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Education in Freemasonry is meant to be a lifelong process, furthering our understanding of the fraternity and its relevance to today's world.

The Institute for Masonic Studies was founded in 1997 to foster Masonic knowledge and understanding among the Masons of California and the larger world of Freemasonry. The Institute hosts a number of important programs and resources for members and lodges, including the following:

Masonic Coaches

A Masonic coach - who is a fellow lodge member - is appointed to each degree candidate. The coach acts as his educator and companion, assuring that he is properly instructed in the fundamentals and working of the fraternity. In addition to informing the candidate about his lodge and Masonry in general, the coach instructs the candidate on memory work and ceremonies. To learn more about the fraternity, please contact your local lodge, or review the Discover Masonry section of this site.

UCLA Freemasonry and Civil Society Program

The Freemasonry and Civil Society Program is a collaborative partnership between the University of California, Los Angeles History Department, the Grand Lodge of California, and the Institute for Masonic Studies. The Program, which offers courses investigating the history of Freemasonry within the context of civil society, sponsors a post-doctoral fellow each year.

The Freemasonry and Civil Society Program develops educational seminars to coincide with current research. Open to the public, these events seek to educate and inspire scholars of the craft.

On March 22 The Third International Conference on Freemasonry, Aesthetics, and Civil Society will present new insights on the impact of Freemasonry in social, political, and cultural areas. Register today.

Past topics include American and Latin American Freemasonry and Freemasonry: A Global Perspective, Past and Present.

Papers presented at past UCLA conferences.

Annual California Masonic Symposium

The Grand Lodge of California and the California Masonic Foundation sponsor the Annual California Masonic Symposium. Each year this event, which is open to Masons and the public, addresses a topic of historical and philosophical relevance to Masonry.

The 14th Annual California Masonic Symposium: Freemasonry and the Foundation of the American Republic will be held on Sept. 20, 2014 in San Francisco and Sept. 21, 2014 in Pasadena. Check back in spring 2014 for more details and registration information.

Past Symposia topics have included: Struggles for Control of Freemasonry: Great Britain and America in the Early Grand Lodge Era; Freemasonry in Mexico and Latin America; Freemasonry and Secret Societies; Issues in Contemporary Freemasonry; The Age of Franklin: Freemasonry, the Declaration of Independence, and the American Enlightenment; Freemasonry and the American Frontier; The Morgan Affair: The Kidnapping that Changed American Freemasonry; and Freemasonry and Women's Role.

Archive of papers, from past Symposia

Basic Education for Candidates

In addition to the memorized proficiency, each candidate reads an education booklet designed specifically for the degree that he has most recently completed. To demonstrate his understanding of the material, he is asked to answer several questions about the material.

Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry

The Grand Lodge of California opened the Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry in 1997 at the California Masonic Memorial Temple in San Francisco.

The museum contains over 8,000 titles and includes Masonic art and artifacts from California and around the world.

The Library and Museum seeks to:

  • Tell the story of Freemasonry in California to Masons and to the general public
  • Serve as a research source for both lay and professional Masonic scholars and researchers
  • Assist Masons who seek to increase and develop their personal knowledge of Freemasonry

To volunteer as a library docent, contact Adam Kendall, collections manager, at 415/292-9137 or visit

Research Lodges and Research Organizations

Research Lodges in California conduct research, hold discussions, gather and preserve Masonic information, maintain libraries, supply papers or speakers at the request of other Lodges, and conduct a program of general service in the field of Masonic education and information.

The Research Lodges in California include:
El Camino Research Lodge - San Jose
Northern California Research Lodge - San Francisco
Orange County Research Lodge - Anaheim
Southern California Research Lodge - Anaheim
Golden Compasses Research Lodge - Sacramento

Research organizations around the world include:
The Masonic Society
The Masonic Restoration Foundation
National Masonic Research Society
International Conference of the History of Freemasonry
Masonic Library and Museum Association
Association of Masonic Museums, Libraries, and Archives of Europe

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