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.

Use the APS Library

The American Philosophical Society Library is an international center for research with specialties in the history of the sciences, early American history, Native American ethnography and linguistics, and digital innovation.

With roots extending back to the founding of the Society in 1743, the Library of the American Philosophical Society houses over thirteen million manuscripts, 350,000 volumes and bound periodicals, 250,000 images, and thousands of hours of audio tape. The Library's holdings make it among the premier institutions for documenting the history of the American Revolution and Founding, the study of natural history in the 18th and 19th centuries, the study of evolution and genetics, quantum mechanics, and the development of cultural anthropology, among others.

Notable manuscript collections include the papers of Benjamin Franklin, the Journals of Lewis and Clark, a large corpus of Charles Darwin correspondence and printed material, the records of pioneering anthropologists , the holdings of the Eugenics Records Office, and the papers of seven Nobel Laureates.

Among the many extraordinary books are first editions of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia, Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, a presentation copy of Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, the elephant folio of Audubon's Birds of North America (for which the APS was an original subscriber), as well as a majority of Benjamin Franklin imprints and a significant portion of Franklin's personal library.