Born: Sunday, 17 August 1828
Died: Tuesday, 06 February 1894
Maria Deraismes was a social reformer, women's rights advocate, and Freemason who served as a exemplar for future female members of the Craft.
Maria Deraismes was born in 1828 in Paris into a middle class family. She quickly became involved in the struggle for women’s rights in France. She met other famous proponents of women’s rights such as Louise Michele and Elizabeth Cady Stanton during the 1860’s, 70’s, and 80’s, where they all campaigned for women to have more access to the halls of power and the vote. Unlike the anarchist Louis Michele however, Deraismes advocated a more peaceful acquisition of power and entrance into the upper levels of civil society. It was this attitude that brought her to Freemasonry.
Maria Deraismes was entered into Freemasonry in Les Libres Penseurs Lodge on the outskirts of Paris on January the 14th, 1882. She was one of the first women ever initiated into Freemasonry, and famously said that she was a pioneer for women entering the craft. Her work in opening up Freemasonry to the female gender resulted in the creation of Le Droit Humain, one of the most prominent Co-Masonic orders of modern times.
By opening the doors of Freemasonry to women, Deraismes laid the groundwork for many famous theosophists to join, including Annie Besant, who would spread Co-masonry throughout the British Empire. Deraismes position as a founding mother of the Mixed Craft has put her at the base of all modern Co-Masonic endeavours. By the time of her passing to the Eternal Grand Lodge in 1894 she was a famous and renowned figure throughout the Masonic world.
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