Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Library and Museum of Freemasonry

Susan Snell, the Archivist and Records Manager at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry recently presented details of their collections to the Australian and New Zealand Library and Archives Group. While the presentation focused on Freemasons and Freemasonry in Australia and New Zealand the Library and Museum contain material of interest to researchers of any part of the Empire, as settlers and colonists established local lodges and maintained contact with the United Grand Lodge of England. The spread of Freemasonry has been associated with the expansion of the British empire. One recent book discussing this is Jessica Harland-Jacobs' Builders of empire : Freemasons and British imperialism, 1717-1927, published in 2007. The records of Lodges provide evidence for social networks of individuals both within England and the Empire. Useful online sources include Lane's Masonic Records of England and Wales, and Draffen's Scottish Masonic Records. The London Freemasonry magazine is currently being digitised and included a regular "colonial" column.

Freemasons came from mixed social backgrounds in all parts of the Empire. Lodge members were involved as individuals and collectively in a range of charitable activities, including supporting hospitals and medical research, and theatres.

The Library and Museum is the repository for the archives of the United Grand Lodge of England and contains one of the finest collections of Masonic material in the world. It is open to the public, Monday to Friday, free of charge. Resources at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry include an online catalogue, lodge histories and files, membership registers, annual returns, photographs, historical correspondence and letter books. Staff at the Library and Museum can also help identify objects and regalia (some of which may belong to other organisations such as allied Masonic lodges, friendly societies and related women's organisations)

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