How to Find Out If a Relative Was a Mason

If you’re doing genealogical research, you may find hints that an ancestor was a member of the Freemason fraternity, the oldest ones in the world. Members called themselves Masons, and often kept details about their involvement with the fraternity private from their families and non-Freemason member friends. However, their Masonic lodges would have kept records of their membership, and the fraternity's members often wore rings, lapel pins, tie tacks and other emblems boasting their involvement.

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 the Masonic Info website. 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.

Take to social media. The Freemasons have their own Facebook page, and many specific chapters of the fraternity have their own specific Facebook page, as well. Run a search on the social media site to see if your ancestor's suspected chapter has a Facebook presence, and message the page's administrator asking for help in learning more. You might also be able to deduce from the page's likes, or a Facebook group's members, who belongs to that chapter, and you could reach out to those people individually to see if they can help.

Search for your ancestor at a genealogy site such as Ancestry and RootsWeb. 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.