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2017 California Masonic Symposium


The Moscow Archives
Explore the most fascinating Masonic mystery of the 20th century!

Saturday, June 3: San Francisco Scottish Rite
Sunday, June 4: Pasadena Scottish Rite

9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
$15 conference only // $30 conference with lunch

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Explore a Wartime Masonic Mystery

In the dark days of World War II, the Nazis stormed Paris, introducing their reign of tyranny by flying a swastika from the famed Arc de Triomphe. One of their first actions was to seize the entire archives of the Grand Orient of France and ship them to Berlin.

Similar pillages followed in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg, capturing an astonishing 27,000 dossiers of Masonic history. In 1949, when the Communists began their occupation of Berlin, these documents once again captured immediate attention. This time the records were shipped to Moscow - where they remained for 60 years.

What was in these documents that was so important to both the Nazis and the Communists? Were they afraid of Freemasons? Were they hoping to discover "Masonic secrets" that could be used as a source of power?

An unchartered view of Freemasonry's past

In 2001, when the archives were returned, Masonic scholars had an unprecedented opportunity to gaze into a historical lens that had been obscured for more than 60 years. These fascinating documents revealed more than two centuries of Masonic history, offering new insights into the Masonic experience during pivotal cultural movements, such as the Enlightenment.

This year's Symposium brings two internationally regarded scholars from France to discuss the archives, the mystery surrounding them, and more: Pierre Mollier, director of the library of the Grand Orient of France and curator of the French Museum of Freemasonry, and Jean-Jacques Zambrowski, past grand master, grand orator and grand chancellor of the Federal Council of the Grand Lodge of France. They will be joined by leading California Masonic scholars - Grand Master John R. Heisner and past grand masters John L. Cooper III and R. Stephen Doan.

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Symposium Speakers

  • John L. Cooper III, Ph.D. is past grand master of Masons in California as well as past grand secretary of the Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of California. He has been a member of the fraternity for 52 years; is an active member of 10 California lodges; and has held a number of esteemed leadership positions within the Grand Lodge of California. He is also a member of the York and Scottish Rite bodies and has received a number of honors from both organizations. He is the author of numerous Masonic publications and is widely regarded as an expert on Masonic history and symbolism.
  • R. Stephen Doan, J.D. is a frequent lecturer and respected scholar of Masonry and political processes. Past grand master of the Masons of California, he has served on several Grand Lodge boards and committees, in addition to serving as vice chair of the Institute for Masonic Studies. Doan holds a 33rd degree in the Scottish Rite and is a member of all York Rite Bodies, the Al Malaikah Shrine Temple, the Royal Order of Scotland, the Knight Masons, and the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis.
  • John R. Heisner, J.D. is grand master of Masons in California. He has held a number of esteemed leadership positions within the fraternity, including grand orator, and has been a Mason for 47 years. He is a partner at Heisner Alvarez, APC, a business litigation and trusts and estates law firm in La Jolla and served 14 years as an adjunct professor on trial advocacy for the University of San Diego School of Law. In 2015, SD Metro Magazine named him one of 20 men who impact San Diego. He was named a 2016 Super Lawyer in the area of business litigation and was recognized by San Diego Business Journal as "Best of the Bar" of 2016. He is also a member of the Scottish Rite, Red Cross of Constantine, and the Rosicrucian College; a fellow of the Philalethes Society; and a founding member of Lux Masonic Lodge No. 846, a traditional observance lodge.
  • Pierre Mollier, M.A. is a French historian and author. He is director of the library, archives, and museum of the Grand Orient of France, located in Paris. Specializing in the history of Freemasonry, his research covers various aspects of the fraternity's social, political, philosophical, spiritual, and symbolic history. He is editor in chief of "Ritual, Secrecy, and Civil Society," an online journal devoted to his Masonic research, and regularly contributes to several other Masonic publications. He was named as an officer in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.
  • Jean-Jacques Zambrowski, M.D., Ph.D. is a physician, university professor, and health consultant. He is the director of a doctoral program in health policies, health law, and health economics at Paris Descartes University. Zambrowski is a past master, past grand officer, and former elected member of the Federal Council of the Grand Lodge of France, and has served in many positions and offices throughout his 33 year Masonic career. He is a regular contributor to "Ordo ab Chao," published by the Supreme Council of France. He is also a member of the Philalethes Society and the Scottish Rite Research Society.


The California Masonic Symposium is sponsored by:
CA Masonic Foundation



Past events

Past symposia have focused on the Masonic ritual, the early grand lodge era, Latin American Freemasonry, Freemasonry in revolutionary America, the American frontier, women in Freemasonry, and a variety of other topics.

Read papers from past symposia.

Contact Us

Grand Lodge of California
1111 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000