The resource center has one of the finest collections of books and Masonic records for the study of Freemasonry in the United States. The importance of collecting and cataloging seminal works in the history of Freemasonry has remained a focus of the institution since its inception. Housed within the stacks are approximately 80,000 volumes covering all aspects of Freemasonry and its history, philosophy and contributions to civil society, as well as other topics such as art, architecture, etc. The center is a place of interest for members and academics alike, providing research and lending services in an effort to advance knowledge and understanding of the fraternity, its meanings and its place in history. One of the center’s prize possessions is an incunabulum, or book printed before Jan. 1, 1500.
Founded in 1908, the center was dedicated by Brother John Wanamaker, a prominent Philadelphia merchant who served as the first Chairman of the Library Committee. The center’s collection consists of more than 30,000 items. Some of these include Brother George Washington’s Masonic Apron, which was presented to him by the Marquis de Lafayette, and presented to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1829 by the Washington Benevolent Society of Philadelphia; a petition signed in 1808 by 11 Freemasons in St. Louis, Louisiana Territory, including the famous explorer Merriweather Lewis, applying for a warrant to open the first lodge in that city; and Brother Benjamin Franklin’s Masonic sash, worn in 1782, when he was Venerable (Worshipful Master) of the Loge des Neuf Soeurs (Lodge of the Nine Sisters or Muses) in Paris and when he guided Brother Voltaire at his induction into the Masonic fraternity.