back to Treasures

What is a treasure?

Among the thousands of linear feet of manuscripts at the APS, a few individual items stand out for the extraordinary stories they tell about the history of this nation, the workings of science, or the culture in which we live. For lack of a better term, we call these treasures, though truth be told, they just as often reflect the biases and interests of the APS staff as they do some eternal set of values.

In this exhibit, the staff of the Manuscripts Department has assembled a few of the more compelling items from the APS collections to share with the public, ranging from one of the oldest manuscripts in the collections to few dating from the dawn of the information age. Although these items do not reflect a single theme, in aggregate they sketch out the history of the American Philosophical Society as seen through the activities and interests of its members, and present a perspective of the development of this nation over the past two and a half centuries. The circulation of social and scientific ideas, the tastes and aesthetics of American citizens, and the conflicting desires for the future of the United States are all reflected in the items on display.

The exhibit may be navigated in a variety of ways. At the bottom of each page is a table of contents, providing direct links to every item in the exhibit. Alternatively, within the text of each item are hypertextual links to other items that exhibit some connection -- sometimes a direct relationship, sometimes more obscure - enabling readers to wander thematically through the exhibit. While we have attempted to limit the size of images offered on the exhibit pages, a few may take some time to load over slower connections. In some cases, larger and more detailed versions of images are provided through links.

Currently on exhibit


Text by J.J. Ahern, R.S. Cox, Scott De Haven, Valerie-Anne Lutz, and Hannah Schneider.
All photographic work copyright by and courtesy of Frank Margeson.

© 2000, American Philosophical Society

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