2/27/2010

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.

2/10/2010

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 'MaƧonnieke en Esoterische Collecties in Nederland' in 2007.]