Freemasonry for Men & Women
LE DROIT HUMAIN AND THE AMERICAN FEDERATION
In the 19th Century many illustrious people throughout the world were engaged in the struggle for equality, particularly in the area of rights for women and children. One such person was Marie Deraismes. Another was Dr. Georges Martin, who tried for many years to introduce women into Freemasonry in France. Finally on January 14, 1882, Marie Deraismes was initiated in the Lodge Les Libres Penseurs in the village of Pecq, France. While this was a monumental step, the initiation of a woman into Freemasonry, the process did not end here, and on April 4, 1893, the Grande Lodge Symbolique Ecossaise, Le Droit Humain was born.
Unfortunately, Marie Deraismes passed away the following year, and the task of establishing Lodges in which men and women worked equally fell to Georges Martin. After establishing the Order in France, he came to realize that this could become a worldwide movement, and his work quickly produced results in other countries. When Annie Besant, a noted Theosophist, became a member, the Order grew in countries under the dominion of the United Kingdom.
At the present time, Le Droit Humain has lodges, jurisdictions, and federations throughout the world.
As might be expected, the American Federation came to be through the efforts of a Frenchman, Louis Goaziou, and a professor of French at Columbia University, Antoine Muzzarelli. Louis Goaziou worked in the coal mines in Pennsylvania, and through a French newspaper that he published, came to the attention of Antoine Muzzarelli. Bro. Muzzarelli was already a member of several Masonic obediences, but he had particular interest in the newly formed Le Droit Humain. Together the two organized to create a new lodge. The original members, having progressive ideas about women, wanted to be in an Order that would also admit their wives.
On October 18, 1903, Bro. Goaziou and fourteen other men were initiated, passed, and raised, and on the next day two women did the same. From this group, the first Lodge of Le Droit Humain formed on October 25, 1903, in Charleroi, Pennsylvania. The Order continued to grow, and when the American Federation of Human Rights was formed, Bro Goaziou became its first president and later was appointed as Representative of the Supreme Council for the American Federation.
At the present time, there are lodges in different locations around the country and degrees up through the Thirty-Third and several York Rite degrees are worked. New study groups and triangles are regularly forming in various locations.