New Exhibit: Baseball Legend and Indiana Mason Carl Erskine

The Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana is proud to feature a new exhibit about an Indiana Mason who is truly a living legend in the world of baseball.  Brother Carl Erskine was a pitcher for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers between 1948 and 1959.  In the 1950s, there were only seven no-hitter games in the National League, and Brother Carl pitched two of them.  In the 1953 season he  won twenty games and made history during the World Series by striking out fourteen Yankee hitters in a single game, a record that would stand for ten years.  Before retiring from baseball in 1959, Carl’s career included 122 wins, a World Series title, and two no-hitters.

Carl was born in Anderson, Indiana in 1926, where he still lives today.  Growing up in Anderson, Carl wasn’t the only future professional sports figure in town.

His was a racially mixed neighborhood, and his childhood friend Johnny Wilson would later be known as Jumpin’ Johnny Wilson of the Harlem Globetrotters.

While playing for the Dodgers, Carl was a teammate with Jackie Robinson, the first baseball player to break the color barrier in 1947.  When Robinson asked Carl why he had no problem with the “white and black thing,” Carl simply answered, “Johnny Wilson.”  The two men remained close friends in Anderson until Wilson’s death last year.

Following his baseball career, Carl became an admired leader in his hometown community.  He coached baseball at Anderson College for 12 years, served as President of Star Bank, and was active in numerous community organizations.  Brother Carl joined Fellowship Lodge 681 in Anderson at the height of his most successful year of 1953.  To this day he believes that Masonic principles help men become builders by building values in their life, “because without discipline, you hardly have control of your life.”

In researching our exhibit, Director Mike Brumback, PGM, and our IUPUI Museum Studies intern Eldon Yeakel visited him at his home.  Eldon was especially enthusiastic about creating this exhibit, as he previously interned at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

A Rare Find

Brother Bruce Crouch was exploring the former site of John Bigger’s Trading Post in Ellettsville, Indiana (Monroe County) and discovered this unusual Masonic relic.

It is a bronze suspender buckle featuring a Masonic square and compass,  patented in 1872 by inventor J. O. West.

According to Brother Crouch, the land was deeded to John Bigger in 1814 by the government while still part of the Indiana Territory. It remained a trading post for many years, with evidence of activity left by Indians, settlers and the military. By the 1860s, it had become a farm, but the house that stood there was gone by the early 1900s. The property is now owned by the town of Ellettsville, but Bruce is still trying to find the name of the owner in the 1870s so we can determine his Masonic record.

Bruce has graciously donated the buckle to the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana.

‘Morgan’s Raiders’ Jewels Returned!

The silver Masonic officers jewels stolen by Morgan’s Raiders from Versailles Lodge have been returned!

Well, that sounds a bit hyperbolic. They’ve actually been brought back to the Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana by the members of Versailles Lodge, who are once again loaning us their treasured artifact of the Civil War period for a brief time.

If you missed seeing them on display last year, be sure to stop by the Museum and take this opportunity now.

And if you don’t know the story of Morgan and his infamous raid across southern Indiana during the Civil War, or how and why these silver jewels were seized and returned, read about it here.

‘Indiana Freemason Magazine’ Collection Joins the Indiana Memory Project

The Masonic Library and Museum of Indiana,  in conjunction with the Indiana State Library, is now making available the complete collection of the Indiana Freemason Magazine from 1923 – 2003 for online access, as part of Indiana Memory Project.

The magazine was originally created as the official publication of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the State of Indiana in 1923 as a project of the in-house print shop within the Indiana Masonic Home in Franklin. That professional printing facility was established partially as a vocational training program for some of the eventual 860 orphans of Freemasons who lived at the Home until 1975.

This searchable online collection of more than 39,000 pages will be a treasure trove for historians, genealogists and other historical researchers, and includes historical articles, photographs, current events, lists of lodges, plus Masonic members and officers involved in countless activities, and even advertising of businesses of the 20th century across Indiana.

The Indiana Freemason had several editors over the decades, but was especially dominated after WWII by noted Masonic historian, author, Past Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary, Dwight L. Smith.

Also included in the collection are approximately 900 pages of a selected number of local Masonic lodge histories from across the state, which were assembled around 1968. These frequently contain historical lists of former members and officers, along with telling the stories of lodges with their communities.

The entire Grand Lodge of Indiana Collection can be accessed at the Indiana Memory Project website or by a link from the www.mlmindiana.org website.

MLMI Open During Grand Lodge 2019 Annual Communication

The Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana will be open during both days of the Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana’s Annual Communication, Tuesday and Wednesday, May 21-22, 2019. Indiana Freemasons Hall will open at 7AM, and while breakfast will not be served either day this year, we will have coffee and donuts available. Visit us on the 5th Floor of the Temple at 525 North Illinois Street, just south of the Cathedral.
 
On Wednesday, we will remain open after the officers’ installation and official close of the Annual Communication, expected to be at noon (there is no lunch served on Wednesday, but the Double Eagle Cafe will be open).
 
The Dwight L. Smith Lodge of Research UD will hold their May meeting on the 5th floor approximately one hour after the communication ends Wednesday, opening lodge at 1PM. Author Christopher Hodapp (Heritage Endures) will be presenting a paper, ‘In Search of the Lost Grand Master – Alexander Buckner,’ bringing to light much that has not been known about Indiana’s first Grand Master, who fled the state for Missouri just seven months into his term in 1818. In recent months, WB Hodapp has discovered what may be the only known surviving artifact that was associated with Buckner and Masonry – from his new lodge in Birdstown, Missouri, granted an Indiana dispensation in 1819 before statehood there was declared. Hodapp will trace Buckner’s trail, the duel that may have driven him from the Hoosier state, the lodge that was important to two different states, and the mystery of his roaming remains after his death in 1833.
The Library & Museum will remain open after the DLS meeting for Masons and visitors. Come see our new exhibits and changes!

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!

New in the Library – MSA Short Talk Bulletin Collection

The Masonic library and Museum of Indiana has just acquired a new six-volume collection of the Masonic Service Association’s Short Talk Bulletins.

The MSA has published a Short Talk Bulletin virtually every month since 1923. They were conceived in pre-internet days as a partial answer to the howls from Masons back in the 1920s and before—right up to today—who begged for Masonic education at their lodge meetings. If Masons wouldn’t do research themselves, and grand lodges published lousy newsletters and magazines, so the thinking went, at the very least the little STB always offered a monthly dose of ready made, discussion-provoking material. Today, the entire set is a treasure trove of knowledge on hundreds of topics, presented in more than 1,000 concise articles.

Our old collection of the original STBs was incomplete and hadn’t been updated in over a decade. Additionally, they took up three sets of shelves and were not indexed. The entire collection through 2016 has been freshly edited, typeset, and indexed by S. Brent Morris, editor of the Scottish Rite Journal. This makes them far more useful and accessible than ever before.

Elevator service restored to Freemasons’ Hall

Both of the elevators in the Indianapolis Masonic Temple are now fully operational, and the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana is once again accessible to anyone unable to use the steps. We apologize to anyone who was inconvenienced by the service interruption or prevented from visiting, and we hope you will visit us soon.

Year End Improvements at MLMI

Just 24 short days left in the Bicentennial year of Indiana Freemasonry!

As the year winds down and the holidays are upon us, the Library & Museum is making some final display arrangements for a new exhibit for next year’s Founders Day on January 12th. We will be debuting an incredible, one of a kind artifact from the Civil War period that is unlike any Masonic item you have ever encountered. Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement!

Meanwhile, we have just added some welcome new lighting to our display and reading areas, making it more conducive to actually reading the books and documents in the collection while visiting and working the Library.

The Library & Museum will have very limited availability between now and Founders Day due to school hiatus of our intern Cody Hudson and members of our Board being out of town. Please contact us for access.

Thanks to Barry B. L. White

We’d like to thank Barry B. L. White for his recent contributions at the Masonic Library & Museum of Indiana over the last few months.  Dwight L. Smith’s enormous collection of photographs from the Indiana Freemason magazine archives and his personal files have needed organization and cataloguing for many years. Barry has been in the process of identifying and creating a master list of the hundreds of photos, and sorting the rows of filing cabinets. Thanks to his work, Smith’s files today are more accessible to researchers than ever before.

 

 

In addition, Barry has donated copies of two books of Indiana Masonic history:

Hartsville Lodge No. 547:  From the Past To the Future

 

 

Steadfast Roots: A History of Freemasonry in Bartholomew County 

 

Brother Barry B. L. White has been extraordinarily busy these past 16 years since he was raised a Master Mason in Hartsville Lodge No. 547, and it doesn’t appear that he intends to slow down.   He holds plural memberships in Camon Lodge No. 343 and Hope Lodge No. 150.

For several years he served as Lodge Secretary for Hope Lodge No. 150, Camon Lodge No. 343 and Hartsville Lodge No. 547 at the same time.   During this same period, he also served as acting Secretary of High Point Lodge No. 755, prior to the consolidation.   He has also served the Grand Lodge as an Area Representative.  His two honorary memberships in St. Johns Lodge No. 20 and Nashville Lodge No. 135 are in appreciation of his help and support of these Lodges over the years.

In addition to his history books, Brother White has written several training books, one for Secretaries and one for Lodge Officers, and is currently doing research for three additional books.   The quarterly newsletter for Bartholomew County Lodges was his creation along with starting the Bartholomew County Past Masters Association.

Currently Brother White is developing a Masonic scavenger hunt and Masonic trading cards to use to improve attendance at stated meetings and Lodge work as well as bring the Bartholomew County Lodges closer together.

For his boundless dedication to Indiana Freemasonry, he was awarded the Order of Service to Masonry by the Grand Lodge F&AM of Indiana in May 2018.