W

hatrunsthroughyourmind

whenyouputonyourMa-

sonicapron?Doyouremem-

berthefirsttimeyouworeit?Orper-

hapsyouthinkoftheteachingsofyour

degreerituals?

Haveyoueverconsideredthehistory

ofMasonicaprons–howtheywere

madepriortosewingmachinesorhow

thesymbolsanddesignsevolved?

AmongallMasonicsymbols,toout-

sidersthemostrecognizableisthe

apron.

ImagesofMasonsfromthelate1700s

throughthepresentdayareinstantly

identifiablewhentheyshowaman

wearinghisapron,whetheritisGeorge

WashingtonoracurrentMaster.

Whiletheideaofamanwearingan

apronseemsoddtomany,Masonic

apronsextendfromalongEuropean

traditionoftradesmendonninga

leatheraprontoprotecttheirclothing

andtheirbodiesastheyworked.

OpeningJune30,attheNationalHer-

itageMuseum’sVanGorden-Williams

LibraryandArchives,thenewexhibi-

tion,“UnlockingtheCode:Masonicand

FraternalAprons,”willfeatureaselec-

tionofapronsfromthemuseum’spre-

eminentcollectioninordertoexplore

theirhistoryanddesign.

Withover400aprons,theNational

HeritageMuseumhasgatheredthebest

collectioninthecountry.

Inaddition,themuseumisthecur-

renthomeoftheaproncollectionfrom

theGrandLodgeofMasonsinMassa-

chusetts,withhundredsofapronsofits

own.Thesecombinedcollectionsform

anunparalleledresource.

Theapronsspantheglobe,aswellas

thecenturies,andhavemanylessonsto

teachaboutMasonichistoryandtradi-

tion,Americanhistoryandculture,and

personalstories.

AHistoryofMasonicTraditions

Aplainwhiteapronwithasimple

purple(orblue)borderresembles

countlessMasonicapronsusedforcen-

turiesinAmericanlodges.

However,onethatisnowpartofthe

GrandLodgeofMassachusettscollec-

tionismadespecialbythehandwritten

cardattachedalongthebottom.

Thesignatureiseasytomakeout,

“TheodoreRoosevelt.”Andatthetop

rightcornerarethewords,“TheWhite

House/Washington.”

Thehandwrittenlinesalongthebot-

tomtellastory:“Apronwornbythe

PresidentatthelayingoftheCorner

StoneofthePilgrimMemorialMonu-

mentatProvincetown,Aug.20.1907.”

Thisonesimpleobjectpreservesin-

formationaboutU.S.President

TheodoreRoosevelt,AmericanFreema-

sonry,localhistoryandevenearly1900s

apronproduction—ithasamaker’s

4

THENORTHERNLIGHT/MAY2007

Unlocking

The

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O

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D

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E

ByAIMEEE.NEWELL

Masonicandfraternalaprons

havemoremeaningthanmeetstheeye

AIMEEE.NEWELL,istheCuratorofCollections,NationalHeritage
MuseumatSupremeCouncilheadquartersinLexington,MA.

MasonicapronwornbyTheodoreRooseveltatthecornerstonelaying

oftheProvincetownPilgrimMonument,August20,1907,

madebyMissRoseLipp,Boston,Massachusetts.

LoanedbytheGrandLodgeofMasonsinMassachusetts.