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THE BALTIMORE BOOK PROGRAMS
Maryland libraries had a problem shared by many public libraries around the country: few good Masonic books were on their shelves. Most public libraries, if they have any books on Masonry at all, are as likely to have inaccurate anti-Masonic volumes. This is not due to any conspiracy of librarians but rather the result of the way books are marketed. Publishers of antiMasonic books have an ax to grind and promote their publications aggressively. Librarians, usually overworked and under-funded, cannot be experts in all areas of research and so rely on the information available to them.
What can we do about this situation?
The Scottish Rite Valley of Baltimore, Maryland, came up with one answer: a successful program that has put good Masonic books on the shelves of Maryland's public libraries. The Baltimore book program is simple, and its accomplishment can be easily duplicated, if a few simple rules are followed. The program was developed as part of the activities of the Valley of Baltimore's Committee on Education.*
Before embarking on your own book program, the most important point to realize is that many libraries are cautious of citizens offering to donate books. Experience has shown libraries that groups with strong positions on religious, political, social, or other controversial issues want their books on the shelves (often to the exclusion of all others).
A library can easily become the battleground for an imbroglio, with opposing sides fighting for the "right" books on the shelves. Further, it is not uncommon for citizens to clean out their attics, drop off boxes of worthless books at the library,
*This program is adapted from "The Baltimore Book Program," The Scottish Rite Journal, December 1992. It was developed by Bros. Charles F. Reid, III, 32ø, and Dr. S. Brent Morris, 33ø, Chairman of the Committee on Education. and expect a large tax write-off for their largesse. To overcome these problems, the Baltimore Scottish Rite Committee on Education worked with the libraries as a partner who could help them fill in gaps in their collection. Using an earlier version of the book list published with this Short Talk Bulletin, the committee showed the librarians how the Masons could expand each library's collections in biography, American history, decorative arts, as well as Freemasonry. Please note that the book list is intended for the curious general reader. It is not a specialized list for the Mason. The results have been enthusiastic appreciation and increased opportunities for Marylanders to find out about our gentle Craft, all at a modest cost.
Your Valley (or Lodge or Commandery or Shrine Temple) can easily duplicate the success of Baltimore. The program is outlined below. Follow its steps, adapting for your local conditions, and success will be hard to miss. When you present books to your library, be sure to take pictures for your Grand Lodge publication and invite the local press to record the event.
1. Copy the list of books given below, removing the prices and revising it as necessary. It consists of books that should have broad interest for general readers. The books are currently in print and the pricing is accurate, but confirm this and make sure you know where to order them. Some titles may have to be special ordered through a bookstore, perhaps at a local college. Be sure to add books of regional interest to the list (Lodge or Grand Lodge histories, for example).
2. Contact the central office of your library system and find out who is responsible for acquisitions. Call this person, explain how you want to help the library expand its collection, and make an appointment to visit in person. When you visit, bring a copy of the book list and a cover letter explaining your book program. Point out books with particular local appeal. For example, Masonic Philanthropies describes many local charitable activities. If any of your local activities are described in it, be sure to highlight the fact in the book list. Offer to bring in any of the books for inspection, to provide as many copies of each title as needed, and to try to obtain any other Masonic title desired even if it is not on the list.
3. Check back in a few weeks with the acquisitions office and determine which books are wanted. Order them and arrange for a presentation, preferably with local news coverage.
4. Follow up your presentation about a year later. Find out how often the books have been checked out during the year (but don't ask who may have checked them out--that's sensitive, privileged information to libraries). See if there are any other titles the library would like to have. From time to time, as general books on Freemasonry are published, offer to add these to the library's collection. A good source for these titles are the book review columns of Masonic publications, like The Scottish Rite Journal, The Northern Light, The Philalethes, The Royal Arch Mason Magazine, or The Knight Templar.
Addresses for Masonic Books
Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., Inc., 3011 Old Dumbarton Rd., Richmond, VA 23228-0759, (804) 262-655 1 .
Masonic Service Association of the U.S., 8120 Fenton St., Silver Spring, MD 20910-4785, (301) 588-4010.
Museum of Our National Heritage, P.O. Box 519, Lexington, MA 02173, (617) 861-6559.
Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle, Ltd., 60 Great Queen St., London SC2B 5BA, England, 0171 405 7340.
Supreme Council, 33ø, S.J., 1733 16th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20009-3199, (202) 2323579. MASONIC BOOKS
Recommended by the Masonic Information Center Masonic Service Association of the United States 8120 Fenton SL, Silver Spring, MD 20910-4785
Coil, Henry Wilson. A Comprehensive View of Freemasonry. 256 pp., 1954, ISBN: 0-88053053-7. General. $14.50 from Macoy.
One of the best general books available on Freemasonry. Covers the broad topics of Masonic history, organization, and purpose for the general reader.
Cook, Lewis C., ed. Colonial Freemasonry. 235 pp., 1974. General. $7.50 from Macoy.
A collection of 13 essays on early American Freemasonry prepared by experts from each of the original Colonies. The rise and development of Freemasonry in each Colony, together with its involvement with the Revolutionary War, are covered.
Dumenil, Lynn. Freemasonry and American Culture, 1880-1930. 217 pp., 1989, ISBN: 0691-04716-2. Advanced.
A study of the evolution of Victorian-era Freemasonry into its modem organization. Nicely covers the social forces that shaped the fraternity as well as the religious attacks against it.
Franco, Barbara. Fraternally Yours: A Decade of Collecting. 80 pp., 1986. Introductory. $14 from the Museum of Our National Heritage.
The catalog of a special exhibit showing decorations, certificates, and regalia of American fraternal orders, including Masons, Odd Fellows, Redmen, and others.
Haffner, Christopher. Workman Unashamed 217 pp., 1989, ISBN: 0-85318-167-5. Advanced. $23.00 from Macoy.
An analysis and refutation of the commonly made charges that Freemasonry is anti-Christian. Provides a historical background of religious attacks against the Masonic Fraternity, and answers them on both a theological and practical Hamill, John. The History of English Freemasonry. 240 pp.+ 5 cassettes or CDs, 1994, ISBN: 0-85318-205-1. Introductory. $69.95 post paid from Q.C.C.C., Ltd.
A splendid brief history of the development of Freemasonry in England and its organization there today. This is an excellent introduction to the origins of Freemasonry.
Hamill, John and R. A. Gilbert. World Freemasonry: An Illustrated History. 224 pp., 1991, ISBN: 1-85030-722-8. Introductory/ General. $52.00 from Q.C.C.C., Ltd.
A profusely illustrated general history of Freemasonry with good coverage of Britain, Europe, and America. This is an excellent, readable, and accurate single-volume history of the craft covering most aspects of Masonry.
Hamilton, John D. Material Culture of the American Freemasons. 329 pp., 1994. General. $75 + $3.50 from the Museum of Our National Heritage.
This is a sumptuously illustrated "catalogue of Masonic artifacts and a history of their ownership." This book should be of particular interest to those who collect and want to identify American decorative arts. There are hundreds of illustrations, 36 in color.
Heaton, Ron. Masonic Membership of the Founding Fathers. 164 pp., 1965. Advanced. $2.00 PPD from MSA.
A complete listing of the signers of the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and other Founding Fathers. Brief biographies are given together with precise details of each persons Masonic membership or non-membership.
Henderson, Kent. Masonic World Guide. 416 pp., ISBN 0-85318-139 X, 1984. Advanced. $10.00 from Macoy.
Each regular Grand Lodge in the world is briefly described with a special eye towards visitors to Masonic Lodge meetings. Meeting customs, dress, and regalia are all summarized for over 200 different countries.
Home, Alex. King Solomon's Temple and the Masonic Tradition. 352 pp., 1971, ISBN: 0-85030-052-5. Advanced. $15.95 from Macoy.
A specialized book that details the interpretations given to the architecture and decoration of Solomon's Temple by Freemasons through the centuries.
Jacob, Margaret C. Living the Enlightenment. 304 pp., 1991, ISBN: ()-19-506992-7 Advanced. $49.95 from Oxford University Press, Inc., 800451-7556.
A scholarly study of Freemasonry and politics in eighteenth-century Europe which shows the influence Masonic Lodges had on the enlightenment.
Lipson, Dorothy Ann. Freemasonry in Federalist Connecticut. 380 pp., 1977, ISBN: 0691-04646-8. Advanced. $52.50 from Princeton University Press.
A comprehensive .study of the Masonic Fraternity in federalist Connecticut. The religious, political, and social backgrounds of Lodges are studied together with their impact on general Connecticut society of the day.
Morris, S. Brent. Cornerstones of Freedom. 195 pp., 1994. Introductory. $12.00 from The Supreme Council 33ø, S.J.
A history of Masonic cornerstone layings, with emphasis on the White House and the U.S. Capitol. Includes the Statue of Liberty, the B. & O. Railroad, the Erie Canal, and many, many more. Thorough illustrations, especially of Washington cornerstones.
Morris, S. Brent and Art deHoyos. Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry~ 60 pp., 1994. Introductory. $3.50 postpaid, M.S.A.
A reasoned response to recent anti-Masonic attacks on the fraternity. The authors discuss the organization of Masonry and the Albert Pike and Lucifer hoax. They also analyze the verifiably false charges of Rev. Ron Carlson and Rev. James D. Shaw.
Morris, S. Brent. Masonic Philanthropies. 100 pp., 1991. Introductory. $2.00 from The Supreme Council 33ø, S.J.
A summary of the $525 million in charitable expenditures made by American Masons in 1990, including a brief history of Freemasonry, several case histories, and a directory of Masonic philanthropies.
Museum of Our National Heritage. Masonic Symbols in American Decorative Arts. 112 pp., 1976. General. $7 from the Museum of Our National Heritage.
The catalog of a special exhibit of various art forms, including quilts, furniture, glassware, etc., decorated with Masonic symbols. Included is a listing of common Masonic symbols to help in identifying designs.
Roberts, Allen E. G. Washington: Master Mason. 222 pp., 1976, ISBN: 0-88053-()60-X. Introductory. $11.50 from Macoy.
A biography of Washington highlighting his Masonic activities.
Roberts, Allen E. Brother Trumall. 314 pp., 1976, ISBN: 0-935633-01-4. Introductory. $14.50 from Macoy.
A biography of Harry Truman highlighting his Masonic activities.
Roberts, Allen E. House Undivided. The Story of Freemasonry and the Civil War. 384 pp., 1961, ISBN: 0-88053-056-1. Advanced. $22.95 from Macoy.
A detailed history of Freemasonry during the Civil War, including lengthy quotations from state Masonic meetings in the North and South. Provides a glimpse into a little-appreciated aspect of the war.
Roberts, Allen E. Masonic Trivia and Facts. 216 pp., 1994, ISBN 0-935633-14-6. Introductory. $18.95 from MSA
A collection of 625 brief facts and trivia about Masonry, each carefully checked for accuracy. This book gives an easy-reading overview of Masonry, with tidbits about famous Masons, Masonic legends, and Masonic accomplishments.
Robinson, John J. A Pilgrim's Path. 180 PP., 1993, ISBN: 0-87131-732-X. Introductory. $17.95 from Macoy.
A personal reflection by a historian on his studies of Freemasonry, on modern anti-Masonry, and on his decision to become a Mason.
Vaughn, William P. The Anti-Masonic Party in the United States, 1826-1843. 244 PP., 1983, ISBN: 0-8131-1474-8. Advanced. $22.00 from University of Kentucky Press.
A thorough history of the first political Party to hold a national nominating convention, including state-by-state assessments of the party's power, influence, and eventual dissolution.
TEMPORARILY OUT OF PRINT
Claudy, Carl H. ed. Little Masonic Library. 5 vols. ISBN: 0-88053-005-7. General. From Macoy. Temporarily out of print. Scheduled for reprint 1995-1996. A collection of 20 short books for the specialist or Mason, including a reproduction of Andersons Constitutions of 1723, and articles on the landmarks of Freemasonry, the Morgan Affair and antiMasonry, Mormonism and Freemasonry, Freemasonry and the American Revolution, the York and Scottish Rites, and more.
Coil, Henry Wilson et al. Coil's Masonic Encyclopedia. 749 PP., 1961, ISBN: 0-88-53054-5. Introductory/General. From Macoy. Temporarily out of print. Scheduled for reprint 1995.
An extremely detailed collection of articles, brief to lengthy, which give a thorough discussion of virtually all Masonic topics. A specialized book full of historical detail. (A revised edition of Coil's Encyclopedia will be published in fall 1994.)
Denslow, Ray. V. 10,000 Famous Freemasons. 4 vols., 1,450 PP., 1961, ISBN: 0-88053-072-3. General. $29.95 from Macoy. Temporarily out of print. Scheduled for reprint 1995-1996.
This is the standard reference on well-known Freemasons, with a brief biography of each as well as their Masonic background. Masons listed include Wolfgang Mozart, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Harry Truman, Winston Churchill and 9,995 more.
The Masonic Information Center is very pleased to be able to respond to one of our most frequently asked questions:
"What Masonic books would you recommend?
We are responding to this request using the Short Talk Bulletin format. Because of its length we have gone from the usual 8 pages to 12 pages.
The list is not intended to be "all-inclusive" but rather a "suggested " list to those who would like to start a program in their local library.
We know several Grand Lodges are encouraging such programs and we would ask any Lodge considering such an undertaking to contact their Grand Lodge so as not to duplicate the effort!
With special thanks to S. Brent Morris, Masonic Author for his work preparing this Short Talk Bulletin.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014