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Masonry, or freemasonry, common name for the practices of the order of Free and Accepted Masons, one of the world's largest and oldest fraternal organizations. Members participate in elaborate, secret rituals and are dedicated to the promotion of brotherhood and morality. Membership, of which there are several grades, is restricted to men; allegiance to some form of religious belief is required. Modern Masonry emerged with the Grand Lodge of England, founded in 1717, although masons trace their ancestry to the craft associations or “lodges” of medieval stone masons. The first U.S. lodge was founded in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1730. There are associated organizations for women, boys, and girls. The worldwide membership is more than 6 million.

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21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Manuelito to Medical Association, American