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ARCHIVES-NRA  March 2009

ARCHIVES-NRA March 2009

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Subject:

re Survey of Lodge/Chapter historical records

From:

Susan Snell <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Susan Snell <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 6 Mar 2009 10:52:10 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (86 lines)

In response to a number of recent enquiries we have received, colleagues may 
be interested to receive up to date information about the Historical Records 
Survey Project of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry being undertaken 
by Masonic Lodges and Chapters operating under the United Grand Lodge of 
England. 

Broadly, the Survey aims to do two things:
•           To compile lists of records created by all active and closed 
Lodges/Chapters in England and Wales, including the Channel Islands and the 
Isle of Man. 
•           To create a finding aid for annual lodge membership returns among 
Quarter Sessions records, lodged with Clerks of the Peace between 1799 and 
1967. 

Lodge and Chapter records
The Survey will capture details of Lodge/Chapter records currently held by 
members, or in Masonic meeting places, Provincial offices, or held on deposit 
with the Library and Museum. It will also include details of records deposited 
by Lodges/Chapters with local record offices, Masonic records held by the 
archives of private institutions and stray items located among family, estate 
or other collections.  

Each Masonic Province has appointed a local, volunteer co-ordinator who will 
liaise with lodge and chapter secretaries and scribes - the people who will be 
completing the returns - and with our part-time Project Manager, Len Reilly, 
who is based at Freemasons’ Hall for two years from May 2008. Survey 
questionnaires were distributed last year and volunteers and lodge secretaries 
are now tackling the task. We have asked that returns be completed by 
summer 2009.

As well as capturing details about which records have survived and where 
they are located, the Survey includes a preservation assessment of each 
item, based on National Preservation Office methodology. This is the first time 
that the NPO preservation assessment has been applied on this scale to 
records created by a private organisation.

Our volunteer co-ordinators have been alerted to the possibility that lodge 
and chapter records may be in the custody of local record offices. Therefore, 
volunteer co-ordinators would appreciate assistance from local record offices 
when they visit or make contact to find or check information about Masonic 
records. Some volunteer co-ordinators have never been to a record office 
before. At initial briefing sessions, co-ordinators were provided with guidance 
on contacting and using local archives: how to make an appointment, 
obtaining a reader’s ticket, using pencils etc. 

Conveniently, Masonic provinces are generally coterminous with county 
boundaries apart from in areas where Metropolitan authorities were introduced 
after the 1960’s.

The Library and Museum is not seeking to retrieve Lodge/Chapter records held 
by local record offices on deposit. In fact our Archivist and Records Manager 
is providing presentations to Masonic Provinces on caring for their records, 
often in conjunction with colleagues from the National Advisory Service and/or 
local record offices. This advocates Lodges/Chapters depositing older records 
with local record offices if they cannot provide reasonable, local storage 
facilities. 

To assist local record offices, we are also preparing a Toolkit, providing 
recommendations on closure periods for lodge/chapter records, an explanation 
of Masonic structure, terms and abbreviations, with ISAD(G) cataloguing 
templates for typical record types, available towards the end of 2009. It will 
also include notes on using the on-line version of Lane’s Masonic Records, a 
useful resource that provides information on lodge histories, changes in 
numeration and meeting places. This useful resource, being updated currently 
to include details for Lodges after 1894, and eventually Chapters, may be 
found at: http://freemasonry.dept.shef.ac.uk/lane/

Quarter Sessions Records
We also aim to create a finding aid for annual lodge membership returns among 
Quarter Sessions records, lodged with Clerks of the Peace between 1799 and 
1967. We are still developing this element of the project and will be in touch 
with you at a later date.

The intention is to publish finding aids at least in summary form for Lodge and 
Chapter records in England and Wales for use by researchers, family and local 
historians, with information about the survival of annual returns from Lodges 
held among Quarter Sessions records.

Susan Snell
Archivist and Records Manager

Len Reilly
Project Manager, Historical Records Survey

Library and Museum of Freemasonry

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