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.

Treasures of the American Philosophical Society

Online Exhibition

Treasures of the American Philosophical Society is a digital exhibition that shares highlights of the Society's remarkable collections. The APS is home to 13 million manuscripts, and 600,000 books, maps, prints, photographs, scientific instruments, fine art, and more. These objects trace American history and science from the Colonial era to the digital age.

Are you curious about Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin’s personal library, or Lewis and Clark’s journals? How about “black holes” in space or Neil Armstrong’s moon landing? Explore the Society's treasures by visiting one of these sections below.

  • Early America
  • History of Science
  • Native America
  • Natural History
  • Surprise Me
  • Staff Picks

Jump in and explore. You may be surprised!