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The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Celebrates the Launch of Companion Book to World Premiere Exhibition: Leading Franklin Scholars Discuss Franklin’s Relevance in the 21st Century
November 22, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, a private, non-profit organization created to mark the 300-year anniversary of Franklin’s birth, is pleased to announce the launch of Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World, a companion book to the exhibition of the same name, and the first extensively illustrated book documenting Franklin’s life and work. The launch event will take place on Wednesday, November 30, 2005, at 7:00 p.m. in the Montgomery Auditorium at the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

In recognition of this milestone birthday and in support of The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, the John Templeton Foundation has donated 9,500 copies of the book to public libraries across the nation: one copy for every library system in the United States. At this event Dr. Charles Harper, Senior Vice-President of the John Templeton Foundation, will officially present Elliot Shelkrot, president and director of the Free Library of Philadelphia, with the Free Library’s copy of Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World.

“We are delighted to present this important catalog to the nation's libraries starting here in Philadelphia, where Franklin founded the Library Company of Philadelphia, the first successful lending library in 1731. Today, the Free Library of Philadelphia carries on the vision Franklin had for the library system, with more than fifty branches city-wide. Benjamin Franklin contributed so much to our country through the greatness of his vision. He did so in large part through initiating and building up many vital institutions of learning here in his home city. The John Templeton Foundation is delighted to have the opportunity to honor Franklin's astonishing legacy in providing this excellent work of scholarship to the nation's readers,” said Dr. Charles Harper, senior vice president, the John Templeton Foundation. Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World is a collection of ten new essays by leading Franklin scholars that will draw readers into all the cultures of which Franklin was a part: domestic life, science, international politics, and social and political reform. Their fresh perspective on his world addresses the question of why, after 300 years, Ben Franklin’s insights and achievements are still relevant to our times.

In addition to the presentation, five essay authors will share their answers to this question in a panel discussion moderated by James Srodes, author of Franklin: The Essential Founding Father. The event is hosted by the Free Library of Philadelphia as part of their 2006 One Book, One Philadelphia season. This year’s program is featuring three books about Franklin: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Franklin: The Essential Founding Father by James Srodes, and Ben and Me by Robert Lawson.

Panelists include:

Ellen R. Cohn: editor-in-chief of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin and senior research scholar, Department of History, Yale University

Emma Lapansky-Werner: professor of history and chief curator of special collections at Haverford College and co-editor of Quaker Aesthetics

J.A. Leo Lemay: H.F. du Pont Winterthur Professor of English at the University of Delaware and author of The Life of Benjamin Franklin

Billy G. Smith: the Michael P. Malone Professor of History at Montana State University and author of Down and Out in Early America

Page Talbott: associate director and chief curator of The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary and editor of Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World

“Franklin’s wit, curiosity and genius continue to captivate us today, and will likely do so for another three hundred years,” said Rosalind Remer, executive director, Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary. “We are honored to have assembled such a wonderful panel of Franklin scholars to try get at just what it is about Franklin that makes him so interesting and relevant for so many people in today’s world.”

There will be a book signing following the panel discussion.

One Book, One Philadelphia is a joint project of the Office of the Mayor and the Free Library of Philadelphia. Its mission is to promote reading and literacy, encourage library usage, and promote community by inviting the entire Greater Philadelphia region to read and discuss the same books. Last year over 150 Community Partners participated in the program, offering a variety of activities such as book discussions, author lectures, writing workshops, musical performances, museum exhibitions, and children's programs, among many other events. Thousands of people participated in these events and others offered at library branches across the city and region.

The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, a non-profit organization supported by a lead grant of $4 million from The Pew Charitable Trusts, was established to mark the 300-year anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth (1706-2006) with a celebration dedicated to educating the public about his enduring legacy and inspiring renewed appreciation of the values he embodied. The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary was founded in 2000 by a consortium of five Philadelphia cultural institutions: the American Philosophical Society, The Franklin Institute, The Library Company of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, an Act of Congress in 2002 created the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Commission, a panel of fifteen outstanding Americans chosen to study and recommend programs to celebrate Franklin's 300th birthday. The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary can be found online at