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


Sunday, February 27, 2022

Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Co-Sponsoring Revolutionary War Lecture Series

by Christopher Hodapp

As the U.S. inches its way to the 250th anniversary of America’s declaration of independence in 2026, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has announced its participation in a series of lectures and presentations on the pre-revolutionary war years. Entitled Boston’s Revolutionary Martyrs, the speaker series is a joint effort between the Framingham History Center, Revolution 250, the Dr. Joseph Warren Foundation, the Massachusetts Society of the Sons of the Revolution, and the Massachusetts Freemasons. It will feature scholars, historians and authors. 

According to a story in the MetroWest Daily News, the first presentation in the series will be held this Friday through Sunday and will highlight the events that led to the 'Boston Massacre' and its aftermath. This weekend commemorates the 250th anniversary of Dr. Joseph Warren’s first 'Boston Massacre Oration' in 1772.

Crispus Attucks is generally regarded as the first person killed on the night of March 5th, 1770 in what was quickly dubbed the 'Boston Massacre' by the pro-independence press. Six British soldiers and their commanding officer were surrounded and attacked by an angry mob of 400 Bostonians. When one soldier was struck with a club and knocked to the ground, the soldiers opened fire on the crowd, killing five men and wounding six. Revolutionary Mason Paul Revere quickly put together what became the most famous depiction of the event, an engraving that depicted the steely-eyed soldiers firing into the helpless crowd.

Attucks was of African-American and Native-American descent, and is generally regarded as the first American martyr of pre-revolutionary America. But many details of the Boston Massacre remain mysterious today. Questions that loom large include “Was the Boston Massacre the first fatal violence of the Revolution?" "How do leaders like Dr. Joseph Warren who have been whitewashed from history keep the memory of the Massacre alive?" and "How did this initial massacre shape the ideology of the Martyrdom in American liberty?” The inaugural series of lectures answers these and other questions.

The Grand Lodge Massachusetts is marking its 289th anniversary this year. It is the oldest Masonic grand lodge in the Western Hemisphere and the third-oldest in the world. It was chartered in 1733, following the establishment of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717, and Ireland in 1725. Many of the participants in the runup to the American Revolution were Freemasons in Boston, at the English-chartered St. John’s Lodge (the first chartered Masonic lodge in the American colonies, established by the "Moderns" Grand Lodge of England), and the independently established Lodge of St. Andrew (which eventually secured a charter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and ultimately became a part of the "Ancients" Grand Lodge in North America). 

Each event will display artifacts, documents and period pieces that have never been available for public viewing, such as the lost archives of Warren’s medical diary, the only painting of Warren (by John Copley of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) and more. 

Presentations include:
  • “Trial by Massacre” by Dr. Robert J. Allison (Charlestown only)
  • “The Ongoing Search for Crispus Attucks” by J.L. Bell (Framingham, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Dedham)
  • “The Martyr & the Massacre: The Story of Dr. Joseph Warren” by Christian Di Spigna
  • “Women Witnessing a Massacre” by Katie Turner Getty (Framingham, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Charlestown, Dedham)
  • “The Boston Massacre and its place on the Road to American Independence” by Jonathan Lane (New Bedford only)
The lectures will be held at five locations between Friday, March 4 and Sunday, March 6 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Dr. Joseph Warren’s first Boston Massacre Oration in 1772, including:
The events are open to the public. Join the presenters as they discuss and explore how that “Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King Street…” became an indelible part of our national memory. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased using the links embedded in the schedule above. The New Bedford event is free of charge.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Despite an Arrest, Lodge Vandalism Continues

by Christopher Hodapp

MW Michael E. Jackson, Grand Master of Illinois, has issued a new letter concerning several cases of vandalism at lodges in his state two weeks ago. (Click image to enlarge.) Despite an arrest in at least one incident, the activity apparently continues. 

February 24, 2022


The alleged suspect has been arrested for the recent vandalism occurring at the Grand Lodge and other locations. Yet, another vandalism occurred over the weekend after he was arrested. It could not be the same party and we do not know if it is related in some way, a copycat incident or just a coincidental vandalism. In any case, it is concerning.

Please continue to be vigilant in checking activity at your Lodges and report them to the local authorities and the Grand Lodge.


Michael E. Jackson

Monday, February 21, 2022

Book Review: 'A Deserving Brother: George Washington and Freemasonry' by Mark Tabbert

by Christopher Hodapp

When the George Washington National Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia was first proposed in 1910, it was designed as a magnificent monument to America’s most famous Mason, along with being a safe and secure repository for priceless Masonic objects owned by Virginia’s Alexandria-Washington Lodge 22 that were associated with Brother George. The lodge possessed an original, contemporary portrait of Washington showing him dressed in Masonic regalia. And they had a collection of irreplaceable items which had originally been owned by Washington or utilized by him for the cornerstone ceremony for the U.S. Capitol building in 1798. 

But a fire at the lodge in the late 1800s resulted in the loss of several their priceless objects. So the Memorial was proposed as a national Masonic project that would be supported by all regular, recognized grand lodges in the U.S. in order to more safely house and display these almost sacred items for the public and for Masons alike. Today, the Memorial houses one of the largest collections of Washington-associated memorabilia outside of his estate, Mount Vernon and the Smithsonian Museum.

Many years ago, Mark Tabbert told me of an ongoing project he was working on. He has been the head of collections at the Memorial for many years, and the physical resources at the Memorial are preserved for future historians and Masons. Like the fairytales of Parson Weems’ chop-down-the-cherry-tree “biography” of the general, president and founding father, Masonic tall tales about Washington began propagating with great abandon after his death, and continue through today. 

Despite the endless (and frequently bogus) claims some Masons have made over the years about Worshipful Brother George and his enthusiasm for the fraternity, the truth is that Washington really only provably attended a handful of lodge meetings in person throughout his entire lifetime. Tabbert has always insisted that it is vital to honestly understand the role Freemasonry legitimately played in Washington’s life (and conversely, the role he played for the fraternity) instead of just breezily and blindly accepting legends that were told, retold and embellished by well-intentioned brethren over the last two and a half centuries. 

For instance, although Washington was named as the Master of Alexandria Lodge when it was chartered, he never actually sat in that position, or even as a sideliner in that lodge, and the famous drawings and paintings of him dressed in a jewel and apron as the Worshipful Master and presiding over a meeting were simply artistic flights of fancy on the part of painters and sculptors, and nothing more.

The result of Mark’s ongoing labors over the last decade is an ambitious new book being released this week by the University of Virginia Press: A Deserving Brother: George Washington and Freemasonry. In it, Tabbert has researched quite literally every single reference, claim, rumor, letter, declaration, newspaper article or offhanded remark that ever connected George Washington to the Masonic fraternity. Every known bit of physical evidence associated with Washington and his Masonic membership is presented in the book in chronological order, while explaining, debunking or ignoring the unsubstantiated claims. Tabbert’s intention has been to correct the historical record and create the standard reference work for future researchers on the trail of Washington and the influence Freemasonry may or may not have had on his life and his character.

Freemasonry during America’s formative years was instrumental in reinforcing the notion of a non-secular, “civic religion” that was so vital to the creation and success of this new constitutional, democratic republic. Washington’s membership in the fraternity was influential in both directions. In practical terms, Masonry demonstrated mutual cooperation, respect, religious toleration, and social egalitarianism that informed Washington’s understanding of democracy. And his membership in the fraternity gave Freemasonry a status that few other organizations could achieve at the time. His Masonic membership and support drew more and more merchants, community and business leaders, and men of all political and religious persuasions to join its ranks.

A Deserving Brother straddles the line between being an historical narrative and an itemized, encyclopedic catalogue. An extensive introductory chapter by Washington historian Edward G. Lengel gives a general chronological sketch of George’s life and where it coincided with the Masonic fraternity. But the main body of the work is its meticulously researched catalogue. The book is divided into several major periods of Washington’s life: as a British subject; General and Commander in Chief; private citizen; President of the United States; and his retirement and death. Each chapter is introduced by a general outline of the time period covered. Following that, descriptions of each reference include photos, dates, locations, circumstances, and in the case of letters and other documents, transcriptions of the text itself. In an effort to be as complete as possible, Mark has included correspondence whenever someone would send Washington a note, a Masonic book or other gift related in any way to the fraternity. And to aid future researchers, each item’s provenance and current location today are provided.

Notably, Tabbert has been careful to include verified details of several important, oft-cited milestones concerning Washington and the Masons, including his first inauguration in New York City and the circumstances involving the famous St. John’s Lodge Bible upon which he took the oath of office; the Masonic cornerstone ceremony of the U.S. Capitol in 1793 and the surviving working tools and related objects used at that event; and details of Washington’s Masonic funeral service in December 1799. An epilogue goes on to cite references about Washington used both by Masons and anti-Masons in the 1800s, as well as celebrations held by Masons in 1899 on the 100th anniversary of his death, and in 1902 for the 150th anniversary of his raising as a Master Mason. The major books written about Washington’s Masonic experiences and involvement are described, as well as the formation of what would become the George Washington National Masonic Memorial Association. 

The Memorial itself was officially dedicated in 1932, some 22 years after it was first proposed, and Tabbert provides a synopsis of its mission and exhibits then and now, as well as an explanation of the changes that have occurred there since its opening.

In short, Mark Tabbert’s A Deserving Brother is without question the most extensive, detailed and truthful accounting of Washington and his Freemasonry as he lived it. As an historical research tool it is invaluable, and will unquestionably be the most important reference work on George Washington and the fraternity available for decades to come.

This book is being distributed by Macoy Publishing under a special partnership with the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association. Priced at $34.95 for the 304-page hardback edition, CLICK HERE TO ORDER.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

R.I.P. Paul Newhall

by Christopher Hodapp


News has come that my friend and Brother Paul Newhall passed away in the early hours of Saturday. Paul's wife Georgia posted a message on her Facebook page yesterday with the news. And the Allied Masonic Degrees posted a special announcement yesterday morning.

I can’t recall actually meeting Paul and Georgia for the first time because they just always seemed to have been there. I encountered the Newhalls regularly when I started attending Masonic Week, back near the end of the old Hotel Washington days in the early 2000’s. Even then, Paul was one of those rare Brothers who was always the answer to seemingly every question that came up about the event: Got any problem? Ask Paul. He always knew how to shrewdly negotiate contracts, juggle complex logistical arrangements, plan meals, organize meal tickets and credentials, diplomatically settle battles, smooth ruffled feathers (and egos), and even assist short-handed hotel banquet chefs in madly dishing up plates in the kitchen while dressed in his tuxedo. All the while, he was simultaneously serving as an officer in multiple Masonic organizations. Everyone, everywhere, always seemed to want just a little bit of Paul’s attention. And everyone who asked for it, no matter how great or trivial the request, always got it.

When a bunch of us upstarts formed the Masonic Society in 2010 and we wanted to hold our dinner, annual meeting and elections at the host hotel that next February, Paul came to the rescue right from the very start. He managed to work us into a highly coveted time slot on Friday night with our own dining room, and for many years, a big suite in which we hosted a hospitality room.

As the years passed, Paul suffered a variety of health problems. Periodically, he would duck out of the Masonic Week activities in order to go track down a kidney dialysis center to treat his diabetes. In 2013, Paul's kidneys began to fail and he required a transplant to survive. And so, Georgia became his donor. Several years later, doctors were forced to amputate his foot. And yet, through those physical trials and tribulations, Paul remained cheerful, caring, and eternally optimistic. 

I have always taken to heart the concept that Masonry should be governed by those “who can best work or best agree,” as our ritual enjoins. In the two decades I have known Paul, he was always just such a man, even when he and Georgia were burdened personally by challenges that would have felled almost anyone else. Paul was dedicated, driven, organized, indefatigable, and responsible to a fault. And above all, honorable. Such people may seem to be in short supply these days, but they still exist, and I have to admit I've encountered more of them within our fraternity than anywhere else. My world has been a better place because Paul and Georgia have been in it. So it is with deepest sadness I offer my most heartfelt condolences to Paul's entire family. 

His column is broken and his brethren mourn.

Requiescat in pace.

UPDATED 2/23/2022 2:00AM

The viewing and visitation for Paul Newhall will be held this Friday, February 25, 2022 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at:

Adams-Green Funeral Home and Crematory
721 Elden Street
Herndon, VA

The funeral, including Masonic Services, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Internment will take place in the spring in Chestnut Grove Cemetery, Herndon. Flowers will be received by Adams-Green. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in his memory may be directed to the National Kidney Foundation at www.kidney.org

His complete official obituary can be seen HERE.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Adam Kendall Named 111th Blue Friar

by Christopher Hodapp

I was unable to attend AMD Masonic Week this year because of some personal family issues. That's a shame, because by all accounts, I've heard it was one of the best and most memorable Masonic Weeks in recent history.

The 78th Consistory of the Society of Blue Friars was convened Friday, February 11th at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Virginia as part of Masonic WeekThe Society of Blue Friars was founded in 1932 for the express purpose of recognizing outstanding Masonic authors throughout the world. 

This year's newest member of the Society is Friar No. 111, Adam G. Kendall of California. Adam is the former editor of the Scottish Rite Research Society's quarterly publication, The Plumbline, and served for many years as the curator of the Grand Lodge of California's Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum in San Francisco. He’s just recently been named as editor of the SRRS annual collection of papers, Heredom.

Adam's presentation was “The Scandals and Secret Rites of Benjamin Hyam,” which can be found in Quatuor Coronati Lodge's recent Freemasonry on the Frontier anthology.

The Society convenes each year during Masonic Week in the Washington, D.C. vicinity to induct a new Friar, and its gatherings are open to all Master Masons. Authors like Arthur E. Waite, Harold V.B. Voorhis, Dwight L. Smith, Allen Roberts, Thomas Jackson, Yasha Beresiner, Alain Bernheim, Robert G. Davis, Alton Roundtree, Michael R. Poll, Robert D. B. Cooper, Josef Wäges and Piers Vaughan are just a few prior Blue Friar honorees. In a rare moment of weakness, they even let a Dummy in.

I wasn't the only one kept away from the event this year. Sadly, Arturo De Hoyos' father passed away at the beginning of the week, and so he was unable to preside as Grand Abbot of the Society of Blue Friars this year. And so it fell to Deputy Grand Abbott Mark A. Tabbert to do the honors this year and announce this our newest inductee.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Illinois Attacks on Masonic Halls Part of Growing Anti-Masonic Vandalism

by Christopher Hodapp

Police in Springfield, Illinois are asking the public for leads and information in connection with recent multiple attacks on Illinois Masonic properties. (Click the image above to enlarge.) The Grand Lodge of Illinois office, the Springfield Masonic Center and the Ansar Shriners all had their glass entry doors smashed last week, and similar damage occurred at the Masonic temple in Decatur, Illinois last year.

Police are seeking a person of interest in the attacks who was seen on security camera footage from the Shrine. A member at the temple identified the suspect as Howard Lovelady, who is possibly from Decatur, Illinois. The suspect is a black male, short to medium length hair, with a a goatee/beard. He was driving a 2000's silver or gray Pontiac Grand Prix. 

There seems to have been an increase in deliberate vandalism against Masonic sites as of late. 

Meanwhile, a notorious, headline-seeking preacher in Tennessee named Pastor Gary Locke regularly urges his audiences to "destroy everything Masonic," and has unfortunately gotten increased airplay online in the last few weeks. Most recently, Locke held a highly publicized book burning event in Florida, consigning Harry Potter and Twilight books to the flames (along with, by the way, Fahrenheit 451, with absolutely no sense of irony whatsoever). Declaring Freemasonry to be Satanic ("Paging Mister Taxil. Mister Leo Taxil, please pick up a white courtesy phone."), his anti-Masonic rant from that event has been endlessly forwarded around Tweetbook, Snaptwit and Facespace.  Any attempt to block his more incendiary anti-Masonic diatribes from social media simply becomes more fodder to be shoveled by Locke to his followers as "proof" that us cloven-hooved Satanic Masons have superpowers that must be vanquished. 

Unfortunately, too many Masons online have failed to remember the very first charge given to the new Entered Apprentice in most jurisdictions:

"In your outward demeanor, be particularly careful to avoid censure or reproach. Let no interest, favor or prejudice, bias your integrity, or influence you to be guilty of a dishonorable action. . . [N]either are you to suffer your zeal for the institution to lead you into argument with those who, through ignorance, may ridicule it."

Anti-social media brings out the very worst in everyone it seems, and there are entirely too many Masons who are hurling insults and decidedly un-Masonic language at Locke and his followers. That type of public language and online behavior is exactly why grand lodges around the world have been adopting codes of online conduct for their members.

Indianapolis Prince Hall Temple Receives Indiana Landmarks/Lilly Foundation Grant

by Christopher Hodapp

Indianapolis' Prince Hall Masonic Temple at 22nd and Central Avenue is receiving a $9,000 preservation grant from Indiana Landmarks Foundation and the Lilly Foundation towards the replacement of their aged roof. The story on WRTV-6 concentrates solely on the building's more recent past as home of Central Lodge No. 1 of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana. It completely ignores the building's storied origin in 1915 when it was designed as a team effort by the three top, competing architectural firms in the city. Oriental Lodge No. 500 of the Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana at that time was the largest suburban lodge in the city. Among its members were the principals of those three architectural design companies.

Oriental Lodge had originally been chartered in 1875, and it was a prestigious lodge. In 1904, the Vice-President of the United States under Teddy Roosevelt, Charles W. Fairbanks, became a member (making them one of the only Masonic president/vice-president teams in US history). By 1912, the lodge had 600 members, and just seven years later, it had swollen to 900. By its 50th anniversary in 1925, the lodge had 1,100 on its rolls, and 22nd and Central Avenue was a very hot neighborhood. Odd to think of it today as a 'suburb.'

In 1983, Oriental Lodge merged with Evergreen Lodge on the city's west side, and moved out of their temple. It was sold to Central Lodge No. 1 (oldest African-American Prince Hall-derived lodge in Indiana) and a temple association of several other Prince Hall lodges and appendant groups. Before this time, Prince Hall lodges in the city had been renting space in the downtown YWCA on Indiana Avenue. 

Out of the 14 purpose-built neighborhood Masonic buildings in the city limits of Indianapolis, outside of downtown's Mile Square, that were standing a century ago, the Temple of Central Lodge No. 1 today is the only Masonic building left that has been continuously built, owned, and operated by Freemasons. This magnificent temple in 1983 became the first Prince Hall building in Indianapolis that had been specifically designed as a Masonic space since their grand lodge's formation back in 1856.

(See my story from 2016: A Tale of a Temple.)

In addition to Central Lodge 1, the following Prince Hall Masonic organizations all meet in that same temple: Waterford 13, Trinity 18, Sumner A. Furniss 61 lodges; Constantine Consistory 25 Scottish Rite; Union 1 Order of the Eastern Star Chapter; Sumner A. Furniss Assembly 32 of the Order of the Golden Circle; the York Rite bodies of Cyrus Chapter 1 Royal Arch Masons, John C. Dawson 22 Council of Royal and Select Masters, and Gethsemane Commandery 37 Knights Templar.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Masonic Sites in Illinois Vandalized

Damage at the Grand Lodge of Illinois in Springfield

by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: This story has been updated on Friday, February 11 at 5:45AM to include photos and more information about attacks on Masonic sites across Illinois.

Several Masonic locations in Illinois have been struck with deliberate acts of vandalism in the last few weeks. According to a letter circulated by MW Michael E. Jackson, Grand Master of Illinois, the Grand Lodge office in Springfield had its glass door smashed on Wednesday, and after being replaced, it was shattered again on Thursday. 

Across town, the Springfield Masonic Center and the Ansar Shrine were also vandalized. 

There were no break-ins, and nothing appears to have been stolen. 

From GM Jackson's letter:

"At this time, we have no reason to believe this is an attack that goes beyond Springfield but we also have no way to know if it is or will become part of a larger action against Illinois Masonry. Please be diligent and if your Lodge is vandalized or damaged in some way, report it to your local authorities and inform the Grand lodge as well."

Click the image above to enlarge.

Security camera images from the Shrine were circulated today on the newschannel20.com website showing the attacker and what may be his car. Anyone with information concerning these attacks or this person in the photos are urged to contact the Springfield Police Department at 217-788-8427.

Last month, the Decatur, Illinois Masonic Temple suffered eight different attacks that did an estimated $20,000 in damage to their facility. Decatur police arrested - and released - a suspect in that case. Lodge members there believe all of these attacks may have been committed by the same person. 

Meanwhile, suspicious packages were found at Masonic temples in Champaign and Chatham, Illinois a few months ago. One of the packages contained a note accusing Masons of trying to destroy the world.

Acts of vandalism against Masonic buildings have been escalating around the country, along with the circulation of anti-Masonic literature. To the southeast of the Illinois border, southern Indiana Masonic halls have been reporting about thick packets of anti-Masonic material taped to lodge doors or left in their mailboxes.

Photos provided by Ansar Shrine Center

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Shriners Closing Tampa Hospital - Transitioning to Outpatient Services

by Christopher Hodapp

Shriners Children officially announced the closing of the Shriners Hospital in Tampa, Florida last week. Shriners has operated its Tampa hospital on the campus of the University of South Florida since opening in 1985, and in fact, the headquarters of both Shriners International (the fraternal origination) and its non-profit, recently-renamed medical philanthropy, Shriners Children, are located in Tampa. Unfortunately, stories in the Tampa Bay News caused lots of heated accusations in its wake from the rank and file Nobles on social media.

Since first opening, the Tampa hospital has treated more than 50,000 children. The original 60-bed, acute care, inpatient hospital at that location was already transformed into an outpatient clinic back in 2019, with fewer than 100 employees. The facility has been treating children with scoliosis, muscular dystrophy and brittle bone disease (osteogenesis imperfecta). It also provides radiology and pediatric rehabilitation services, along with braces, artificial limbs and corrective orthopedic shoe inserts. But in the almost 40 years that the Tampa location has been open, the medical universe has undergone enormous evolution. 

A wide variety of forces contributed to that change, including: a shrinking domestic birth rate; the major reduction of birth defects in recent decades; advances in technology and care procedures that no longer demand expensive, overnight (or longer) stays; and the dramatic increase in the cost of staffing and maintaining a full-service, full-size hospital with little-used facilities. And don't forget the massive intrusion of government in the wake of the Affordable Care Act that redefined what a "hospital" can and cannot do without running afoul of Medicaid and various insurance regulations. Before 2011, Shriners prided itself in providing care to children at no cost, often saying, "Our hospitals have everything other hospitals have, except a billing office." The ACA changed all of that and ultimately forced them to accept insurance payments and the regulatory nightmares that went with it. However, they still treat uninsured patients free of charge.

In April, Shriners will announce a new partnership with local providers in the Tampa area that will permit their pediatric and orthopedic specialists to treat more patients at more locations, and perform many in-home services. Tampa is not alone. It is actually one of five locations in the Shriners system transforming from hospitals into out-patient service providers. Complex cases requiring surgeries and longer-term, inpatient treatment will be transported to the Shriners acute-care hospitals in Shreveport, Louisiana or Greenville, South Carolina. In addition to orthopedic cases, Shriners continue to provide world-renowned care for children with severe burns, clubbed feet and other debilitating injuries throughout their 23 North American locations.

The Shrine opened its first children's hospital a century ago in 1922, and has served more than 1.5 million patients since then. Shriners Hospitals for Children are supported by individual donations from the public, but primarily by the members of Shriners International, a Masonic fraternity open to men with nearly 200 chapters in the U.S. and other countries. Most Americans are unaware that in order to be a Shriner, a man must first become a Freemason and join a local Masonic lodge.

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Grand College of Rites Offers Bonus Book: 'Burlesque Degrees'

by Christopher Hodapp
The Grand College of Rites of the United States of America is a regular Masonic body that is dedicated to preserving the history and rituals of defunct and inactive Masonic orders. Formally organized in 1932, the Grand College of Rites publishes an annual volume known as Collectanea which contains reprinted rituals of various officially extinct organizations deposited within its archives. The College and its members agree that these rituals are published and copyrighted strictly for the purpose of research and preservation, and are not to be worked or performed. Over the last couple of years, for example, Collectanea has been featuring the degrees of the Cerneau Rite system, which caused more than its share of excitement in the 1800s when it began to spread throughout the northeastern states. (Still to this day, the Tyler's Oath administered to visitors in Pennsylvania specifically requires sojourning Masons to swear they are not members of a Cerneau lodge and have not had the degrees of the Cerneau Rite conferred on them! Talk about holding a grudge.)

But the book that came this week is actually something quite special, and not the usual sort of obscure esoteric rituals the College has traditionally published in the past. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic precautions in the DC area last year, the 2021 Masonic Week was canceled. In light of this, Most Illustrious Duane L. Vaught, KGC, the current Grand Chancellor of the College, was struck by the notion of offering a special bonus book to the members that features some lighter-hearted levity than the usual offering of serious degrees.

And so, this volume of "Burlesque Degrees" is being provided as a Bonus Book to all 2020 and 2021 dues-paying members as a way of saying thank you for their continuing support of the mission of the College throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During the Golden Age of Fraternalism, quite literally hundreds of fraternal groups proliferated. Most tried to be solemn in nature, with degrees to impart wise and serious truths. But others were created as unofficial 'side degrees' to provide an entertaining night for members, or as one pamphlet put it, "a comic ceremony designed to cure the blues and fill the treasury." 

The fraternal groups included in this collection are truly obscure and deliberately comic: The Haymakers, the Munchers of Hard Tack, the Sublime Order of Arabian Knights, Uncle Sam's Eagles, the Up-To-Date Order of Goosie Girls, the Grand and Noble Order of Button Busters, and more.

These types of side degrees sometimes became quite elaborate and required special props as part of the gags involved. DeMoulin Brothers in Greenville, Illinois published an enormous catalog of goofy (and occasionally dangerous) props for side degrees, and became known as "the goat factory" because of the wide variety of various mechanical bucking goats they manufactured. The C.E. Ward Company in New London, Ohio also published a catalog strictly for "burlesque goods," and several pages of their offerings are included at the end of this volume.

Annual dues in the GCR is a paltry $20. If you are a current dues-paying member who was NOT paid up in 2020 or 2021 - you can contact the Grand Registrar at grand.registrar@grandcollegeofrites.org for purchase information for this bonus book.

Meanwhile, the regular 2021 edition of Collectanea will conclude the series of the Cerneau Rite (30° - 32°) is at the printers now and will ship very soon.

Any Master Mason holding membership and in good standing in a regular symbolic lodge recognized by a majority of grand lodges of Freemasonry in the United States may petition for membership as a Fellow in the Grand College of Rites. (click here for a petition)