Introduction

Benjamin Franklin’s Life, ideas, and legacy offer an outstanding lens through which to view early American history and culture. During his long life, Franklin was a writer, inventor, community leader, scholar, revolutionary, diplomat, and lawmaker. His words gave meaning to the lives of the American colonists. His inventions reflected the ideas and needs of his fellow citizens. His actions ensured the development of colonial society, the creation of the American republic, and its security under the Constitution.

Philadelphia is rich in resources that will allow Summer Scholars to improve their understanding of eighteenth-century America, acquire materials that will benefit their classroom teaching, and take those materials into their students’ experiences.

During the workshop, teachers will have the opportunity to visit some of America’s outstanding libraries, including the Library Company of Philadelphia (founded by Franklin in 1731), the American Philosophical Library (founded by Franklin in 1743), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (which holds one of the largest collections of early American materials in the nation), and the rare book room of University of Pennsylvania (founded by Franklin in 1749). Teachers will study original letters, publications, maps, prints, books, and other resources.

Fully believing that material culture is also a text that is essential to studying this era, Summer Scholars will also view museum installations, historic houses and other buildings, archaeological artifacts, and a cityscape that was laid out in 1682, that remains largely in place as it was when seventeen-year old Benjamin Franklin first walked its streets in October 1723.

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