Carl H. Claudy, Father of the Short Talk

from the Masonic Service Association

There was a time, an age before television, video rentals, and pro sports, when Freemasons read. An age when sitting before a fire with a book of Masonic lore or history was regarded as an evening well spent. Emerging from that time is the name of an author unparalleled in his contributions to Masonic literature. Anyone who has read just a little of Carl H. Claudy's works cannot help but be charmed by the story told and the manner of expression.

Foreign Countries, Old Tiler Talks, The Old Past Master, A Master's Wages, These Were Brethren, Where Your Treasure Is, The Lion's Paw, and Masonic Harvest, are but a few of his more well known Masonic works.

Carl H. Claudy was born in 1879, and died in 1957. The preceding year he had been named Honorary Passed Grand Master of North Dakota.

An author of 32 books and a galaxy of essays and short stories numbering more than 1,600, his literary life began inauspiciously enough. His formal education concluded after only a year of high school whereupon he found himself in the hardscrabble workaday world of the late 19th century.

At age 19 he headed to the Alaskan gold fields. Finding no gold after six months, he returned to the States and took up employment with an emery wheel manufacturer. After several years he left that job to move back to Washington, DC, where he became the editor of a popular science paper. This was his springboard.

Despite the lack of a formal education Claudy began to read and to write. In fact, the first story he ever wrote appeared in The Washington Post. He freelanced for The New York Herald, eventually joining its staff in 1908 with a special assignment covering the then infant aeronautical industry.

During this time he wrote a number of articles on the subject and published a book titled, Beginners Book of Model Airplanes. But he was also a photographer. His photos of early flights were given to Alexander Graham Bell who placed in the Smithsonian where they remain today. At the end of World War I, Claudy went overseas as a correspondent for Scientific American.

An avid athlete and outdoors man, his hobbies included camping, mountaineering, boxing, rowing crew, tennis, and football. His love of the outdoors brought him frequently to Montana and inspired many short stories written for various Boy Scout publications.

Claudy's association with Freemasonry began in 1908, when, at the age of 29, he was raised a Master Mason in Harmony 17 in Washington, DC. He served as its master and eventually served as grand master of Masons in the District of Columbia in 1943.

His Masonic writing career began in earnest when he became associated with the Masonic Service Association in 1923, serving as associate editor of its magazine, The Master Mason until 1931. He became executive secretary of the Masonic Service Association in 1929 — a position held until his death in 1957. Under his single handed leadership the Masonic Service Association was brought to a place of preeminence through his authorship and distribution of the "Short Talk Bulletin" which made his name familiar to virtually every lodge in the country.

Claudy can personally lay claim to authorship of approximately 350 Short Talk Bulletins. In addition to the bulletins themselves he wrote and distributed innumerable digests, special bulletins, and portfolios of historical and factual nature   all designed to promote the Craft. One of his finest works of this nature is the "Little Masonic Library," a collection of 20 pocket size volumes by noted authors. In 1930 he published serially in The Master Mason his delightful novel, The Lion's Paw, shortly followed by several others, including the timeless Master's Book, in which are set out the principles and practices of a successful lodge master. Another classic written during this time, his primer for new Masons entitled Introduction to Freemasonry, enjoyed international popularity. In 1934 he penned the first of his series of 12 Masonic plays while in his Washington office. The succeeding plays were all drafted on the road, so to speak. Nine of them were written in a log cabin in Montana in the sight of Emigrant Peak — a blue lodge in the Gallatins as Claudy called it. The plays have, in the past, had a powerful impact on the fraternity and formerly were performed countless times in nearly every grand lodge jurisdiction.

In consequence of his long service, Masonic recognition was mighty. He was a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, recipient of the Henry Price medal and honorary member of many Grand Lodges and lodges.

Some books by Carl H. Claudy

  • Introduction to Freemasonry — Vol. I Entered Apprentice
  • Introduction to Freemasonry — Vol. II Fellowcraft
  • Introduction to Freemasonry — Vol. III Master Mason
  • The Master's Book

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