Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World

A national exhibit and special collections from OSU Libraries celebrating Franklin's contributions to the nation and humanity

March 10 - April 22, 2011

Thompson Library Exhibit Gallery
The Ohio State University Libraries
1858 Neil Ave., Columbus, Ohio

Monday-Wednesday, Friday: 10am-6pm;
Thursday: 10am-8pm;
Saturday & Sunday: 12pm-5pm

Schedule of Programs

Professor Carla Mulford, Pennsylvania State University
Benjamin Franklin and Educational Liberalism
March 10, 4 p.m. - Refreshments Served
165 Thompson Library, 1858 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210
Co-sponsored by the OSU Department of English

Carla Mulford (Ph.D. , Early American Literature, University of Delaware, 1983) is a professor at the Department of English at Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests focus on the history of the first British empire, postcolonial theory, and the history of books and reading. Recent publications related to Benjamin Franklin are The Cambridge Companion to Benjamin Franklin, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008) and Finding Colonial Americas: Essays Honoring J.A. Leo Lemay, edited by Carla Mulford and David S. Shields (Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, c2001). Also, Professor Mulford has published essays and delivered conference papers on Franklin and early American culture. She is now working on a book entitled Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire that will focus on Franklin’s ideas about trade and population as they relate to British identity in the 18th century. more information

Philip Dray, Fellow, Institute for the Humanities, New York University
Stealing God’s Thunder: Benjamin Franklin’s Lightning Rod and the Invention of America
April 9, 2 p.m.
COSI, 333 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
Co-sponsored by COSI, Center of Science and Industry
Reservation suggested but not required. Call 614-228-2674
There is no cost to attend this program at COSI.

Philip Dray is an independent historian of American history who resides in Brooklyn, New York. He is a Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities, New York University. Dray wrote Stealing God’s Thunder: Benjamin Franklin’s Lightning Rod and the Invention of America (New York: Random House, 2005) that concentrates on Franklin’s contributions to understanding and using electricity, and also on the impact of Franklin’s scientific interests on America. Other writings by Dray include At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America (New York: Random House, 2002) that won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and made him a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008). Also his We Are Not Afraid: The Story of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney, and the Civil Rights Campaign for Mississippi (Macmillan, 1988) was a New York Times Notable Book. He has been a contributor to The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The New York Post, and Mother Jones. From 1994-2000 he was a staff writer at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Music that Benjamin Franklin Heard
April 21, 3:00 - 3:40 p.m.
1150 Thompson Library
Featuring research and performances by students of the Ohio State University School of Music

A concert of 18th century music exploring the parallels between Franklin’s life, the music he heard, and the development of eighteenth-century musical style. Music was one of Benjamin Franklin’s passions. It is well documented that he was an avid instrumentalist, innovative composer and opinionated listener. Above all, Franklin was as a faithful champion of American music across his endeavors as author, diplomat, printer and scientist. This afternoon of string quartet music follows Benjamin Franklin’s travels through America and Europe, exploring the diverse musical styles prevalent in the eighteenth century. Each selection reveals part of Franklin’s aesthetic opinions on music as well as his relationship to music through close friends, colleagues and his own compositional voice. These compositions, including American songs, a selection from Handel’s Messiah and string quartets composed by Haydn and Boccherini, also reflect the vibrant stylistic developments in music that unfold over the course of Franklin’s life.

James N. Green, Librarian, Library Company of Philadelphia
Benjamin Franklin’s Bookshop
April 21, 4 p.m.
1150 Thompson Library
Co-sponsored by the OSU Department of History

James N. Green has been the Librarian at the Library Company of Philadelphia, founded by Franklin in 1731, since 1983. He has lectured and published about early American library history, printing, and the collection at the Library Company of Philadelphia. His publications include Benjamin Franklin: Writer and Printer, with Peter Stallybrass (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2006); “Subscription Libraries and Commercial Circulating Libraries in Colonial Philadelphia and New York,” in Institutions of Reading: The Social Life of Libraries in the United States, edited by Thomas Augst and Kenneth Carpenter (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007); and “Thinking about Benjamin Franklin's Library” in Finding Colonial Americas: Essays Honoring J.A. Leo Lemay, edited by Carla Mulford and David S. Shields (Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 2001). Green also published “British Books in North America” in vol. 5, The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain (2009), edited by Michael Turner and Michael Suarez.

Selected Franklin Websites


American Library Association
National Endowment for the Humanities
Ohio Humanities Council

The Ohio Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanties

Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky, ca. 1816. Benjamin West. Philadelphia Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wharton Sinkler, 1958. Photo by Graydon Wood. “In his day England’s most celebrated painter, Benjamin West first met Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia, years before he painted this dramatic image. This portrait was a study for a larger painting – never completed – intended for the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.”

“Join or Die” from The Pennsylvania Gazette, May 9, 1754. Designed by Benjamin Franklin. Philadephia: Benjamin Franklin, 1754, Library Company of Philadelphia.  “In May 1754, Benjamin Franklin published this cartoon urging the colonies to join together against the French. The image reappeared in the period leading up to the Revolutionary War as a symbol of the strength of colonial unity against Great Britain.”


  • Exhibit & Programming Curator: David Lincove
  • Graphic Design: Pam McClung
  • Web Site Design: Russell Schelby
  • Publicity: Larry Allen
  • Exhibit Gallery Design: Harry Campbell
  • Reservations and Logistics: Shannon Niemeyer, LaTina Moss
  • Collections Assistance: Rebecca Jewitt, Gayle Strege, Jenny Robb, Lucy Caswell
  • Book Arts Specialist: Bob Tauber
  • Grant Assistance: Christine Hamble & Donna Roxey, OSU Office of Sponsored Programs
  • COSI Programming and Arrangements: Christine Hurtubise, COSI
  • Outside Evaluation: Sarah Fatherly, Department of History, Otterbein University

Carol Diedrichs, Director of Libraries; Joseph Branin, former Director of Libraries

The OSU Libraries appreciates funding and support from the American Library Association, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ohio Humanities Council, COSI, the OSU Department of English, and the OSU Department of History.