In memoriam: André Hanou (1941-2011)

We have received a sad, but not unexpected message: professor André Hanou has passed away on 8th February 2011. The many 'in memoriams' that have since appeared online, make it clear just what a remarkable inspiration this Dutch researcher, author and tutor was to students and colleagues. We would like to mention his many contributions to the study of freemasonry amongst an impressive body of work:

Hanou studied philosophy, theology and Dutch literature. In 1988 he defended his dissertation at the Nijmegen University: De Sluiers van Isis. Johannes Kinker als voorvechter van de Verlichting, in de vrijmetselarij en andere Nederlandse genootschappen (The Veils of Isis. Johannes Kinker as a campaigner for the Enlightenment in freemasonry and other societies). It marked the beginning of a specialisation in Dutch literature of the Enlightenment. 
Between 1992 and 1998 he published a series of articles on his research of 18th century lodge archives in Thoth, a research journal for freemasons, including the series ‘Beelden der vrijmetselarij’ ('Images of Freemasonry').
De loge parterre’ ('The ground floor lodge') appeared in: ‘Een stille leerschool van deugd en goede zeden’. Vrijmetselarij in Nederland in de 18e en 19e eeuw in 1995.  In this article, Hanou drew attention to the lack of standard sources and statistical data for the (new) field of study, such as a bibliography of 18th century masonic publications and publication of membership lists of lodges. This overview is still very relevant today.

Hanou worked at the University of Amsterdam for a long time, where he eventually became professor in 1989. Together with his wife, Rietje van Vliet, he founded Astraea Publishers in 1994, which published many 18th century studies, including Onder de Acacia. Studies over de Nederlandse vrijmetselarij en vrijmetselaarsloges (Underneath the Acacia. Studies on Dutch freemasonry and masonic lodges, 1997). Hanou also actively participate in many research societies, including one of the first on the subject of western esotericism, Aries. This is where the founders of the OVN Foundation first met.
In 2000 Hanou was appointed at the Radboud University as professior of early modern Dutch literature. He published: De Naakte Waarheyt der Vrije Metselaars. Teksten van de 18de eeuwse schrijver Jacob Campo Weyerman over de Vrijmetselarij (The Naked Truth about Freemasons. Texts by the 18th century author Jacob Campo Weyerman, 2004).

For some, becoming emeritus professor marks the end of their scholarly productivity. But when that moment arrived for Hanou in 2006, the steady stream of publications continued. In 2007 he started blogging on the Herkauwer blog, where he shared his expertise, exciting discoveries in libraries, and opinions on new books on an almost daily basis. The number of visitors shot up to nearly 35.000 hits. And when it became clear that an illness would soon make an end to his life's work, he still kept on blogging. It's characteristic for his love of research that he quickly wrote columns about notes found in his archive, in order to stimulate a new generation of researchers to pick up those subjects.

From the foundation of the OVN in 2001 Hanou was involved, as a speaker at conferences and member of the research grant committee. He declined our invitation to join as board member because of his very busy working schedule, until he finally found the time to do so in 2009. Our board members welcomed his stimulating input on the foundation's activities and especially the sense of humor he brought to our meetings. We will miss him dearly. Following Hanou's own initiative, the OVN will shortly publish a compilation of his articles on Dutch freemasonry. We sincerely hope that a translation of his work into English will be published one day, so his contribution to the field of study will be accessible to even more readers.


Freemasonry on Dutch television

The BBC-program 'Who do you think you are?', which researches the family trees of celebrities has a Dutch counterpart, called Verborgen Verleden (= Hidden Past). In 2010 the OVN Foundation was approached to cooperate on an episode about a Dutch celebrity whose ancestors included a male and female freemason. The Grand Lodges of the two Orders were also involved in the program. We are not allowed to say yet whose family tree is discussed, but we can tell you to watch on 13 februari 2011 or the online version which will be available afterwards...