Update Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica: core collection transferred

The Ministry of Culture of the Netherlands has transferred the core collection of the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica to the National Library in The Hague. Talks about the fate of the collection as a whole are ongoing. Meanwhile, the online petition to save the collection, initiated by experts in western esotericism at the University of Amsterdam, has been signed by more than 5500 students, researchers and other visitors in less than a month. You can still add your signature!


Save the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica !

The Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam is one of the most renowned international study collections for scholars of western esotericism, including freemasonry. Unfortunately, the library is under threat of closure and sale by a bank. The OVN Foundation supports the petition to save the library, online at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ritmanlibrary/. Click on the link for more information on the issue. The petition is an initiative of the Chair for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam, whose students and scholars have been researching the collection of the BPH for more than 10 years. Thank you for your support!

Online resources

The Institute for the study of German Aristocracy has published a list of aristocrats who were freemasons some time ago. In order to advertise it, the Institute has made a ‘taster’ available online: a list of aristocrats who were a member of the lodge Zu den drei Weltkugeln since 1817. You can access it through this link: http://home.foni.net/~adelsforschung/freim01.htm

- The Quatuor Coronati Lodge has updated its website for the Ars Quatuor Coronati research journal. The site offers various sample articles from past editions as downloads: http://quatuorcoronati.com/knowledge/aqc-downloads/.

- The Digital Library of Dutch Literature (DBNL)is a vast database with digitalised versions of publications and journals from the Netherlands. A recent addition is a large number of volumes of the journal of the working group for 18th century studies in the Netherlands (Documentatieblad Werkgroep Achttiende Eeuw), which includes several articles on freemasonry.

Update on the Cultural Masonic Centre

The Order of Freemasons under the Grand East of the Netherlands has updated its plans for the Cultural Masonic Centre (CMC) in The Hague.
As discussed earlier on this blog, the Order originally intended to move the CMC's collection to a location elsewhere in the Netherlands, which sparked a controversy. The plan was opposed by many scholars and heritage professionals, including the OVN Foundation, which appealed to the lodges and the heritage sector to allow the CMC's collection to remain within its historical and academic context in The Hague.
The Order has now announced that it will be reconsidering two options:
- remaining in The Hague with both the administrative chair and the CMC, because the historical ties to the city are a strong argument,
- relocating to the lodge building in Amsterdam, because this is already being renovated in order to attract a third party as co-resident.
The OVN hopes that the loges will now make good use of the wide support and interest expressed by the local heritage sector in cooperating on a suitable proposal for the old, or a new location in The Hague. The final decision will be made by the Order in june 2012, but a progress report is expected for the yearly meeting of lodges in june 2011.

The Philanthropy Files

The Museum and Library of Freemasonry in London is hosting The Philanthropy Files: records of charities and their uses, the annual conference of the British Records Association (BRA) on 7 December 2010. The programme includes speakers, both archivists and academic historians, on various aspects of charity history. As Archivist and Records Manager and a British Records Association Council member, Susan Snell will be contributing an overview of Masonic involvement in philanthropy, highlighting records available for research at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry. Please do not contact the Library and Museum if you would like to attend this conference - for registration see the BRA website: http://www.britishrecordsassociation.org.uk/pages/events.htm

Freemasons and Enlightenment: radicalism contested?

The Research Centers for the Study of Freemasonry (FREE) and the Study of the Enlightenment (VERL) at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) are organizing an international conference on the theme of Freemasons and Enlightenment: radicalism contested? on 9-10 December 2010. Speakers include:

- The Enlightenment and Freemasonry: A Critical Enquiry, Prof. Dr. Margaret Jacob, University of California, United States
- L’illusion radicale – La 'camera obscura' des Lumières, Prof. Dr. Charles Porset, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France
- Radicalisme d'origine ou malentendu fondateur? La franc-maçonnerie dans les premiers pamphlets anti-maçonniques (1738-1742), Prof. Dr. Roger Dachez,
Université Paris III - Denis Diderot, France
- Russian freemasonry: A peculiar mixture of Aufklärung and Erleuchtung, Dr. Ton de Kok, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Libre pensée et idée de Lumières dans la Nahdha arabe: Le cas d’Adib Ishaq (1856-1884), Prof. Dr. Abdelaziz Labib, Université de Tunis El-Manar, Tunisia
- The Radical Enlightenment's Critique of Freemasonry: from Lessing to Mirabeau, Prof. Dr. Jonathan Israel, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, United States'
English freemasonry during the Enlightenment: how radical, how conservative?, Prof. Dr. Cécile Revauger, Université Michel de Montaigne-Bordeaux 3, France
- Les Illuminés de Bavière, une franc-maçonnerie "radicale"?, Prof. Dr. Jean Mondot, Université Michel de Montaigne-Bordeaux 3, France
- Cosmopolitanism versus conflicting local and national identities in the Habsburg territories. Masonic networks and their political involvement under Joseph II, Dr. Tristan Coignard, Université Michel de Montaigne-Bordeaux 3, France
- Enlightenment, either way!, Drs. Gerard Bonneke, Nijmegen, Netherlands
- Radicalism and Extremism are mutually exclusive, Prof. Dr. Ludo Abicht, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Registration fee: € 30,- (students € 15,-), incl. lunch. Registration deadline: 1 December 2010 (by e-mail to: Kees.Veenstra@vub.ac.be, stating name and number of persons). More information: http://www.vub.ac.be/freemasons-and-enlightenment/

Fellowships and Awards

ESSWE PhD prize
Nominations are invited for the second biennial ESSWE PhD Thesis prize, awarded by the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism.

The prize will be given for an outstanding PhD thesis completed between 1 January 2009 and 1 March 2011 on any aspect of Western Esotericism.
The prizewinner will receive an award of € 500,- and a certificate, to be presented at the ESSWE conference in Szeged, Hungary 6-10 July 2011. The thesis will also be recommended for publication in the ARIES Book Series.
Nominations must be made by electronic mail to the Chair of the Prize Committee, Andreas Kilcher (ETH, Zürich, akilcher@ethz.ch) by 1 March 2011. More information on the ESSWE website:  http://www.esswe.org/news_detail.php?news_id=59

Fellowship UCLA
The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the California Masonic Foundation has announced a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA from September 1, 2011 through August 31, 2012. The position is open to a recent Ph.D. with a strong interest in the history of civil society, fraternalism and freemasonry. This postdoctoral fellow will teach two courses in either American (North or South) or European or African history with emphasis on Freemasonry. The course will be designed in consultation with Prof. Margaret C. Jacob, Distinguished Professor of History. A $50,000 stipend, office space for the nine-month period, and a modest relocation fee will be provided. The postdoctoral fellow must remain in residence while classes are in session. For more information about the program visit: http://www.freemasonryandcivilsociety.ucla.edu/
Applicants should submit a CV and three letters of recommendation to Prof. Margaret Jacob, Bunche Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095 by January 10, 2011. UCLA is an AA/EOE. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.

Essay award
The Masonic Study Center Reward Fernando Pessoa is annually attributed and is destined to reward authors of academic essays or other research into freemasonry. Contributions may be written in in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. Deadline is 22 December 2010. More information: alvaro.carva at cgd.pt. [With thanks to Andreas Onnerfors]

New publications

- Harald Schrefler, Der Papst und die Freimaurer. Ein wissenschaftlicher Diskurs, (Edition zum rauhen Stein, Vol. 13) Studien Verlag, Innsbruck 2010, ISBN 978-3-7065-4991-2, 352 pages, € 33,-. The Catholic Church has opposed freemasonry since the founding of lodges in the 18th century. This book tries to answer why, and discusses the views of both prominent freemasons and clerics on the subject.

- Petri Mirala, 'Masonic sociability and its limitations: the case of Ireland', in: James Kelly & Martyn J. Powell (eds.), Clubs and Societies in Eighteenth-Century Ireland, Four Courts Press, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-84682-229-2, 496 pages, € 49,50.

- James Stevens Curl, Freemasonry & the Enlightenment: Architecture, Symbols and Influences, ISBN 978-1-905286-45-4, ca. 384 pages, Historical Publications, to appear in 2010. The book is a follow up to The Art & Architecture of Freemasonry (1991) and expands on this theme. For information on the pre-subscription offer: richardson@historicalpublications.co.uk.

- Papeles de Masoneria IV, CIEM, Zaragosa 2010, € 12,-. This issue is dedicated to the present situation of freemasonry in the world: it is subject to all manner of pressures, which urge it towards a self-analysis before choosing for tradition or modernity.

- Not an new publication, but well worth mentioning, is: Darius A. Spieth, Napoleon's Sorcerers: The SophisiansUniversity of Delaware Press 2007, ISBN: 978-0-87413-957-0, € 65,-. During Napoleon's rule, masonic circles in France invented rituals that allegedly first took place in the temple structures of ancient Egypt. This book looks at the cultural environment and intellectual background of one such a pseudo-Egyptian secret society, the Sacred Order of the Sophisians. Founded in Paris in 1801, the Sophisian Order initially catered to veteran military leaders, Egyptologists, scientists, writers, and artists who had joined Napoleon's Egyptian campaign (1798-1801). Soon the order branched out to attract new adepts from the world of the Parisian stage. The book includes illustrations from the Golden Book, a richly illuminated manuscript envisioned by Marie-Nicolas Ponce-Camus (a student of Jacques-Louis David). Underground mazes, cave settings, pyramids, and temple structures feature as theatrical settings to re-create Ancient Egyptian initiation practices.

- Andrew Pink, 'A music club for freemasons: Philo-musicae et -architecturae societas Apollini', London, 1725-1727, Early Music 2010, available online here.

- On his blog, Herkauwer, mentions 'A new type of lodge? (1781)', referring to a publication  by a (para-masonic?) order: Liederen der Orde van St. Peter voor de loge Prudentia. Amsterdam, Gedrukt voor de loge. 1781 (Songs of the Order of St. Peter for the lodge Prudentia, Amsterdam, printed for the lodge, 1781).


Stadholder William IV and freemasonry

The Institute for History in the Netherlands has made the inventories of the houses/posessions of the House of Orange (1576-1795) accessible online. A search for masonic terms generated just one item. The Inventory of clothing and precious objects of stadholder William IV [= ‘Inventaris van kleren en kostbaarheden van Willem IV, 1750], includes:

‘No 359: one decoration of enamel on copper, made in Berlin, representing a freemasons lodge’.

[= ‘No. 359: 1 plaque emaille sur cuivre, faite a Berlin, et representant un loge des francs-macons’.]


A new 'academic' initiative

The latest issue of Ken U Zelven, the magazine of the Grand East of the Netherlands, mentions the following news:

The Grand Masters of the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium and the Grand East of the Netherlands have signed a Convenant on 1st June 2010, stating their intent to establish an academic bureau in order stimulate the study of masonic sources in the Dutch language area and to do so within one year. The bureau will support the Chair for the history of freemasonry at the Leiden University.

The author of this article justly remarks that it is curious, that the Statutes will include the formal condition that the academic bureau will be dissolved, if one of the participating Grand Lodges would lose its status as 'regular' masonic body. (Which means: is no longer recognized as regular by the Grand Lodge of England; a recognition which since the 18th century is based on, amongst others, the restriction of membership to men only).

There are several existing international networks and cooperation agreements between academic research centres, heritage institutes and scholars in the field of study, which include irregular masonic bodies (with both male and female members) and their museums. It is customary in academic circles not to state a preference for research into, or in cooperation with, regular or irregular masonic bodies. All of freemasonry, in it's many shapes and forms, is interesting within an historical perspective, and academic research should not be restricted by prejudice or preference, if it's results are to be impartial.
Any new initiative should be applauded, but the preference for 'regularity' stated here, could be interpreted to contradict the intended ' academic' character of this new initiative.

[Source: Ken U Zelven, nr. 7-2010, article by Louis van Koert of loge Concordia ad Libertatem]


18th-20th century newspapers online

The National Library of the Netherlands has made a database available of Dutch newspapers from 1615 until 1995, in which full text searches are possible. These newspapers contain a lot of information on Freemasonry in the Netherlands, but also report masonic news from abroad and include advertisements for contemporary publications on the subject.
For non-Dutch researchers it may be relevant to know that many of these newspapers were written in French (such as the Journal de La Haye, published up until 1849). The website also includes an option to view articles as text-only (OCR), which allows one to 'cut and paste' text in Word and then apply any (free, online) translation programme.
Website: http://kranten.kb.nl


Update on the Cultural Masonic Centre

In earlier messages on this blog, we have asked your attention for the controversial moving plans of the Order of Freemasons under the Grand East of the Netherlands, which involve the historical collections in the Cultural Masonic Centre in The Hague.
this plan met with much controversy amongst academia and heritage professionals. Several list members have actively supported the campaign by the OVN Foundation to respect the collection in its cultural, historical an academic infrastructure in The Hague.
Most recently received news is that the Grand Lodge intends to go ahead with its plans, but... decided to take the topic off the official agenda for the yearly meeting in June 2010. The reason given was that the Grand Lodge is considering a location offered in Utrecht, but that particular plan is in too premature a stage to discuss with the members or bring to a vote.
This means the decision on the Cultural Masonic Centre has been postponed until the yearly meeting of 2011 (or a special interim meeting on the subject, if called for).

The OVN Foundation made an appeal to the heritage sector and all lodges of the Grand East to respect the cultural, historical and academic ties of the collection to the city of The Hague, which go back nearly 300 years. Positive response came from several heritage organisations, which are willing to help the lodges in The Hague to come up with a more suitable plan. Many academics in the field of study wrote letters of support. And many Dutch lodges responded positively, complaining about the decision process used by of the Grand Lodge.

In June, a new Grand Master was installed, who may have a fresh view on the situation. The board members who initiated the plan for the move are no longer in office. Hopefully the new team of decision makers will see the importance of respecting the cultural and historical context of the collection, as well as it's academic infrastructure, and is willing to explore the options of realising its ambitions together with the heritage sector in The Hague.

Readers are invited to give their opinion on the situation via the survey above.

[Image: The Cultural Masonic Centre in The Hague, The Netherlands, www.vrijmetselarij.nl]


OVN research grant 2010

The OVN Foundation has awarded a research grant to to Joyce Stoffelsma, a student of western esotericism at the University of Amsterdam. The grant will allow Stoffelsma to make a professional inventory of the historical archive of the Dutch Federation of the International Order of Co-Masonry 'Le Droit Humain'. This inventory will make the archives dating from 1904 until 1945 accessible for future research. The project is made possible by kind cooperation of Le Droit Humain and The Hague's Municipal Archive. See earlier posts ons this blog for more information. Dr. Marco Pasi of the (chair for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents) at the University of Amsterdam will oversee the progress of the project.


The Expression of Freemasonry

In 2008 prof.dr. Malcolm Davies organized the conference 'The Expression of Freemasonry' in The Hague. The papers presented at this conference were to be published, but unfortunately prof. Davies became ill and passed away before he could finish the project. As the Leiden University or the Order of Freemasons Under the Grand East of the Netherlands, who supported the conference, did not pick this project up, the OVN Foundation has offered to do so instead. With the kind cooperation of various speakers, a selection of the papers will be published by the OVN Foundation in 2010, as a fitting tribute to prof. Davies' contribution to the field of study. More information will be made available at a later stage.

CMRC conference

The Canonbury Masonic Research Centre in London is organizing its twelfth annual conference, which this year is devoted to the theme of ‘Anti-Masonry’. The full programme, including many prominent academic speakers, is available here. Topics discussed range from
the Unlawful Societies Act to the Protocols of Zion and Fascist attitudes to freemasonry.

New publications

- L'architecture maçonnique du 18e siècle à nos jours, exhibition catalogue Musée de la Grande Loge de France, Paris 2010, 152 pp. Nearly 300 objects, drawings, prints and paintings have been borrowed from the Masonic Museums in Europe (The Hague, Bayreuth, Brussels, Vienna, etc.) as well as large private and public collections.

- Janet Burke/Margaret Jacob, 'Les premières francs-maçonnes au siécle des Lumiéres', Monde Maçonnique I, Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux 2010. First volume of a new series edited by Cécile Révauger, 190 pp, € 17,-.

- An older publication, but now available online: José Antonio Ferrer Benimeli (ed.), Masonería, política y sociedad, Centro de Estudios Históricos de la Masonería Española, 1989. Download articles via Dialnet.


Save the CMC in The Hague

The OVN Foundation has written a pressing letter (in Dutch: 'brandbrief', literally: 'burning letter') to representatives of the government and heritage sector in The Hague, alerting readers to the planned move of a world famous heritage collection from the city. This letter informs local officals about the plans of the Order of Freemasons under the Grand East of the Netherlands to move it's historical collections, currently housed in the Cultural Masonic Centre, to another city in the Netherlands.
The Order's internal committee advising the on the move, has most recently stated that Amsterdam and Utrecht are the only suitable locations for a new National Masonic Centre, in which the collection is to be housed along with administrative offices and lodge facilities. This would mean ripping the important historical collection from its cultural and historical context: the city of The Hague, where the collection has organically grown for 300 years. The collection is historically and physically totally intertwined with the city and functions as an integral part of its excellent academic and heritage infrastructure. A move would diminish the collection's cultural value as a whole, sever ties with related collections and research infrastructure, and would also spell a cultural distaster for the region itself.
The masonic lodges in The Hague, organized in the 'Regioconvent Groot-Den Haag', have indicated they wish to keep the collection in The Hague, but have so far failed to take decisive action. There are many excellent alternatives to house a new National Masonic Centre in The Hague, which have not been explored or considered by the Order's decision makers in this process. No advice has been sought from independent heritage experts in this matter. Lodge members from across the country (who are largely unfamiliar with the contents and history of the collection, unaware of it's context and ties with the Hague, and unfamiliar with the physical needs of a collection of national importance) will be asked to vote about the collection's future at the next yearly meeting.
The 'brandbrief' calls upon the local government and heritage sector to join efforts with the local lodges and come up with an alternative plan, which will convince the Order and its members at the upcomming yearly meeting that the collection should be allowed to remain in The Hague.

Network Esoteric Collections in the Netherlands

In 2008 an OVN-conference was organized in the National Library of the Netherlands on the theme of 'Geheime kennis. De bijzondere archieven en bibliotheken van maçonnieke en esoterische organisaties in Nederland' (Secret Knowledge. The archives and libraries of masonic and esoteric organisations in the Netherlands). As a result, the OVN Foundation, Chair for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents and the National Library discussed a plan to found a platform, which would unite professionals working with Dutch esoteric collections in both the public an private sector. They saw a growing need for interdisciplinairy exchange of knowledge and cooperation between the professional heritage sector, the academic sector and esoteric organisations concerning the care for the cultural heritage of esoteric currents.
Because other projects were prioritised, this plan remained on the shelf for some time. Meanwhile, so many new network opportunities have been created online, that there is no longer a need for the formal structure (and meeting schedule) of an association. This is why the OVN Foundation took the initiative in March 2010 to launch the online Network Esoteric Collections in the Netherlands. Free membership is open to curators of public and private esoteric collections, academics at university chairs and centres, and other professional researchers in the field of study.

New publications

A new book discusses the development of masonic rites, as well as the many strange and pseudo-masonic degrees, that were derived from freemasonry: Gabor Kiszely, Freimaurer-Hochgrade. Lehrarten und Pseudoriten, Studien Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-7065-4679-9, 184 pp., € 33,-.

A new study aims to reveal how a half-hidden thread of Masonic symbolism runs through Hogarth's work: Elisabeth Soulier-Detis, Guess at the Rest: Cracking the Hogarth Code, Lutterworth Press, 2010, ISBN-13: 9780718892159, 232 pp., ca.£35.

On 10 October 1810, 27 men came together to form the Independent Order of Oddfellows, Manchester Unity. The story of the last two centuries, including many dramatic changes, is chronicled by Dan Weinbren in a The Oddfellows, 1810-2010: Two hundred years of making friends and helping people, Carnegie Publishing, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-85936-207-5, 384 pp., € 25,-.

Conference: Women and freemasonry since the Enlightenment

On 17-19 June 2010, an important conference will take place at the Université de Bordeaux in France: Les femmes et la franc-maçonnerie, des Lumières à nos jours. The extensive program, which includes sessions in both French and English with many prominent scholars of freemasonry, can be found at the website of co-organizer, Cécile Revauger. Contact information: ecile.revauger@u-bordeaux3.fr

Call for papers: CMRC 2010

The Canonbury Masonic Research Centre (CMRC) has distributed a call for papers for its 12th annual conference on the theme of Anti-Masonry scheduled for 30-31 October, 2010. The full text of the call is available at the CRMC's website. Paper proposals (max. 300 words) including a short c.v. can be submitted until 20 May 2010. For further information: conference@canonbury.ac.uk.


Activities CRFF suspended!

Dr. Andreas Onnerfors, director of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism at the University of Sheffield, send us the following announcement:
'With the publication of the first issue of the Journal for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism in January 2010 the activities of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism at the University of Sheffield, established in 2000, have come to a preliminary end. On March 8, faculty administration put following message on the Centers website:
The Faculty of Arts and Humanities regrets that, with effect from 1 January 2010, the activities of the Centre for Research for Freemasonry and Fraternalism are suspended for the time being.[ ]
The CRF(F) has over the past ten years contributed considerably to the vitalization of academic research into freemasonry and related fraternal organizations both in Britain and abroad. We are in this respect deeply indebted to the efforts of founding director, prof Andrew Prescott. It is intended to publish a chronological overview over Ten Years of Research into Freemasonry at the University of Sheffield later this spring.

The Academic Society for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism (ASRFF) will immediately take over some core functions from the CRFF, such as the publication of a newsletter or the edition of the academic journal JRFF.
The Society is under formation and experienced already a serious blow with the tragic death of its intermediary president, prof Malcolm Davies, who passed away unexpectedly in February 2010. With the Leiden chair empty and the CRFF in hibernation, academic research at the moment and for the foreseeable future will be carried out by single academics based at single universities across the world.
This increases the need for cooperation of various initiatives such as the organization of conferences, e.g. the next International Conference on the History of Freemasonry that will take place in Alexandria, VA in late May 2011 and to which we currently are recruiting the Academic Committee. The ASRFF has created a temporary website that will be continually updated.'

Of course the OVN supports the ASRFF and calls upon it's members and colleagues to do the same. Students and scholars can join the society and subscribe to the journal, which will allow this initiative to grow. The OVN also feels that it is necessary to establish academic organisations for the study of freemasonry, such as the OVN in each country, for which the ASRFF could act as an international umbrella-organisation. This will provide valuable support to students and scholars and can make funding available for research - independent of the internal politics of Orders and universities.


Freemasonry in Amsterdam

On 26th February 2010, mrs. drs. Floor Meijer defended her dissertation Wereldburgers. Vrijmetselaren en de stad Amsterdam, 1848-1906 (Citizens of the world. Freemasons and the city of Amsterdam, 1848-1906) at the University of Amsterdam.
This is one of the first studies to look at the history of Dutch freemasonry around 1900. Although freemasons traditionally do not engage in politics as a matter of principle, they changed their views in the second half of the 19th century. Some of the social problems in the modern city of Amsterdam included poverty, hunger and child labour. Local freemasons debated about such problems in lodge publications as well as in the lodge itself, and got involved in charity, creating organizations to care for the blind and hungry. This developement went hand in hand with a shift in membership of the Order, which included more and more citizens, from craftsmen to shopkeepers and teachers, who were very much engaged with the daily problems in the city. New contacts between freemasonry and other organisations, both social and political, changed the character of the Order, as did the introduction of mixed Orders in Amsterdam after 1900.

Floor Meijer, Wereldburgers. Vrijmetselaren en de stad Amsterdam, 1848-1906, Wereldbibliotheek Amsterdam 2010, ISBN 978-90-284-2321-3, paperback ca. 704 pages, € 39,90.


In memoriam Malcolm Davies

It is unfortunate to have to bring some sad news on this blog: on 9 February 2010 prof.dr. Malcolm Davies has passed away.

Davies studied the history of music at the University of Utrecht. He also worked as director of the music department of the International School in The Hague, and was very active as a conductor in the music scene. He became a member of lodge 'De Vlammende Ster' in The Hague in 1996 and went on to study the relationship between freemasonry and music.
Davies made a rich contribution to the field of study in a relatively short time. His dissertation The Masonic Muse. Songs, Music and Musicians Associated with Dutch Freemasonry: 1730–1806 was published in 2005 by the Royal Association for the History of Music (Koninlijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis). Twice he was rewarded an OVN research grant for follow up research on the subject, as he was preparing a second book.
In 2007 Davies was appointed as professor of the chair for 'Freemasonry as an intellectual current and socio-cultural phenomenon in Europe' at the Leiden University. He organized an international academic conference, 'The Expression of Freemasonry', in 2008, and was involved in plans for closer international cooperation between the chairs in the field of study.

The board of the OVN had a good working relationship with the Leiden chair, and recently made plans for closer cooperation with Davies in 2009. The field of study has lost a promising scholar, who made an effort to make Dutch scholarschip on freemasonry known in the international academic community. Our board members will miss him as an esteemed colleague, and our thoughts are with Davies' family and friends at this difficult time.

[Photo: Malcolm Davies in good spirits at the speakers' dinner, following the OVN conference 'Maçonnieke en Esoterische Collecties in Nederland' in 2007.]


Vacancy: curator Dutch masonic collection

The Order of Freemasons under the Grand East of the Netherlands is seeking a new curator for the Cultural Masonic Centre ‘Prince Frederik’ in The Hague, which houses the historical library, archives and object collection of the Order. The advert is published (in Dutch) here.
The text includes a preference for candidates ‘who are members of the Order, or a recognized Grand Lodge’.

The former curator of the CMC, drs. Evert Kwaadgras, unfortunately had to step down due to illness some time ago. The Order has used the opportunity to separate management and curator's tasks by appointing a director for the CMC, mrs. drs. Marijke de Vries, who will be supervising the work of the new curator.

Le Droit Humain's archive moves to The Hague Municipal Archive

The office of the Dutch Federation of the International Order of Mixed Freemasonry 'Le Droit Humain' has moved from The Hague to its new premises in Nieuwegein. Althought the historical library of ca. 5000 titels will also move, this is not the case for the historical archives of the Dutch Federation.

The archive of Le Droit Humain dating before 1980 has been stored at The Hague's Municipal Archive for a period of three years, where optimal climate conditions and security measures are provided. The Municipal Archive has kindly offered facilities to make an inventory of the collection.
The OVN Foundation was involved in the preparation of the archives for the move and will now offer a research grant to have an inventory made of the documents dating between 1904 and 1945. A call for candidates will be circulated in order to select a student or researcher, who will make a complete inventory in order to make this earliest part of the archive available for research as soon as possible.

Le Droit Humain has also decided to transfer several rituals and magazines dating before 1945 from its library to the archive, as these are to rare and vulnarable to continue to be included in the library's loan services. Several duplicates, including annual editions of the magazine Lux Orientis of the lodges in the Dutch East Indies and the Bulletin of the Dutch Federation, have been donated to the National Library of the Netherlands.

The progressive policy adapted by Le Droit Humain towards it's archives, as well as the kind cooperation of The Hague's Municipal Archive, will make important sources available. When this particular archive becomes accessible for research, it will no doubt lead to a complete review of the history of modern freemasonry in the Netherlands. So far, only the archives of masculine Orders were available. But the archives of mixed Orders of the beginning of the 20th century reveal the relationship between freemasonry and 'new' social and religious movements, including vegetarianism, cremation, emancipation, animal and child protection services, as well as theosophy and anthroposophy. Le Droit Humain especially attracted members of the intellectual avant-garde, including well-known artists and architects. All the more reasons to look forward to the inventory of the archive becoming available.

Whan the inventory is finished and the initial term of the loan to the Municipal Archive is passed, the Dutch Federation will take a more permanent decision about the future of it's archive. A long term loan of minimum 20 yers to the Municipal Archive is one of the options. The OVN Foundation hopes that the example of Le Droit Humain will be followed by other masonic and esoteric organizations, and can offer advice and practical assitance to organizations considering the future of their collections.

[Images: Archive before conservation and registration (top) and the storage facilities of The Hague's Municipal Archive (bottom)]

Call for Papers IAHR

Allison Coudert (University of California at Davis), Cathy Gutierrez (Sweet Briar College) and Marco Pasi (Universiteit van Amsterdam) are organizing a panel on Western esotericism and its boundaries: Between discourses of identity and difference at the IAHR Quinquennial World Congress in Toronto, 15-21 August 2010:

'In the last 20 years it has become customary for specialists to define esotericism as "western." This has a series of implications that are usually left in the background and not addressed explicitly. The purpose of the panel is to discuss precisely these aspects, namely: Why should esotericism be defined as western in the first place? Where do we want to draw the boundaries of the "West"? Are Jewish and Islamic forms of esotericism to be included in "western" esotericism, and if not, why? Finally, if we want to reject the tag "western," what are the possible alternatives? In what way could we open up the study of esotericism to multiculturality? Could we do this by studying possible historical influences or rather by using a comparative approach that focuses on possible common patterns and analogies?
We welcome papers that address the use of esotericism as a theoretical designation in the construction of identity and difference while negotiating geographical and ideological boundaries. Proposals for papers on specific historical strains of esoteric thinking are also welcome, particularly those that address the formation of discourses of difference'.

Proposals, together with a brief curriculum, should be sent before 31 March 2010 to Cathy Gutierrez (cgutierrez@sbc.edu) and/or Marco Pasi (m.pasi@uva.nl).

New publications

The Centre for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism at the University of Sheffield has published Working paper no. 6: an article on the history and contents of the masonic collection of the University Library in Poznan by Andrzej Karpowicz. It is available online here.

A well-known publication on freemasonry in Gent, Belgium, has been reprinted and updated: Guy Schrans, Vrijmetselaars te Gent in de XVIIIde eeuw. During the second half of the 18th century, Gent counted circa 51.000 inhabitants, making it the 5th most important city in the Habsburg monarchy (after Vienna, Milan, Prague and Brussels). The city had a rich social scene, which stimulated the foundation of loges: La Discrète Impériale et Royale (1762), La Candeur (1763) and La Bienfaisante (1765).
Guy Schrans researched the biographies of the lodge members, resulting in the first edition of his book in 1997, no less than 800 pages with 200 biographies of freemasons in social and cultural context.
The book has now been updated with 30 additional biographies, much new data on the others, and 600 new titles in the bibliography. The book can be ordered from the Liberal Archive (€ 49 plus postage fees).

Jaap Kloosterman has kindly alerted us to the pdf version of his contribution to the section ‘Auf der Suche nach der Zivilgesellschaft’ at a conference of the German Historical Institute in Moscow in 2009: Hidden Centres: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Societies.

National Heritage Museum Symposium

The National Heritage Museum in Lexington (Massachussets, USA) will host the conference on 'New Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism' op 9 April 2010: 'The symposium seeks to present the newest research on American fraternal groups from the past through the present day. By 1900, over 250 American fraternal groups existed, numbering six million members. The study of their activities and influence in the United States, past and present, offers the potential for new interpretations of American society and culture'. Speakers are:

- Jessica Harland-Jacobs (Associate Professor of History at the University of Florida/author of Builders of Empire: Freemasonry and British Imperialism, 1717-1927): 'Worlds of Brothers',
- Damien Amblard (doctoral student, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York), 'French Counter-Enlightenment Intellectuals and American Antimasonry: A Transatlantic Approach, 1789-1800',
- Hannah M. Lane (Assistant Professor, Mount Allison University), 'Freemasonry and Identity/ies in 19th-
Century New Brunswick and Eastern Maine',
- Nicholas Bell (Curator, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum), 'An Ark of the New Republic',
- David Bjelajac (Professor of Art History, George Washington University), 'Freemasonry, Thomas Cole (1801-1848) and the Fraternal Ethos of American Art',
- Ami Pflugrad-Jackisch (Assistant Professor of History, University of Michigan – Flint), 'Brothers of a Vow: Secret Fraternal Orders in Antebellum Virginia',
- Kristofer Allerfeldt (Exeter University), 'Nationalism, Masons, Klansmen and Kansas in the 1920s'.

The registration deadline is 24 March 2010. For more information, contact Claudia Roche at croche@monh.org.