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How to Find Out If a Relative Was a Mason

by Kochava R. Greene

If you're doing genealogical research, you may find hints that an ancestor was a Mason. While some Masons kept their membership secret from family members and friends, their Masonic lodge would have kept records of their involvement with the society. Searching for Masonic records can be challenging, but often reveals otherwise unknown information about an ancestor.

Ask your ancestor's descendants about Masonic affiliations. Many men who joined the Masons also encouraged their sons, nephews and other male relatives to do so as well. If your ancestor ever spoke about having a Masonic affiliation, his descendants would know. Female descendants might recall being encouraged to join the Order of the Eastern Star, the women's group affiliated with the Masons.

Inquire at your local Grand Lodge about whether your relative was a member, or ask at the Grad Lodge in the geographical location where he spent the majority of his life. You can find a list of the Grand Lodges at http://www.masonicinfo.com/grandlodges.htm. Keep in mind that lodges get a lot of requests for help in genealogical searches, so be patient. Provide the lodge with as much information about your relative as possible, including full name, birth and death dates, and what kinds of clues as to his Masonic status you may have, such as the information on watch fobs and other jewelry, on tombstones, and in written documents and oral history.

Search for your ancestor at a genealogy site such as rootsweb.com or ancestry.com. These sites often have scanned files from Masonic lodges and other Masonic information about individuals. You can search by your ancestor's name and see the scans of documents matching his name.

Items you will need
  • Internet access

About the Author

I wrote short pieces on arts and entertainment, sports, culture and society, health and fitness and other topics for the (now-closed) site www.aroundcinci.com, and have written freelance articles in the same areas for a variety of online and print publications.