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Building a Brotherhood: Freemasons in Central Illinois

Exhibit opening: "Building a Brotherhood: Freemasons in Central Illinois" On view at Booth Library on Eastern Illinois Universities campus November 28, 2012 through January 18, 2013 Opening reception, November 28, 4:30-6:00 p.m., West Reading Room, Booth Library

"Building a Brotherhood" focuses on freemasonry in Central Illinois after World War II. Men established local masonic lodges as one of the first steps in establishing a community. Members were often community leaders, businessmen and progressives concerned about economic stability and personal health and security. They joined for various reasons including family involvement, the spirit of giving and the high moral standard associated with being a masons. Membership grew quickly after World War II, but critics of freemasonry exaggerated the fraternity's secretiveness and linked this to subversive behavior. Several things led to a downturn in membership during the 1960's as the counter culture movement challenged the tradition of belonging.

Students enrolled in HIS 4930: Public History-Meaning & Method have researched, designed and installed this exhibit with the help of several Illinois masons including Michael Shirley, Department of History, Eastern Illinois University; Noel Dicks, Arthur; Frank Lincoln, Tuscola; Todd Creason, Fithian; Marc Wilson, Springfield; and William Jones, Villa Grove. Come meet the students and learn more about the history of freemasonry from those who have experienced it since the mid-1940s.

For more information contact Debra A. Reid, Department of History, Eastern Illinois University, 217-581-7272;