With celebrations in honor of Ben Franklin’s 300th birthday taking place across the city, it may be difficult to decide where to start. Here’s your answer: the Penn Library.
The library’s new exhibit, “Educating the Youth of Pennsylvania: Worlds of Learning in the Age of Franklin” is an eye-opening look at the state of education in 18th-century Philadelphia. Though Franklin was certainly a leader in the advancement of American education, this exhibit shows he was not alone. Indeed, colonial Philadelphia was a place bursting with intellectual activity, and Franklin was as much a product of that environment as he was a contributor to it. Among the most fascinating artifacts at the exhibit are samples of educational battledoors (pictured at left) and the only known copy of The Friendly Instructor, a book about manners that scholars had long suspected Franklin had written—but, until recently, could not find.
“Educating the Youth of Pennsylvania: Worlds of Learning in the Age of Franklin” runs through May 31 at the Rosenwald Gallery, sixth floor of the Library. For more information, call 215-898-7552 or 215-746-5852.
Originally published on January 26, 2006