The first female freemason of modern times is Maria Deraismes (1828-1894) (pictured here). She was initiated on14th January 1882 as an equal member into an otherwise all male French lodge- Les Libres Penseurs (the Free Thinkers) – meeting in Pecq, a small town outside Paris. She was from a prosperous middle class Parisian family and had been actively involved in promoting women’s rights and the cause of education for women.
When it initiated Maria Deraismes, the Lodge acted outside the authority of its governing body- the Grande Loge Symbolique Ecossaise de France- and within a few months her membership was suspended as the Lodge came back into line.
Dr Georges Martin, a freemason, created a new Masonic organisation in France in 1893- La Grande Loge Symbolique Ecossaise Mixte with one lodge called Le Droit Humain. Maria Deraismes was elected Founding Master and after her death a lodge was named after her.
For further details about the ‘Women and Freemasonry’ exhibition please see the events page.