Skeletons in the Lodge Hall: Hidden Collections and Fraternal Curiosities

Lecture summary

Prof. Calloway’s talk will examine threatened and endangered collections of fraternal organizations. Whether lodge members are moving, closing, or downsizing their space, many collections amassed by fraternal groups are at risk of being orphaned. Fraternal history and material culture are found everywhere. It is held by private groups, archives, public and academic libraries, historical societies, and museums. But these items are at serious risk of being discarded. They are often stored in closets, basements and attics where environmental and storage conditions are abysmal. There is little or no emergency planning for these objects. Professionally trained archival, library or museum caretakers are rarely employed to manage these types of collections. Most importantly, fraternal collections are minimally funded. Without action to address these needs for collection stewardship, many are at high risk for damage or loss.

What is to be done? The lecture encourages audience members to give more thought to the effective preservation of personal and community treasures.


Heather K. Calloway is the Executive Director of University Collections at Indiana University. Previously, she spent 14 years at the headquarters of the Scottish Rite Freemasons in Washington, D.C., as the Museum Curator and Managing Director of Digital & Social Media. Under her direction, new approaches to museum tours, exhibits and collection access were instituted as a renewed public became interested in Freemasonry. She has also held the positions as the inaugural archivist for the Archives & Special Collections at Washington College, as the University Archivist for the Perdue Museum and Archives at Salisbury University, and as the Librarian/Archivist for the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C.

Calloway has a doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation is entitled “Secret Vaults of Forgotten Treasures: Freemasonry’s Collections and Material Culture in a Declining Fraternal Age.” She also holds a master’s degree in Library Science, from the University of Maryland, College Park, where she specialized in Archives and a second master’s degree in theological studies from the Iliff School of Theology (Denver, Colorado) where she concentrated studies in fraternal and religious organizations. She earned her BA at the University of New Mexico in Religious Studies and Political Science.

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Heather is a native New Mexican, born and raised in Albuquerque. She serves on the national Board of the Archives for the Episcopal Church, is a co-founder and director for the Historical Society for American Fraternalism and a board member for the J.H. Rathbone Museum and Resource Center. She is an active volunteer with Alpha Chi Omega and was awarded Outstanding Organization Advisor in 2016 and 2018.