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Interpreting the Evidence

Benjamin Franklin Statue on Library Company Building, Philadelphia

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Revolution and New Nation (1754 - 1820s)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    American Revolution
    Colonial America

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Benjamin Franklin Statue on Library Company Building, Philadelphia in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Statue of Benjamin Franklin on the Library Company Building at Locust and Juniper streets in Philadelphia, 1789. Photograph taken in 1912.
Historical Context
As a printer, Franklin knew books were very expensive, but he wanted all citizens to have the ability to read and appreciate books.  So Franklin and a group of other printers known as the Leather Apron Club pooled their money and purchased books that would be loaned out to people.  Their Library Company was the first lending library in America (1731).  In 1789, it served as the first Library of Congress, as well, when it offered its services to the delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.  For over one hundred years, the Library Company was the largest public library in the United States.  Today, it is a research library.
Essential Question
How do individuals influence the development of a society?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and evaluate the impact of Benjamin Franklin's life on the development of American society.
Historical Challenges
What other name was the Leather Apron Club called?
Look at the building in this photograph. Was the Benjamin Franklin statue originally located at this building? Is the statue located at this building today?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art: What artist created this sculpture?
English Language Arts: Compare and contrast the ways that people can get books today with Benjamin Franklin’s time.