American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities

Overview

With over four million members worldwide, and two million in the U.S., Freemasonry is the largest fraternal organization in the world. Published in conjunction with the National Heritage Museum, this extravagantly illustrated volume offers an overview of Freemasonry's origins in seventeenth-century Scotland and England before exploring its evolving role in American history, from the Revolution through the labor and civil rights movements, and into the twenty-first century. American Freemasons explores some of the...

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Overview

With over four million members worldwide, and two million in the U.S., Freemasonry is the largest fraternal organization in the world. Published in conjunction with the National Heritage Museum, this extravagantly illustrated volume offers an overview of Freemasonry's origins in seventeenth-century Scotland and England before exploring its evolving role in American history, from the Revolution through the labor and civil rights movements, and into the twenty-first century. American Freemasons explores some of the causes for the rise and fall of membership in the fraternity and why it has attracted men in such large numbers for centuries.

American Freemasons is the perfect introduction to understanding a society that, while shrouded in mystery, has played an integral role in the lives and communities of millions of Americans.

Copublished with the National Heritage Museum

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814782927
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2005
  • Pages: 262
  • Product dimensions: 8.38 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark A. Tabbert is Director of Collections at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia and the former Curator of Masonic and Fraternal Collections at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts. His work has appeared in The Northern Light, Heredom, and American Studies.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Enlightenment : Freemasonry in Britain and Europe, 1600-1800 16
Ch. 2 Peaceable citizens : Freemasonry in colonial and revolutionary America, 1730-1800 33
Ch. 3 Act honorably : Freemasonry and Federalist America, 1800-1835 48
Ch. 4 The foundation of every virtue : Masonic self-improvement, 1835-1870 68
Ch. 5 Safely lodged : secret rituals and Freemasonry, 1870-1900 85
Ch. 6 Relieve the distressed : mutual benefit in the Industrial Age, 1870-1900 104
Ch. 7 From labor to refreshment : fraternal fun, 1880-1910 122
Ch. 8 Powers and properties of magnitudes : tensions in the lodge, 1900-1920 138
Ch. 9 Plain dealing : the Rotarian Age and Freemasonry's new personality, 1920-1941 158
Ch. 10 One family : the Masonic good life, 1942-1965 179
Ch. 11 They are all exhausted : Freemasons' service for new communities, 1966-2000 198
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2005

    Review by an academic historian and non-Mason: a highly valuable survey

    This book, written by a thoughtful, knowledgeable and sensitive Freemason, offers the best recent overview of the fraternity's history in the United States. Its magnificent illustrations alone, covering all aspects of the organization's history, make this volume extremely valuable to any student of the subject. Equally noteworthy is how well balanced and historically informed Mark Tabbert's account is, given that its chief purpose is to introduce non-Masons to the fraternity. One learns, for example, how Masonic universalism helped bring men of different classes and backgrounds together in mutual support and yet how white Freemasons could still draw the line at the acceptance of African American members (or even the recognition of black Masonic legitimacy) until just the very recent past. It is particularly to the author's credit that he includes the evolution of African American (Prince Hall) Masonry as a central part of his story, along with the spread of Masonry to women and young people. Throughout the book, the author draws on most of the best historical scholarship about the brotherhood to be produced in recent decades both in the universities and in the fraternity itself. Mark Tabbert's book will also prove stimulating to all those, both in the fratenity and outside it, who believe that many of the most important historical questions about Freemasonry have not yet been answered. How exactly has this very private institution served as a foundation for American public life? Did the enormous expansion of the fraternity between 1900 and 1960 mark the success or the dilution of its mission? Is the long trajectory of Masonic history better understood by the model of a voluntary association or a religious denomination? Readers will find plenty of evidence in this fine book to begin to suggest answers to these and other questions about one of America's most popular and yet still most mysterious institutions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommend for any Fraternal Organization

    This book has history on not only the Freemasons, but the Moose, Elks, Odd Fellows, etc. I shared my new found knowledge with a jeweler who benefitted from the insight as well. This is an important read for anyone interested in American history.

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  • Posted December 4, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A Pleasure to Read

    This book was an excellent read and was difficult to put down. Intriguing view of history of the organization as well as many other organizations such as Rotary, Elks, etc. It definitely answered many questions I had regarding Freemasonry and is written in layman terms so those without knowledge of Freemasonry going in can grasp the subject matter fairly easily.<BR/><BR/>I did detect a slight bit of bias, but then again every author has some bias based upon experience and beliefs. However, the book provides so many references that I would have difficulty doubting the credibility. The book also provides beautiful illustrations that accent the points in the text.<BR/><BR/>My recommendation is to purchase the hardcover as this book is a beautiful bookshelf reference. Whether you are interested in the organization or just a history buff I highly recommend this work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2005

    Freemasonry without the mumbo-jumbo

    Mr. Tabbert has succeeded in showing how Freemasonry played an important role in the growth of the United States, without resorting to the mumbo-jumbo found recently in the popular press and movies. Anyone who is sincerely interested in the history of the US should study this book to help them appreciate the role of Freemasonry and other fraternal organizations in the development of American communities. Even Masons are tempted to believe some of the excessive glorification and obfuscation of their own fraternity, so this would also be a valuable gift for presentation to new members.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2010

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