A pictorial look at the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry; Founded in 1801, the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is the premier international fraternal order of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For more than two hundred years, Freemasonry in America helped define social and cultural arrangements that affected the development of civic life and philanthropic institutions. In Valley of the Craftsmen, the story of "higher degree" Freemasonry is depicted through portraits, official papers, material objects, photographs, buildings, and stagecraft. Featuring many previously unpublished images, Valley of the Craftsmen begins with rare illustrations of the English and French philosophical sources that were projected upon an American landscape vitalized and transformed by the concept of fraternity. The story is framed by American popular culture and the serious private effort of individual men in small towns and expansive cities who were intent on developing a moral life in service to their communities.
When the Scottish Rite was officially organized in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1801, its founders and leaders were drawn almost in equal portions from Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant faith communities - an impressive early example of American values, diversity, and religious tolerance. The valley inhabited by members of the Scottish Rite, however, was not always green or free of difficulty. Touched by the first third party in American political history (the anti-Masonic Party), the Civil War, the Red Scare of 1919, the Holocaust, and the rebuilding of societies in Europe and Asia after 1945, the Scottish Rite portrays the sweeping scope of national life and sensibility across two centuries. Valley of the Craftsmen captures this important aspect of history at the end of the American century and the beginning of a new millenium.