The oldest Masonic organization for both men and women is the Order of International Freemasonry for Men and Women: Le Droit Humain, which was founded in Paris in 1893. You can read the history of Le Droit Humain via the main federation website.
Maria Deraismes, journalist and fighter for the rights of women and children, and Dr. Georges Martin, Senator, General Councillor for the Dept. of the Seine, Municipal Councillor of Paris, undertook campaigns in favor of the civic and political rights of women, the defense of the rights of oppressed children, against clerical intolerance and for the establishment of a neutral school respecting the ideas of everyone.
Maria Deraismes was initiated on 14th January 1882 into Lodge “Les Libres Penseurs” of Pecq, a small village to the west of Paris. She was one of the first female Freemasons, symbolizing initiatory equality.
Eleven years later, on 4th April 1893, Maria Deraismes and Georges Martin, a well known Mason, created in Paris the first Masonic Lodge for women and men. Out of this Masonic Lodge came the birth of the Grande Loge Symbolique Ecossaise “Le Droit Humain”, establishing the equality of men and women, out of which, later, came the birth of the International Order Of Freemasonry For Men And Women: Le Droit Humain.
Maria Deraismes died on 6th February 1894, and the task of organizing and developing “Le Droit Humain” fell on Dr. Martin. His energetic will placed him beyond frontiers, ethnic groups, religions and cultures, and he very quickly founded Lodges outside France: in Switzerland and in England.
The Order spread throughout Europe before sowing itself in other parts of the world.
Francois Louis Goaziou came to America from France and found work in the Pennsylvania coal mines. In 1897 he started a monthly French newspaper, which he edited and printed himself. In 1902 this paper began to appear weekly and attracted the attention of a Professor of French at Columbia University of New York City, Antoine Muzzarelli. Mr. Muzzarelli was a member of Lodge L’Atlantide of the Grand Orient of France in New York City, but was also interested in the newly organized Droit Humain Order.
On October 18, 1903 Francois Louis Goaziou and fourteen other men and the next day Mrs. Goaziou and Mrs. Etienne Barthelot were initiated, passed and raised. On October 25, 1903 the first Co-Masonic Lodge in America-Alpha No. 301 of Charleroi Pennsylvania was consecrated.
“Le Droit Humain was built out of a marvelous dream to unite humanity despite all the barriers, ethnic groups, geopolitics, religions and cultures.”
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