This newsletter comes with a delay caused by the CRFF:s participation in a highly interesting conference in Nice/France we are reporting on further down.
As we are on travel, this newsletter for technical reasons will again be issued in its old format. Upon return to Sheffield, you will as usual find it posted on our website.
We wish everybody a nice summer,
1) Awards for CRFF Research Fellow Dr. Robert Collis
We are pleased and proud to announce that Dr. Collis thesis "The Petrine Instauration: Religion, Esotericism and Science at the Court of Peter the Great, 1689-1725" (Turku: Annales Universitatis Turkuensis, December 2007 has been awarded the inaugural European Society for the Study of Western
Esotericism (ESSWE) Thesis Prize at their 2nd International Conference in Strasbourg in early July.
Furthermore Dr. Collis received a Scouloudi Historical Award from the Institute of Historical Studies at the University of London. The award will enable him to undertake a research trip to Moscow in the early autumn.
We congratulate Dr. Collis for these two awards!
2) Exhibition Freemasonry and the French Revolution at Freemasons’ Hall, London, opened July 1
On July 1 the exhibition Freemasonry and the French revolution was opened at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London. Unfortunately we couldn’t attend the press viewing and the formal opening; but have been informed that the exhibition is "thorough, and stylishly presented and worth a visit". Freemasonry Today, No. 7 Summer 2009 has an article on the exhibition. The CRFF has contributed to the exhibition though MA-student Michael Taylor who has assisted in the translation of French sources.
3) Report from the Second ICHF Edinburgh May 2009
It is impossible to report on the entire conference, but still we would like to share some feedback, both general and from the sessions with the recipients of this newsletter.
Publications: there are at the moment several options for publications of papers presented at the ICHF and we will return in subsequent newsletters to the progress on post-conference proceedings.
At the opening of the conference, Jim Daniel recited following verses
"Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight, Parts the GOATS upon the left hand, and the SHEEP upon the right."
the reference to which is: James Russell Lowell, 1819-1891, The Present Crisis, stanza 5. Lowell wrote the poem before the Civil War. He served as the US Minister to the Court of St James, London, from 1879-85.This stanza links William Moore's key-note paper on 'Riding the Goat' with the performance of Burns 'Death and Dying Words of Poor Mailie' that will remain in the memory of all who attended the splendid Gala Diner at the New Club on Saturday evening.
"I must confess that the high degree of quality of this conference was impressive to me and I returned with a lot of new contacts and also of new connections for my new activity focusing on research and writings. My congratulations for this accomplishment!"
Alain de Keghel, France.
"Congratulations on a wonderful conference. I was delighted with the content of the presentations and the spirit of the attendees. Nicely done, indeed."
Carolyn Bain, USA
"The conference was very successful, fruitful and perfectly organized."
Tatiana Artyemava, Russia
"Even better than the first, despite the noise of diverted buses. Communication between masons and non-masons, academics and non-academics seemed also to have improved. The hospitality of our Scottish hosts, and Lord Elgin's contributions, were memorable - but Cynthia Smith's performance stole the show."
Jim Daniel, United Kingdom
"The conference was an excellent one and the scope of papers given was amazing. It was a great meeting and I am looking forward to 2011."
Peter Millheiser, USA
Both the conference organisers and the CRFF received a lot of positive feedback and we hope that the ICHF 2011 will turn into a success, wherever it will take place.
Feedback from some of the sessions
Session on Mexican freemasonry:
A very full audience much appreciated the development by the panelists of Mexican Masonic historiography, which has been a puzzle until the contributions to the two Edinburgh congresses. The spirited question and answer period showed that the comparative method, with reference to Masonic activity in other countries, was fruitful. The conclusion of the audience and participants was that an enormous amount of archival and field work needed ot be done, as the subject is virtually unexplored.
Paul Rich, Washington D.C.
Session 2: The material culture of Freemasonry I, Friday 29 May 2009
Chair: HARRIET SANDVALL
Paper 2b: Tokens of Friendship, Brotherhood and Self: American Mark Medals from the 1780s-1820s
Hillary Anderson Stelling, USA
As the title of Mrs Anderson Stelling’s paper made clear, the popularity of Mark Masonry in America resulted in an important contribution, surprisingly early on, to the material culture of Freemasonry in form of the crafting of Mark jewels.
The differences between the early American and European Mark jewels, and English Mark jewels dating after the formation of the English Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons in 1856 was discussed, not only by Anderson Stelling but also by members of the audience. More than one of us marvelled at the artistic quality of these early jewels in comparison to the more standardised ones later in the century, and Anderson Stelling underlined the fact that often being of gold or silver, the early Mark jewels represented a substantial investment for their commissioner. The paper and the following discussion made clear that many questions still remain regarding the use and significance of these early Mark jewels. It became evident from the discussion following the paper that the low number of pre-1856 jewels requires scholars to consider items from both sides of the Atlantic.
Paper 2c: L’étonnante aventure des « archives russes » et leur apport dans l’étude de la franc-maçonnerie française de la première moitié du 20e siècle (The surprising adventure of the ‘Russian archives’ and their impact on the study of French Freemasonry during the first half of the twentieth century)
François Rognon, France
The second talk of the session was delivered by François Rognon, Librarian of the Grand Lodge de France. The paper told the fascinating history of the archives of the various French Masonic obediences (Grand Loge de France, Grand Orient of France and others) that were seized by the Nazis in 1940 and from them by the Red Army in 1945. In his paper, Rognon sketched several possible new fields of research that have been made possible by the return to France in 2000 of these ‘Russian archives’, amongst which was a re-evaluation of the birth of French female Freemasonry. In the discussion following the paper Helge Bjørn Horrisland, from the Norwegian research lodge Niels Treschow, also made clear the similar destiny of the Norwegian Masonic archives after the arrival of the Nazi troops in 1940.
For Jennifer S. Alexander’s paper, examining Royal Master Mason William Schaw’s monument and masons’ marks in Dunfermline abbey, see Session 7: The material culture of Freemasonry II.
Session 7: Material Culture
Unfortunately, Mark Dennis was unable to be present due to a family bereavement. Luckily, Jennifer Alexander had missed her slot in Session 2 and was able to fill the gap with her paper 'Mason's Marks and signatures on Monuments'. Despite the weak projection of her images on the screen in the Hall, her paper provoked several questions and an interesting if short debate with Prof Stevenson. The papers by Diane Clements and Susan Snell were also well presented and received.
Session 10: The rise of Afro-American Freemasonry
Chernoh Sesay: Between Empire and the Lodge: mobility and the origins of black Freemasonry.
Stephen A. Kantrowitz: Brotherhood denied: black Freemasonry and the limits of Reconstruction.
Owing to illness Mrs. Julie Winch could unfortunately not attend the Conference; consequently, Mr. Sesay and Mr. Kantrowitz were given more time to present their papers. Chernoh Sesay, assistant professor of Religious Studies at the DePaul University (Chicago, IL) gave a fascinating talk on the mobility of black Freemasonry, resulting in the creation of the first Bostonian black Masonic Lodge and focusing on the exceptional social status of Blacks in Boston and the possible contacts between this African Lodge and Freemasons in England.
Stephen A. Kantrowitz, professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison questioned in his presentation if there existed a certain social pressure for black men with a high social status to join Freemasonry. Were these black Lodges exact copies of their white counterparts, including the division between Antients and Moderns, or did they have a real distinct identity? These questions were framed against the background of the Reconstruction, and the presence of Freemasonry in the former slave states. Both papers were well received by the audience and additional remarks were
given by Cécile Révauger, Bob James and others.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to Freemasons’ Hall in Edinburgh and my participation in the 2nd International Conference on the History of Freemasonry. On Saturday afternoon I chaired Session 18 (Robert Burns and Freemasonry II). I confess to having had little prior knowledge about Burns and his Masonic connections, but it soon transpired that the topics discussed by the panellists were not limited simply to the poet’s Masonic activities. The first paper in the session was delivered by Heather Calloway, a librarian at the House of Temple Library in Washington D.C., who provided a comprehensive survey of the extensive volume of chapbooks contained within their Bursiana Collection. The second paper by Iain D. MacIntosh supplied a wealth of information on the Burness family of Montrose, who were cousins to their more illustrious family member. The final paper in the session was given by Trevor Stewart, who made an in-depth analysis of two hitherto little-known literary pieces by non-Masons praising the Craft from the late seventeenth-century and early eighteenth century. These remarkable documents had not previously attracted any scholarly interest and it is to Mr. Stewart’s credit that he has brought them to the attention of a wider audience. Overall, it was a pleasure to chair a session at the conference and to feel that I had contributed, in my own small way, to the smooth running of proceedings. Robert Collis, Sheffield
Session 21: Masonic Association within Early Industrial England
Chair: David Harrison
The session included a presentation of a particularly interesting series of papers which revealed the story of the flux of Masonic membership within lodges in Manchester, Salford and Bolton, all the papers weaving together to discuss similar themes. John Astbury presented the first paper entitled Membership of the King’s Head Lodge, Salford, 1727, which discussed a unique early Lancashire lodge, tracing its early membership, many of whom came from various other Lancashire towns. David Hawkins continued the theme with a paper entitled Membership of the ‘Anchor and Hope’ Lodge, Bolton, 1732-1813, which displayed another early Lancashire lodge with an interesting membership, revealing an excellent approach to lodge research. John Acaster concluded the session with a paper entitled The composition of Masonic membership in Manchester and Salford during the period of early industrialisation before 1813, that again produced an insight into the development of lodges and their membership in the early industrial north-west area. The session produced an approach to Masonic research which is revealing and essential. Dr. David Harrison
Session 22: Freemasonry , Building the Empire?
All three speakers (Hugh Montgomery, Bob James, and Patrick Flynn) could have spoken for longer than the prescribed 20 minutes and still kept the full attention of their audience, crammed as we were into the Committee Room. And the discussion could also have gone on longer if time had allowed. A common theme was the inadvisability of treating freemasonry in the British empire as 'British freemasonry'.
We hope to be able to report on more sessions in subsequent newsletters.
4) Report from the conference "Diffusions et circulations des pratiques maçonniques en Europe et en Méditerranée XVIIIe-XIXe siècles" Nice 2-3 July 2009
That research into freemasonry is flourishing in France was again vividly demonstrated by a thought provoking and inspiring two-day conference organised at the University of Nice Sofia Antipolis on July 2 and 3 by professor Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire at the brand new university campus of St. Jean Angély close to the old town of Nice. More than twenty papers treated "diffusions and circulations of masonic practices in Europe and the Mediterranean during the Eighteenth to Nineteenth centuries", supported by a number of institutions and organisations. Researchers from France, the US and Britain presented case studies related to the overarching topic of the conference in six thematic sessions on freemasonry and other fraternal organisations in a number of French cities and regions, Constantinople, St. Petersburg, Lebanon, Syria and Ottoman Greece.
One particular interesting session was devoted to new sources such as an unedited masonic treatise originating in the Provence of the mid-Eighteenth century or a corpus of masonic orations from Bastia on Corsica. The session stressed the importance of access to masonic and private collections that hold archive documents in the area. Many other papers were based upon original source material that hitherto never had been explored and that illuminates the need of surveys such as recently carried out by the OVN in The Netherlands. At the final discussion calls were made for a European classification system of masonic sources both in public and private archives.
A session devoted to computer-generated geographical analysis of masonic source material presented fascinating insights into the potential of the use of ICT in bringing the research area to new levels of analytical sharpness. The system that is going to be launched at the University of Nice will allow advanced modelling of information related to masonic communication networks, persons and lodges in Europe.
The number and quality of research of young English-speaking researchers working on freemasonry in France present at the conference, such as Giles Montegre from Grenoble, Céline Sala from Montpellier or Georges Saïd Chaaya from Paris promises that the research area will prosper furthermore in the future. The conference gathered about fifty delegates, many of them undergraduates and postgraduates, treated excellently by students and staff of the Centre de la Méditerranée Moderne et Contemporaine (www.unice.fr/cmmc/) professor Beaurepaire is director of.
The conference is the second organised in Nice on the topic and the first of a series of events devoted to the role of freemasonry in processes of cultural transfers in Europe as part of the project CITERE, financed by the French research agency ANR.
Representatives of masonic bodies such as the Grand Orient de France expressed the importance of strong links between academic research into freemasonry and masonic organisations, creating added value for both parties through an active exchange of knowledge.
Since the research area is underdeveloped in Britain, it is vital for the CRFF to be present at conferences like this as they provide with an opportunity for the isolated research carried out in the UK to reach out to a much wider audience, to receive impulses for improvement and get a chance to actively make contacts with the relevant research community. The CRFF was represented by Research Fellow Dr. Robert Collis speaking on "The Order of del Toboso: Quasi-Masonic Links between Rome and Russia in the 1730s" and by Director Andreas Önnerfors, presenting a paper on "Shared Visions, Shared Values: Swedish Encounters with Les Illuminés d’Avignon in the 1780s". It is intended to publish the transactions of the conference online and hardback.
-- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.freemasonry.dept.shef.ac.uk/ NOW ALSO ON FACEBOOK! Join the group "Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism"