Sueanna Smith

Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


English Language and Literatures

First Advisor

Qiana Whitted


This dissertation revisits the subject of early black freemasonry and draws upon a new wealth of archival material to recontextualize it through the lens of social history and print and material culture. This study explores the way that freemasonry operated in the daily lives of black masons and presents a new social history of the formation of Boston’s first black masonic lodge. Turning specifically to print and material culture, it traces the way that the earliest black masons engaged in the broader print and material culture of the society, thus promoting interracial engagement. This study also traces how the Prince Hall Masons of the 19th Century, in an attempt to define and articulate their own institutional identity, crafted a historical narrative that made black freemasonry synonymous with the institution of Prince Hall Freemasonry, when in reality, the story of black freemasonry was always so much bigger, broader, and more dynamic.


© 2021, Sueanna Smith