The Great Lakes in Philadelphia: Archival Report

By Cox, Robert S. | Michigan Historical Review, Spring 1999 | Go to article overview

The Great Lakes in Philadelphia: Archival Report


Cox, Robert S., Michigan Historical Review


American Philosophical Society 105 South Fifth Street Philadelphia, PA 19106-3386

The American Philosophical Society (APS) traces its roots to 1743, when the Quaker botanist John Bartram suggested that the American colonies might benefit from an organization "for promoting useful knowledge." To his credit, Bartram never sowed seed in barren soil; in this case he planted it firmly in the fertile mind of Benjamin Franklin and in a city, Philadelphia, that hosted a vigorous scientific and intellectual community. Not coincidentally, the APS flowered into the first and one of the most successful learned societies in the nation.

For decades the APS functioned as a de facto national academy of sciences, and its members were instrumental in framing a national scientific and technological agenda during the early national period. Scientific expeditions to explore "the west," for example, often began figuratively or literally in Philadelphia, including that of Lewis and Clark in 1803. Thanks in part to Thomas Jefferson, a president of the APS, Lewis and Clark's journals were deposited at the society in 1817 and 1818, to be followed 130 years later by the journal of a sergeant on the expedition, John Ordway. Other members of the society have been involved in surveys of the flora, fauna, geography, and geology of the nation, studies of the lives and culture of Native Americans, and primary research in the physical and natural sciences, including chemistry, physics, astronomy, and the life sciences. To varying degrees, each of these areas remains important to the mission of the APS.

In the 1990s the society founded by Franklin and Bartram continues to thrive. Its membership is comprised of over seven hundred leaders in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities, nominated and elected solely by other members, and the APS continues to pursue its mission of "promoting useful knowledge" through semiannual meetings and active publication and granting programs. Just as significantly, the tangible legacy of the society's activities, its library, has become an extraordinary resource for historians of science and early America.

The library collections contain not only the archives of the society itself but the papers of selected members (e.g., Franklin, Charles Darwin, Franz Boas, Barbara McClintock) and other material building upon and extending their interests and research programs. The 250,000 books and periodicals, 100,000 images, and over 7,000,000 manuscripts (in nearly 1,500 collections) form a tightly focused, highly integrated research collection emphasizing the natural, physical, and life sciences, the history of American social sciences (particularly archaeology, ethnology, and linguistics), and the history of Philadelphia prior to 1840. Among its particular strengths are the history and practice of evolutionary biology, genetics, eugenics, quantum physics, anthropology, and Native-American studies (particularly linguistics).

The manuscript collections at the APS are thoroughly catalogued, in many cases to the item level. The society's extensive and rapidly growing website (http://www.amphilsoc.org) provides information on its membership, granting programs, and collections; the library portion of the site includes abstracts of almost 95 percent of its collection descriptions. The site is currently being expanded to include links to full-length finding aids, and a complete on-line catalog of the library's printed materials will become available in the year 2000.

A series of printed guides provides additional access to the manuscript collections. The most recent general guide is Stephen Catlett, A New Guide to the Collections in the Library of the American Philosophical Society (1987). Among the dozen or so specialized subject guides are John F. Freeman and Murphy D. Smith, A Guide to Manuscripts Relating to the American Indian (1966), and its supplement Daythal Kendall, A Supplement to a Guide to Manuscripts Relating to the American Indian (1982); Bentley Glass, A Guide to the Genetics Collections of the APS (1988) [includes eugenics]; and William Stanton, American Scientific Exploration, 1803-1860 (1991).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Great Lakes in Philadelphia: Archival Report
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.