“Your Duties, Grand Historian”.

Adam An-tAthair-Síoraí PDDGM

It’s a strange designation, Grand Historian, and one which is not easy to define as far as the Craft is concerned, but far easier when we look outside and into academia. A Historian is someone who studies history, in general or a specific period or movement, and either learns from the experience, or shares the learning through teaching and writing. In theory, then, a Grand Historian is someone who studies the history of Freemasonry, the Grand Lodge, and even individual Lodges to produce something which can be shared by all and preserved for the future. There is, however, no set definition as far as our Grand Lodge is concerned, and our history in Freemasonry is, to be honest, relatively short.This year we celebrated sixty years as a Grand Lodge, which is less than many of our Lodges might claim for their own histories. The way to Grand Lodge status in Germany has been amply recorded, by MW Bro. Jess Minton, but not in great detail, and so it is, perhaps, down to the present Grand Historians to begin the task of collecting information, memories and stories, and putting them together into a cohesive whole suitable for publication and passing on to future generations of Masons.

There is, after all, no reason why we should not be proud of our history and put it on show now and then. There is, however, a slight problem. As one of the Grand Historians, I see my task to be that of passing information on to brethren, and to the brethren of the future, in as many forms as it is possible to do. What many will not know, though, is that our Grand Lodge is missing much of its history. The archives and collection which had formed a physical memory of the past years was destroyed in a fire some time ago, and it has not been possible to replace or replenish. That is something which should change, with your help. The Archive of the Grand Lodge, its physical history as much as its present presence, needs to be rebuilt. Several brethren have already made it clear that they wish to see this happen and have pledged books and memorabilia to begin the replenishment. The few cannot hope to cover what the many have done over the years, and so it behoves all of us to see what is available, what items can be donated, pledged, and purchased to benefit the archive in its fledgling state. Older documents, records, photographs, books, and pamphlets are all welcome, along with items returned to Lodges by those who have laid down their Working Tools, odds and ends, even Masonic regalia captures moments of our shared history.
There is not, for example, a collection of all the Lodge Jewels at present. There is not a central list of all the Masters of Lodges, going back to individual Consecrations. There are no mementos of the sixty years of this Grand Lodge covering all the different stages of its growth, from the tenth anniversary to the present day, let alone that special day when our brethren travelled to Berlin and signed on to become a member of the United Grand Lodges of Germany. And there are few records showing the growth – including closures and amalgamations – of the Lodges which have formed this Grand Lodge, which make it what it is today.

Our duty, as Grand Historians, is to revitalize the memory of the past as best we can. Our hope is that you, as members of our Grand Lodge, will search through the darkest corners of attics and cellars to find those things, which were once precious, and could be so again, and that you will help us rebuild the archive, the physical history of our Grand Lodge, in any way that you can.

The rebuilding of our records and history cannot just concentrate itself with the past, but must also look into the future, and assess what the future needs of Lodges and Grand Historians may well be. To that end, as all District Deputy Grand Masters will have seen, and as all Lodges should have been informed, there is a relatively new report expected from each and every Lodge: The Annual Historical Report. With this report, the Grand Historians hope to be able to build up a living history of the Grand Lodge and each Lodge within it as that history is created, while it is still fresh in our memories. The Annual Historical Report is living history, in a manner of speaking, and will take the form of a diary or journal covering each month of the year – submitted annually by March of the following year – showing works highlights of Lodge life, charity events, publications, memorable anniversaries and achievements. Everything, in short, that a future historian – Lodge or Grand Lodge level – might need to write the history of their Lodge.

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