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 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm
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.


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Jefferson’s Garden Party

Date: Saturday, September 20, 2014 - 11:00am to 3:30pm
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.

We invite you to contribute to the work of the Society by following the link below.

Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn: A Father, a Daughter, the Meaning of Nothing, and the Beginning of Everything

Presenter: Amanda Gefter
Date: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 5:30pm
Type of Event: Lecture, Reception, and Book Signing

Amanda Gefter is a physics writer and consultant for New Scientist magazine, where she previously served as Books & Arts editor and founded CultureLab,New Scientist's books and arts blog. She is a 2012-13 MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellow, and her writing has appeared in Scientific American, Forbes, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn is a spirited and personal account of a father/daughter quest for answers to the universe's biggest questions.

This event is co-hosted by the National Museum of American Jewish History, APS’s Historic District neighbor.

The APS Museum will be open prior to this lecture, 5pm - 6pm.

We invite you to contribute to the work of the Society by following the link below.

Science on Tap: Permaculture Food Forests in the City

Date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 6:00pm

When William Penn created Philadelphia he envisioned a lush American Eden, a “greene country towne.” Today, Philadelphia is a far cry from that vision, but there is a growing movement to create a healthier, more sustainable city full of green spaces with access to healthy, local food.

Phil Forsyth, Philadelphia’s own Johnny Appleseed, has planted dozens of permaculture orchards and edible forests through his work with the Philadelphia Orchard Project. He will discuss permaculture, a design science aimed at creating sustainable regenerative landscapes and communities, and food forests, a permaculture strategy for developing diverse, multi-layered food-producing ecosystems. Phil believes we can we create functioning, diverse environments within the city that that mimic the natural systems within forests. These food forests and orchards bring fresh fruit to Philadelphians, replace vacant lots, bring the community together and help clean the water and air.

Phil Forsyth is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Orchard Project, a non-profit that plants and supports community orchards in the city, including many food forests. Forsyth has a degree in Horticulture and Landscape Design; certification in Permaculture design and teaching; and 15 years of experience in urban farming and orcharding. Since 2007, the Philadelphia Orchard Project has planted 36 orchards with a wide range of community groups in neighborhoods across the city.

We invite you to contribute to the work of the Society by following the link below.

First Friday: Crafting a Classic

Date: Friday, September 5, 2014 - 4:00pm to 7:00pm
Type of Event: APS Museum Event

Thomas Jefferson’s family maintained that he wrote parts of the Declaration of Independence from the comfort of a revolving Windsor chair purchased in Philadelphia in 1776. Join us at First Friday in September to see that historical chair and watch chairmaker Brian Cunfer of the Windsor Chair Shop of Lancaster County demonstrate the expert craftsmanship required to create these beautiful objects.

Brian Cunfer started making American Windsor chairs in 1993. He studied the craft at John C. Campbell Folk School, where he currently teaches. Brian makes chairs full time from his studio in Lancaster, where he also conducts one-on-one chairmaking

4:00-7:00 p.m. – Chairmaking demonstrations ongoing in the Jefferson Garden.Jefferson, Philadelphia, and the Founding of a Nation exhibition open in Philosophical Hall.

We invite you to contribute to the work of the Society by following the link below.

Science on Tap: Show and Tell

Date: Monday, August 11, 2014 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Type of Event: APS Museum Event

Science on Tap in August will be held in a special Museum Show-and-Tell format! How do some of Philadelphia’s great historical and cultural institutions relate to science? Join us as Philadelphia museums bring a piece of their story to National Mechanics to demonstrate to us how they can relate to science. These organizations will present a specific object or idea in flash talk format that specifically connects to science. What a chance to see these establishments in a new scientific light!

Featuring Bartram’s Garden, Eastern State Penitentiary, Elfreth’s Alley, Free Library of Philadelphia, Independence Seaport Museum, National Liberty Museum, National Constitution Center, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology & Archaeology

Science on Tap is sponsored by a consortium of five Philadelphia institutions:
Academy of Natural Sciences
American Philosophical Society (APS)
Museum Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF)
Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Wagner Free Institute of Science

We invite you to contribute to the work of the Society by following the link below.

Second Saturday: Your Roots, Your Story

Date: Saturday, August 9, 2014 - 12:00pm to 3:00pm
Type of Event: APS Museum Event

Discover the most exciting history of all…the history of you! Learn how genealogy and geography go hand-in-hand. Plot your family’s past and see how it intersects with history. Join us across the street from the museum in the Jefferson Garden (rain location Philosophical Hall, 2nd Floor)!

We invite you to contribute to the work of the Society by following the link below.

First Friday: "Not Your History Teacher's Thomas Jefferson"

Date: Friday, August 1, 2014 - 4:00pm to 7:00pm
Type of Event: APS Museum Event

Thomas Jefferson is known the world over as a polymath, founding father of the United States, brilliant statesman and scientist, and deep Enlightenment-era thinker whose ruminations on democracy shook up an entire world order. He was a complex man whose commitment to the “inalienable rights” of human equality was belied by the hundreds of slaves he owned in his lifetime. This talk is about none of that serious stuff. Join Gigi Naglak, Curator of Museum Education, for this talk at 4:30, 5:30 or 6:30!

We invite you to contribute to the work of the Society by following the link below.

The Secret Cinema presents 1934 colonial era sex comedy

Secret Cinema at the American Philosophical Society Museum
Date: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Type of Event: APS Museum Event

On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, the Secret Cinema will return to the American Philosophical Society Museum to present THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, a 1934 romantic comedy set in the Revolutionary Era. With a winning cast and a novel setting, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS is surely the only Hollywood film with a focus on bundling boards. In 1700′s New England, young betrothed couples got to know each other better by “bundling.” That is, they were encouraged to sleep together on cold winter nights – fully clothed, with a wooden board to separate them. There will also be a surprise short subject. Noted movie historian Richard Barrios will introduce the feature, and lead a post-film discussion. This will be the first of two Secret Cinema events at the APS Museum this year celebrating their current exhibition, JEFFERSON, PHILADELPHIA, AND THE FOUNDING OF A NATION. Details of the next screening (on Wednesday,October 1, 2014) will be announced soon. This Secret Cinema event will feature a chance to explore the exhibition,free refreshments and snacks, and a fascinating screening (as always with Secret Cinema, using real film projected on a giant screen). Best of all, admission is free. See more at

We invite you to contribute to the work of the Society by following the link below.

The Worlds the Shawnees Made: Migration and Violence in Early America

Presenter: Stephen Warren
Date: Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 5:30pm to 8:00pm
Type of Event: Lecture, Reception, and Book Signing

In 1779, Shawnees from Chillicothe, a community in the Ohio country, told the British, "We have always been the frontier." Their statement challenges an oft-held belief that American Indians derive their unique identities from longstanding ties to native lands. By tracking Shawnee people and migrations from 1400 to 1754, Stephen Warren illustrates how Shawnees made a life for themselves at the crossroads of empires and competing tribes, embracing mobility and often moving willingly toward violent borderlands. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the Shawnees ranged over the eastern half of North America and used their knowledge to foster notions of pan-Indian identity that shaped relations between Native Americans and settlers in the revolutionary era and beyond.

Warren's deft analysis makes clear that Shawnees were not anomalous among Native peoples east of the Mississippi. Through migration, they and their neighbors adapted to disease, warfare, and dislocation by interacting with colonizers as slavers, mercenaries, guides, and traders. These adaptations enabled them to preserve their cultural identities and resist coalescence without forsaking their linguistic and religious traditions.

Stephen Warren is associate professor of history at Augustana College and was a historian for the PBS documentary "We Shall Remain," which aired in 2009.

Warren also received a Mellon Foundation Sabbatical Fellowship from the American Philosophical Society in 2010-11 for this important and much-needed book on the early history of the Shawnees and mid-America.

We invite you to contribute to the work of the Society by following the link below.