Toronto Society for Masonic Research

Women and Freemasonry Reading List

1. Reports


Report to the MW Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of South Australia & Northern Territory

[The report will remain unreadable until permission is obtained to post it here. Please contact the GL SA&NT meanwhile.]

[Excerpts follow]

Positives include extolling freedom of speech, equality, democracy, peace, education and morality. Negatives, arising from [Freemasonry's] formative conditions, ultimately include autocratic government and resistance to change. The result is being out-of-conformity with today's society, which at best sees Freemasonry as irrelevant. This includes being seen as a male bastion embattled against women.

As the older generations, which had some respect for Freemasonry, disappear, anti-Freemasonry must increase.

There have been great changes in society since Freemasonry was formed. It continues, however, with many old social practices which alienate younger generations. Should it allow this to continue its future must appear grim.

There is no legal requirement at present for Freemasonry to admit women. Ethics, however, is another consideration, overrides laws, customs and rules. Freemasonry extols morality, although has yet to address ethical issues in its relationship with women.

It is recommended that Freemasonry, based on thorough investigation and consultation, needs to develop women relationship policies, and form a "Freemasonry and Women Relations Program", of which all members need to be informed and involved.

The document, including all it focal points and their contents, may not be copied or used by any person in any way, apart for a generalized review purpose, this restriction being released on the first day of December 2003.

Published in the Autumn 2002 issue of "The SA and NT Freemason"

Grand Lodge of South Australia and the Northern Territory Inc.
PO Box 19
Rundle Mall
Australia 5000 

2. Papers

2.1 Philip Carter: "Freemasonry's Nonsensical 'No Women' Landmark", 2006

[Excerpts follow]

We have read Albert Mackey's confession that it was he who first distinctly enumerated the "Ancient Landmarks" of Freemasonry, and how, in doing so, violated them. His enumeration has since been widely accepted throughout modern, mainstream, Freemasonic jurisdictions. I have examined what Mackey has to say on the subject of "women and Freemasonry" and found absolutely no merit therein. Rather, the chief, tangible criteria he nominated to justify the exclusion of women, namely, the wording of the Old Constitutions and the practices of Operative Stonemasons, rather mandate their admission. We are led to conclude that there is no "Ancient Landmark" that excludes women from Freemasonry. Therefore, Freemasonry can change its rules to admit women.

The constrained legal and social position of most western women has greatly improved from the circumstances prevalent in the eighteenth century when James Anderson first wrote the rule excluding them from Freemasonry. At the time, women could not be held to be responsible for many of their own actions. Thus, at the time, one might reasonably doubt that an application by a woman to be made a Freemason had been made of her "own free will and accord"; women could not be said to have the "perfect freedom of inclination and action" Freemasonry required of its candidates; nor could they legally withhold secrets from their male guardians. Where those obstacles have been overcome, there remains no Masonically sound justification for a general rule excluding women. I find instead that Freemasonry now acts as a symbol opposing further emancipation. Now, more than ever, the exclusion of women diminishes the character and honour of Freemasonry. Inappropriate discrimination against any group is contrary to modern sensibilities and conventions. It is especially contrary to Freemasonry's tolerant and egalitarian principles. Therefore, Freemasonry should change its rules to admit women.

3. Documents and Declarations

3.1  Quarterly Communications of the UGLE for March 10, 1999

Women and Freemasonry

"There exist in England and Wales, at least two Grand Lodges solely for women.  Except that these bodies admit women, they are, so far as can be ascertained, otherwise regular in their practice.   There is also one which admits both men and women to membership.  They are not recognised by this Grand Lodge and intervisitation may not take place.  There are, however, informal discussions from time to time with the women's Grand Lodges on matters of mutual concern.   Brethren are therefore free to explain to non-Masons, if asked, that Freemasonry is not confined to men (even though this Grand Lodge does not itself admit women).   Further information about these bodies may be obtained by writing to the Grand Secretary."

"The Board is also aware that there exist other bodies not directly imitative of pure antient Masonry, but which by implication introduce Freemasonry, such as the Order of the Eastern Star.   Membership of such bodies, attendance at their meetings or participation in their ceremonies is incompatible with membership of this Grand Lodge."

3.2  Quarterly Communications of the UGLE for June 11, 2008 -- Pro Grand Master

At the end of May the Deputy Grand Master opened the Women and Freemasonry Exhibition in the Library and Museum. It covers the development of Freemasonry for Women in the early years of the last century.  At the preview guests included lady representatives from the various women’s organisations including the Order of Women Freemasons and the Honorable Fraternity of Antient Freemasons.   We maintain our independence from the women’s organisations and they are happy to maintain their independence from us.   Apart from the historical interest, the Exhibition has a valuable public relations benefit.  It will help to dispel the commonly held myth, among non masons, that there are no women in Freemasonry! I commend the Exhibition to you.

PHR 2008-07-07