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 APS

Online only

Among the thousands of linear feet of manuscripts at the APS, a few individual items stand out for the extraordinary stories they tell about the history of this nation, the workings of science, or the culture in which we live.

In this exhibit, the staff of the Manuscripts Department has assembled a few of the more compelling items from the APS collections to share with the public, ranging from one of the oldest manuscripts in the collections to a few dating from the dawn of the information age. Although these items do not reflect a single theme, in aggregate they sketch out the history of the APS as seen through the activities and interests of its Members, and present a perspective of the development of this nation over the past two and a half centuries. The circulation of social and scientific ideas, the tastes and aesthetics of American citizens, and the conflicting desires for the future of the United States are all reflected in the items in this online exhibition.