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.