Davis, Roy collection of African American masonic programs Guide to the Roy Davis collection of Afican American masonic programs MSS 16493

Guide to the Roy Davis collection of Afican American masonic programs MSS 16493


Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia 22904-4110
URL: https://small.library.virginia.edu/

Initial record created by Rose Oliveira.

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
MSS 16493
Roy Davis collection of African American masonic programs 1960-1981
.5 Cubic Feet, 1 legal document box , programs
Condition Description
Prince Hall Conference of Grand Masters, Inc.
Davis, Roy
English .

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

On March 6, 1775, Prince Hall and 14 freed men of color (Cyrus Forbes; Bristol Stenzer; Thomas Sanderson; Prince Taylor; Cato Gardner; Boston Smith; Peter Best; Fortune Howard; Prince Reed; John Carter; Peter Freeman; Benjamin Tyler; Cuff Bufform; and Richard Tilledge) were denied membership into the White Freemasons of Massachusetts (located in Boston) and they petitioned to the Grand Lodge of England for their own charter, which they received on September 29, 1784. It marked the first time that African American men were made freemasons in America. This occurred during a time when African Americans needed a means by which to advance the cause of equality. Boston was a major port for selling enslaved persons in the North. The Colonies enacted Black Codes, curtailing the movements of Black people, both free and enslaved.Prince Hall looked to the Fraternal Order of Free and Accepted Masons because the chief purpose of Freemasonry is benevolence and charity to all mankind. In 1791, Worshipful Master Prince Hall was appointed a Provincial Grand Master of the first Black Provincial Grand Lodge.

In December 1808, one year after the death of Prince Hall, African Lodge #459 (Boston), African Lodge #459 (Philadelphia) and Hiram Lodge #3 (Providence) merged into African Grand Lodge #1. In 1847, out of respect for their founding father and first Grand Master, Prince Hall, they changed their name to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, the name it carries today. In 1848 Union Lodge #2, Rising Sons of St. John #3 and Celestial Lodge #4 became the first lodges organized under the name Prince Hall Grand Lodge.

Prince Hall Freemasons have split into two organizations. The original Prince Hall Freemasons follow a National Grand Lodge order and the majority of Prince Hall Freemasons left in 1863 to become the Prince Hall Affiliates who follow a state jurisdiction. There is also controversy about the segregation of Freemasonry. Some Prince Hall Freemasons believe segregation offers unity and advancement for African American Freemasons while others want one integrated freemasonry.Today, the Prince Hall Masonic Order (Affiliates) spans across all 50 states in the U.S. as well as Lodges in Canada, the West Indies, the Bahamas, Europe, and Asia. There are over 250,000 Prince Hall Masons worldwide, working in more than 5,000 Lodges that can trace their roots to Prince Hall Lodge #459.

References Wesley, Charles Harris, Dr., "Historic Record," Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Free and Accepted Masons of Texas and Jurisdiction website,First Edition Prince Hall Masonic Directory, March 20, 1981 https://www.mwphglotx.org/about-freemasonry/who-was-prince-hall/

Miller, Yawu, "Black Masons owe lineage to 18th century Boston pioneer Prince Hall" The Bay State Banner, Boston, Massachusetts, February 8th, 2017 https://www.baystatebanner.com/2017/02/08/black-masons-owe-lineage-to-18th-century-boston-pioneer-prince-hall/

Swanson, Abigail, "Prince Hall Masons(1784-)" Blackpast website,Seattle, Washington, January 2, 2012 https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/prince-hall-masons-1784/

Biagetti, Samuel, "The Masons Are Still Segregated?"KB Killing The Buddha, October 2, 2009 https://killingthebuddha.com/ktblog/the-masons-are-still-segregated/

Hodapp, Christopher, "The Great Debate Within African American Freemasonry" Freemasons For Dummies, June 15, 2009. https://freemasonsfordummies.blogspot.com/2009/06/great-debate-within-african-american.html

Content Description

This collection contains thirty-two programs of Masonic related events. Twenty-seven are souvenir programs from African American Masonic meetings and events belonging to Roy Davis, a resident of Norwalk, Connecticut who was active in the Prince Hall Grand Chapter of New England. In addition to these are five programs for miscellaneous African American society events in the Northeast. Most of the programs were for events taking place in Connecticut between the late 1960s and early 1980s. There are also programs for the Order of the Eastern Star and the "National Council of Negro Women" that are for women who want to join the masons.

Under the external documents, a spreadsheet is available with an inventory of the masonic programs.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

  • African American Freemasons
  • African American fraternal organizations
  • African American freemasons -- Connecticut
  • Davis, Roy