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.