The American Philosophical Society, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, proudly bears the title of the nation's oldest learned society.  Our founders participated in the birth of American democracy. It pains us greatly that all these years later, our nation's promise has yet to be fulfilled.  We join all Americans of good will in deploring the senseless murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Over these past months the Society has hosted a number of virtual programs.  Even as we now resume our work with the offering of new programs, our attention remains focused on the senseless loss of innocent lives and our commitment to the difficult, necessary conversations and actions we must all take to begin to ensure that such tragedies end. Read more about virtual programming and resources that can be accessed remotely. Read more about the APS response to COVID-19.

"Pandemics in Perspective: A Virtual Roundtable Discussion"


Register for this event online via Zoom.


What can histories of past pandemics tell us about COVID-19? How might historians of science, medicine, and technology help inform efforts to understand and confront the coronavirus? 

Join Dr. Adrianna Link, Head of Scholarly Programs at the American Philosophical Society, for a virtual roundtable discussion on the history of pandemics featuring: Dr. Jane E. Boyd, historical curator for the Mütter Museum's exhibition, Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918–19 in Philadelphia; Dr. Scott Knowles, Professor of History at Drexel University; and Dr. Graham Mooney, Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Medicine in the School of Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology in the Bloomberg School of Public Health at The Johns Hopkins University.

The event will take place on Friday, March 27 at 1:00pm EDT via Zoom. Registration is required. 


Jane E. Boyd, Ph.D. is the historical curator for Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918–19 in Philadelphia, a long-term exhibition at the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Dr. Boyd is an independent curator/exhibit developer, museum consultant, and writer and editor. Trained as an art historian at Bryn Mawr College and the University of Delaware, she brings a wide range of interdisciplinary knowledge to her work as a public historian, specializing in the history of science, technology, and medicine. She has worked on exhibitions and interpretive projects for museums in Philadelphia and beyond, on topics including natural history dioramas, children’s science kits, and injury and disability in the Civil War. She is also a Senior Lecturer in the graduate program in Museum Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

Scott G. Knowles, Ph.D. is a historian of modern cities, technology and public policy–with a particular focus on risk and disaster. His most recent book is The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2011). He is the editor of Imagining Philadelphia: Edmund Bacon and the Future of the City (UPenn Press, 2009); and has published articles, essays and book reviews in The Next American City, Isis, History and Technology, Public Works Management and Policy, Technology and Culture, Business History Review, Enterprise and Society, The Smart Set and Annals of Science. His opinion pieces have run in The New York Times, The Hill and The Philadelphia Inquirer, and he has been a media commentator for such outlets as, Al Jazeera, NPR, FOX News, Inside Edition and He is the host of #COVID-Calls, a daily discussion of the COVID-19 pandemic with a diverse collection of disaster experts.

Graham Mooney, Ph.D. is an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University in the Department of the History of Medicine in the School of Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. He teaches about the history of public health and disease in Great Britain and the United States. His 2015 book Intrusive Interventions: Public Health, Domestic Space, and Infectious Disease Surveillance in England 1840-1914 (University of Rochester Press, 2015), examines interventions such as infectious disease notification, institutional and domestic isolation, disinfection, school closures and contact tracing.