Tuesday, December 7, 2021

‘Who, What, When, Where, and sometimes Wyoming’

Digitized proceedings from A to W. (Mark Tabbert photo)

It seems like it wasn’t even a year ago that I updated you on the digitization project underway by the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, and word came today that the work will be completed this week.

Mark Tabbert shared the good news several hours ago, explaining how the Wyoming Grand Commandery books of proceedings will be the last of the texts to be scanned and saved for eternity as searchable digital files. Well, he didn’t mention eternity. That’s just my excitement pulsing through. And I am excited because these official, published records of our grand lodges, grand chapters, etc. are big parts of the first draft of history.

When researchers like us want to get an idea of something that happened in our past, these texts are invaluable. Maybe you seek a hard fact, like the number of cigars donated in 1919 to the residents of the California Masonic Home (750). Perhaps you’re studying something that’s more of a trend, such as expulsions of Masons for being drunks or bad husbands. (Those were the days.) Or statistics might be needed. (Wisconsin’s lodges collectively rejected 294 petitions in 1875.) These books contain such data and a lot more.

Naturally, they’re written by people, so you’ll have to anticipate some errors and some very deliberate omissions, but we have to start somewhere. And somewhere is right here.

For this to happen, our grand lodges and other governing bodies must pay a nominal fee of $1,000 for the initial set-up costs, and then a thousand annually to maintain the online access to their books, so if your Freemasonry isn’t included among these digital documents, maybe tell your Grand Ones to cough up the dough and preserve the archives of Masonry from inundations and conflagrations. As Mark says, the work is done already; only the uploading is required now.

(Of course, we New York Masons have our own thing, as you might expect of us.)

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