In honor of the anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s death on April 17, 1790, the Library of Congress has made thousands of his documents available online for the first time.
Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress, announced the tribute on Twitter, praising Franklin as a "diplomat, publisher, scientist and scholar."
The collection comprises approximately 8,000 documents spanning from 1726 to 1907. The most notable items detail Franklin’s diplomatic work as a colonial representative in London and France.
Additional pieces in the collection showcase Franklin’s scientific research, inventions, and correspondence with friends, family, and colleagues — including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, and George III, King of Great Britain.
Other major collections of Benjamin Franklin papers can be found across the country. Penn has a collection of nearly 900 items and acquired Franklin’s first printed work, “The Elegy on the Death of Aquila Rose,” last January.
Julie Miller, curator of early-American manuscripts at the Library of Congress, commented on the popularity of the Franklin papers to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“People have always been interested in Benjamin Franklin because he was a statesman at the local, national, and imperial level,” Miller said. “And he was just personally really interesting.”
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