Let me remove a misconception that many within the Craft, as well as the non-Masonic world may have, that there is little interest in the history, philosophy and symbolism of Freemasonry today.
Don’t you believe it.
The second International Conference on the History of Freemasonry
in Edinburgh, Scotland was held May 29-31st at the Grand Lodge of Scotland. The conference brought together approximately 170 Masonic and non-Masonic academic historians, researchers, authors and interested parties from all over the world. The ICHF is the brainchild of Scotland-based Supersonic Events Ltd., and is co-sponsored by the Centre for Research into Freemasonry, University of Sheffield
; Centre interdisciplinaire bordelais d’étude des lumières-Lumières Nature Société, Université de Bordeaux III; Centre d’Étude de la Langue et de la Littérature Françaises des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (CELLF), Sorbonne IV, Paris; Chair of Freemasonry, Faculty of Religious Studies, University of Leiden; Centre de la Méditerrannée Moderne et Contemporaine, Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis; and the Interdisciplinary Research Group Freemasonry, Free University of Brussels.
In addition, the conference had the support of the Grand Lodge of Scotland
, the Grand Lodge of Ireland
, and the United Grand Lodge of England.
The gathering coincided this year with the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, currently being celebrated all over Scotland as “The Homecoming”
, and there were many papers that explored Burns’ life, works, and connection (both real and imaginary) with Freemasonry. The spirit of Burns was immediately called to mind, as the 11th Earl of Elgin helped to open the first day’s session with the display of the Masonic apron of Burns, accompanied by a piper. (Paul Rich’s paper on Friday discussed the controversy over competing Burns aprons, and comes down in favor of the one presented by Lord Elgin as the authentic one). Lord Elgin, Andrew Douglas Alexander Thomas Bruce, is a direct living descendant of Robert the Bruce, and served as Grand Master of Scotland between 1961 and 1965. He serves as the head of the Royal Order of Scotland
More than 70 papers were presented over the course of the event, which was held again at the beautiful Grand Lodge of Scotland's Freemason Hall on Edinburgh's George Street. In many ways the conference is an overwhelming experience. Apart from the plenary lectures, the sessions ran in three concurrent tracks, so no matter how hard you tried, you missed 2/3 of the papers. On the other hand, that usually meant there was something being presented at any time that would appeal to your interests.
Plenary lecture 1:
Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire, FranceResearching Freemasonry in the 21st Century: Chances and Challenges
Paper 1a. Matthew Scanlan, UKThe historiography of early freemasonry: methodological flaws
Paper 1b. J Scott Kenney, CanadaPragmatic Constructions of History among Freemasons
Paper 1c. Frank Albo, UKCharles Robert Cockerell, Freemasonry and the Origins of Gothic Architecture
Session 2: The material culture of Freemasonry I
Paper 2a. Jennifer S Alexander, UKMasons' marks and signatures on monuments
Paper 2b. Hilary Anderson Stelling, USATokens of Friendship, Brotherhood and Self: American Mark Medals from the 1780s-1820s
Paper 2c. François Rognon, FranceL’étonnante aventure des « archives russes » et leur apport dans l’étude de la franc-maçonnerie française de la première moitié du 20e siècl
eSession 3: Freemasonry in the United States I
Paper 3a. Damien Amblard, USAWhen the Profane Besieged the Temple: The Ideological Origins of American Antimasonry, 1798-1829
Paper 3b. Mark Tabbert, USAPrince Hall, African Lodge # 459 and the American Masonic Landscape of the 1770-80s.
Paper 3c. Mark Lause, USAOther Brothers: the African-American Experience of the Mid-19th Century Revolutionary Secret Societie
sSession 4: Franc-Maçonnerie et societé civile dans l’Europe méridionale
Paper 4a. Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire, FranceLa loge maçonnique dans l’Europe des Lumières au regard de l’espace public : une
relecture de Ju_rgen Habermas au miroir de la sociabilité et du divertissement.
Paper 4b. Luis P. Martin, FrancePratiques sociales et engagements politiques dans la Franc-Maçonnerie espagnole (XIXe-XXe siècles)
Paper 4c. Fulvio Conti, ItalyLes frères dans l’espace public: sociabilité et participation politique dans la francmaçonnerie italienne (XIXe-XXe siècles)Session 5: Mexican Masonic Scholarship in the 21st Century
Paper 5a. Dr. Guillermo de los Reyes, USAMasonic Nation: The Impact of Freemasonry in the Discourses of Mexican Nationalism
Paper 5b. Carlos F. Martínez Moreno, MexicoTwo Perspectives on the Efforts of Secularization in Symbolic Freemasonry in Mexico during the 19th and 20th Centuries
Paper 5c. Daniel Guitérrez-Sandoval, USAAlbert Pike’s Mexican Connections
Session 6: Freemasonry in the United States II
Paper 6a. James W. Daniel, UKThe US and us, 1840-1890: the influence of American freemasonry on British freemasonry
Paper 6b. Todd William Kissam, USARitual and Contextual Significance in Albert Pike's Masonic Baptism of 1871
Paper 6c. Adam Kendall, USAKlad in White Hoods and Aprons: The K.K.K. and the Infiltration of California Freemasonry
17.30 Session 7: The material culture of freemasonry II
Paper 7a. Diane Clements, UKMind the gaps! (in archive records)
Paper 7b. Mark J R Dennis, UKLiving with Symbols? Masonic Material Culture
Paper 7c. Susan A Snell, UKPoetry in motion: the role of verse contributions to masonic periodicals during the long eighteenth centurySession 8: Global Freemasonry in the 20th century
Paper 8a. Helge Bjørn Horrisland, NorwayNorwegian masonic activity in London during WWII
Paper 8b. Pauline Chakmakjian, UKJapanese Indigenisation of Masonic Ritual
Paper 8c. Joachim Berger, GermanyBetween universal values and national ties: Freemasons face the challenge of ‘Europe’, c. 1850–1930Session 9: Freemasonry in the United States III
Paper 9a. Peter Paul Fuchs, USAIncense to the intellect: Philosophical and Religious Dimensions of the Albert Pike Library as seen in his Major Works.
Paper 9b. Aimee E. Newell, USAThe Masonic “Careers” of Boston Artist John Ritto Penniman and His Apprentices
Paper 9c. Kathleen Smith Kutolowski, USAThe Strange Case of the Missing Masons: A Generation of Lost Freemasonic History on the Western New York FrontierUGLE Prestonian lecturer 2009
John Wade, UK
Go thou and do likewise: English Masonic processions from the 18th to the 20th centuries
Plenary lecture 3: William D. Moore, USARiding the Goat: Secrecy, Masculinity, and Fraternal High Jinks in the United States 1845-1930
Session 10: The rise of Afro-American freemasonry
Paper 10a. Stephen A. Kantrowitz, USABrotherhood Denied: Black Freemasonry and The Limits of Reconstruction.
Paper 10b. Julie Winch, USA‘A Late Thing I Guess’ – The Early Years of Philadelphia’s African Masonic Lodge.
Paper 10c. Chernoh Sesay, USABetween Empire and the Lodge: Mobility and the Origins of Black Freemasonry.
Session 11: Italian Freemasonry and Fascism, Prussian freemasonry and National Socialism: a critical comparison
Paper 11a. Dirk Niemeyer, GermanyThe "Große Loge von Preußen" (the Grand Lodge of Prussia) in the Weimar Republic and in the early "Drittes Reich": A "nonpolitical" society in a changing political space of policy
Paper 11b. Giuseppe Vatri, ItalyItalian Freemasonry and Fascism: from friendship to defence (1921-1923)
Paper 11c. Hans-Hermann Höhmann, GermanyGerman Freemasonry after World War II: Masonic “Policy of Remembrance”
Paper 11d. Fabio Venzi, ItalyFreemasonry and Fascism
Session 12: Russian Freemasonry and European networks in the 18th century
Paper 12a. Tatiana Artemyeva, RussiaMasonic Networks and Intellectual Communications in 18-century Russia
Paper 12b. Robert Collis, UKJacobite Networks and Freemasonry in Russia 1689-1732
Paper 12c. Natalie Bayer, USA“We are the teachers now”: Resistance to Foreign Leadership in Russian Freemasonry in the End of the Eighteenth Century.Session 13: Performing Freemasonry
Paper 13a. Kristiane Hasselmann, GermanyPerforming Freemasonry: The practicalsymbolic Constitution of a Civic Habitus in
Paper 13b. Prof. Michael Franz & Eleonore Kalisch, GermanyThe value-situation as specific signsituation. Masonic ethic in its historical
Paper 13c. Andreas Önnerfors, UKSemiotics of the Un-outspoken: Masonic Ritual and the Borders of Historical
HermeneuticsSession 14: Freemasonry and the West Indies
Paper 14a. Cécile Révauger, FranceFrom Robert Burns_ dream of Jamaica to Masonic facts in the British West Indies: Barbados, Trinidad and Grenada
Paper 14b. Aviston D. Downes, BarbadosBritishness and Brotherhood: Freemasonry and White Colonial Identity in Barbados, 1740-1890
Paper 14c. Emilie Charles, TrinidadSocietal impacts on the development of the craft in Trinidad & Tobago
Session 15: Robert Burns and Freemasonry I
Paper 15a. Carolyn Bain, USACommodification of Identity: Robert Burns Celebrity Spokesperson for Freemasonry and the Egalitarian Stage
Paper 15b. Mark Tabbert, USARobert Burns and American Freemasonry
(Mark was supposed to read a paper written by another author, which failed to arrive. Instead, he gave a wonderful, off the cuff presentation about the changes in ethnic perceptions in American history, how “Scottishness” was defined over the years, and how both Burns and Scottish heritage have been adapted for use by Freemasonry over time.)
Paper 15c. Paul Rich, USARobert Burns, Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, and the Mystery of the Master's Apron
Session 16: Freemasonry Imagined: National, International, Antinational
Paper 16a. Jeffrey Tyssens, Belgium“Bacillus Gallicus”: Nationality and Anti-Masonic Discourse in the Early American
Paper 16b. Anaïs Maes, BelgiumThe Birth of the Belgian Nation State: Masonic “National” Discourses
Paper 16c. Jimmy Koeppen, BelgiumThe Conspiracy of Freemasons, Jews and Communists. An Analysis of German and
French Nationalist Discourse (1918-1940).
(It was great to see Jimmy again this time. He is the translator of the Danish version of "Vrijmetselarij voor dummies.”
Paper 16d. Petri Mirala, BelgiumIrish Freemasonry: From Radicalism to Loyalism
Session 17: Preservation of Masonic source material
Paper 17a. Diane Clements, UKDigitising Masonic periodicals
Paper 17b. Mark Tabbert, USADigitising US Grand lodge proceedings
Paper 17c. Susan A Snell, UKThe historical records survey of the UGLE
Session 18: Robert Burns and Freemasonry II
Paper 18a. Heather Calloway, USAChapbooks of the Burnsiana Collection at the House of the Temple Library
Paper 18b. Iain D. MacIntosh, UKThe Burness (Burnes) Family of Montrose, Cousins to Robert Burns.
Paper 18c. Trevor Stewart, UKPolymnia and the Craft: an exploration of newly discovered examples of a popular literary genre and the seventeenth-century Scottish CraftSession 19: Freemasonry and the Enlightenment
Paper 19a. Roger Dachez, FranceEarly French Masonic Exposures (1737-1751): a reappraisal and some methodological reflections
Paper 19b. Róbert Péter, HungaryReligion and Enlightenment in Thomas Dunckerley´s Neglected Writings
Session 20: Freemasonry in the world
Paper 20a. Thierry Millet, FranceLa franc-maçonnerie en Syrie et au Liban indépendants (1940-1958) (in French)
Paper 20b. Annti Talvitie, FinlandCultural Contexts of Masonic Mysteries: the case of Finland
Plenary lecture 3:
Valentine Bold, UK
'Witty...lusty, and tender': On editing Robert Burns' 'Merry Muses of Caledonia'.
Session 21: Masonic association within early Industrial England
Paper 21a. John Astbury, UK
Membership of the ‘King’s Head’ Lodge, Salford, 1727
Paper 21b. David Hawkins, UK
Membership of the ‘Anchor and Hope’ Lodge, Bolton, 1732-1813.
Paper 21c. John Acaster, UK
The composition of Masonic membership in Manchester and Salford during the period of early industrialisation before 1813.
Session 22: Freemasonry, building the Empire?
Paper 22a. R. Hughes Montgomery, New Zealand
Working Class Scottish Freemasonry outside Scotland
Paper 22b. Bob James, Australia
The ‘Builders of the Empire’ thesis and the Australian experience
Paper 23c. Patrick J Flynn, Ireland
The influence of an Irish Military Lodge, the 1st Volunteer Lodge No. 620, on Irish Society and Freemasonry
Session 23: Aspects of British freemasonry
Paper 23a. David Harrison, UK
Education and Charity are essential features of freemasonry
Paper 23b. John Belton & Bob Cooper, UK
Scotlands Masons - membership and occupations of freemasons 1800-2000
Session 24: Freemasonry at Sea
Paper 24a. Michael J. Hearn & Brain Coak, UK
Freemasonry at Sea. The Story of Shipboard Lodges
Paper 24b. Eric Saunier, France
“The Sailors and the Freemasonry ": the interest of a new object of research for masonic historiography.
Plenary lecture 4: Andrew Prescott, Lampeter
‘Tinsel and glitter and high-sounding titles’: Thinking About Freemasonry in the Age of Robert Burns
Dr. Henrik Bogdan, author of the book Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation
, who was supposed to deliver one of the plenary lectures, was injured in an auto accident and was unable to attend.
The prevailing hope is that the 2011 conference will be held in Alexandria, Virginia at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial
, and then in a variety of European cities every two years. But Edinburgh is the conference's spiritual home, and rightly so, with the city's rich history of Freemasonry and its role in the origins of the modern fraternity.