American Prometheus: Benjamin Franklin and the Philadelphia Enlightenment | Behind the Bookcase tour

Date / Time

  • November 5, 2023
    2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19103, United States




He stole fire from the gods, and the scepter from a king. Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia’s favorite son, was a successful printer, a renowned scientist, and the most famous American in the world, long before he became a leading statesman of the American Revolution. After committing to the cause of liberty, no other American except George Washington did more to secure the United States’ lasting independence from Great Britain: Franklin negotiated an alliance with France that tipped the balance of the war in the Americans’ favor and then played a critical role at the U.S. Constitutional Convention. In this tour, you will come face-to-face with the remarkable legacy of the quintessential Philadelphian via rare books, handwritten autographed letters, historic prints, decorative arts, and other historic artifacts associated with Franklin’s life and times. A special highlight of the tour is the opportunity to see the only surviving copy of Franklin’s first Poor Richard Almanac (1733). 

In addition to these remarkable artifacts, the tour will feature amusing readings from Franklin’s lively autobiography and reflections on his evolution from slaveholder to antislavery activist. We will also discuss how Franklin fit into the wider world of the Enlightenment as blossomed in Philadelphia in the 1700s and early 1800s—and why Philadelphia became the center of a global revolutionary moment. 


About Behind the Bookcase: Hands-on Tours at The Rosenbach

Behind the Bookcase: Hands-on Tours offer unparalleled access to see, and even touch, rare and important items not usually on view to the public. Each program is dedicated to a different author, theme, or topic and grants a truly hands-on experience with materials in The Rosenbach’s inspiring collection.

See all upcoming tours hereSpace is limited and advance registration is strongly recommended.