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.

The Franklin Seminar

“Benjamin Franklin liked to eat. He liked to drink. He liked to entertain and be entertained. Franklin also loved knowledge and was a great promoter of its advancement.”

―Forward to Benjamin Franklin on The Art of Eating


Join us for an exciting collaboration of the American Philosophical Society and Library Company of Philadelphia—a jointly-developed seminar built around our rare documents and taught by our own experts that will give a small group the Benjamin Franklin learning experience of a lifetime! Course sessions will immerse participants in different periods in Franklin's life through selected course readings and the archival holdings of each institution. 

The seminar will alternate locations between the American Philosophical Society Library (105 South Fifth Street) and the Library Company of Philadelphia (1314 Locust Street). Seminar sessions will be from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., beginning with hands-on review of primary materials, followed by conversation over dinner. Tuition for the course is $2,000. For information and/or registration, please email Abigail Shelton at Payment must be received before your spot in the course can be confirmed. 





Wednesday, January 17

American Philosophical Society

Franklin’s Birthday and Seminar Introduction

Thursday, February 1

American Philosophical Society

Franklin and the Revolution

Thursday, March 1

Library Company of Philadelphia

Franklin as Printer

Thursday, March 29

American Philosophical Society

Franklin’s Autobiography

Thursday, May 3

Library Company of Philadelphia

Franklin’s Legacy


Course Leaders

James N. Green is Librarian of the Library Company of Philadelphia, where he has worked since 1983. He holds degrees from Oberlin College (A.B.), Yale University (M. Phil.), and Columbia University (M.L.S). His three essays on printing and book publishing in America from 1680 to 1840 appear in the first two volumes of the collaborative History of the Book in America, published by the American Antiquarian Society (2000-2010) under the general editorship of David D. Hall. He is also co-author, with Peter Stallybrass, of Benjamin Franklin, Writer and Printer (Oak Knoll Press and the British Library, 2006). Jim serves on the board of Rare Book School at the University of Virginia and teaches courses there in the summer.

Patrick Spero is the Librarian of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. As a scholar of early American history, Dr. Spero specializes in the era of the American Revolution. He has published over a dozen essays and reviews on the topic. He is the author of Fighting for Independence in the American West, 1765-1776 (W.W. Norton) as well as Frontier Country: The Politics of War in Early Pennsylvania, and the edited anthology The American Revolution Reborn: New Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century (both published by the University of Pennsylvania Press). Prior to his appointment at the American Philosophical Society, Patrick taught at Williams College where he served as Assistant Professor of History and Leadership Studies and received recognition for his integration of new technology in the classroom. Patrick has also held the position of Historian at the David Library of the Revolution and served on their Board of Trustees. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009.