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African American Freemason lodge photographs

 Collection — Box: BW 45, Folder: 1/1
Identifier: MSS 16711

Content Description

Collection of eight black and white photographs. All are group portraits of members of African American fraternal lodges in Virginia. The images bare the stamps of several different photographers -- from Richmond, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach. Several images show handwritten annotations on the back -- one lodge is identified as Progressive Lodge #80 in Norfolk, another as King David Lodge #28 in Richmond (this photo is signed by 13 members of the lodge on the back), another as Willow Grove Lodge #198.


  • Creation: circa 1950s

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Biographical / Historical

On March 6, 1775, Prince Hall and 14 freed men of color (Cyrus Forbes; Bristol Stenzer; Thomas Sanderson; Prince Taylor; Cato Gardner; Boston Smith; Peter Best; Fortune Howard; Prince Reed; John Carter; Peter Freeman; Benjamin Tyler; Cuff Bufform; and Richard Tilledge) were denied membership into the White Freemasons of Massachusetts (located in Boston) and they petitioned to the Grand Lodge of England for their own charter, which they received on September 29, 1784. It marked the first time that African American men were made freemasons in America. This occurred during a time when African Americans needed a means by which to advance the cause of equality. Prince Hall looked to the Fraternal Order of Free and Accepted Masons because the chief purpose of Freemasonry is benevolence and charity to all mankind. In 1791, Worshipful Master Prince Hall was appointed a Provincial Grand Master of the first Black Provincial Grand Lodge.

King David Lodge No. 28 received its charter 12/16/1875 at the grand lodge session in Petersburg, VA. at First Baptist Church, Silas H. Shackelford Sr. was the Worshipful Master. We were in the 12th masonic district at that time, somewhere around or near 1920’s we became a part of the 26th masonic district. King David Lodge No. 28 has always been a progressive, innovative and creative lodge looking out for its windows and orphans taking care of its financial obligations to the grand lodge in a timely manner. Donating money to charitable and educational institutions. We will continue to build from within and network in new directions.

Sources Miller, Yawu, "Black Masons owe lineage to 18th century Boston pioneer Prince Hall" The Bay State Banner, Boston, Massachusetts, February 8th, 2017

King David lodge No. 28 website:


0.03 Cubic Feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was purchased from Kate Mitas, Bookseller to the Small Special Collections Library on July 1, 2020.

African American Freemason Lodge photographs
Ellen Welch
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States