American philosophical society

Alternative names
Dates:
Active 1775
Active 1787
US
English, French

Biographical notes:

Benjamin Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society in 1743 in Philadelphia, patterning it after the Royal Society of London. It's purpose was the promotion of the study of science and the practical arts of agriculture, engineering trades, and manufactures. Subjects of today's "philosophy" were generally excluded from the societies of the 17th and 18th centuries and the word "philosophy" meant to them "love of knowledge," and was essentially the equivalent of today's "science." Interest in the Society waned after the first few years, then revived with a creation of the American Society. At their first meeting on Jan. 2, 1769, Benjamin Franklin was elected their president, and was re-elected annually until his death in 1790, even though he was frequently absent in Europe. This photocopy was made from the original document, owned by Spotswood Hunt, which he loaned to William Madison Randall Library for an exhibit in May, 1969.

From the description of American Philosophical Society membership certificate, 1786 / American Philosophical Society. (University of North Carolina, Wilmington). WorldCat record id: 45038009

Founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin, the American Philosophical Society was the first learned society in the United States. For over 250 years, the Society has played an important role in American cultural and intellectual life. Until the mid-nineteenth century, the Society fulfiled the role of a national academy of science, national library and museum, and even patent office. Early members in the Society included Thomas Jefferson, David Rittenhouse, Benjamin Rush, Stephen Peter Du Ponceau, George Washington, and many other figures prominent in American history.

The American Philosophical Society originated in the mid-eighteenth century, when it was felt a suitable piece of civilization had been carved into the wilderness to allow the pursuit of matters regarding natural philosophy. "Natural philosophy" at that time referred scientific and technological investigations in the broadest sense. The concept of the Society was based on scholarly societies in Europe, such as the Royal Society of London. The membership was comprised of doctors, lawyers, clergymen, artisans, tradesmen, and merchants with an interest in science. By improving methods of agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation the Society hoped to encourage America's economic independence. The Society's place among other international scholarly societies was secured in the 1760s when David Rittenhouse plotted the transit of Venus on a platform behind Independence Hall using one of his telescopes and publishing his findings in the first volume of the Society's Transactions . After a brief lapse during the American Revolution, the Society continued to elect members and became an active participant in the development of the young nation.

During the nineteenth century the Society began to collect important documents of the Colonial and Revolutionary periods under the direction of the Literary and Manuscript Committee. As the Society's membership grew and diversified, so did the Society's interests. Many members in the early 1800s (such as Jefferson, DuPonceau and Benjamin Smith Barton) were interested in the origins and ethnography of Native Americans. The Society's growing Library therefore became a repository for documents on Native American linguistics and ethnography. Based on their vast scientific knowledge, members of the Society were asked to serve as scientific advisors to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the U.S. Exploring Expedition (or Wilkes Expedition), and the Stephen Long Expedition. The Society also encouraged advances in science and technology through its awarding of the Magellanic Premium. In 1838 the Society increased its publications to include the Proceedings . During the latter half of the century, the Society's primary interests were in the fields of American paleontology, geology, astronomical and meteorological observations, and Indian ethnology.

The twentieth century's advances in transportation and communication brought a new vigor to the Society as members from outside the Philadelphia region played an increasingly active role in the Society's administration. The Society continued to support advancements in "useful knowledge," which grew to include the humanities and social sciences, through its publications and new grant program. During World War II the Society broadcast weekly radio programs on science to Europe. The Society also grew physically. During the second half of the twentieth century Library Hall was constricted to house the growing collection of manuscripts and printed material, and the purchase and renovations of Franklin Hall and Richardson Hall provided a state-of-the-art meeting facility and additional space for staff and collections. Through its annual meetings, grant programs, publications, and Library the Society continues to encourage the discussion and advancement of "useful knowledge."

From the guide to the American Philosophical Society Archives, 1743-1984, (American Philosophical Society)

In 1895, Henry Phillips left a portion of his estate to the American Philosophical Society to support research in archaeology and philology, to which supplementary bequests were added in 1903 by his aunt, Emily Phillips, and uncle, Henry M. Phillips. Originally used to acquire books in these subject areas, the increasing strength of the APS collections for Native American languages combined with a critical need for support for primary research led to a gradual change in the use of the Phillips Fund.

Since the 1930s, the APS had provided grants to support research on Native American languages, but in 1941, a Special Committee on the Future Policy of the Library recommended tapping the Phillips Fund for this purpose. Following approval of the Committee on the Library in 1944, the first grant under the Phillips Fund was awarded in the fall, 1945, supporting Zellig Harris of the University of Pennsylvania in his research on the Cherokee language. Since the 1960s, the results of Phillips grants -- including field notes, audio and visual recordings, dissertations, and published and unpublished works -- have been sent to the Library for inclusion in its collections.

The Phillips Fund currently provides grants for research in Native American linguistics and ethnohistory, and the history of studies of Native Americans, in the continental United States and Canada. Grants are not made for projects in archaeology, ethnography, psycholinguistics, or for the preparation of pedagogical materials.

From the guide to the Phillips Fund for Native American Research Collection, 1960-present, (American Philosophical Society)

Loading...

Loading Relationships

Constellation Information

Permalink:
http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6wq3scq
Ark ID:
w6wq3scq
SNAC ID:
55880681

Subjects:

  • Mohawk language
  • Michif language
  • African Americans
  • Indians of North America--Wisconsin
  • Yupik languages
  • Indians of North America--Northwest Coast
  • Maya Indians
  • Indians of Mexico--Mexico--Chiapas
  • Surveys And Explorations, General
  • Indians of Mexico
  • Mayan languages
  • Coasts--Surveys
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Ojibwa Indians
  • Indians of North America--Alaska
  • Indians of North America--New York (State)
  • Cherokee language
  • Creek Indians
  • Artists
  • Ottawa Indians--History
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Taino Indians
  • American Philosophical Society
  • Highland Chontal language
  • Pomo language
  • Gwenhoot Indians
  • Western Apache language
  • Mohawk Indians
  • Mixtec Indians
  • Wichita language
  • Associations, institutions, etc
  • Tahltan language
  • Ojibwa language
  • Anthropology--History
  • Smithsonian Publications
  • Seneca Indians--History
  • Tolowa language
  • Kutenai language
  • Wakashan language
  • Ntlakyapamuk language
  • Eastern Woodlands Indians
  • Hopi dance
  • Fur trade
  • Mobilian trade language
  • Atomic theory
  • Hidatsa Indians
  • Nootka language
  • Zapotec language
  • Mazatec language
  • Wasco language
  • Iowa language
  • Colonial Politics
  • Physics--History
  • Science and technology
  • Mohawk Indians--History
  • Plains Indians
  • Choctaw Indians
  • Arapaho Indians--Music
  • Tsimshian Indians
  • Paiute language
  • Navies
  • Chickasaw Indians
  • Athapascan languages
  • Niska language
  • Jemez language
  • Cheyenne Indians
  • Massachusett language
  • Education
  • Okanagan language
  • Astronomy--18th century
  • Relativity (Physics)
  • Menominee language
  • Ntlakyapamuk Indians
  • Quileute language
  • Matlatzinca language
  • Genetics--Study and teaching
  • Oneida language
  • Eskimo language
  • Indians of North America--South Dakota
  • Diegueno language
  • Cree language
  • Cochiti dialect
  • Batteries
  • Learned institutions and societies
  • Quantum theory--History
  • Dakota Indians--Music
  • Indians of North America--Michigan
  • Portraits--Private collections
  • Yuchi language
  • Pawnee Indians
  • Pokomam language
  • Smithsonian Library
  • Tuscarora Indians--History
  • Narragansett Indians--History
  • Arapaho language
  • Dakota Indians
  • Natural history
  • Navajo language
  • Penobscot Indians--History
  • Potawatomi language
  • Natural history--18th century
  • Xinca language
  • Exposition
  • Passamaquoddy Indians
  • Tlingit Indians
  • Indians of the West Indies--Antilles, Lesser
  • Indians of North America--Minnesota
  • Pima language
  • Complementarity (Physics)
  • Columbia--Wenatchi language
  • Science In Europe
  • Tsimshian language
  • Carrier language
  • Recommendations For Positions
  • Delaware Indians--Music
  • Karok language
  • Yavapai language
  • Shawnee language
  • Comox language
  • Dakota language
  • Electromagnetism
  • Kawki language
  • Haida Indians
  • Indians of Mexico--Religion
  • Inventions
  • Acoma language
  • Choctaw language
  • Forces, Conservation And Correlation
  • Iroquois Indians--Virginia
  • Cahuilla language
  • Salishan languages
  • Iroquois Indians--History
  • Seneca language
  • Philadelphia History
  • Papamiento language
  • Early National Politics
  • Mam language
  • Otomi language
  • Lacandon Indians
  • Patent Office
  • Onondaga language
  • Yuma language
  • Wave mechanics
  • Mechanical drawing
  • Science
  • Creek language
  • Kiowa Indians
  • Siksika Indians
  • Magnetism, Terrestrial
  • Cherokee Indians--History
  • Teton Indians--History
  • Art, American
  • Haisla Indians
  • Seminole Indians
  • Penrose lecture
  • Induction
  • Electrical Discharge
  • Little Bog Horn, Battle of, 1876
  • Astronomy
  • Nahuatl language
  • Heiltsuk Indians--History
  • Siouan languages
  • Ethnology Archaeology Anthropology
  • Pennsylvania History
  • Indians of North America
  • American Assoc. For The Advancement Of Science (+ Aagn Etc.)
  • Mandan language
  • Yana language
  • Southwest Indians
  • Tlakluit language
  • Exchanges Of Publications
  • Nez Percé language
  • Pima Bajo language
  • Chilcotin language
  • Powhattan Indians--History
  • Pueblo Indians
  • Natural history--19th century
  • Creek Indians--History
  • Abolition, emancipation, freedom
  • Eskimos
  • Navajo Indians--History
  • Cheyenne language
  • Miwok language
  • Internationalism
  • Sandia dialect
  • Art--Societies, etc
  • Indians of North America--Arkansas
  • Science In America
  • United States history
  • Meteorology
  • Hare Indians
  • Ethnobotany
  • Smithsonian Exchange
  • Penobscot language
  • Cherokee Indians
  • Hualapai language
  • Zuni Indians--History
  • Tohono O'odham dialect
  • Indians of North America--Canada
  • Scientific publications
  • Koasati language
  • Indians of North America--Arizona
  • Hidatsa language
  • Dogrib Indians
  • Dakota Indians--History
  • Micmac Indians
  • Hupa language
  • Yamasee War, 1715
  • Native America
  • Mandan Indians
  • Slaves, slavery, slave trade
  • Indians of Mexico--Oaxaca
  • Haida language
  • Zuni language
  • Passamaquoddy language
  • Fox language
  • Munsee Indians--History
  • Smallpox
  • Congress
  • Seminole Indians--History
  • History of science and technology
  • Nez Perce Indians--History
  • Yakama language
  • Indians of North America--Missions
  • Yuchi Indians--History
  • Hopi Indians--History
  • Stockbridge Indians--History
  • Hopi language
  • Indians of North America--Oklahoma
  • Statesmen
  • Athapascan Indians
  • Ojibwa Indians--History
  • Spokane language
  • Magnetic Property Of Materials

Occupations:

  • Physicists

Functions:

  • Scientists

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania--Philadelphia (as recorded)
  • Philadelphia (Pa.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)