08 December 2013

A Mason by Many Other Names

What exactly does the Masonic Lodge entail? 

My last fraternal post discussed a building I discovered in Georgetown, Colorado that is the home of several chapters of the Masonic Lodge. I ended with an open ended question: what kind of Mason was your ancestor? So many of us blindly categorize all Masons into one lump sum, but that's not necessarily true. It is always suggested that you do a search based on the specific division that you are interested in, or that was present in your ancestor's community, in order to learn more about that particular group.

Source: Wikimedia Commons, "Masonic Temple Logo"

This post will attempt to list all the major organizations that are a part of the Masonic family. 

The first referenced utilized is the "Masons" category in the Encyclopedia of Associations: Volume 1, National Organizations of the U.S. Part 2, from Associations Unlimited (Tara E. Atterberry, Project Editor, Gale Publishing, Farmington Hills, MI, 2011.) Yes, I have an older version, but it should be sufficient. You can also typically access this text online through your library's database collection, so check there first if you need to find a reference. 

(One note on this particular volume of work: each entry includes basic information such as membership numbers, usually a website, physical address and a phone number, as well as a brief description of the organization. If you are having a hard time locating contact info for the organization you are interested in, this should be your first stop.)

There are 21 entries: 

  1. Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Free-Masonry, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction | Supreme Council
  2. Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Free Masonry, Southern Jurisdiction | Supreme Council
  3. Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (AEAONMS)
  4. General Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star
  5. General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International
  6. The Grottoes of North America ealm
  7. Heroes of '76
  8. High Twelve International (HI-12)
  9. Imperial Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America
  10. Job's Daughters International
  11. Knights Templar, Grand Encampment, U.S.A.
  12. Ladies Oriental Shrine of North America (LOS of NA)
  13. Masonic Service Association of North America (MSANA)
  14. Modern Free and Accepted Masons of the World (MFAMW)
  15. National League of Masonic Clubs (NLMC)
  16. National Sojourners (NS)
  17. Philalethes Society (PS)
  18. Red Cross of Constantine | United Grand Imperial Council (UGIC RCC)
  19. Royal Order of Scotland (ROS)
  20. Tall Cedars of Lebanon of North America (TCLNA)
  21. Universal Masonic Brotherhood (UMB)

This list appears to be fairly thorough, but for comparison purposes, I will also include information found on the website for The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Washington, F & AM, citing their "Concordant Bodies" page (http://freemason-wa.org/public-resources/concordant-bodies/).  They include a statement indicating their list is not all-inclusive. 

  1. Knights Templar
  2. National Sojourners
  3. York Rite
  4. Royal Arch
  5. Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters
  6. Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction
  7. Shrine
  8. Prestonian Table Lodge
  9. Amaranth
  10. Eastern Star
  11. The Order of the White Shrine of Jerusalem
  12. Tall Cedars of Lebanon of North America
  13. Ladies Oriental Shrine
  14. Grottoes of North America
  15. DeMolay
  16. Job's Daughters
  17. Rainbow Girls

During this process, I compared the lists of a variety of state lodges, and none were identical. Washington seemed to have the most listed, so that is what I included here. However, the differences from state to state seemed to be consistent in reasoning.  When a specific state did not have an active chapter or lodge of a specific division, they did not list it on their site. For example, if they did not have an active branch of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon of North America in their state, they would not list it on their site. 

A simple Google search will tell you that there are numerous resources on the variations of the Masonic Lodge. This is presented as an example in the differences you might find during your research process, and to provide a demonstration of what you might encounter. Also keep in mind that these lists are current organizations, so a lodge that is defunct will not necessarily be represented on the active state site. 

Understanding the various divisions of the Masonic organization may assist you a great deal when conducting fraternal based genealogical research. At the very least, it is essential to recognize the terminology that may apply when working with the organization to obtain records. 

Selly Sell! 

I authored a Legacy QuickGuide on researching fraternal organizations in genealogy, and that publication is now available as an eBook on Amazon for the Kindle! You can find it on my Author page.