The Badge of a Freemason: New Stories from Old Aprons

Dr. Aimee E. Newell
Aimee E. Newell is the Executive Director at the Luzerne County Historical Society in Wilkes- Barre, Penn. For 10 years she was the Curator and Director of Collections at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington, Mass. She has also worked at Old Sturbridge Village and the Nantucket Historical Association. She holds a PhD. in History from the University of
Massachusetts – Amherst, an MA in History from Northeastern University and a BA in American Studies from Amherst College. Newell is the current president of the Masonic Library and Museum Association. She is the co-author of Curiosities of the Craft: Treasures from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Collection and the author of The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. She co-curated the 2016 exhibition, “Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection,” at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. She has written and spoken widely about Freemasonry and fraternalism.

Lecture summary
Called the “badge of a Freemason” in Masonic ritual, the fraternity’s apron was adapted from the protective aprons worn by working stonemasons during the 1600s and 1700s. Over the next 200 hundred years, Masonic aprons evolved in shape and style, with influence from men’s fashions and decorative preferences. This talk will highlight several examples of American aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection, exploring the stories of their makers and users. By looking at early aprons, we find patterns and trends in their use and design that not only differ from today, but teach us new things about Freemasonry of the past.