Welcome to our interns

Since 2011, the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana has contributed more than $30,000 in college tuition payments and wages to student interns pursuing degrees in Museum Studies at IUPUI. The COVID pandemic shutdowns and restrictions this year caused some unforeseen complexities for us. However, thanks to the IU Work/Study program, we have had the good fortune to be assisted by not one, but  two talented students this fall.

Olivia Underwood is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in Museum Studies. She has been working on a variety of projects for us on the Museum side, including new label designs and signage, developing archiving solutions for some of our artifacts, updating our computer resources, and more.

Duncan Kissinger comes to us with an Associate Degree in Library Science, and he is currently attending IUPUI seeking a degree in Labor Studies. Over the years, several of our volunteers have made attempts to at least sort and organize our book collection. But thanks to Duncan’s expertise this year,  we are at last undertaking a serious effort to digitally catalog our Library collection and make it publicly searchable.

Our antique card catalog hasn’t been updated since the late 1990s, and we have had hundreds of new books donated to us since that time. As this project progresses, the ability to search for our books online will be a boon to Indiana Masons, historians, researchers,  genealogists and countless others.

Many thanks to both Olivia and Duncan! They are normally in the Museum Monday through Thursday, so if you are downtown during the week, stop in and say hello.


George Frank Sculpture Featured in April ’20 Indianapolis Monthly

As the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide shutdown rolls along, the April 2020 issue of Indianapolis Monthly magazine arrived today, featuring all of the city’s great restaurants we can’t go visit until the restrictions are lifted. Such are the odd vicissitudes of magazine deadlines closing sometimes months in advance of actual publication.

The back page of the magazine always features an unusual artifact from around the City every month. April’s artifact is none other than the Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana’s unique folk art sculpture by nineteenth century Indiana Mason George S. Frank. It is shown in a beautiful, full-page photo by Tony Valainis with a description of the piece, complete with a few words from our director Mike Brumback.

The magazine should be on news stands this week.

For more about Brother Frank’s remarkable and complex sculpture, see this much longer article HERE.

Like nearly every other facility in Indiana, we have been forced to close during the duration of the pandemic. Normally, we are open to the public. When this all passes, please do stop in and see us on the 5th floor of the Indianapolis Masonic Temple at 525 N. Illinois Street in Indianapolis.

Masonic Museum Collection Now Online

We are excited to announce a new online feature that will make the Museum more useful and accessible than ever!

While we regularly change our exhibits at the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana, it reflects only a tiny portion of our vast collection. In the years that we have been located in our present home in Indiana Freemasons Hall (and with the dedicated assistance of our IUPUI Museum Studies interns), we have been carefully cataloguing all of our various artifacts. We use a specialized program, PastPerfect Museum Software, to document and track all of our objects, whether you actually see them on display or not.

Now, through our association with Past Perfect Software, we are making it possible to view the collection online. Clicking on our ONLINE COLLECTION link will open a separate PastPerfectOnline portal that will let you access and search the photographic and written records.

Take the opportunity to browse our collection and see what surprises we have in our vaults!

Masonic Library & Museum’s New Online Digital Archive Is A Researcher’s Dream

The Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana is soon making an invaluable historical asset available to researchers everywhere.  We have completed digitally scanning all issues of the Indiana Freemason Magazine from 1923 through 2003, and are in the process of making over 30,000 pages available online through our website. Keep watching this space, as we will be publishing links to the archive here as soon as we have established a suitable search system.

During the height of its production, the Indiana Freemason was published monthly and featured articles, essays, photos, announcements of events, rule changes, transcripts of speeches, advertising, and much more.  By the 1950s under the guidance of Dwight L.  Smith, and with Wayne Guthrie (Indiana’s most popular syndicated newspaper columnist at the time), Charles R.  Brown and other major contributors, the Indiana Freemasonbecame one of the most respected, popular and informative Masonic magazines in the country, with more subscribers out of state than among Hoosier Masons themselves.  Such was its reputation and popularity that it even had a substantial number of overseas readers in an age long before the Internet permitted easy international communication.

In the years before the turn of the 21st century the magazine had several editors besides Dwight Smith, including Laurence Taylor, Doyle Oursler, Walter Worland, Alan Lisle Jr., and Roger VanGorden.  In addition to Indiana’s own Masonic authors and contributors, the Freemason published articles from some of the luminaries of the 20th century Masonic world: H. L.  Haywood, Carl Claudy, Joseph Fort Newton, Lowell Thomas,  Conrad Hahn, Alphonse Cerza, Melvin M.  Johnson, and countless others.  There are articles on history, practices, ritual, symbolism, philosophy, religion, archeology, patriotism.  And nearly every issue featured news from around the Masonic world outside of Indiana as trends and rule changes were debated throughout the fraternity.  They are a treasure trove for members researching their own lodge’s past, and they are a genealogist’s dream.

The Indiana Freemason was printed during this period at the Indiana Masonic Home, and the on-site print shop there was originally designed as a vocational training program for the boys at the Home.  The print shop was started with almost $4,000 (equivalent to nearly $60,000 today) in donations from Mystic Tie Lodge 398 in Indianapolis. The boys learned a trade, and the fraternity got a tremendous resource in return.  By the 1950s, the print shop was staffed with paid employees, and it was a major operation that cranked out not just the magazine each month, but reams of books, pamphlets, forms, reports, stationary, and other paperwork that served the 185,000 Masons of Indiana at its height.

In addition to the Freemason magazine collection, we have also scanned several individual histories of lodges from the Library’s collection.  These include: Warren 15; Terre Haute 19; Webb 24; Clinton 54; New Castle 81; Richmond 196; Lessing 464; Tippecanoe 492; Garfield 569; West Lafayette 742; and Tell City 823.  These make up a fraction of our archive of lodge histories. In the course of preparing this massive scanning job, we have also uncovered several unpublished manuscripts of major importance to Indiana’s Masonic researchers and other historians, and we look forward to there being enough interest from readers in continuing this process.   We are also hoping to permit the future online exploration of our objects in the Museum’s extensive collection. With this in mind, we are pursuing a partnership with the Indiana State Library and their Indiana Memory database to reach a wider audience, and to ensure the long-term online presence of this material in the ever-shifting Internet landscape.

Finally, Dwight Smith’s 1968 Grand Lodge history, Goodly Heritage, is now available online for the first time, and will be obtainable as a print-on-demand traditional book, as well.  Smith’s indispensible volume has not been available in print or online since it sold out in the 1970s, and every Indiana Mason should have ready access to it.  Be sure to keep checking in with our website as we update access information throughout the fall.

This mountain of Masonic education and history available online will be an indispensible resource for Masons and non-Masonic historians, academic researchers and genealogists.  It was made possible in part by donations from lodges and individual Masons all over Indiana.  Brethren have made both large and small donations to the MLMI this year, and we are deeply appreciative of everyone’s support.  We would like to take this opportunity to especially thank the Prather York Rite bodies for their generous contribution in May.

When you are in Indianapolis, be sure to stop in and visit the Masonic Library and Museum in person on the 5th floor of the Grand Lodge’s headquarters in the Indianapolis Masonic Temple. We are open to the public, and our exhibits are always changing.  Also, we are always in need of volunteers to act as guides to expand our hours, as well as to assist with projects.  For more information about accessing the MLMI collection and our growing list of online resources, be sure to check the MLMI website at www.mlmindiana.org and also follow our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mlmindy


Saturday hours through March 24, 2018

The Library and Museum will be open on Saturdays from now through March 24, 2018, without need for an appointment.

(One exception:  The L&M will NOT be open on Saturday, February 10.)

The hours will be 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM.

Please plan to visit us to see our various special exhibits during this 200th Anniversary year of the Grand Lodge of Indiana, F&AM.  These exhibits include the George Washington Masonic Bible, on loan to the L&M from Fredericksburg (Virginia) Lodge #4, AF&AM, which will be in the museum only through February 22.


Back on the air

The Indiana Masonic Library and Museum website is back on the air, but currently under reconstruction.  Please pardon our dust as we start to provide a quality website for the edification of Freemasons (both in Indiana and in the world at large) and of the general public.