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.

In the 19th century, many Members responded to Franklin’s call to “let light into the nature of things.” They documented the natural world, questioned the origins of man, and studied different cultures.

Charles Darwin’s (APS 1869) groundbreaking ideas about natural selection and evolution resulted in the emergence of new and increasingly specialized fields. Geologists and paleontologists sought to prove Darwin’s theories by examining rocks and fossils as physical evidence of evolutionary change. Anthropologists similarly studied language and culture to better understand people in both the past and present.

Many of the biggest debates of the day took place at the APS. The Society created connections among paleontologists, geologists, and anthropologists, who presented their work at APS Meetings or in APS publications like the Transactions and Proceedings.