Marieta's Retirement Ramblings

Iowa Masonic Library, Cedar Rapids, Iowa


Iowa Masonic Library & Museum
813 First Avenue S.E.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402

As prepared as I try to be for these visits, when we arrive I never seem as prepared as I thought I was. I had emailed ahead and had made arrangements to meet with William R. (Bill) Krueger at this facility. My knowledge of this organization was/is very scant. I brought information about my grandfather who was a Mason. My grandmother was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star. I did not understand that these were two separate organizations, so I brought information about my grandmother, as well. I am now more educated.

The building housing the Grand Lodge of Iowa is, in fact, a very grand one, with marble and pillars, wide hallways, high ceilings, stained-glass windows. Very elegant!

Inside we met Bill and he showed me the limited genealogy information on the membership cards housed in the administrative offices. The good news, of course, is that they have these cards; lots of them! This facility is the best resource for this information.

They also have annual reports of the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Iowa; many of the early ones (1844-1853) list names of members. They are seeking ways to scan these and make the images accessible.

Then we proceeded to the library, which contains more than 150,000 volumes. It is huge! It is available to the public, however, arrangements should be made ahead of time.

Oh, my! This is an awesome library. The library is so comprehensive that scholars come here to research for major projects! For example, a University of California, Berkeley, business economy major used the library to write his M.A. thesis on how Masonry affected the economy after the Civil War.

Located in Cedar Rapids the library contains typical publications for the area: city directories, railroad conductors reports, opera house programs (1886-1910), and materials for area colleges. The library also features a Civil War collection including a signification Abraham Lincoln collection. I can’t begin to describe all of the items housed in this library; I repeat: 150,000 volumes! Check their online catalog!

My husband is a Landscape Architecture graduate of Iowa State University and we were surprised to discover that this library has the entire book collection of ISU Landscape Architecture Professor Robert Harvey, one of my husband’s favorite professors. Note: this is in the Masonic Library in Cedar Rapids, not the Iowa State University Library in Ames.

So, you never know what you are going to find and where you will find it!