Freemasonry publications go online
Researchers could find references to their freemason forebears among a collection of rare periodicals now available to explore on the web
Masthead used by Masonic Illustrated at the turn of the 20th century © Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Family historians can now access thousands of rare freemasonry records online.
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry has published a major collection of Masonic periodicals on a new website, enabling researchers to gain an insight into the history of world’s oldest fraternal organisation.
Set up in collaboration with King’s College London, the free facility comprises 75,000 scanned pages from a number of titles in circulation between the late 18th and early 20th centuries, including the Freemason’s Chronicle and the Masonic Mirror.
Scanned from microfilm copies held at the Library, each page has been individually transcribed, enabling users to search the periodicals by a specific keyword. The software also provides a ‘zoning’ feature, which automatically separates different articles, advertisements and images.
Although freemasonry has been referenced in the mainstream press since the foundation of the first Masonic Grand Lodge in 1717, the periodicals were published by freemasons primarily for a Masonic audience. As such, they can not only be used to research key developments within the society, but to trace specific individuals and learn more about the localities in which different lodges were based.
The periodicals form part of a vast collection of artefacts and documents kept by the Library, which is based in London. Other holdings include the archives of the United Grand Lodge of England, the main governing body of freemasonry in both England and Wales.