The State Library is fortunate to hold a significant collection of records documenting Freemason history in Western Australia.
Freemasonry is an ancient fraternal organisation that has its origins in medieval craft guilds. Members are known as Masons or Freemasons. Freemasonry… “works towards this lofty ideal by providing its members with an ethic for living and teaches honesty in business, courtesy towards others, dependability in work, compassion and concern for the less fortunate, tolerance towards one’s fellow beings, resistance to evil, help for the weak, and love for one another and reverence for a Supreme Being.”1
Freemasons are organised into lodges that may have general membership or be based on a particular occupation such as law or a traditional craft. There is usually regional leadership in the form of a grand lodge or other such organisation. Members pass through various degrees of Masonry which may vary from lodge to lodge. Many prominent citizens were members of the Freemason fraternity.
In Western Australia newly arrived immigrants who were Freemasons often joined a local lodge where they would receive support and opportunity for friendship and involvement in the local community. Local men might also join for the same reasons. You are unlikely to find Roman Catholic members in early Western Australian lodges.
Our collections include records of the various lodges which make up the Freemasons Grand Lodge of Western Australia. The records include attendance books, clearance books, declaration books, minute books, certificates, histories, lists of members, ledgers, nomination forms, registers, etc.
Names of lodges may reflect the interests or nationality of original members or an occupation. Western Australian examples include:
Commercial Travellers’ Lodge, Temperance Lodge, Lodge of Sportsmen, Lodge Robbie Burns, Lodge of Loyalty, Lodge of Fidelity, Military Lodge, Lodge of Resolution, Black Diamond Lodge (Collie), Lodge of Serenity, Naval Lodge, Lodge of Faith, Lodge of Peace, Sir Walter Scott Masonic Lodge, Lodge of Harmony, Lodge of Emulation, Caxton Lodge (printing industry – Subiaco), Lodge of Remembrance, Lord Nelson Lodge and Lodge of St Andrew.
Registers of members may include the name of member, former lodge if any, town of residence, occupation, date of joining, and date that membership ceased. Sometimes there is a note of the death of a member or an indication of where the member is heading off to. Some registers start quite early. Geraldton Lodge was consecrated in 1877 and members are listed in the register from that date. Professions listed in this register include: police Inspector, publican, merchant, squatter, clerk, banker, carpenter, chemist, farmer, builder, station-master, draughtsman, miner, doctor, butcher, school teacher, solicitor, steamer purser, miller, and steamer steward. Quite a cross-section of the local community!
Early registers, declaration books, or attendance books include:
Fremantle Declaration Books 1866- ; Fremantle Registers 1900- ; King Edward (Perth) 1904- ; Roebuck 1902- ; Jarrahdale 1913- ; Queen Victoria (Perth, Western suburbs) 1901- ; Alma (North Perth) 1904- ; Lodge of Unity (Inglewood, Attendance Books) 1892- ; Abercorn Lodge (Leederville) 1897- ; Lodge Friendship (Midland) 1897- ; Perth Declaration Books 1899-.
Norseman 1897- ; Geraldton Lodge 1877- ; Murchison Lodge 1897- ; Katanning 1898- ; Jarrahdale (Declaration Books) 1901-; Gascoyne Lodge (Carnarvon) 1903- ; Boulder (Declaration Books) 1904-.
See below for links to full lists of State Library holdings by name of lodge or location.
Along with the standard registers, declaration books and minute books there are many items of ephemera including calls to meetings, invitations to events, cards, beautifully ornate certificates, souvenir programmes and menus. We even hold several items of music relating to Freemasonry in Western Australia.
Many photographs of individuals, and groups and events may also be found within the State Library’s collections. Photographs of lodges indicate that many were purpose-built, architecturally designed brick and tile buildings.
Hay Street west from Pier Street showing the Mechanics’ Institute, Freemason’s Lodge and Perth Town Hall 1868 009245d
Masonic lodge and hall, Busselton 2012 b3598990
Freemasons’ Hall Subiaco 1927 Richard Woldendorp 216376PD
The Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Western Australia of Antient, Free and Accepted Masons is held from 1900-. There are gaps in the Library’s holdings.
The Journal of the Freemasons, the WA Craftsman is partially indexed in our catalogue. Individual members are often profiled and there are many obituaries as well as news of the craft. The title varies and there are gaps in our holdings but the journal starts in 1898.
As well as Masonic news the journals have a variety of advertisements for metropolitan and regional retailers and other business services.
The subscription database Ancestry has recently published membership registers from the All England, United Grand Lodge, 1751-1921. Most registers in this collection are from lodges in England, however, copies of registers from lodges in Wales, Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, India, West Indies and South Africa are also listed.
Perth, Fremantle, Toodyay, Bunbury, York, Murchison, Kalgoorlie, Helena Vale and Albany are just some of those available.
Ancestry [library edition] is available free of charge at the State Library and at most public libraries in Western Australia.
For books about Freemasonry in Western Australia search the State Library catalogue under the subject FREEMASONRY WESTERN AUSTRALIA.
For the journals of Freemasonry in WA search the catalogue under the subject FREEMASONS WESTERN AUSTRALIA PERIODICALS
For items of music relating to Freemasonry search the catalogue under the subject FREEMASONS SONGS AND MUSIC
Lists of lodges by name, number and location with links to State Library holdings for each may be found here.
1 Western Australian Freemasons www.freemasonswa.org.au