Some say that history is written by the victors. Triumphs are in fact triumphant, and losses are only momentary set backs in a progressive path to the eventual story that you read in the history books.
But at times some histories run concurrently with others, and that there isn’t really a victor or vanquished, but instead parallel paths that points merge and blend together. Freemasonry, it would seem, is just one of these histories where its various paths of existence seem to weave in and out of society and with other branches of itself.
For many years the fraternity has sprouted its own cadre of story tellers, its own historians. From Anderson’s early mythologies of Freemasonry’s existence, to Yarker and Pike to name but a few, none have ever really stepped out of the box to understand the intricate workings as it relates to society. Robinson has done some justice, as has Ridley in his work, but neither brought the study of the Freemasons out of the realm of the speculative and in to academia, at least not in any meaningful way.
It wasn’t until about a decade or so ago that the study of Freemasonry took on a more meaningful study, where today the craft stands at a turning point in the broader study of civil society. And, at the helm of that ship is the scholarship of Dr. Margaret Jacob.
Masonry still has its arm chair and library historians, but Dr. Jacob has elevated the speculative history of our gentle craft to the hallowed halls of the university, and its from this study that our understanding of the fraternity today has far exceeding beyond what our understanding was of it before.
On Sunday, March 15, 2009, Dr. Margaret Jacob, the distinguished professor of History at UCLA, sat down with Masonic Central to discuss her academic study of Freemasonry, as recorded in her books: The Origins of Freemasonry: Facts and Fictions, Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Europe, and The Radical Enlightenment – Pantheists, Freemasons and Republicans.
Additional topics to include: the Paradox of Masonic Secrecy in the 18th Century, Freemasonry in academia, and the role that Freemasonry occupies in the broader study of Civil Society.
It was a very interesting evening of discussion with the pre-eminent scholar of American and European Freemasonry.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Professor Jacob, or have heard said that you should, this is the program for you. Dr. Jacob has a unique unbiased insight to our Masonic institution as her academic endeavors come from outside of the fraternity, rather than the inside.