Comments about Freemasonry's organization
Grand Lodges of Masons are sovereign entities which are united through a process of 'recognition'.
Lodges are the local 'unit' while the Grand Lodge is the body created from the assembly of those lodges. Lodges exist through a charter or warrant from the Grand Lodge.
While some things are generally universal in Freemasonry, not all things are.
Each Grand Lodge determines for itself how its leaders are selected and advance (or not). In the jurisdiction of Maine, local lodges elect the senior 5 (or, in some cases, 7) officers as follows: Master, Senior Warden, Junior Warden, Treasurer, Secretary (Senior Deacon, Junior Deacon).
A nearly identical styled set of officers is elected annually to preside over the Grand Lodge: this includes the Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, Senior Grand Warden, Junior Grand Warden, Grand Treasurer and Grand Secretary. (The Deacons and Stewards are appointed positions as are several others.)
The Grand Lodge of Maine has been divided into districts since the early 1800s. In 2007, there were 24 but this number has changed several times throughout our Grand Lodge's existence. The Grand Master appoints a District Deputy Grand Master to represent him in each of the Districts throughout the state. In more recent years, Districts have had District Educational Representatives and District Ritual Instructors as well.
Masonic titles can be confusing to those not involved in the organization. The Grand Master, upon installation, is given the title of Most Worshipful (M.W.) and retains that appellation for the rest of his life. He may be referred to in written documents as G.M.
The elected Grand Lodge officers as well as the District Deputy Grand Masters receive the title of Right Worshipful (R.W. or Rt. Wor.) and will be recognized as such for their remaining years unless they ascend to the position of Grand Master. Their offices may also be found represented in written documents as:
- DDGM - District Deputy Grand Master
- GSW - Grand Senior Warden
- GJW - Grand Junior Warden etc.
Lodges at the local level would have references that will usually be self-explanatory. Should you come across a title that doesn't 'make sense', please drop a note and we'll add it to this list.
A Master of a local lodge is given the honorific of Worshipful (W. or Wor.) and will be recognized as such during his lifetime unless he achieves Grand Lodge elected office or one of the several Grand Lodge appointed offices which have the honorific of 'Right Worshipful' attached (such as Grand Lecturer, for example). All titles are properly used in Masonic documents and the change from one to another can sometimes help locate additional information about the individuals involved. If Mason ascends to a higher rank with a more 'senior' title he will be accorded recognition accordingly. In any event, honorifics do not disappear once a person has left office.
From time to time, you may see p.t. following a person's name: this is to indicate that they were in a particular office not as a result of election or appointment but rather pro tempore - for the time being.
Researchers should also note that given names, particularly in the 1800s, might have been abbreviated: Rob't for Robert, Nath'l for Nathaniel, etc. We encourage you to search a surname first and view the results in order to see if such might have occurred in the case of the person you are researching.
While most of the time, incidents in the world do not come into our Masonic records, we'll be adding notations and vignettes to help place the events in time and place for you. The Aroostook War in 1838-1839, for example, was a major matter for Northern Maine yet is not mentioned in the Grand Lodge Proceedings at all.
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