The Museum of Freemasonry worked in partnership with the Kent Museum of Freemasonry to conserve and digitise the William Perfect Manuscript. Comprising 800 pages in eight fascicules, the Manuscript includes prose and poetry written by Dr Perfect, of West Malling, from 1755 to 1773.
It reveals the life of a country gentleman and medic, with London consulting rooms. A specialist in midwifery, eradicating smallpox and treating mental illnesses, Perfect was the Provincial Grand Master of Kent from 1794 until his death in 1809. His verses and articles, later printed in anthologies and magazines, include comments on social and political events and reveal an empathetic approach to psychiatric care. The volume defines the transition of a country doctor and man of letters into a specialist, who published medical case notes.
The conservation that was made possible by NMCT's grant has enabled the Museum to facilitate e-access to the William Perfect Manuscript worldwide. A new website page links directly to the digital resource, including a searchable, annotated index to each page. The Kent Museum of Freemasonry website will also link to this resource, encouraging local access.
The Manuscript provides the focus for a new exhibition at the Museum of Freemasonry, London. Pages are displayed alongside letters from the Museum archives, items on loan from other institutions and Perfect family heirlooms.
William Perfect - Enlightenment Mason, Medic and Man of Letters remains on display until mid-January 2020. At Canterbury, the Manuscript will be on digital display with related resources in 2020. Enhanced digital access to the Manuscript is provided from the Museum of Freemasonry website and through an on-line link from the Kent Museum of Freemasonry website.
The experience gained through undertaking this project will inform and encourage future fundraising applications by both Museums. The Project has encouraged the Archives Team to pursue a digital preservation policy and strategy, to ensure future accessibility for this new resource.
All images courtesy of the Museum of Freemasonry.