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Museum to preserve historical papers on Bermuda’s Black history

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A funerary apron worn for the funeral procession of a lodge member, embroidered with precious metal thread, edging and fringe (Photograph supplied)

Historical papers and items of importance to Bermuda’s Black history are to be preserved thanks to an agreement signed between a Warwick lodge and the National Museum of Bermuda.

The Trustees of the Princess Royal Union Lodge of Cobb's Hill signed a collections management agreement with the museum for the benefit of residents and visitors.

A spokeswoman for the museum said: “This is an expression of Bermuda's full heritage and a legacy of mainly its Black community.

“The PRU is a branch of the Independent Order of Good Samaritans and Daughters of Samaria, an egalitarian friendly society which empowered and supported Bermuda's Black community for over a century.

“Following its establishment in 1899, PRU remains as the last active Samaritan's lodge.”

The original Charter of the Independent Order of Good Samaritans and Daughters of Samaria signed 1 May, 1899, establishing the lodge (Photograph supplied)

A spokesperson for the lodge added: “With lodge membership declining in recent years, the trustees felt it was important to record and secure the preservation of the lodge’s history for future generations.

“As a result, lodge trustee Dr Michael Bradshaw reached out to the museum in 2019 to discuss collaborative documentation of the lodge collection and a possible repository agreement.”

A team from the museum, including Zoe Brady, intern Jaylen Simons and assistant registrar Andrew Wallace, photographed, catalogued, cleaned and housed more than 300 items in archival-quality packaging materials.

A portrait of an early member of the lodge (Photograph supplied)

The collection includes lodge charters, minutes books, photographs, regalia and funerary clothing.

There are also symbolic objects and furniture used in lodge meetings as well as objects that were salvaged from now-closed Samaritan lodges the Victoria Lodge and philanthropic lodges.

Special inclusions are an ark dating back more than 120 years and a preserved “dove icon”.

Lodge members Calvin Smith, Valeria Tuzo and Michael Bradshaw signing the Collections Management agreement at the Lodge on Sunday 16 January 2022 (Photograph supplied)

Dr Bradshaw said: “This is an intact collection of a living and functioning lodge, which is being shared with the world through the National Museum of Bermuda when there are still members and witnesses alive and with 'solid faculties'.

“Seldom do acquisitions of historic and cultural items occur with these advantages.”

A symbolic wooden ark carried in parades (Photograph supplied)
A symbolic carving of a dove, symbol of sincerity and simplicity (Photograph supplied)
A silk collar of office of the Daughter Treasurer, with crossed-keys symbol embroidered in gold thread (Photograph supplied)

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Published February 10, 2022 at 8:03 am (Updated February 10, 2022 at 8:03 am)

Museum to preserve historical papers on Bermuda’s Black history

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