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During the first two or three decades after the forming of the first Grand Lodge of Speculative Masons in London, in 1717, the daily papers of London, and to a lesser extent in Edinburgh, Dublin, and other cities, published news about Freemasonry on the same footing as other news . In its earliest years the new Grand Lodge published no Proceedings, and did not even keep Minutes; after the Lodges had multiplied not only in London, but elsewhere they began to demand reports from the Quarterly Grand Communications. The earliest Grand Lodge Minutes (reproduced in facsimile in Quatuor Coronati Antigrapha) were in reality not Minutes but reports, and in them the list of Lodges were deemed the most important portion. It was to save the Grand Secretary the drudgery of making many copies by hand that the "Minutes" were for some years engraved by Pine with his successors hence the origin of the famous "Engraved Lists"upon which Bro. John Lane was the first and most eminent authority. (See Lane's Lists of Lodges.) The earliest Lodges demanded that their members should attend, and in many instances fined them for non-attendance; to make this rule "all-square" the Lodge in turn had its Tiler (who was paid) go in person to notify each member of the next Lodge meeting.
This method gradually gave way to the issuing of printed summons, for which an engraved plate was made, leaving a blank for the date ; a number of these plates were masterpieces of the engraver's art---an art which had a large vogue in the Eighteenth Century.
The same methods were used in general by American Lodges until after the Revolution, when for about a quarter of a century they made a large use of newspapers. With the sudden explosion of the Anti-Masonic Crusade after the so-called "Morgan Affair"this publicity was stopped, and for many years was not encouraged even after the crusade had died away because it had been abused.
From the Civil War to the first decade of the Twentieth Century a Lodge either sent out no notices, or spread them by word of mouth, or published very brief and formal notices in papers.
In the beginning of this Century Lodges began the issuing of Bulletins, a method being used, or being adopted, by an ever-increasing number. In majority of instances a Bulletin is printed by the Lodge and prepared and mailed by the Secretary; in a minority of instances, especially in cities, either Bulletins or small periodicals are privately prepared and published by local printers who cover their costs and a very small margin of profits with an income from local advertising.
The typical Lodge Bulletin is a printed two or four pages leaflet, of envelope size; in it are names, addressed, and telephone numbers of Lodge officers, and oftentimes of Committee chairmen, or Committee members; notices of regular or special Communications, and of special occasions; and in some instances a small number of news items.
Lodge Bulletins have been discussed in Masonic jurisprudence; and both Grand Lodges and Grand Masters have made rules or decisions to regulate them.
It is generally accepted and established that a Lodge, or the Worshipful Master, or both, have the authority to exercise complete control of any information or news which emanates from or about a Lodge, whether published by the Lodge itself or by a private printer or publishing company.
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