ISSUE 13, April 2005

Editorial
The Campbells are coming: At speed!
Travel: Warming to Iceland
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part II
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and: Report of the Board of General Purposes
The flying eye hospital
Beamish Museum: The million pound project
  Wigan Grand Lodge: The Liverpool rebels
Chelsea Lodge: That's entertainment
Re-enactment: The way we were and: The Russian connection
Community Service: Weathering the storm
Faith and Freemasonry: God and the Craft
Education: Researching Freemasonry on the Internet and: Masonic events
Freemasons Hall: Masons at War
Grand Charity: Report and grant list and: Support for Asian tsunami
Masonic Charities: Reports from the Masonic charities
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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    Founder's jewel of  Fairfax Lodge No. 3014 shows the 17th-century Fairfax House in Putney



Vannevar Bush (1890-1974) is considered by many to be the godfather of the internet. He was never directly involved in its development, but in a celebrated article published in 1945, As We May Think, he envisaged the creation of a system called a ‘memex’ which linked information in a way which anticipated modern hypertextual links.
    It is not generally known that Vannevar Bush was a keen Freemason, serving as Master of the Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge, for members of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Bush worked.
    This Lodge sponsored one of the earliest internet sites on Freemasonry, A Page About Freemasonry, which has now had over a million visitors and is still a useful gateway to some of the Masonic sources on the internet at (web.mit.edu/dryfoo/www/Masons/).
    We can imagine that Bush, as a visionary of information management and a Freemason, would have been thrilled with the range and quality of material on the history of Freemasonry now available on the internet. While there have been for many years a number of very high quality internet resources on Freemasonry, in the past 18 months there has been a sea-change in the quantity and character of internet resources. This means that the internet is now potentially a tool for serious and original research into Freemasonry.
    The internet does not change the basic requirement of good historical research, namely that it should be based on original, first-hand and contemporary information: minutes, letters, diaries, newspaper reports, and so on. Increasingly, historians are also starting to exploit pictorial sources and artefacts, ranging from photographs to film.
    Since its earliest days, the most valuable feature of the internet has been its ability to make available remotely, library and archive catalogues, enabling researchers more quickly to identify the whereabouts of relevant source materials.
    For researchers into Freemasonry, the indispensable starting point is the on-line catalogue of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, which gives access to the most important Masonic collection in the world at www.freemasonry.london.museum.
    The catalogue of the Library and Museum does not simply cover its wonderful book collections. Its coverage of the archives and manuscripts held at Great Queen Street is already extensive and growing daily. Particularly valuable are the catalogue records for the historical correspondence and the correspondence in the sequence of annual returns, which contain short summaries of the contents of the letters.
    Another exciting and innovative feature of the Library and Museum’s catalogue is that it covers thousands of items in the Museum’s jewel collections. Moreover, images are provided of all these jewels, so that internet users can effectively browse through the Museum’s jewel collection at home.
    A number of European and American Masonic libraries have also made their catalogues available on the internet. The library of the Grand Orient of the Netherlands contains the collections of Georg Kloss, a 19th-century scholar, who sought to acquire a copy of every book published on Freemasonry. Go to (www.vrijmetselarij.nl).
    Another major Masonic museum whose catalogue is available on-line is Van-Gorden Williams Library at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts (vgw.library.net).
    However, in order to gain new insights into the history of Freemasonry, it is essential to make use of major research libraries besides those run by Freemasons.
    The COPAC web site gives consolidated access to the catalogues of major research and university libraries in Britain, including the British Library and the National Libraries of Wales and Scotland. A search on ‘freemason’ in COPAC gives 6,383 hits!
    The bread and butter of the historian are archival documents, and there are now many internet tools which help trace these materials. The on-line catalogue of the National Archives at Kew contains over 9.5 million records (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk).
    The National Archives also runs some very useful search tools for local and specialist archival repositories in England, including Access to Archives (www.a2a.org.uk) and the National Register of Archives (www.nra.nationalarchives.gov.uk).
    The British Library’s Manuscript Collections contain many celebrated Masonic items, such as the medieval Regius and Cooke manuscripts. A search on ‘freemason’ in the British Library’s Manuscript catalogue (molcat.bl.uk) reveals that the collections include many other equally fascinating, but less wellknown items with Masonic associations.


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