AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXXVII , No. 1, Spring 2005


Plans for Celebrating the Benjamin Franklin
Tercentenary in 2006

by Nicola Twilley, Director of Public Programming,
Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary

Franklin's Leyden JarsFranklin's Leyden Jars, now at the American Philosophical Society. After earning enough to retire as a gentleman, Franklin undertook electrical experiments, which led him among other achievements to explain the action of these capacitors in terms of positive and negative electricity. When he went to Paris as ambassador of the newborn American republic, Franklin's fame as the "Newton of Electricity" gave him an entree to French society that provided crucial leverage in gaining the support that proved invaluable for the nation's independence. Photo by Peter Harholdt.

Click on photo to see a larger image.

Physicists will scarcely get a chance to recover from the World Year of Physics 2005, celebrating the centenary of Einstein's "miracle year," when they will be asked to remind students and the public about America's first great physicist. An Act of Congress in 2002 created a Federal Commission to recommend government programs to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birth in 2006. Dr. Rosalind Remer serves as Executive Director of the Federal Commission which operates, with the assistance of the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, a consortium created in 2000 by the American Philosophical Society, The Franklin Institute, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the University of Pennsylvania. The office of the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary is the official government point of contact and coordinator for state, local, international, and private sector initiatives organized around the 300th anniversary.

The celebrations organized under the Tercentenary's leadership will aim to educate the general public about Franklin's enduring legacy and to inspire renewed appreciation of the values he embodied. Among other events, an international traveling loan exhibition, Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World, will premiere in Philadelphia before touring five major cities between December 2005 and February 2008, and will continue to exist into the future as a virtual exhibition on the Internet. It will feature the largest collection of Franklin materials original works of art, documents, and artifacts ever assembled, as well as interactive, multi-media installations, in order to demonstrate and explore Franklin's life, character, and achievements. A website,, is being developed to make publicly available a wealth of information about Tercentenary-related events, new publications on Franklin, new school curriculums for youth, an image bank, time lines, bibliographies, fact sheets, and links to other useful Franklin-related pages on the Internet. For more information contact Nicola Twilley, Director of Public Programming, Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, 135 S. 18th Street, Suite 702, Philadelphia, PA 19103; phone: (215) 557-0733, e-mail:

Return to Newsletter Table of ContentsRETURN to Spring 2005 Newsletter Table of Contents

AIP History CenterCenter for History of Physics
Phone: 301-209-3165
American Institute of Physics 2005 American Institute of Physics,
One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740-3843. Email:
Phone: 301-209-3100; Fax: 301-209-0843