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2009. május 26., kedd

CRFF Newsletter 38

University of Sheffield

The Centre for Research into Freemasonry
Newsletter 38 (2009:5) May 2009
Dear colleagues and friends,
This newsletter is sent out on the eve of the Second International Conference on the History of Freemasonry in Edinburgh 29-31 May. The ICHF has defined its purpose as follows:
“By holding a biennial conference open to the public, the overall purpose of the ICHF is:
• to promote Freemasonry as a subject for academic study.
• to present and debate relevant contributions to the research area.
• to create a venue for interactions between researchers, experts and a wider audience.
• to encourage individuals to take an interest and participate in an active exchange of knowledge in the area.
The ICHF is a private non-profit initiative sponsored by Supersonic events Ltd. with no formal affiliation to any masonic or academic body. The ICHF appoints a leading academic in the research area to convene an academic committee responsible for the selection of suitable presentations. The ICHF arranges solutions for the practical side of conference organization. Any surplus of organizing the ICHF will go to support young researchers and academics pursuing research in the area, and other Masonic projects.”
As the CRFF has been committed to this purpose since the first conference was launched in 2007, we are very proud to announce that this year’s conference has attracted no less than 70 speakers in 24 sessions. Furthermore five keynote lecturers will address various aspects of freemasonry and the research area in general. A rich social program will ensure that the overall purpose of the conference is fulfilled.
Exchange of knowledge between academia and groups in society is one of the major challenges of university-based education and research of our times and we believe that research into freemasonry constitutes a very special case, since freemasonry and its history unlike many other events and ideas not is a closed chapter, but represents an active and living phenomenon. Hence it doesn’t make sense to close the gates, but rather to open them up in order to create a forum for inspirational exchanges of ideas and experiences. We hope that this year’s ICHF is an active contribution to this process and I hope that I will see many of you in Edinburgh. Most certainly we will report back about the conference in our June-issue of this newsletter.
Meanwhile we hope that you appreciate the following reports on upcoming and past events.
All the best,
Andreas Önnerfors

1) 28 May: Last lecture of CRFF lecture series on Freemasonry and Fraternalism in Eastern Europe
Dr. Natalie Bayer, (Ph.D. Rice University), will speak on the topic “The Société Antiabsurdé: Catherine the Great and Freemasonry” at 5.15 pm at the CRFF, 34 Gell Street, S3 7QY Sheffield. Natalie Bayer will later this year take up a post-doctoral position at UCLA focussing upon Russian freemasonry, and foreign contacts in the period 1750 to 1850.
We would also like to remind you that the first volume of collected lectures from last terms lecture series on Freemasonry and Fraternalism in the Middle East now can be ordered for £ 20, see "Publications" on the website, an that almost all lectures are available online on our website as podcasts under "News and Events".
2) The CMRC and the CRFF issue a second call for papers for an International Conference on 'The Origins of Freemasonry', scheduled for 24-25 October, 2009.
Following on from ten years of successful international conferences, The Canonbury Masonic Research Centre is pleased to announce that its eleventh international conference scheduled for Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th of October 2009 will be a joint-venture project co-organised with the Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism (CRFF) at Sheffield University. The theme of this year's conference will be 'The origins of Freemasonry' and will include keynote addresses from three internationally acclaimed scholars in the field: Dr. Margaret Jacob, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Professor Dr. José Antonio Ferrer Benimeli, Founder and Director of the Centro de Estudios Históricos de la Masoneria Espanola (CEHME), Zaragoza University, and Dr. David Stevenson, Professor Emeritus of Scottish History at the University of St Andrews.
Scholars of all disciplines are invited to submit ideas for papers on sociological, political, cultural, religious, esoteric and prosopographical themes relating to early Freemasonry. Papers can be wide ranging in content or more narrowly focused, however, all should be fully documented and previously unpublished, as the organisers intend to publish a volume of post-conference transactions. Proposals for papers must consist of no more than 250-300 words and should be sent in writing to: The Conference Organiser, Canonbury Masonic Research Centre, Canonbury Tower, Canonbury Place, London N1 2NQ. Please enclose your contact details and a potted CV with each proposal. The deadline for all such submissions is June 24th, 2009.
3) Women and freemasonry since the Enlightenment. Conference organized at Bordeaux University and Musée d’Aquitaine, June 17-18-19, 2010.
LNS (Lumières Nature Société), Université de Bordeaux 3 sponsored by the Conseil Régional d’Aquitaine
CELFF, CNRS, Université de Paris IV Sorbonne
Laboratoire CIRTAI-IDEES, équipe de l’UMR 6228 (CNRS) Université du Havre
Sheffield Centre for Research into Freemasonry, Université de Sheffield
Centre de recherche sur la franc-maçonnerie, FREE, Université de Bruxelles
Center for the Study of Women, UCLA
Unviersité Sapienza, Rome
Scientific committee:
ISASTIA Anna Maria
JACOB Margaret
PORSET, Charles
TYSSENS, Jeffrey
Today women are still largely absent from Masonic lodges. Yet few rational arguments can be summoned to account for such an exclusion. The argument of tradition, which is the most frequently put forward, only holds for Anderson’s Constitutions as no such explicit ban against women can be found in the Old Charges. The significance of Elisabeth Aldworth St Leger’s initiation by an Irish Lodge is probably more symbolical than historical as it was a single occurrence never repeated. Yet the event was never denied by the Irish masons at the time, although it probably deterred the “brethren” from renewing the experience and mostly reinforced their convictions on the issue of female initiation. Women however did enter the lodges afterwards, first in the lodges of adoption, and later in co-masonry as well as specific female lodges.
The lodges of adoption have sometimes been considered as a low-key form of masonry, a kind of ersatz masonry meant to humour women. Yet their importance and significance should not be underplayed as Margaret Jacob and Janet Burke in particular have recently shown. The lodges of adoption which emerged in Holland and France during the Enlightenment highlight the main features of women’s commitment in those days, with the same limitations, namely the elitist and aristocratic component. Yet they conveyed some important values, let alone possibly through their rituals, and they allowed women to play an unprecedented part in the public sphere, not unlike the celebrated “French salons”. We may wonder whether those lodges merely reflected the society of their time or whether they anticipated and even encouraged the emancipation of women. How emblematical are they of Enlightenment sociability? Quite significantly the adoption lodges lost lustre at the same time as the Enlightenment. When they emerged again as the Eastern Star in the United States in the following century they were quite different. The nineteenth century Masonic world was predominantly a male one and it would be interesting to find the reasons why. One has to wait till the end of the nineteenth century to find a female presence again in Masonic lodges with women such as Annie Besant, Madame Blavatsky, Clémence Royer or Louise Michel, sometimes in close connection with the Theosophical Society, as in the case of Annie Besant.
We shall endeavor to identify the main evolutions in women’s commitment, both through co masonry, which appeared at the end of the nineteenth century and through female lodges which date back to the twentieth century only. All those women fought for equality, but some hoped to reach it alongside with men while others opted for autonomy in separate lodges. We shall try to understand those choices both in terms of structures and rituals. We shall focus on the social composition of co masonry and women’s lodges, and try to assess how far they committed themselves to the society of their time or preferred to remain discreet. Women’s’ lodges developed in some countries only, we shall try to suggest possible explanations for such disparity. Lodges and Grand Lodges as well as individual itineraries will be studied. The different factors of exclusion need to be addressed:
- the cultural, social and political factor. Is there a direct link between the development of co masonry and women’s lodges on the one hand and social progress, women’s emancipation and strong feminist movements in the twentieth and twenty first centuries? Why do Scandinavian countries, which have become respectful of women’s rights, or the United Kingdom, the Suffragettes’ country which enfranchised women long before France, lag behind in terms of female initiation?
- the religious factor. How far does the religious context inform the issue of women’s initiation? Can one identify different attitudes in Catholic, Protestant, Islamic or Orthodox countries?
- the Masonic factor : the rift between English speaking freemasonry and “liberal” freemasonry dates back to 1877, when the Grand Orient de France decided to grant complete liberty of conscience to its members instead of imposing a belief in the Supreme being. Curiously enough the issue of women’s admission into freemasonry has also been a dividing one ever since that time. English speaking Grand Lodges and their affiliates exclude women, whereas “liberal” ones accept the idea of initiation, even if the statement needs to be qualified for the latter.
Several levels of exclusion can be identified today: women can either be considered as unfit for initiation, which is still officially the case in the United Kingdom, the USA and in all the Grand Lodges which pay allegiance to the United Grand Lodge of England and in the Prince Hall Grand Lodges, or their presence can be accepted and encouraged but in separate organizations, not considered as Masonic but meant to enhance the male lodges through their charity work: this is the case of the Eastern Star chapters. As to the Women Freemasons, they are still deprived of official recognition by the United Grand Lodge of England. Finally, the “liberal” Grand Lodges are themselves divided on the issue of women’s admission into the lodges. Some have opted for co masonry; others have put the admission of women on the agenda, while others reject the very notion. How far can one speak of Masonic universalism, how far does gender inform the Masonic issue? Our purpose is twofold. We shall address the problem of women’s exclusion under its various guises and try to uncover some of the motivations, and we shall also concentrate on the specificity of female freemasonry both in time and space, from the earliest lodges to the modern ones, in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Conversely we shall wonder how feminist criticism has viewed women’s freemasonry, from the lodges of adoption to contemporary lodges. We welcome different approaches, and would like the historical and geographical scopes to be broad enough to allow for a better understanding of differences, common points and evolutions.
Call for papers

/Abstracts of proposals for papers with a short CV (a total of about 2000 characters) should be sent to Cécile Révauger before September 15, 2009.
4) First announcement of the conference “British Freemasonry in the long Eighteenth Century”, University of Sheffield, 16-17 September 2010
The Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism invites papers and panel proposals for a two-day residential conference at the University of Sheffield between
September 16-17 2010
Submitted papers/panels may cover any aspect of British freemasonry in the long Eighteenth century based upon original research. The conference organisers especially encourage submissions from young researchers in the area. Please submit a max. 350 word abstract (max) with title no later than
October 1 2009.
For information and registration please contact
The Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism
34 Gell Street, S3 7QY Sheffield, United Kingdom
Dr. Andreas Önnerfors, a.onnerfors@sheffield.ac.uk
5) New website for the Henry W. Coil Library & Museum in San Francisco
The new website for the Henry W. Coil Library & Museum, housed at the Grand Lodge of F. & A.M. of California has launched! It has links to view the museum and library collection (the content of which will grow as more objects are added to the database), the present exhibit, as well as other information.
Check back often as a video that accompanies the Builders of the Dream exhibit will also be posted in the next week or so.
6) Thomas Dunckerley Correspondance Circle for the history of naval freemasonry
The Thomas Dunckerley Correspondance Circle is an extension of the naval lodge of research La Perouse, only lodge worldwide specializing into relationships between masonic and naval histories. The lodge publishes every year in March since 2005 its Transactions, and has recently proposed a translation of the rare document Le Progres de lOceanie 1843, the first masonic lodge in Hawaii, founded by the french whaler captain Le Tellier, along with various additional texts. All issues are unfortunately sold out.
On a legal viewpoint, the lodge is covered by Association Ponantaise d’ Histoire maritime, a member of the International Commission for Maritime History.
The Circle is open to all, masons or not masons, provided the members have an interest in both channels of history. So far the Circle has 62 members out of which several admirals and naval officers, high level scholars, etc.
The Circle publishes a monthly Letter in french, exclusively online. Subscription is free.
The next Letter (15 June) will present a paper by Christiane Villain-Gandossi (docteur d’Etat es Lettres, docteur en Histoire, directeur de recherches au CNRS) on The Turkish Navy in the16th century.
Jean-Marc VAN HILLE (former vice-president of Societe Francaise d’histoire maritime)

© 2008 The University of Sheffield

Dr. Andreas Önnerfors
Director / Senior Lecturer in History
Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism
34, Gell Street
Sheffield S3 7QY
United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 9893
Fax: +44 (0)114 222 98 94
Email: a.onnerfors@sheffield.ac.uk
Website: www.freemasonry.dept.shef.ac.uk/
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