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Finding Benjamin Franklin: A Resource Guide

Digital Collections

These items and collections that feature Franklin-related materials have been fully digitized on the Library of Congress website:

Benjamin Franklin Papers

The papers of statesman, publisher, scientist, and diplomat Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) at the Library of Congress consist of approximately 8,000 items spanning the years 1726 to 1907, with most dating from the 1770s and 1780s. The collection's principal strength is its documentation of Franklin's diplomatic roles as a colonial representative in London (1757-1762 and 1764-1775) and France (1776-1785), where he sought to win recognition and funding from European countries during the American Revolution, negotiated the treaty with Britain that ended the war, and served as the first United States minister to France. The papers also document Franklin's work as a scientist, inventor, and observer of the natural world, and his relations with family, friends, and scientific and political colleagues.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Prints & Photographs

Portraits of Benjamin Franklin proliferated during his lifetime, such as the many versions showing him adorned in a fur hat External during his years as an ambassador in France. Franklin's iconic image has been reproduced, sometimes fancifully, in artworks and sculpture in the centuries since. Other prints and photographs enhance our understanding of Franklin's role in history. Search the Library's digitized collections of Photos, Prints, Drawings on the phrases "Franklin, Benjamin" and "Benjamin Franklin" to find hundreds of images depicting or related to Franklin and his achievements. The Prints & Photographs Online Catalog provides a second interface for locating images.

Some examples include:

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection contains a large selection of Congressional material related to Benjamin Franklin's political career from 1774 to 1790.

Search the following publications in order to locate material related to Franklin's involvement in the American Revolution and its aftermath:

Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774 to 1789

This collection of printed broadsides consists of documents concerning the work of the Continental Congress, and the drafting and ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Franklin's diplomatic work is represented by a commercial treaty with Sweden and the preliminary articles of peace ending the Revolutionary War. Search this collection using the phrase "Benjamin Franklin" to find additional material related to Franklin and his roles.

Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606 to 1827

The Thomas Jefferson Papers contain 55 items to, from, or referring to Benjamin Franklin. Many of these materials document Franklin’s vital diplomatic service representing the new nation in France during and just after the American Revolution.

Among the collection’s Franklin-related materials are:

James Madison Papers, 1723 to 1859

The James Madison Papers contain 3 items addressed to or referring to Benjamin Franklin.

Among the collection’s Franklin-related materials are:

George Washington Papers

The George Washington Papers contains 62 items to, from, or referring to Benjamin Franklin (some references are in the editorial notes that accompany the transcripts). Many of these materials document Franklin’s and Washington’s roles in the American Revolution.

Among the collection’s Franklin-related materials are: