"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Monday, May 28, 2007

International Conference on the History of Freemasonry

Masonic history was made the weekend of May 25-27th, 2007 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The 1st International Conference on the History of Freemasonry brought together almost 300 Masonic and non-Masonic academic historians, researchers, authors and interested parties from all over the world. The conference was co-sponsored by the Centre for Research into Freemasonry, University of Sheffield; the Centre interdisciplinaire bordelais d'étude des lumières, Université de Bordeaux III;
the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris IV, Sorbonne; and the Interdisciplinary Research Group Freemasonry,
Free University of Brussels.

More than 60 original papers were presented by their authors, on an astounding range of Masonic topics – ritual, origins of the Craft, architecture, symbolism, Masonic literature, publishing, and Masonry’s place in the bigger picture of worldwide fraternal organizations. The pro-Grand Master from the UGLE, plus the GMs of both Scotland and Ireland were all together for this very rare occasion.

The gracious and capable hosting of this event was performed by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. I have no knowledge of who did what behind the scenes, or how this was pulled off, but a huge note of thanks go to Robert Cooper for his part, as well as all of the organizers. Even the trimmings of the event were first-rate – a concert to kick off the opening in the form of a symphonic competition for young musicians, and a gala black-tie dinner and Scottish céilidh in the incredible 19th century Royal Museum of Scotland (no, I did not participate in any Highland flinging or Virginia reeling).

A range of papers was presented that literally boggled the mind, on topics of symbolism, origins, ritual, history, architecture, religious influences, societal influences, the famous and the infamous. The organizers were somewhat astonishingly surprised that so many attendees made this request. As an afterthought they were proposing a CD-ROM be created with the papers and distributed to attendees. As of today they were still speaking with the presenters to get permission (there are publication rights involved and some authors may object - or be restricted by book or university contracts).

What made this such a one-of-a-kind experience was the chance to meet so brethren and non-Masonic authors and researchers I have long read and admired, all collected in one place (although I briefly had a terrible thought that if the ceiling came down on the place, there would be no one left in the Masonic publishing world but Knight and Lomas).

Here are the papers presented:

Plenary lecture 1 Jan Snoek, Germany
Researching Freemasonry: Where Are We?

Paper 1a. Steven C. Bullock, USA
Creative Destruction: The Cycles of American Masonic Historiography.

Paper 2a. Thierry Millet, France.
Franc-maçons et nationalisme en Syrie mandataire (1930-1940).

Paper 3a. Gunnar Carlson, USA.
The Number Three in Freemasonry.

Paper 1b. David G. Hackett, USA.
Freemasonry and the Re-imagining of American Religious History.

Paper 2b. Santiago Richter, Israel.
German Freemasonry in Israel: a Grand Lodge in Exile

Paper 3b. Eberhard Panne, Germany.
The Mysteries of Mithraism: Just a Preliminary to the Rites of Freemasonry?

Paper 1c. Brent Morris, USA.
The Six Stages of the Evolution of Freemasonry in the United States of America.

Paper 2c. Michael J. Hearn, UK.
The Story of Adeni Masonry.

Paper 3c. Colin Browne, South Africa.
The Masonic Tarot (A History).

Paper 4a. Cécile Révauger, France.
Anderson’s Freemasonry: the True Daughter of the British Enlightenment.

Paper 5a. E. E. Waller, USA.
Turkish Masonry: venerable past, future hope.

Paper 6a. Raymond C. Vaughan, USA.
Due Process, Morgan’s Disappearance and American Antimasonry in a Historical Context.

Paper 4b. Audrey T Carpenter, UK.
The Appeal of Early Grand Lodge: the Significance of Freemasonry within the Multifaceted Career of JohnTheophilus Desaguliers.

Paper 5b. Kathleen O’Donnell-Kassimatis, Greece.
The Poems of Ossian and the Masonic Utilisation in Federalist Movements in the South East Balkans.

Paper 6b. Pierre Besses, France.
The Masonic Symbol as Hermetic Hieroglyph? The Differing Views of Albert Pike and Oswald Wirth on Teaching the Invisible.

Paper 4c. Trevor Stewart, UK.
Desaguliers’ visit to Edinburgh, 1721.

Paper 5c. John Colias, Cyprus.
The Levant Company and Masonry: the Parallel Lives of Two Institutions in the Ottoman Empire.

Paper 6c. Marco Zavala, Mexico.
Mexican Freemasonry 1813-1868.

Paper 7a. Kenneth Loiselle, USA.
Adoption Lodges in 18th-century France: a Challenge to Male Friendship?

Paper 8a. Bob James, Australia.
Getting the Question Right: Problems with the Historiography of Freemasonry.

Paper 9a. Mordechai Zwirn, Israel.
The Evolution of Natural Law within the Philosophy of Freemasonry.

Paper 7b. Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire, France.
18th-century Adoption Lodges: a Space for Dialogue between Men and Women.

Paper 8b. Dan Weinbren, UK.
Freemasonry and Fraternity in 19th Century Woolwich and King’s Lynn.

Paper 9b. Jeffrey Kantor, Canada.
Freemasonry: an Ethical Business.

Paper 7c. James Smith Allen, USA.
From Fraternity to Community: French Women Freemasons on their Lodges, 1774-1939.

Paper 8c. Roger Burt, UK.
Fraternity and Benevolence: Masonic and Friendly Society Relations in Late Victorian Cornwall.

Paper 9c. Larry Jones, USA.
Remaining Hoodwinked: Looking in the Dark for Answers We Don’t Need While Avoiding Enlightenment.

Plenary lecture 2 Margaret Jacob, USA.
Benjamin Franklin and Freemasonry.

Plenary lecture 3 Jose F Benimeli, Spain.
The Relationship of Freemasonry and the catholic Church from the 18th Century to Our Times.

Paper 10a. Malcolm Davies, The Netherlands.
The Mystical Muse: Early Masonic Operas, Cantatas and Dramas.

Paper 11a. Mark A. Tabbert, USA.
The Development of 20th Century American Masonic Philanthropies.

Paper 12a. Pauline Chakmakjian, UK.
The Contemporary History of Freemasonry in the Far East.

Paper 10b. Roger Dachez, France.
Early French Masonic Exposures (1737-1751): a Reappraisal and some Methodological Reflections.

Paper 11b. John Belton, UK and David Harrison, UK.
Masonic Fraternalism: Two Centuries of Membership Fluctuations Examined

Paper 12b. Albert Kwok Ping Ki, Hong Kong, China.
The History of Freemasonry in China: a Case Study.

Paper 10c. Róbert I. Péter, Hungary.
Seven Dimensions of Masonic Religiosity in the Age of Reason.

Paper 11c. Mark Lause, USA.
Confederate Brotherhood: the Knights of the Golden Circle and Masonic-inspired Societies in the Unmaking of the United States, 1850-1865.

Paper 12c. Tom McRae, Australia.
Edinburgh’s co-operaive operative colony.

Plenary lecture 4 David Stevenson, UK
Working Class Freemasonry In Scotland.

Paper 13a. Diane Clements, UK.
“Act on the Square, boys!”: Freemasonry and the Business of Music Hall.

Paper 14a. Anat Harel, The Netherlands.
Latin masonry up North? Dutch masons and the ‘School Funding Battle’.

Paper 15a. Márton Szentpéteri, Hungary.
Writing the History of Freemasonry at the End of the Enlightenment: Ádàm Pálóczi Horváth’s Biography of the Grand Masters of Wisdom.

Paper 13b. William D. Moore, USA.
American Shriners’ Mosques, 1904-1930: Palaces of Consumption, Theaters of Masculinity.

Paper 14b. Rik Röttger, Belgium.
Paramasonic Political Activism in Belgium 1884-1914.

Paper 15b. Andreas Önnerfors, Sweden.
Female and Adoption Freemasonry: Gender, Ritual and Participation.

Paper 13c. Alan Francis Nowell, UK.
A Masons’ Guild Dance Remnant in Royal Arch Ritual.

Paper 14c. Pierre Mollier, France.
1877, Fraternité et incompréhension: La correspondence entre la Grande Loge d’Ecosse et le Grand Orient de France au sujet des relations entre religion et Franc-maçonnerie.

Pape 15c. Céline Sala, France.
The Public Sphere and Masonic Followers of the Enlightenment in the Kingdom of France: the Town of Perpignan as an Example.

Paper 16a. Andréa A. Kroon, The Netherlands.
Taking Stock of Freemasonry’s Cultural Heritage: The OVN Pilot Study of 18th, 19th and early 20th Century Lodge Buildings in the Netherlands.

Paper 17a. Jessica Harland-Jacobs, USA.
“Sons of the East and West”: Conceptions of the Brotherhood in the Era of Late Empire.

Paper 18a. Robert L. D. Cooper, UK.
The First Minute Book of the Lodge of Aitchison’s Haven 1598-1764.

Paper 16b. Heather K Calloway, USA.
The House of the Temple and the Path of Initiation.

Paper 17b. Solomon A. J. Pratt, UK.
The Introduction of Freemasonry in West Africa.

Paper 18b. Thomas Eric Henry, UK.
Understanding the Laurence Dermott Link 1751-1791.

Paper 16c. Suzanne O’Neill, Ireland.
John Millar: Architect, Ulsterman and Freemason? Masonic Allusions in Early 19th-century Presbyterian

Paper 17c. Helge Bjørn Horrisland, Norway.
English Masonic Influence on Norwegian Independence in 1905. How English Freemasons Influenced the Abolishment of The Union between the Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway in 1905.

Paper 18c. Hugh Young, Canada.
Encouraging Research through a Computer Game (Masonic Trivia 3.0).

Paper 19a. Andrew Prescott, UK.
Approaches to the History of the British Masonic Press.

Paper 20a. Marie Mulvey-Roberts, UK.
Death and the Mason.

Paper 21a. Eric Saunier, France.
Les renouvellements de l’historiographie maçonnique. La franç-maçonnerie en France et en Europe à l’époque napoléonienne (1800-1815).

Paper 19b. J. W. Daniel, UK.
The Masonic Observer 1856-1859: a ‘Specialist Masonic Publication’ par excellence.

Paper 20b. Ronnie Scott, UK.
Freemasons and Freemasonry in the Making of the Glasgow Necropolis.

Paper 21b. Michel Brodsky, Belgium.
Les loges Belges sous le regime Français.

Paper 19c. Aubrey Newman, UK.
The Freemasons’ Magazine and Masonic Mirror 1856-1871.

Paper 20c. Ian Robertson, UK.
The Murdered Mason Theme Explored in Legend, Literature and in Freemasonry.

Paper 21c. Leon Zeldis, Israel.
Hipolito da Costa and his History of the Dionysian Artificers.

Paper 22a. John Hamill, UK.
The London Book Trade in Masonic Records 1770 - 1830.

Paper 23a. David Merchant, USA.
Clavel’s Influence on Lorenzo Elizago.

Paper 24a. Philip Carter, Australia.
Craftswomen in the Old Charges, in Building Trades and as Stonemasons.

Paper 22b. Floor Meijer, The Netherlands.
Freemasonry in the Amsterdam Periodical Press 1860-1900.

Paper 23b. Guillermo de los Reyes Heredia, USA.
Decoding Masonic Translations: the Case of Webb’s Freemason’s Monitor and its Translations into Spanish.

Paper 24b. Marta Dorigo, Italy.
The Contribution of Women to Freemasonry.

Paper 22c. Jimmy Koppen, Belgium.
The Belgian Antimasonic League in Service of Catholic Propaganda, 1909-1914.

Paper 23c. Paul Rich, Mexico.
The News from Mexico is Confusing: Early Reports of the American Grand Lodge Representatives of the Mexican
Grand Lodges.

Paper 24c. Hilary Anderson, USA.
Expression and Affection in American Masonic Quilts of the 1800’s.

Plenary lecture 5 James Steven Curl, UK.
Freemasonry and Garden History: Ideas, Allusions, Fabriques and the Enlightenment.

A couple of personal incidents among so many from this weekend. At the gala dinner, a brother from Ireland came up to me and said he had just purchased an autographed copy of Freemasons For Dummies off of Ebay that was being sold for charity. This was a book I dropped off for brother Chris Quigley, an English Mason who was visiting Indianapolis last month for the week of York Rite festivities. So what are the odds I would meet the man who bought this copy halfway around the world?

The other was a young man, Jimmy Koppen, who stepped up and introduced himself from Belgium. It seems that he has been hired by Wiley’s Danish publisher to translate Freemasons For Dummies into Dutch. What are the odds I would stumble into this man, after just hearing last week about the translation?


  1. What a fascinating list of topics. Please let us know if and when a CD of the papers presented becomes available.

    Widow's Son

  2. Dear Chris,

    I'm still working on the manuscript; I'm hoping to finish everything real soon. My publisher wants to have the "Vrijmetselarij voor dummies" in stores by Christmas.
    It's a fascinating experience: there are so many differences between freemasonry in the United States and Belgium/Netherlands.

    Kind regards,


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