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)]