Spring/Summer 2012 | Scottish rite masonic museum & library

L

ast spring, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum  
& Library received an American Heritage Preser-
vation grant of almost $3,000 from the Institute   
of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to sup-

port conservation treatment and archival storage housing 
for three fraternal banners in the collection. The Museum 
was one of only four institutions in Massachusetts to  
receive an award.
 By 1900, over 250 fraternal groups existed in the United 
States, numbering six million members. Banners were an 
important component of American fraternal activities. These 
colorful textiles were used inside lodges and also in public 
parades and at cornerstone layings and other ceremonies.  
Photographs and prints from the Museum’s collection show 
us just how widespread the use of these banners was. The 
banners that were treated are all double-sided, allowing 
their respective groups to advertise themselves to audiences 
in front of and behind them during parades and processions.  
 Two of the banners covered by the grant are from the 
Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A., the 
Museum’s parent organization. The third banner was origi-
nally used by the fraternal group, the Journeymen Stone-
cutters Association. The oldest active union in the United 
States, the group formally organized in 1853. Members 
were (and are) working stone cutters and carvers. This   
particular banner was used by the branch in Wilkes-Barre, 
Pennsylvania.  
 One of the Scottish Rite banners (seen here) received 
much-needed conservation treatment, which was performed 
by Windsor Conservation of Dover, Massachusetts. The 
banner was cleaned and the most critical structural damage 
was stabilized. Detached fringe trimming on the edges and 
the detached valance at the top were re-attached. The ban-
ner’s decorative tassels were also repaired and stabilized.
 The second Scottish Rite banner and the Journeymen 
Stonecutters banner—both of which show significant areas 
of split silk, which could only be treated at great cost—have 
been rehoused in specially-fabricated archival boxes. This 
archival storage treatment provides a preventive measure  
for the banners, which were previously stored uncovered on 
large, heavy pieces of plastic. The banners are now tacked 
to a padded fabric-covered board that can be used safely  
for occasional display and for handling. The new storage 
boxes protect the banners from light damage and the added 
resting boards prevent the need to move the banners from 
one flat surface to another, cutting down on the risk of  
further damage.  

Scottish rite banner (front and back), 1890–1930, after treatment.

american. Scottish rite masonic museum and Library, gift of the  

Supreme Council, 33º, ancient accepted Scottish rite, northern  

masonic Jurisdiction, u.S.a., 2011.017. 

PhotogrAPh by WiNDsor CoNsErvAtioN

MuseuM AwArded 

 

American Heritage Preservation Grant