Friends of Benjamin Franklin House papers, 1976-1983


Date: 1976-1983 | Size: 0.5 Linear feet, Ca. 500 items


These are letters between Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., Lady Mary Bessborough, and others, concerning the legal formation to the Friends, preservation of the Craven Street house in London, and articles of incorporation and meeting agenda.

Collection Information

Physical description

Ca. 500 items.


Presented by Whitfield J. Bell and accessioned, 12/--/1983 (1984 896ms). See in-house shelf list for additional accession numbers and dates.

Early American History Note

The Papers of Benjamin Franklin are a rich source as varied and expansive as Dr. Franklin's storied life. The Collection has been calendared, catalogued, and much of it is available online at and in printed volumes. The APS inventory in MOLE (Mss.B.F85) is extraordinarily detailed. The aim of this entry is not to reproduce what is already readily accessible, but to focus on material that is unavailable in printed or online sources.

Most notable are a series of bound volumes that capture different aspects of Franklin's professional career. The bound volumes include a nearly complete record of the colonial Post Office that Franklin headed, numerous account books from Franklin's time in England and France, and official account books of the U.S. mission in France. In addition to these bound account and ledger books, the collection also includes a copy of the earliest deed known deed for the Pennsylvania statehouse property, various sketches and drawings thought to be done by Franklin, and four large volumes of a journal of John Lindsay Crawford's travels with the Russian Army from 1737-1739 that include large maps of Europe that Franklin kept in his library (these four volumes are separately described in MOLE under Crawford).

The Franklin Papers, along with the papers of his grandsons at the APS, provide a nearly complete picture of Benjamin's time in France as an American ambassador to France during the American Revolution. Aside from the manuscript records from this period, the collection has a nearly complete set of account books detailing both the official and personal transactions of Franklin in France.

The APS also houses a collection of books that came from Franklin's personal library. The library offers insight into Franklin's own reading and intellectual life. A box of miscellaneous papers in the manuscript collection may also be of related research interest. This box includes a variety of documents that Franklin had in his possession, such as copies of newspapers that have marginalia, that are not included in the official published papers.

Indexing Terms

Geographic Name(s)

  • London (England) -- Buildings.
  • London (England) -- Description and travel.

Personal Name(s)

  • Bell, Whitfield J., Jr., 1914-2009
  • Bessborough, Mary Munn Ponsonby, Countess of, 1915-2013
  • Doonan, Nancy Locke
  • Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790


  • Historic sites -- England -- London.