Reading Thomas Jefferson’s Mail

Presenter: Dr. Barbara B. Oberg
Date: Thursday, January 22, 2015 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm
Type of Event: Lecture and Reception

“In a sense, my career as a historian has been reading other peoples' mail. For the past 15 years I have been reading Thomas Jefferson's--both the letters he wrote and those he received. He corresponded over the years with long-time Virginia friends, men and women whom he met in France when serving there as American minister in the 1780s and stayed in touch with for the rest of his life -- individuals who sought jobs when as president he had the power of patronage, members of Congress and his Cabinet and, of enormous importance to him, his daughters and grandchildren. This body of documents helps us to understand not just Thomas Jefferson but early American politics, business, and society. If we understand Jefferson's world, we are better equipped to understand our own."

Join us as Dr. Oberg shares her insights into the life and character of Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States. Jefferson was president of the American Philosophical Society from 1797 to 1814 -- both before, during and after his presidential term. This talk is one of the many events over the next two years that will add to our historical understanding of Jefferson and how his multi-faceted legacy continues to be relevant today.

Barbara Oberg is a Research Scholar in the History Department at Princeton University and Editor Emerita of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, a comprehensive edition of Jefferson's writings and correspondence (a project begun by the late Jefferson scholar and Member of the Society, Julian P. Boyd) published by Princeton University Press. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where her primary fields of study were eighteenth-century British intellectual history and American history of the early republic.

She has served as the president of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, the Society for Textual Scholarship and the Association for Documentary Editing. She is currently on the Board of Trustees of Colonial Williamsburg and Chair of the Executive Committee of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture at the College of William and Mary. Dr. Oberg was elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society in 1998.

This event is free and open to the public.
Closest Parking: Bourse Garage, 400 Ranstead Street (entrance on 4th next to Ritz Movie Theater)

Benjamin Franklin’s Birthday: 2015 Celebration! – Building the City

Presenter: Paul R. Levy
Harris M. Steinberg
Dr. Sandra L. Tatman
Date: Friday, January 16, 2015 - 9:00am to 10:30am
Type of Event: Seminar; Other Events to Follow

Philadelphia in Franklin's era was known as the Athens of the New World. As master builders and carpenters erected homes ranging from simple to elaborate, Franklin turned his attention to safety features that were both useful and practical helping to provide the infrastructure for this growing metropolis. Through his Pennsylvania Gazette he stressed the need for a better water supply, urged the formation of fire companies, and suggested the paving and lighting of streets. In his private time he created the Franklin stove and his experiments with electricity gave rise to the lightning rod.

On January 16, 2015, the Franklin Birthday Celebration will present the Franklin Founders Award to Laurie D. Olin in recognition of his lifetime work in landscape design and urban planning. In 2013, Mr. Olin received the National Medal of Arts. His work through his firm, The Olin Studio, has helped make Philadelphia a more livable and successful city — a shining reflection of Dr. Franklin’s commitment to the improvement of civic life.

The 2015 Philadelphia Celebration will start with a free morning seminar on the topic of Building the City. Afterwards there will be a procession up 5th Street to Dr. Franklin’s grave followed by a luncheon honoring Mr. Olin.


Celebration! Benjamin Franklin, Founder is a collaborative organization of representatives of Franklin related organizations that each year plan a celebration in Philadelphia of Franklin’s birthday. The celebration’s intent is to bring national attention to Franklin’s ideas, ideals, and accomplishments which remain relevant today. Each celebration is built around a separate theme related to a different facet of Franklin’s interests. While Franklin’s involvement in a particular field is explored, the focus also is on contemporary research and development within that field. Each year, the Franklin Founder bowl is awarded to an individual who has made significant contributions to that field.

Science on Tap: “The Floor is Lava (Literally): The Do’s and Don’ts of Volcanology”

Presenter: Loÿc Vanderkluysen
Date: Monday, January 12, 2015 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Type of Event: APS Museum Event

Every year, an average of 60 volcanoes erupt worldwide; approximately 15 of these eruptions have the potential to disrupt air traffic and cause widespread destruction. The practical consequences of these damaging effects made front-page news in 2010, following the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland (which caused extensive air traffic disruptions and flight cancellations), and Merapi volcano in Indonesia (during which 353 people were killed, and 350,000 were displaced). These events highlighted the need for novel and improved real-time volcano monitoring tools. In this presentation, Dr Vanderkluysen will talk about current eruptions in Hawaii and elsewhere across the globe, recent technological developments in volcano monitoring, and volcanic surveillance in the United States.

Loÿc Vanderkluysen, PhD, has been studying all types of volcanoes for the last 15 years: modern and ancient, active and inactive, on land and under water, in Greece, India, Italy, Indonesia, or the South Pacific. Dr Vanderkluysen specializes in the development of novel instrumentation and techniques to monitor volcanic eruptions and mitigate volcanic disasters, in the study of ancient but exceedingly large volcanic eruptions, and in the short- and long-term effects of volcanic gas release to the atmosphere, climate, and the environment.

This free event will be held at National Mechanics Bar & Restaurant, 22 South Third Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106.

For more info on this monthly program, go to

This month’s Science on Tap event is hosted by The Academy of Natural Sciences. Science on Tap is sponsored by a consortium of five Philadelphia institutions: Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, American Philosophical Society (APS), Museum Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF), Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Wagner Free Institute of Science

More Between Heaven and Earth

Presenter: Salon/Sanctuary Concerts
Date: Friday, January 9, 2015 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Type of Event: APS Museum Event

An original play with music -- with Jessica Gould, soprano, Tony Boutté, tenor and the Salon/Sanctuary Chamber Orchestra
Price: $25.00 (Adult); $20 (Senior); $15 (Student)

The APS and Salon/Sanctuary Concerts present an original theatrical production based on the letters of Thomas Jefferson and Maria Cosway. Cosway, an accomplished artist, musician and composer, first met Jefferson in 1876 while he served as American envoy to France. They kept up a spirited and passionate correspondence until Jefferson’s death in 1826.

Their letters reveal Jefferson’s evolving views on the separation of church and state, intermingled with Cosway’s account of her stifling marriage and the limited options open to a woman of brilliance. This original play is composed entirely of selections from their writings and features music that they heard, composed, played, and sent to each other, including works of Corelli, Hewitt, Sacchini, and Cosway herself. Accompanied by the Salon/Sanctuary Chamber Orchestra, this theatrical production offers a special opportunity to hear pre-Romantic music in an intimate venue that complements the historical context of the repertoire.

For tickets, visit brownbagtickets at

This performance is made possible in part by a generous grant from The Florence Gould Foundation. The leadership of Salon/Sanctuary Concerts bears no family relationship to The Florence Gould Foundation.

Privileging the Public in Public History

Presenter: Morris J. Vogel, President of the Tenement Museum
Date: Friday, December 12, 2014 - 10:30pm to Saturday, December 13, 2014 - 12:00am
Type of Event: Lecture and Reception

Morris J. Vogel heads one of the most innovative museums in the country, the Tenement Museum, located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The Museum preserves and interprets the history of immigration – recreating through costumed interpreters the personal experiences and stories of the working class immigrants who lived at 97 Orchard Street. With guided tours of the building and surrounding neighborhood, the Tenement Museum enhances the appreciation for the profound role immigration has played and continues to play in shaping America’s evolving national identity.

Dr. Vogel will share his experiences leading the Tenement Museum and speak to the growing trend to make history more accessible to a public audience. Prior to joining the museum in 2008, Dr. Vogel served as a faculty member and chair of the Department of History at Temple University. He is the author or editor of six books in the social history of American medicine, cultural history, and urban history. While at Temple, Vogel founded the NEH-funded Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) and was a member of the Historic Preservation Board of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Most recently, he served as director of Creativity and Culture at the Rockefeller Foundation, where he developed strategies for employing culture as an agent of social transformation.

This lecture is in honor of Dr. Martin L. Levitt, Librarian at the American Philosophical Society (APS), who will retire from his post at year’s end. The APS joins Temple University, where he earned his Ph.D. and taught for many years, in honoring Dr. Levitt for his more than 25 years of service at the American Philosophical Society.

This event is free and open to the public
Closest Parking: Bourse Garage, 400 Ranstead Street (entrance on 4th next to Ritz Movie Theater)

The Human Gut Microbiota and Childhood Undernutrition: Looking at Human Development from a Microbial Perspective

Presenter: Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD
Date: Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - 9:30pm to 11:00pm
Type of Event: Lecture and Reception

Jeffrey I. Gordon, MD, is internationally known for his fundamental work on intestinal development. His research on how gut microbial communities affect normal gut function and shape various aspects of human physiology, metabolism, and nutritional status has opened a new field of research focusing on the microbiome. Much of what is known about the working of the gut microbiome have come from Dr. Gordon’s seminal studies of “gnotobiotic” mice – mice that have been raised under sterile conditions and then colonized with human gut microbes and given human diets. In the past decade, Dr. Gordon and his team’s research have uncovered a compelling causal link between the gut microbiome and obesity. More recently, his studies have implicated a dysfunctional, immature gut microbiome as an underlying cause of childhood undernutrition.

Dr. Gordon will discuss the research that has led him to be named the 15th recipient of the Jonathan E. Rhoads Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Medicine . The Jonathan E. Rhoads Commemorative Lecture was established in 1996 to honor the man who made significant contributions to medicine and to the three institutions sponsoring this program. Dr. Rhoads served as President of the American Philosophical Society and The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and as Chair of the Department of Surgery of the University of Pennsylvania. He was known to many as a true renaissance man in the image of Benjamin Franklin. This endowed program was made possible with generous support from the Benjamin and Mary Siddons Measey Foundation, The General Motors Foundation, and the many friends and colleagues of Dr. Rhoads.

Location: Smilow Center for Translational Research, Arthur H. Rubenstein Auditorium, 3400 Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Please RSVP to: Barbara [dot] hamilton [at] uphs [dot] upenn [dot] edu

This event is free and open to the public

An Evening With Thomas Jefferson and John Adams

An Evening With Thomas Jefferson and John Adams
Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 11:00pm to Wednesday, November 19, 2014 - 1:00am
Type of Event: APS Museum Event

The teamwork, friendship, rivalry, and finally friendship again between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson is perhaps the most famous relationship between two Presidents of the United States. Witness the two American patriots recollect, discuss, and sometimes argue about what exactly happened while a nation unlike any other was being born. Featuring Steve Edenbo as Thomas Jefferson and Peyton Dixon as John Adams.

Thomas Jefferson impersonator and historian, Steve Edenbo has entertained and inspired audiences of all ages since 1999. Edenbo has interpreted Thomas Jefferson at venues that include Monticello, The National Archives, Independence National Historical Park: DeclarationHouse, Congress hall and City Tavern, the Smithsonian Institution, National Constitution Center, University of Virginia, Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge, Carpenter’s Hall, Trenton’s Patriot Week, the Philly Pops at Independence Hall, Texas A&M International University , and the Academy of Natural Science.

Peyton Dixon, an interpreter with eight years experience and an actor for over 25 years, has been seen as John Adams at the National Archives in Washington D.C., Wilmington’s Delaware Art Museum, and has portrayed the man in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall for the last three years.

Science on Tap: Do Cats Make You Crazy?

Science on Tap: Do Cats Make You Crazy?
Date: Monday, November 10, 2014 - 11:00pm to Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - 1:00am
Type of Event: APS Museum Event

The 2014 Ig Nobel prize in public health was recently awarded to researchers studying whether owning a cat is mentally hazardous to people. The source of this hazard is not the cat itself but what it can carry: an extremely contagious and ubiquitous parasite calledToxoplasma gondii. This successful parasite can infect almost any warm-blooded animal, hiding in the brain as a cyst. In most people it is thought that the dormant Toxoplasma brain cyst does nothing. However, research suggests that these dormant cysts may actually have neurological consequences. Before you run home and get rid of your cuddly kitten, we will objectively take a look at the research to try and understand if cats really make you crazy.

Omar Harb, Ph.D., is Education and Scientific Outreach manager for the Eukaryotic Pathogen Databases, one of four National Bioinformatics Resource Centers. This center, based at the University of Pennsylvania, provides scientists worldwide working on parasitic diseases like toxoplasmosis and malaria with free and easy online access to big data such as genome sequences. Over the past six years, Dr. Harb has focused on running workshops for scientists, serving as an advisor for developing online research tools, and ensuring that big data are readily available for general scientific consumption. Dr. Harb has a doctoral degree in microbiology and postdoctoral training in Toxoplasma and Plasmodium cell and molecular biology.

This month’s Science on Tap event is hosted by the American Philosophical Society Museum.

Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality

Our Declaration - Lecture and Reception with Danielle Allen
Presenter: Danielle Allen
Date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 9:30pm to 11:30pm
Type of Event: Lecture, Reception, and Book Signing

Danielle Allen, a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, is a political philosopher widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America.

Every Independence Day we stand together in rare bipartisanship and celebrate the Declaration of Independence and its defense of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But why not equality? As we debate the meaning of that concept in modern society, scholar Danielle Allen repositions it at the core of our Founding Document.

In Our Declaration, Allen reminds us that it is “all men are created equal” that immediately follows “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” Yet it is liberty that continues to trump equality in the national discussion over the Declaration’s legacy.

Aware that most adults have never read the Declaration of Independence, Allen sets out to reacquaint all Americans with this most seminal of history documents―arguably the most important document besides the Magna Carta―as well as to demonstrate why it is not only a pact affirming individual liberty (as the right regularly espouses) but an impassioned plea for equality.

Free Admission

Jefferson’s Garden Party

Date: Saturday, September 20, 2014 - 3:00pm to 7:30pm
Type of Event: APS Museum Event

Celebrate the end of summer by immersing yourself in 18th century Philadelphia. Build and explore colonial Philadelphia as Thomas Jefferson knew it. Set type to print your own document like John Dunlap did for the Declaration of Independence. Try locally-made ice cream inspired by Jefferson’s favorite recipe (after 1:00 p.m.). Meet people from museums and organizations all over the city committed to exploring our city’s vibrant history and experience how our founding fathers and mothers influenced the city we live in today.