the history it holds with the Lodges and with the membership of Grand Lodge. If any Lodge would like a similar special, temporary exhibit installed for a commemorative event, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This past week, the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York was pleased and proud to mount a temporary exhibit in honor of three separate visitor groups.
The A.P. American and A.P European History High School classes from John Dewey High School visited, with their teacher Thomas Stoppini. On Tuesday, May 22, 40 students visited, and on Thursday, May 24, 30 students visited.
On Wednesday, May 23, the visitor group was composed of over 30 New York City Librarians from the New York City Department of Education.
All three groups were treated to a special, temporary exhibit which included three main topics on which the A.P. Students had been focused this past year:
The table with the Founding Fathers material from the collection held the following amazing artifacts:
The George Washington Masonic Letter, Portrait and Locket of his hair, 1782
The George Washington-signed muster request letter to Col. Greene, 1780
The American Union Lodge No. 1 Military Lodge Minutes Book, 1776-1779
The Solomon’s Lodge No. 1, Poughkeepsie, NY Minutes Book, 1771-1784, with Benedict Arnold visit, Benedict Arnold denouncement, and George Washington Visit
The Benjamin Franklin gold and ivory trowel, late 1700s
George Washington Relics and Steel Plate engraving: a) a piece of wood from his coffin; b) a piece of wood from the elm tree under which he took command of the army; c) a piece of wood from a magnolia he planted at Mount Vernon, and d) a steel plate engraving of his portrait.
A pamphlet with George Washington as a Mason on the cover, and an original engraving of Benjamin Franklin
The Table with the Theodore Roosevelt material held:
A 1903 letter and envelope (on White House stationary) from Brother Roosevelt to MW William E. English, Grand Master of Masons in the State of Indiana
A 1904 regrets letter (on White House stationary) from Brother Roosevelt to MW John Stewart, Grand Master 1895-1897, in reference to an invitation by Albion Lodge No. 26
A 1932 letter (on the stationary of the Office of the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands) to MW Charles Johnson, Grand Master 1930-1932, Grand Secretary 1932-1946, about Brother Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address, a copy of which he sent to MW Johnson (also on display)
An 1884-1885 Trow’s New York Directory showing Brother Roosevelt’s NYC residence
Two photographs: one with Brother Roosevelt as a Master Mason, and one in which his membership certificate signed by MW Edward M.L. Ehlers, Grand Secretary 1883-1917 and Honorary Past Grand Master 1901, is being examined by MW Judge Nathan Turk, Past Grand Master 1956-1957
Valentine’s Manual of Corporation, City of New York, 1870, showing a map of the then-NYC Police precincts
An engraving by J. Conacher of the 28 East 20th Street NYC building in which Theodore Roosevelt was born
A biography of Theodore Roosevelt
A booklet titled, Our Patriotic President
The Knights Templar table held:
The Knights Templar Certificate of Andrew Robbs, from Lodge No. 753, Rooskey, Ireland 1806, signed by William Gamble as Secretary
Pages from a 1753 pamphlet about the Orders of Knighthood
A Grand Commander Jewel, 1898, Sir Knight Henry Brewer Quinby, Grand Commander of the Knights Templar of New Hampshire
A book documenting Boston Commandery’s California Pilgrimage of 1883 to the 22nd Triennial Conclave
Four rare books from the Collection related to the Knights Templar
Two Grand Encampment commemorative pamphlets
Also on exhibit was the Certificate signed by Paul Revere, 1782:
As an interesting associated item, there was also the Marquis de Lafayette Apron, 1820s, and a newspaper article showing the dinner seating for the 1824 dinner which the Grand Lodge of New York gave to honor the Marquis de Lafayette.
Additionally, on display was an 1801 letter written by MW Robert R Livingston, Grand Master 1784-1800, after whom the Library is named, as well as an original engraving of him:
The Library is thrilled to share the collections with the membership, and with the general public, in furtherance of our Mission.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if your Lodge, District, Association, class or group (Masonic or non-Masonic) would like to have a similar temporary exhibit mounted for a special visit or event. Please give us at least one month advance notice to design the exhibit.
Mr. Joseph Patzner, Librarian pro tem – (Overhead images of the tables)
Ms. Catherine Walter, Curator – (GW letter) Ms. Ratirat Osiri, Assistant Curator – (All other images)
The Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York is pleased, proud and very happy to announce that the Free Monthly Lecture Series has found a Sponsor for the next seven Lectures.
We thank, so very much, The Square Club of the Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan, Inc. for their Sponsorship! We are deeply grateful for their support.
The website for The Square Club of the Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan, Inc. is https://www.4msquareclub.org/. Should there be any questions for the Square Club, please contact them at email@example.com.
As the Library is a not-for-profit, New York State Chartered Association Library, donations such as this and those that come to us through the Masonic Brotherhood Fund help the staff fulfill the mission of the Library.
The Mission of the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library is to collect, preserve, interpret, and make available for education and research, to both members of the Fraternity and others, such materials as relate to the history, philosophy, culture, and organization of Freemasonry, in its social and historical contexts, with a special emphasis on Freemasonry in New York State.
Image Courtesy: The Square Club of the Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan, Inc.
Copyright 2014: The Square Club; Copyright 2014: The Glorious Fourth
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
What to look for when preparing to digitize material:
Loose or Missing Boards
Torn or Missing Pages
Loose Papers inserted into a Bound Book
If you would like individual materials or materials from your lodge digitized, contact our Digital Technician at Digital@nymasoniclibrary.org .
Designing a new exhibit is always somewhat of an adventure, as there must be a concordance between the artifacts which are available and safe to display, the story or theme which is being told, the shape and size of the exhibit cases, the hardware needed to display the artifacts and the amount of signage needed to explain to the viewer what they are seeing and why it is important enough to be on display.
Last year, the Livingston Masonic Library was the grateful recipient of a number of display cases from the Grand Lodge of New Jersey, with the coordination of Brother Glenn Visscher at the Grand Lodge of New Jersey and the Livingston Masonic Library’s Board of Trustees, most especially, RW C. F. William Maurer. Five of the cases were installed in the Library on the 14th floor, with two others held in reserve for future exhibits.
Four of the cases were refitted to be used in the ground floor Wendell K. Walker Lounge, and a brand new Masonic Apron Exhibit was unveiled during the Grand Lodge Annual Communication on May 1st and 2nd.
Aprons were chosen out of the vast Apron Collection of the Grand Lodge of New York based on either their historical interest, their symbolic value, their sheer beauty, or their representative nature.
In Display Case 1, there is just one, plain leather apron, the symbolism of which is well-known to every Freemason. Considered to be the “single most important piece of ceremonial regalia,” one of its symbolic meanings, as given to the initiate, is one of innocence and purity.
In Display Case 2, there is a simple leather apron from 1793, with a single symbol, the square and compasses. The addition of symbols to the Masonic apron began with this simple type of adornment. Also in this case is the stunning Howard Lodge No. 35 apron, worn between 1825-1836.
Included in this case of leather aprons is the Masonic Apron of Brother John Joseph Pershing, General of the Armies 1919 and Commander-in-Chief of the US Forces 1921-1924.
Case 3 holds the Masonic Apron of Most Worshipful Daniel D. Tompkins, Grand Master 1820-1822, NYS Governor 1807-1817 and United States Vice President 1817-1825.
Additionally, in Case 3 is an Apron significant to the Grand Lodge of New York as belonging to Most Worshipful Isaac Phillips, founder and the 1851 Grand Master of the Phillips Grand Lodge (a schism Grand Lodge in existence from 1849-1858). It is also significant in that MW Phillips was an early Jewish Grand Master, dispelling the myth that the Fraternity didn’t accept Jewish members. All the Grand Officers of the Phillips Grand Lodge were accorded legal Past Grand Officer status upon the healing Union in 1858.
In Case 4 are seen a sample of Aprons from some of the many Concordant Bodies, with a Royal Arch apron, a Knights Templar Apron, and a Scottish Rite Apron on display.
This Royal Arch Apron is filled with both Blue Lodge and Royal Arch symbols.
This Knights Templar Apron belonged to Civil War Soldier, Right Worshipful William Gurney, who fought in the 7th NY Militia, the 65th Regiment, NY Volunteers, the 127th NY Volunteer Infantry and also served as the Commander of the Second Brigade in General Abercrombie’s Division.
This Apron Exhibit will have new, fascinating, beautiful and historic aprons switched in on a regular basis, so please don’t hesitate to come to Grand Lodge to view them in person.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Masonic Aprons are one of the most interesting, beautiful and curious items in the Fraternity’s history. Members of medieval, operative stone-masons’ guilds wore large animal hide aprons, providing them with as much protection as possible from the sharp rock shards with which they worked.
Early Masonic aprons were similar, but in the late 1600s, men began to join the guild who were not actual stonemasons, but who were “Accepted” into the Fraternity nonetheless, and it is they who may have introduced the practice of decorating their aprons.
Worshipful Harry Rylands, Past Master Lodge No. 2, and Past Grand Steward, wrote The Masonic Apron (Research Lodge Quatuor Coronati No. 2076, Transactions Volume 5, London, England, 1892). In this important, early analysis of the Masonic Apron, he states, “The bordering with ribbon and decorations were, I think, introduced by the Speculative Masons, and may perhaps have been a mark of distinction.”
White leather was mentioned as the material for the Aprons in the Book of Constitutions, which outlined various colored silks that were allowed to be used as lining, a regulation repeated in the editions from 1739 up to 1784. Linings protected the clothing from white marks from undyed leather.
Aprons began to be much smaller, as the Lodges began to be filled with more speculative rather than operative Masons. The flap, which was previously held up with a button or a thong passed around the neck, for increased protection, or which hung loosely down, was folded over intentionally and tied around the waist.
From 1760-1770, in line with the advance of printed pottery and engraved summonses, the aprons became more decorated. “As jewels, differences of rank, and other matters increased in number, so the taste for symbols and the decoration of aprons advanced, and they became more and more ornate.” (Rylands, 1892)
By 1786, Aprons were much smaller than the old aprons that went almost to the ankles. They were often ornately decorated with any number of symbols, and were diverse in size, material and decorative elements. Spangles, sequins, bullion fringe, embroidery, three-dimensional items sewn on, paint, engraved prints, engraved prints which were painted … almost anything was used in Masonic Apron decoration and design.
The Concordant Bodies of the York Rite and the Scottish Rite also began to distinguish themselves with various apron styles.
In 1814, the United Grand Lodge of England ordered a general uniformity of design and lining color.
Uniformity in the Masonic Apron shape and design didn’t take hold until after the 1840s, and, while there are distinctions in color and symbol, the wide variety of earlier days diminished and has mostly disappeared from the Masonic world.
The Grand Lodge of New York holds an incredible collection of early Masonic Aprons. Some of this collection can be seen in the Library’s Online Museum by clicking here. (Please click “Browse” above the thumbnail panel in order to see the entire Fabric sub-collection.)
Next week, a brand new Apron exhibit will be installed on the ground floor of the Grand Lodge of New York’s Masonic Hall, and we invite you to visit and see these amazing works of art which reflect so much meaning and history.
References: Rylands, Harry, “The Masonic Apron”. Transactions of the Lodge Quatuor Coronati, Vol. 5, 1892. Photographs by Catherine Walter.
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:
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:
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!
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)
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.
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.
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.
Let us deconstruct one of our Bibles that is encased in a Bible Box.
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.
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.
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!
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.
When I received a phone call in December from Worshipful Brother William Hubschman about a donation he wanted to make to the Grand Lodge Museum here at the Livingston Masonic Library, I was most intrigued by the mention of a mirror, as we have very few in the collection. The donation came in mid-January, and I was quite pleased with the mirror – it is a 1917 hand-held 50th Anniversary commemorative mirror for Emanuel Lodge No. 654, which was warranted in 1867. (In 1996, Emanuel Lodge No. 654 merged with Daniel Carpenter Lodge No. 588, to be known as Carpenter-Emanuel Lodge No. 588 of the Fifth Manhattan District.) Along with the mirror were some coins, some lapel pins and a Lodge By-laws.
Well, then I opened the By-Laws and was stunned! Written into the front was the name of the original owner: Walter M. Fleming, one of the co-founders of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine!
I checked 10,000 Famous Freemasons by William R. Denslow, and, yes, according to Denslow, Brother Fleming (b. 1838-d. 1913) was Raised in Rochester Lodge No. 660 on February 13, 1869, and he affiliated with New York Lodge No. 330 on December 3, 1872.
According to these Bylaws just donated, however, the dates of his Raising and his Affiliation are different than those Denslow reports … a mystery to be researched some other day. Denslow’s entry states that Brother Fleming was also a member of Columbian Commandery No. 1, Knights Templar, and served as its Commander from 1873-1877.
I called Worshipful Hubschman to tell him to whom the Bylaws belonged and to be certain that he did, indeed, mean to donate them to us, once he knew of their famous owner. He was surprised as well, but assured me that he was happy the booklet had found a safe home. I assured him of our gratitude for adding to the collections of the Livingston Masonic Library and Museum, helping to maintain it as one of the finest Masonic research centers in the world.
Brother Hubschman is 86 years-old, and is a 52-Year member. He’s a Past Master of Habonim Lodge No. 1042 and a member of South Bay Lodge and Spartan Lodge No. 956 as well as a part of the Scottish Rite on Long Island.
His nephew, Harold Hubschman, a member of Fulton Lodge No. 216 in Atlanda, GA, inherited numerous items from his father, Worshipful Albert Hubschman (Habonim Lodge No. 1042) and Right Worshipful Jacques Fiensod (Carpenter-Emanuel Lodge No. 588 and District Deputy Grand Master of the Fifth Manhattan District). Upon Brother Harold’s death, his wife sent Brother William Hubschman numerous Masonic items, some of which he has donated to the Grand Lodge of New York.
We are thrilled to add these items to our collection, and plan on displaying the Bylaws in a new exhibit being planned for the Annual Communication in May!
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.
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.
The Library’s First Reading Discussion Meeting of 2017 was held here on January 17th, 2017, to discuss The White Leather Apron, a paper by the late RW Spiridon Arkouzis.
The meeting was a success, with discussion held amongst a small but dedicated group of Brothers from the Tenth Manhattan District. The event was coordinated by Worshipful Michael Matsas, Master, Abravanel Lodge No. 1116.
The Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York will now be holding Reading Discussion Meetings on the Second Tuesday of each month!
Please check back to see the topic for the next Discussion Topic, to be held on February 14th, 2017!
RW Pierre de Ravel d’Esclapon will present a lecture titled:
“Solomon’s Temple: Separating Fact from Fiction”
Join us at 6:30 p.m. on January 26 for the first lecture of 2017 in the Library’s Monthly Series, which is open to all, Mason and non-Masons alike.
This month, RW Pierre de Ravel d’Esclapon will be lecturing on Solomon’s Temple: Separating Fact from Fiction. Having delivered lectures to Masons and non-Masons, we are honored to have this recognized historian deliver what promises to be a fascinating lecture here at the Library.
This Lecture is a companion lecture to the Library’s December 2016 Magic Lantern Slide show, which focused on the 1926 understanding of the Evolution and Restoration of King Solomon’s Temple. We are excited to learn of the changes in knowledge about this important building which features so prominently in Masonic symbolism.
This lecture is graciously sponsored by France-La Clémente-Amitié-Comopolite Lodge No. 410 of the Tenth Manhattan District. All of the Library’s lectures are posted on our YouTube Channel.
RW Pierre de Ravel d’Esclapon is the First Vice President of the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library. A graduate of the Harvard Law School, he is now a Professor of Law at the University of Montréal Law School, and by avocation, a historian. RW d’Esclapon has written extensively on historical topics, and has lectured several times as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series at the New-York Historical Society, at the John Jay Homestead, the National Arts Club, the Holland Lodge Historical Society and, most recently, as one of the keynote speakers for the Bicentennial of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, held in New York in July of 2016.
We are thrilled to welcome him as a speaker in the Library!
Periodically, the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York receives requests from a Lodge Master to visit the Library as one of their Lodge Meeting events. Either I stay late to welcome them into the Library, or one of our Library Trustees from the NYC area comes in that evening to do so.
As the Curator of the Museum’s Artifact Collection, when I know a Lodge is coming to visit, and I have enough advance notice, I try to find artifacts related to the Lodge as well as information about the Lodge which might be of interest to the Lodge members. I then arrange the material on our tables for the Lodge members’ perusal.
We received such a request from Mount Moriah Lodge No. 20, which meets in the Ionic Room here at Grand Lodge for a December visit. RW Demetrios “Jim” Melis, Library Trustee, gave a short talk in the Lodge about the Library, and then brought the Lodge members to the Library to show them our exhibits and the material I had prepared for them.
Moriah Lodge No. 20 was warranted as Mount Moriah No. 132 in 1806, and became No. 27 in 1839. In 1973, it merged with Pioneer Lodge No. 20 to become Mount Moriah Lodge No. 20. One of the early members of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 27 was Grand Tiler Greenfield Pote, who, in 1843, famously gave the first dollar to the newly-proposed fund. This fund was designed for:
1st. The erection of a HALL in the City of New-York, for the Grand Lodge and other Masonic Bodies.
2d. The founding of an ASYLUM for worthy, decayed Masons, their Widows and Orphans.
So, because of the story of RW Pote, for the visit of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 20 to the Library, I arranged on one table materials related to the History of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 20, and on the other table, materials related to the History of Greenfield Pote. These items are listed below:
Table 1: History of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 20
3 Copies of printout of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 20 important dates
Book: GLNY Proceedings 1903 with expanded history of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 27 (M17.2 N.Y. M86h)
3 Copies of printout of GLNY Proceedings 1903 history
Book: History of Mount Moriah Lodge No. 27, 1806-1936
Traveling Certificate, 1852 – Phillips Grand Lodge, for Joseph Stern
Book – GLNY Proceedings 2015, showing Phillips Grand Lodge Officers
Sign explaining the schism of the Phillips Grand Lodge
Table 2: History of Greenfield Pote
Tin frame and Photograph of Greenfield Pote
3 copies of printout of Greenfield Pote’s biography
3 copies of printout of the story of the first dollar donated
Book: GLNY Proceedings, 1843 showing memorial of proposal for Hall and Asylum Fund
3 copies of printout of the proposal to create Hall and Asylum Fund
Scroll of Donors: showing Greenfield Pote as first donor
Sign: showing James Herring served as Grand Secretary for legitimate GLNY in Table 2 material, and as Grand Secretary for the illegitimate Phillips Grand Lodge material on Table 1. Upon the Union, he was accorded legitimate Past Grand Officer status.
Lodge members were welcome to handle, touch and pick up everything except for the items in bold, and were welcome to take with them the printed-out copies of data.
From all accounts, the Lodge enjoyed the visit to the Library, and were interested and glad to see the special temporary exhibit I designed for them to learn more about the history of their Lodge.
If you belong to a Lodge which would like a similar visit, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are thrilled to share your history with you!
If you belong to a non-Masonic group, and have a particular interest in some aspect of New York history, we may be able to create a similar temporary exhibit focused on your topic for the benefit of your members.
The Book, Archives, Vertical Files and Artifact Collections held by the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York contain a wealth of information and memorabilia about New York City, New York State, United States and world history that is unparalleled in its range and breadth.
This Sunday marks Chancellor Robert R Livingston’s 270th birthday. Originally on the Online Museum, to celebrate his birthday we re-publish below details of his life as a patriot and as a Mason.
Robert R Livingston’s great-grandfather, Robert Livingston, moved from Holland to New York around 1675. In 1686, he purchased an enormous piece of land in upstate New York, (between 120,000 and 150,000 acres), from the local Native American tribes in the area. He had three sons, Philip, Gilbert and Robert, and he granted Robert 13,000 acres of land.
Robert had one child, Robert R. Livingston, who inherited this estate upon his father’s death. This Robert R. Livingston’s oldest child was also named Robert R Livingston, the subject of this biographical sketch. He was sometimes referred to as Jr. in various documents and Lodge minutes created during his lifetime. All of the following information refers to this Robert R Livingston. (It is intentional that there is no period after his middle initial, as this was the way he signed his name.)
Robert R Livingston was educated at King’s College, New York(renamed Columbia College after the American Revolution). He then studied law, first under William Smith and then with New Jersey Governor William Livingston. He was admitted to the bar and worked for a time with John Jay. In 1773, he was appointed Recorder of the City of New York, a position he kept for only two years because of his active sympathy with the American Revolutionists.
In 1776, he served as a delegate to the Congress of 1776, and was chosen, along with four others, to draft the Declaration of Independence. Also in 1776, as a member of the New York Provincial Congress, he was appointed to the committee to write a State Constitution. (de Peyster, 1876)
In 1777, he became the first Chancellor of the State of New York, serving as such until 1801 (1777; 1778; 1779; 1780; 1781; 1782; 1783; 1784; 1785; 1786; 1787; 1788; 1789; 1790; 1791; 1792; 1793; 1794; 1795; 1796; 1797; 1798; 1799; 1800; 1801). As Chancellor, he administered the oath of office to George Washington at Washington’s inauguration as President of the United States.
The Bible used for the inauguration was the altar Bible from St. John’s Lodge No. 1, New York, NY. This Bible is normally on display and can be viewed at Federal Hall, New York City, unless it is traveling for use in a ceremony.
During Robert R Livingston’s time as Chancellor, he was also appointed as Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the United States, serving as such from August, 1781 to August, 1783. In 1801, he resigned as Chancellor in order to accept an appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary to France, where he became friends with Napoleon Bonaparte.
During his time in Paris, Robert R Livingston negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, finalizing the agreement in 1803, with James Monroe arriving in time to affix his signature to the contract. (de Peyster, 1876)
When Robert R Livingston was in France, he met Robert Fulton, and, eventually, the two of them successfully developed the steam-engine for water navigation. Prior to meeting Fulton, Livingston had tried to engineer a steam-engine for water navigation, but could not develop an engine that went faster than three miles an hour. After he and Fulton worked on the problem while living in France, upon return to New York, they built the “Clermont” in 1807, which was able to travel five miles an hour.
Robert R Livingston’s accomplishments also included: helping to develop the New York State canal system; settling boundary issues with the other New England states; publishing works on agriculture; experimenting with gypsum fertilizers and introducing Merino sheep to the area, cross-breeding them with the local sheep.
In 1810, he hosted a sheep-shearing festival, celebrated to this day, and hailed as the first county fair in the country. (Christian, 1987) In 1801, he was a founder of the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York. Additionally, Past Grand Master Livingston was so skilled an orator that Benjamin Franklin called him the “Cicero of America.” (de Peyster, 1876)
There is a commemorative stained glass window honoring Past Grand Master Livingston in the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia.
When told by Congress that each State could choose two citizens to honor with a statue in the Capital in Washington, D.C., New York State representatives chose Robert R Livingston, along with George Clinton.
Erected in 1931 by the Masonic Lodges of the Second Columbia-Dutchess District and the State of New York, there is a Memorial plaque honoring Robert R Livingston at his ancestral home, Clermont, (Clermont State Historic Park, Germantown, NY). Initially built in 1730, the mansion on the estate was burned by the British in 1777. The rebuilt building incorporates charred remnants of the earlier building. (Clermont, 1977)
Robert R Livingston has also been honored on numerous commemorative postal stamps.
In 1983, the Board of Regents, the governing body for education in New York State, granted a charter to the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York.
Though given a New York State Charter in 1983, the Library has been in existence since 1885. In 1885, the Grand Master “appointed a Sub-Committee for the purpose of collecting – by gift or loan – Masonic and archaeological objects to be deposited in the Masonic Hall for the information of the Craft, as well to excite their zeal and interest as to gratify their commendable curiosity…The intention was and is to place on permanent exhibition antiquities and other objects of interest to the brethren, such as ancient medals and jewels, rare coins, minerals, old diplomas, certificates and documents; scarce books, and antique lodge furniture, valuable through age, association, history, or rarity; which are known to exist in the possession of lodges or individual brethren. Thus scattered they are of little utility, while, if united they would become of great interest and value…It is earnestly requested that your lodge, and any brother possessed of any article suited to the purpose in view, will place the same at the disposal of the Committee, by whom the safety of such objects will be carefully guarded.” (Lawrence, 1886)
There are over 60,000 titles in the Library, with many in different languages. Two-thirds of the books are Masonic in nature, and many are extremely rare, making the Library one of the finest sources for Masonic information in the world. The other third of the books is focused on related topics; biographies, histories and comparative religions.
While the Library is available to Masons as well as to the general public, in order to take any of the circulating books out of the Library, you must be a New York State Mason. There are 17 self-directed reading courses designed give an introduction to the books and that help focus use of the collection. Additional resources in the Library include subject, biography and Lodge folders.
While there is no record found that shows when and where he became a Freemason, in 1771, Robert R Livingston was named as Master of Union Lodge during the constitution of Solomon’s Lodge No. 1 in Poughkeepsie, NY.
When Robert R Livingston became Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, “[his]…election and installation actually closed the brief existence of the Provincial Grand Lodge and opened the history of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York…[He] was the third Grand Master under the Atholl Charter. His predecessors were British Subjects.” (Gosnell, 1983)
“When Robert R Livingston became Grand Master, there were only six lodges united under the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, as all of the British military lodges had evacuated. Union Lodge No. 8 had been “healed” and admitted to Grand Lodge membership in 1783, and thus was the only lodge in New York City, except for perhaps Hiram Lodge No. 5 that could trace their authority to a warrant from the premier Grand Lodge of England. “The rest of the lodges in New York State were warranted out of the premier Grand Lodge of England, and were called “Moderns.” The contentions that divided Moderns and Antients [sic] in Great Britain never truly carried over into America. The Atholl Charter was the only valid official document authorizing Masons in New York to meet in Grand Lodge.
“Because Robert R Livingston had been Master of a lodge that originated through the premier Grand Lodge of England (the “Moderns”), it was easier for him to bring the rest of the New York State lodges (“Moderns”) into the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York (which had it’s authority through the “Antients”). (Lang and Singer, 1981)
In a letter that he wrote reflecting on what became known as the Louisiana Purchase, he wrote, “I had long foreseen that the possession of the east bank of the Mississippi…would be insufficient…I therefore (though without power)…endeavored to satisfy the people in power here, that…it was proper to give us all the country above the Arkansas…
“In March, I ventured upon what was here considered as a bold and hazardous measure, a direct and forceful address to him [Napoleon] personally on the subject of our claims [French spoliation claims] upon which, having received positive assurance that they should be fully and promptly paid, I began to look forward to this as a means of accomplishing my other object which I was sure he could not…in the case of war…find any other means of discharging it.” (Livingston, 1803)
Upon receiving a Past Grand Master’s jewel on December 2, 1801, Robert R Livingston said, “I receive with great sensibility this new mark of the attachment with which the Grand Lodge have, on so many occasions, honored me. I derive, however, no small consolation when parting with them, from finding my place in the Lodge occupied by a brother who has, by a long series of services, been enabled at once to evince his attachment to the Fraternity and his ability to promote their interest.
“I shall wear brethren, with pride and pleasure, the jewel with which the Fraternity have honored me, and consider it as a memorial of the pleasing connection that binds us to each other when the duties I owe the public shall have separated me from them.
“Receive my thanks, brethren, for your friendly and affectionate wishes, present to the Grand Lodge my ardent prayers for the present and future happiness of its members, and believe that I shall in every situation of life feel myself deeply interested in their prosperity and that of the respectable and useful society over which they so worthily preside.” (Grand Lodge, 1876)
Happy Birthday Chancellor Livingston! Check out the Online Museum for more great facts, artifacts and photos about Brother Livingston.
Working as an archives intern at the Chancellor Robert R LivingstonMasonic 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.
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.
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!
If you can, go visit Museum Village! It’s a great excursion for the whole family!
The lecture was held in the Visitor’s Center, one of Museum Village’s historic buildings, while across the Village’s center lawns were pitched white, Civil War-style tents, with several small campfires interspersed amongst them. The sunset cast a spectacular shade of rose across the sky, seen through lush tree branches. Men and women participating in the re-enactment walked around in period clothing, with some sitting near their tents, explaining their contents to anyone curious. One woman had a tent outfitted with a nurse’s equipment, while soldiers’ tents included a raised cot, a muzzleloader gun hanging along the top bar and bags holding necessities.
With the door to the Visitor’s Center open, the talk was held to the sounds of soft murmured conversation between soldiers gathered around campfires while eating strips of meat, the rattle of military gear, the steady hammering of a wood-splitter and the random call of chickens wandering about, all providing a backdrop of palpable historical authenticity.
It was great to see that a local newspaper, The Times Herald-Record, picked up on the press release sent to them, and they included an announcement of the lecture in their “Today’s Best Bests” section.
The Library, found at the Masonic Hall on 23rd Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan, holds an unparalleled, interconnected treasure trove of data. Its holdings shed light not only on the Masonic and non-Masonic history of New York State, but of the United States and the World as well. Many Freemasons moved to New York City from points around the globe, and they became members of the Grand Lodge of New York upon arrival. They and their families are the main donors of the book, archive and artifact collections held in the Library.
The Library is open to the general public, and holds over 60,000 titles in its book collection. These books can be searched in the online catalog.
In addition to the books and archives of the Library, there are over 50,000 items in the Museum Division of the Library. Over 600 records with beautiful photographs and extensive data about the history of the Grand Lodge of New York and its members can be seen in the online museum, which is currently being graciously hosted by the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia. A new digital portal designed to integrate searches across the Library and Museum collections is in the works.
After explaining the Library’s resources, I described the history of the featured artifact, the Royal Arch Pendant carved by a Civil War Hero, Color Sergeant William C. Lilly. His actions of saving the regiment’s flag and repairing it while under fire at Gettysburg resulted in a painting by Edwin Forbes, a plaque on a monument at Gettysburg, and inclusion in the three-dimensional Soldiers and Sailors Monument by Cyrus Dallin in Clinton Square, Syracuse.
The entire lecture, as well as our new Monthly Lecture Series events, can be viewed on the Library’s YouTube Channel.
A special attendee of the lecture was RW Herbert W. Buckley, who traveled a great distance to attend the lecture because his great-great-grandfather, George Wheeler Sheppard, was in the 149th NY Volunteers with Brother Lilly. Pvt. George Wheeler Sheppard was one of the six members of the Regiment who was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. I will be doing research to find out if Pvt. Wheeler was also a Freemason.
Right Worshipful Buckley’s father, Brother Herbert P. Buckley was a Mason, raised in Hancock Lodge No. 552. Both RW Buckley and his father were also members in the York Rite, going through the degrees of Royal Arch, Royal and Select Masters and Knights Templar. RW Buckley then had the extreme pleasure of raising his son, Brother Timothy M. Buckley, in to Hancock Lodge No. 552. To hear (during the question and answer period) about RW Buckley’s connection to Brother Lilly was a wonderful illustration of how the Masonic Brotherhood transcends time.
I’d like to thank the members of Cornerstone Lodge No. 711, especially Worshipful Kenneth T. Skyer, Master, Worshipful Jonathan A. Williams, Secretary and Past Master, and Right Worshipful Bruce M. Wiegand for filming the lecture for our YouTube channel.
Please don’t hesitate to contact the Library if you would like a copy of the text of the Lecture, or if you or your Lodge would like a similar Lecture presented by the Library. In the meantime, don’t miss out on the Library’s new Monthly Lecture Series, held at 6:30 on the last Thursday of each month.
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.
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!
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.
THE | KNIGHTS TEMPLARS, | A HISTORICAL TRAGEDY,| WITH NOTES, | AS IT WAS REPRESENTED ON THE FRENCH THEATRE, | BY THE PERFORMERS OF | THE EMPEROR OF THE FRENCH. | TO WHICH IS PREFIXED, | AN INTERESTING HISTORY | OF THE | ORIGIN, CHARACTER, AND PERSECUTION, | OF THAT | ILLUSTRIOUS ORDER.| ALSO, | THE MODE OF RECEIVING MEMBERS. | THE WHOLE | SUPPORTED BY THE MOST RESPECTFUL AUTHORITIES. | TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL OF M. RAYNOUARD.
“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. Raynouard’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 perpetuated 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 Versailles.
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!
Most Worshipful John W. Simons, PGM 1860
Knights Templar Grand Encampment Apron
Black 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.
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:
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.
The Freemason’s Monitor; containing the degrees of Freemasonry . . . edited by Daniel Sickles. New York: Clark and Maynard, 1864. 12 cm. Cloth bound book. Music sheet waste paper used in binding. Gilded edges.
The library’s collection of over 100
Freemason’s Monitors spans space and
time. Dating from as early as 1797,
these little books contain the history
of Freemasonry. Full of explanations
of the degrees of Freemasonry, and
accompanied by wonderful miniature
engravings, the small size of
these texts tell us they were meant
to be carried close to the heart.
Masonic Tracing Board, early 1800s
Oil, gilt + multicolor paint on canvas.
L: 157.5 W: 101.6
St. Andrew’s Lodge No. 289;
In early days of Freemasonry, the
symbols were drawn with chalk on the
ground, so there was no permanent
record of the images. This practice
gave way to symbols being woven into
a carpet, called “The Master’s Carpet”
which was rolled up and hidden.
Carpets gave way to paintings like this
one, which were kept in the Lodges
and used to illustrate the lessons
taught during Masonic degrees.