Research, Sources for Masonic
Professional, full-time Masonic Research on an adequate and permanent basis has not thus far been undertaken by American Grand Lodges, individually or collectively. Out of professional research Grand Lodges can find clear directives for their future policies, solid grounds for their Jurisprudence which at some points is now in confusion, and a means to protect the Craft against the pressure of Anti-Masonic activity, covert or overt, which pressure is sure to be increased during the latter half of the century; and Masons can obtain a reliable, unambiguous knowledge of Freemasonry and an understanding of the Craft's activities and purposes. Grand Lodges thus far have kept their attentions focused within and upon themselves, neglecting the Ancient Landmark whereby they are the Stewards of the whole Fraternity and propagators and guardians of it throughout the world; in consequence of World War II a new, and farther-seeing statesmanship is likely to be developed, not looking toward international Masonic organizations, which are never desirable, but rather looking toward the planting and care of Lodges over the earth, for the doing of which it is as much their duty and function as is the administration of a home Jurisdiction.
English-speaking Masons, with many thousands of American Masons among them, will live permanently in scores of remote outposts; they will ask for Charters, as they have an inherent right to do, and from their Lodges will come local Provincial or District Bodies, out of which may in turn develop, in some countries (as in great China), a vigorous native Freemasonry. To carry on that far flung statesmanship Grand Lodges will require far more data, knowledge, information, and literature than a few amateur students, each one at his own time and expense, can ever give them, and it needs to be of a professional reliability and completeness.
Any Grand Lodge can establish such a foundation for itself for less money than it costs to build one new temple. The means to do so already are in use abroad, and are therefore not visionary or experimental. For funds, a Grand Lodge itself may set up an endowment, or a foundation may be financed by wealthy Brethren so many of whom would respond if Grand Lodges led the way, or endowments may be established jointly by both Grand Lodges and private Brothers--after the manner by which the Washington Memorial was financed.
A separate, endowed Foundation may be set up, expressly for their purpose; or a Grand Lodge may endow a full-time Lodge of Research, with a salaried staff; or a Grand Lodge Department within itself. Universities are graduating hundreds of men specially trained in historical, legal, and literary research: from the many Masons among these posts graduate scholars it would not be difficult to draw a salaried staff of two or three professional specialists. Such a Foundation could publish its own findings; or could print them in Grand Lodge publications; and it could work according to directives laid down by the Grand Lodge or by the governing Board of the Foundation. Such specialists, with their professional standards, would not fritter away their time loafing in the by-ways of Masonic curios, as so many amateurs do, but would serve the Grand Lodge in a capacity similar to that of the Civil Service in a government.
All Masonic research must be grounded in the history of the Craft or it ends in guesswork. Even now, the sources of knowledge of American Masonic history have not been tapped, even those which lie closest at hand. In general these sources are in America, to a lesser extent in Canada, to a large extent, in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and for the High Grades are in France. Professional men in research would do work abroad.
In America are many such sources: Genealogical Societies, with their archives. Special libraries of genealogy. Genealogical departments of the large Public Libraries (enough data on early New York Masonry lies buried in the New York Public Library to fill a large volume). Transactions and archives of the oldest Patriotic societies such as G. A. R. and D. A. R. Libraries of Universities specializing in early Americana. Files of the earliest newspapers. Historical Societies, State by State, such as the Massachusetts Historical Society, founded in 1781; and the New York Historical Society which began publications of its collections in 1811. Many State Societies are financed from general taxes. The Literary and Historical Society of Quebec has been publishing its Transactions since 1829. Many military Lodges came into America and Canada in the French-Indian War; with genealogical clues to guide him a researcher could uncover many Masonic facts in the Jesuit Relations.
More valuable still are the archives of civil documents kept by each of the States, and the extraordinarily huge (five and one-half million cubic feet) Federal Archives building at Washington--Bro. MacGregor made his Coxe discoveries among civil archives in New Jersey. The Congressional Library, destined to rival Moscow and Paris in size, is in part an inexhaustible collection of archives. In England are unrivaled Imperial Archives, the British Museum, scores of very old private Societies, and special archives in the Universities in which lie unstudied no man can guess how many documents about Colonial America. If a genealogist working there, and assisted by a skilled archivist, were to track down only a few of the old Masonic families, the Oglethorpes, Wesleys, etc., he would find their trails leading to America.
It is known that private collectors here in America have rare Masonic material (oftentimes without their recognizing it) which thus far remains unexamined, as in the Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif., and the Morgan Library in New York City. Even the Masonic Libraries in America, the larger of them, have never been run through the researchers' sieve; it is safe to estimate that in the Iowa Grand Lodge Library alone lie a hundred or more "discoveries (For a survey, guide, and hand-book on historical research see (with its bibliographies) The Gateway to History, by Allan Nevins; D. Appleton; New York 1938; Chapter 3 in especial.)
Nothing in this disparages amateur research, or is to discourage amateur researchers, they w ho "for the love a Mason have to ye Craft" spend themselves and their money at Masonic study, for the place reserved for them in the Grand Lodge Above is inalienable and will ever shine with a more than professional brightness.
If by chance such an amateur is looking for a specialty ideally suited for amateur erudition one not already threshed to death, sufficiently remote to possess the necessary lure, and yet loaded with enough of the authentic ore, he is recommended to spend his next ten years of avocation on one of these books: Polychronycon (eight books), by Ranulf Higden (See under HIGDEN elsewhere in this Supplement Anacalypsis (that extraordinary book!), by Godfrey Higgins (a member of Prince of Wales Lodge). Gierke's History of Mediaeval Law, translated and edited by Maitland. Better still: the canon of writings written and published in Alexandria, Egypt, published as a book entitled Hertnes Trtsmegistus (on which see Literary Remains of Emanuel Deutsch). To architects are recommended the writings of Palladio, Inigo Jones and Bro. Christopher Wren.
Contributors to Ars Qustuor Coronotarum have for more than half a century specialized in minute examinations of old texts, manuscripts, documents, records, archives, belonging in one way or another to architecture, of which there are so many in England and so few in America. In their Harulbook of Masonic Documents, Brothers Knoop & Jones (56 pages) give a descriptive list of such sources:
1. Masons' Contracts. 2. Orders and Commissions to Impress Masons. 3. Fabric Rolls and Building Accounts. 4. State Regulations of Labor. 5. Masonic Regulations Imposed by the Craft. 6. Masons' Companies Records. 8. Lodge Records. 9. The MS. Constitutions. 10. The MS. Catechisms. 13. Lists of Lodges. 14. Miscellaneous.
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