Authorised form of nameFranklin; Benjamin (1706 - 1790)
Dates1706 - 1790
Place of birthMilk Street, Boston, Massachusetts
Date of birth17 January 1706
Place of deathPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Date of death17 April 1790
Dates and placesBurial:
Christ Church burial ground, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Research fieldElectricity
General physics
International scientific cooperation
LLD (1759, St Andrews)
Worked with his father, a tallow chandler; apprenticed to his brother James, a printer who started a newspaper about 1709; went to London and worked in a printing office in Bartholomew Close (1724-1726?); returned to Philadelphia and established a printing house; bought the Pennsylvania Gazette (1729); began publishing 'Poor Richard's almanac' (1732); Clerk of the Assembly (1736); Postmaster of Philadelphia (1737); Postmaster General for the colonies (1754); experimented on electricity (1749 and 1752) and suggested the use of lightning conductors; was sent to Great Britain (1757 and 1764-1775); received the Freedom of St Andrews; sent to Paris (1776); returned to Philadelphia (1785); elected President of the State of Pennsylvania; delegate to the Convention which framed the Constitution of the United States; retired from pub
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election29/05/1756
Royal Society activityMedals and prizes:
Copley Medal 1753 for his curious experiments on electricity
Bulloch's Roll; DAB; DSB
Esmond Wright, 'Benjamin Franklin After 200 Years', review of Claude A Lopez, ed., The Papers of Benjamin Franklin vol 27, in NR 1990 vol 44 pp 269-279, plate
Frank R Freemon, 'American Colonial Scientists Who Published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society' in NR 1984-85 vol 39 pp 191-206
William P Griffith, 'Priestley in London' in NR 1983-84 vol 38 pp 1-16
Bernard Bailyn, '1776: The British Dimension' in NR 1976-7 vol 31 pp 179-199
R V Jones, 'Benjamin Franklin' in NR 1976-7 vol 31 pp 201-225, plate
R W Home, 'Some Manuscripts on Electrical and Other Subjects Attributed to Thomas Bayes, FRS' in NR 1974-5 vol 29 pp 81-90
Paul A Tunbridge, 'Franklin's Pointed Lightning Conductor' in NR 1973-4 vol 28 pp 207-219
John R Levene, 'Benjamin Franklin, FRS, Sir Joshua Reynolds, FRS, PRA, Benjamin West, PRA and the Invention of Bifocals' in NR 1972-3 vol 27 pp 141-163, plate
J D Holland, 'An Eighteenth-Century Pioneer - Richard Price, DD, FRS (1723-1791)' in NR 1968 vol 23 pp 43-64
John Thomas, 'Josiah Wedgwood's Portrait Medallions of Fellows of the Royal Society' in NR 1963 vol 18 pp 45-53, plate
F M Beatty 'The Scientific Work of the the Third Earl Stanhope' in NR 1954-55 vol 11 pp.202-221
D McKie, 'A Note on Priestley in America' in NR 1953 vol 10 pp 51-59
Jessie M Sweet, 'Benjamin Franklin's Purse' in NR 1952 vol 9 pp 308-309
Albert C Seward, 'The Dedication of the Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania in Honour of Benjamin Franklin' in NR 1938 vol 1 pp 55-60
Patricia Fara, 'Letters from a scientific emperor', review of Neil Chambers, 'The letters of Sir Joseph Banks: a selection 1768 - 1829' in NR 2002 vol 56 pp 264-265
R W Home, 'The Royal Society and the Empire: the colonial and Commonwealth Fellowship. Part 1. 1731-1847' in NR 2002 vol 56 pp 307-332
R W Jones, 'Dalton's unfortunate choice' in NR 2003 vol 57 pp 15-33
J L Heilbron 'Benjamin Franklin in Europe: electrician, academician, politician' NR 2007 Vol 61 pp353-374
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA7974
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
IM/001540Franklin, Benjaminnd
IM/001541Franklin, Benjaminnd
M/242Franklin, Benjamin1956
MM/4/84Letter from Henry Cavendish, William Watson, Benjamin Franklin and J Robertson, to the Royal Society18 November 1773
MM/11/41Notes from the minutes of meetings of the Purfleet Magazine Committee1772
EC/1756/04Franklin, Benjamin: certificate of election to the Royal Society
IM/005839Franklin, Benjamin2001
IM/005852Franklin, Benjaminnd
MM/4/2Letter from Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia, to the Royal Society29 May 1754
P/0046Portrait of Franklin, Benjamin1782
IM/005853Franklin, Benjaminnd
M/079Franklin, Benjamin
NLB/5/846Copy letter from Herbert Rix, to Mr B F Stevens, 4 Trafalgar Square, W.C.2 November 1891
MM/5/39Memorial from the Royal Society to King George III concerning the Transit of Venus of 1769c.1768
NLB/64/648Copy letter from Francis Alexander Towle, Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to A.H. Heusser Esq. Paterson, New Jersey USA24 May 1923
L&P/6/26Letter, 'Of the solar spots' from Humphry Marshall to Benjamin Franklin3 May 1773
L&P/8/37Letter, 'On the hot-air balloon' from Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Banks8 October 1783
L&P/2/343Letter, 'Of an electrical kite' from Benjamin Franklin to Peter Collinson3 October 1752
L&P/3/223Letter, 'Extract of a letter sent from Philadelphia' from Benjamin Franklin to Peter Collinson23 September 1756
L&P/5/12Paper, 'Account of Dr Priestley's new experiments in electricity drawn up by Benjamin Franklin'1768
L&P/3/72Paper, 'Electrical experiments' by Benjamin Franklin14 March 1755
L&P/4/392Letter, 'Thermometric observations at Derby' from John Whitehurst to Benjamin Franklin5 February 1767
L&P/4/153Letter, 'On electrical experiments' from Ebenzer Kinnersley to Benjamin Franklin12 March 1763
L&P/6/32Letter, 'Diagrams of sunspots' from Humphry Marshall to Benjamin Franklin1773
IM/001539Franklin, Benjaminnd
L&P/8/36Letter, 'On the hydrogen balloon' from Benjamin Franklin to Joseph Banks30 August 1783
MS/426/537Copy letter from W [William] Sharpey, Secretary of the Royal Society; to Edwin Canton28 April 1855
L&P/3/70Letter, 'Extract of a letter concerning electricty and Beccaria's book' from Benjamin Franklin to M Deliband29 June 1755
IM/001543Franklin, Benjamin2001
EL/M3/36aLetter, from Joseph Morgan to Benjamin Franklin11 October [1738]
IM/005680Franklin, Benjaminnd
IM/004127Franklin, Benjamin to Canton, John2000
MS/391/108Bond of John Winthrop to the Treasurer of the Royal Society11 December 1766
L&P/6/60Letters, 'Of oil on waves' from William Brownrigg and Benjamin Franklin to each other27 January 1773
M/078Franklin, Benjamin
NLB/5/1044Copy letter from Herbert Rix, to Clarence W Bowen, 25 Broadway, New York [USA]18 December 1891
IM/005851Franklin, BenjaminOctober 1891
IM/001542Linnaeus, Carl1792
L&P/2/307Letter, 'Of electricity from the clouds, anent the experiments of Franklin' from Jean Antoine Nollet to William Watson6 June 1752
L&P/2/212Paper, 'Account of Benjamin Franklin's book, Experiments and Observations on Electricity' by William Watson1751
AP/4/19/1Letter, regarding paper on torpedoes from John Walsh to [Benjamin] Franklin12 July 1772
L&P/2/198Letter, 'Of electrical experiments' from Benjamin Franklin to Peter Collinson4 February 1751
AP/8A/8Unpublished paper, 'An explanation of several electrical phenomena' by T [Thomas] Exley[1813]
L&P/2/387Letter, 'Of the transit of Mercury over the Sun at Antigua 6 May 1753' from William Shervington to Benjamin Franklin20 June 1753
L&P/4/411Letter, 'Of a new electrical machine [electrometer] and of some experiments made with it' from Timothy Lane to Benjamin Franklin1767
AP/8A/8/2Unpublished drawings, electrical conductors and charged corpuscles by [Thomas Exley][1813]
AP/8A/8/1Unpublished manuscript, 'An explanation of several electrical phenomena' by T [Thomas] Exley[1813]
L&P/2/238Letter, 'Of the effects of lightning' from Benjamin Franklin to Peter Collinson 29 June 1751
AP/4/19/2Letter, regarding trip to Île de Ré and experiments on torpedoes from John Walsh to [Benjamin] Franklin27 August 1772
L&P/6/22Letter, 'An aurora' by I L Winn to Benjamin Franklin22 January 1774
L&P/3/422Paper, 'Remarks on Beccaria's letter (L&P/3/420)' by Benjamin Franklin1760
L&P/3/278Letter, 'Of electricity in paralytic cases' from Benjamin Franklin to John Pringle21 December 1757
L&P/5/166Letter, 'On the appearance of lightning on a mainmast conductor' from Captain I L Winn to Benjamin Franklin1 February 1770
AP/4/19Letters, 'Of the electric property of the torpedo' from John Walsh to Benjamin FranklinJuly 1772 - July 1773
AP/4/19/3Letter, 'Of the electric property of the torpedo' from John Walsh to Benjamin Franklin1 July 1773
L&P/6/94Letter, 'Of a machine for raising water in use at Culton in Cheshire' from John Whitehouse to Benjamin Franklin1775
L&P/4/97Letter, 'On the aurora' from John Bartram to Benjamin Franklin12 November 1757
L&P/5/205Letter, 'Observation of the transit of Mercury, giving times observed by J Winthrop' from Benjamin Franklin to Nevil Maskelyne12 February 1770
L&P/5/169Letter, 'Of the transit of Venus and the aberration of light' from John Winthrop to Benjamin Franklin6 September 1769
L&P/5/106Paper, 'Report on preserving St Paul's Cathedral from the effects of lightning' by the Royal Society Committee7 June 1769
L&P/3/420Letter, 'Of electrical experiments' from Giovanni Battista Beccaria to Benjamin Franklin17 December 1759
L&P/5/295Letter, 'On electrical phenomena' from Thomas Ronayne to Benjamin Franklin15 February 1772
L&P/5/304Letter, 'Of a new electrometer by William Henley; and of several experiments made by him' from Joseph Priestley to Benjamin Franklin26 October 1770
L&P/6/52Letter, 'Of stilling the waves with oil' from Benjamin Franklin to William Brownrigg7 November 1773
Add to My Items

    Collection highlights

    Browse the records of some of our collections, which cover all branches of science and date from the 12th century onwards. These include the published works of Fellows of the Royal Society, personal papers of eminent scientists, letters and manuscripts sent to the Society or presented at meetings, and administrative records documenting the Society's activities since our foundation in 1660.

    The Royal Society

    The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of
    the world's most eminent scientists and is the
    oldest scientific academy in continuous existence.
    Registered charity number 207043

    Website design ©CalmView


    + 44 207 451 2500
    (Lines open Mon-Fri, 9:00-17:00. Excludes bank holidays)

    6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG

    Email Us →


    Subscribe to our newsletters to be updated with the
    latest news on innovation, events, articles and reports.

    Subscribe →

    © CalmView