The oldest Masonic organization for both men and women is the International Order of 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 American 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, and for the establishment of a neutral school system that respected the ideas of everyone. They also took up campaigns against clerical intolerance.
Maria Deraismes was initiated on January 14, 1882, into the 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 April 4, 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 came the birth of the International Order Of Freemasonry For Men And Women: Le Droit Humain.
Maria Deraismes died on February 6, 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 in New York City, Antoine Muzzarelli. Mr. Muzzarelli was a member of the Lodge L’Atlantide of the Grand Orient of France in New York City, but was also interested in the newly organized Le Droit Humain Order (LDH).
On October 18, 1903, Francois Louis Goaziou and fourteen other men were initiated, passed and raised. The next day, Mrs. Goaziou and Mrs. Etienne Barthelot were also 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.”
Learn about becoming a Freemason. All genders are encouraged to apply.