The international convents of Le Droit Humain

A couple of years ago, me and somebody else were investigating a photo. The conclusions about that photo had me revisit my conclusions about another photo. Both proved to be puzzles to solve, especially because it is unclear in what years the international convent were held.

The French Wikipedia has a nice list of “dirigeants du Droit humain” (‘leaders of Droit Humain’):

  • 1903 à 1914 : Marie-Georges Martin (1850 – 1914).
  • 1914 à 1918 : Marie Bonnevial (1841 – 1918).
  • 1918 à 1921 : Eugène Piron (1863 – 1928).
  • 1928 à 1934 : Lucien Lévi (1882 – 1935).
  • 1934 à 1947 : Henri Petit (1868 – 1955).
  • 1947 à 1954 : Marguerite Martin (1877 – 1956).
  • 1954 à 1969 : Charles Cambillard (1892 -1986).
  • 1969 à 1976 : André Clément (1897 – 1986).
  • 1976 à 1990 : Jacques Choisez (1910 – 1998).
  • 1990 à 1997 : Marc Grosjean (1918-2012).
  • 1997 à 2007 : Njördur Njardvik (1936-).
  • 2007 à 2012 : Danièle Juette.
  • 2012 à 2017 : Yvette Ramon.
  • 2017 à 2022 : Daniel Bolens.
  • Depuis 2022 : René Motro.

Most of them were French, only a few from other countries. Several of the names have also chaired the French federation (Piron, Petit and Ramon) which was founded in 1901, or was it?

So we have a few challenges. I have found no list of international convents. I do find references to convents, but always need to double check that we are not talking about a national convent of the French federation.

The French Wikipedia says: “The Human Right has an international constitution affirming its values. The first version was promulgated at the International Convent of 1920.” So the first international convent was the start of the international organisation. This convent was held in 1920. The people in the list above of before 1920 must have been helmed Le Droit Humain which was then just an originally French, but somewhat international organisation. It is odd to see that the founder Georges Martin (1844-1916) isn’t in the list. He left the honour of being the first Grand Master to his wife (Maria Desraismes had already passed away in 1894).

Now comes the first confusion. The website of Le Droit Humain France says: “It was on 6 November 1921 that the Supreme Council of the International Order of Co-Freemasonry LE DROIT HUMAIN approved the creation of the French Federation.” So was the Supreme Council (a meeting of delegates of every country where Le Droit Humain is active) meeting 1921, not 1920? Perhaps there are ad-hoc meetings next to convents?

Then there is that other thing. Piron is listed on Wikipedia from 1918 to 1921 and Lévi from 1928 to 1934. The French LDH site does not say when Piron entered the chair. It does say that he organised the first international convent in 1921 and the first national convent in 1922.
After Piron came Lucien Lévi, who: “succeeded Eugène Piron as President of the National Council and Grand Master of the Order in 1929”.
I think we can say that my earlier conclusion stands, Piron has been “Président du Conseil national et Grand Maître de l’Ordre” from 1918 until 1929.

I have a Dutch publication of Le Droit Humain which states that the first international convention took place in 1920. It was there that this photo supposedly was taken:

The man in the middle is Piron.

We also have photos that our own investigations dated in 1925, but that appears to be incorrect as we will see later.

Piron is still in the middle.

Then there are photos supposedly dated in 1934 at an international convent.

Bottom row in the middle: Lucien Lévi, so the photo is certainly from after 1929.

Now, we have international conventions in either 1920 or 1921; in 1925 (?), in 1934.

Official histories makes things easier. The first convent took place in August 1920. 21 Countries were present with 70 delegates (holding the 33º) representing 312 lodges! Speaking of a stormy growth. A new constitution was approved which was published in 1921.

The second international convent took place in September 1927 by that times the people present represented 564 lodges (427 craft, 137 higher degrees). The main points here were the differences in Masonic culture in the different countries and hence the need concerning ritual.

The third international convent took place in September 1934, then under Lucien Levi. After that there were plans for 1941, but this convent didn’t take place due to WWII. When the war was over, the 1947 convent took place again in September. The Grand Master was Henry Petit. Following were 1954, 1961, 1969, 1976, 1983, 1990 and only in 1997 it was decided that a convent should take place every 5 years. Indeed, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2017 and 2022 would follow.

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