Procession entering first American Law School to hear James Wilson, Chief Justice of Pennsylvania ... Philadelphia, 1790, from a magazine advertisement, circa 1950, for Heritage Whisky’s “Philadelphia” blend. This one is “pretty funky,” says Lloyd. “It’s historically inaccurate; Wilson was not chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and he was not a justice of any court of the state of Pennsylvania. I think it was done by somebody who had been drinking too much of the product.”


Ornamentally Useful

The images and texts shown here are just a few of the primary-source treasures available on Penn in the Age of Franklin: 1740-1790 (, a collaborative website that draws on the collections of Penn’s library system and the University Archives and Records Center (UARC). The website is part of Penn’s effort to celebrate Benjamin Franklin’s 300th birthday in 2006, and according to Dr. Michael Ryan, director of the library’s rare books and manuscripts collection and of the Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text & Image, it is very much a “site in progress.” So far, it offers 2,700 pages of primary-source material, including 1,500 pages of manuscripts from the archives’ collection and 1,200 pages of imprints from the rare-books collection.

“It’s a very powerful research tool, and a very interesting source for anyone who cares about the history of the University,” adds Mark Lloyd, director of the UARC. “It should appeal to the scholar and the layperson alike.”



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From the Matriculation and lecture tickets series, 1765-1799. “This is a student ID, basically,” says Lloyd. “The professor himself would often lecture to more than a hundred students, and he would make sure they had all paid tuition by lecturing in a hall where a doorman checked the cards.”

From the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania Minute Books, volume 1, 1749-1768 (College, Academy, and Charitable School). “We can document the history of the institution from the first convening of the trustees,” says Lloyd. “Right off the bat, you’re struck by the noble purpose of the founders.”

From Franklin’s Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania, 1749. “This is sort of the founding charter of the University, where Franklin lays out his vision,” says Ryan. “That’s the real chestnut.” According to Lloyd, Pensilvania was a common spelling in those days.



  2004 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 04/29/04