Collection of Benjamin Franklin materials: Finding Aid

Finding aid prepared by Diann Benti and Olga Tsapina.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
© 2019
The Huntington Library. All rights reserved.


Overview of the Collection

Title: Collection of Benjamin Franklin materials
Dates (inclusive): 1750-1787
Collection Number: mssFranklin
Creator: Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790.
Extent: 38 items in 1 box (1.17 linear feet)
Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Email: reference@huntington.org
URL: http://www.huntington.org
Abstract: This collection consists of various manuscripts and letters by, to, and about American diplomat Benjamin Franklin assembled at the Huntington Library.
Language: English.

Access

RESTRICTED. Available with curatorial approval. Requires extended retrieval and delivery time.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item]. Collection of Benjamin Franklin materials, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Provenance

The collection was assembled from various sources. More information can be found in the item descriptions, when available.

Biographical Note

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was an author, inventor, diplomat, politician, and scientist.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of various manuscripts and letters by, to, and about American diplomat Benjamin Franklin assembled at the Huntington Library. The materials date from 1750 to 1787. Additional Franklin manuscripts housed separately are listed in the Related Materials section of this finding aid.

Related Materials in the Huntington Library

Other manuscript material by or addressed to Benjamin Franklin

  • Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790. Benjamin Franklin autobiography   (call number: HM 9999)
  • Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790. Benjamin Franklin's account books [microform]  (call number: MSS MFilm 00722). Microfilm from originals in the American Philosophical Society and the Pennsylvania Historical Society
  • 1775 February 10. Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to unidentified addressee. London, England. Autograph letter signed, 1 page, in Signers of the Declaration of Independence collection of letters, 1729-1905   (call number: EM 45, vol. 5)
  • 1776 May 11. Carroll, John. Letter to Benjamin Franklin. Autograph letter signed (call number: HM 22517) in the Canadiana collection  
  • 1779 January. [Adams, John, and Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee]. Letter to [Charles Gravier], Comte de Vergennes (Contemporary copy, unsigned) (Call number: HM 41567) in the Edward Davis Townsend papers  
  • 1779 November. LaVauguyon, Duc de. Letter to Benjamin Franklin. Autograph letter signed (call number: HM 22558) in the John Paul Jones File  
  • 1783 January 20. Adams, John, and Benjamin Franklin. Declaration for Cessation of Hostilities between Great Britain and America (call number: HM 25767) in Great Britain. Cabinet. Collection of Minutes, letters of Thos. Townshend, & a Declaration of the U.S. Ministers ... (call number: HM 25756-25767, 80765, 80766)
  • Pennsylvania. Supreme Executive Council. Deed to Vincent M. Pelose, 1786 May 29.   Signed by Benjamin Franklin (call number: HM 49488)
  • Cooper, Samuel, 1725-1783. Samuel Cooper papers, 1718-1798   (mssCO) includes letters to Franklin:
    • Cooper, Samuel. Letter to Benjamin Franklin. 1777 March 28 (CO 15)
    • Cooper, Samuel. Letter to Benjamin Franklin. 1777 October 25 (CO 17)
    • Cooper, Samuel. Letter to Benjamin Franklin. 1778 November (CO 1)
    • Cooper, Samuel. Letter to Benjamin Franklin. 1782 December 21 (CO 26)
    • Adams, John. Letter to Benjamin Franklin. 1783 September 13 (CO 36)
  • Loudoun, John Campbell, Earl of, 1705-1782. Loudoun papers : Americana, 1682-1780   (call number: mssLO) contains letters either to Franklin or that mention Franklin:
    • Braddock, Edward. Letter to Sir Thomas Robinson that mentions Franklin. 1755 June 5 (LO 581)
    • Parsons, William. Letter to Benjamin Franklin. 1756 June 19 (LO 1225)
    • Abercromby, James. Letter to John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun, that mentions Franklin. 1756 July 22 (LO 1237)
    • Loudoun, John Campbell, Earl of. Letter to Benjamin Franklin. 1757 February 20 (LO 2870)
  • Montagu, Mrs. (Elizabeth), 1718-1800. Elizabeth Montagu papers, 1688-1800   (call number: mssMO) contains copy of a portion of a letter from Franklin:
    • Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Madame B. 1778, Sept. 28. Embedded in an incomplete letter to an unidentified addressee (MO 6836)

Letters and manuscripts that mention Franklin

Facsimiles of Franklin manuscripts

  • Max Farrand papers   (call numbers: mssFAR) includes photocopies of letters by Franklin:
    • FAR Box 19 (5) Franklin, Benjamin. Letters to Catherine Ray Greene. 1755-1778. Photocopies of 8 autograph letters signed.
    • FAR Box 19 (10) Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Anna Maria Shipley. 1779 March 25. Passy, France Photocopy of autograph letter signed.
    • FAR Box 19 (3) Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to [William Bartram]. 1769 July 9. London, England. Photocopy of autograph letter signed. 1 page.
    • FAR Box 19 (8) Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Humphrey Marshall. 1771 April 22. London, England. Photocopy of autograph letter signed.
    • FAR Box 19 Franklin, Benjamin. Memoirs de B. Franklin (Le Veillard’s translation of the Autobiography). 1771-1789. Positive and negative Photostats of manuscript (206 pages), in French.
    • FAR Box 19 (7) Franklin, Benjamin. Letters to Jan Ingenhauss. 1781-1785. Passy, France. Photocopy of 2 autograph letters signed.
    • FAR Box 19 (6) Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to David Hartley. 1782 September 2. Passy, France. Photocopy of autograph letter signed.
    • FAR Box 19 (9) Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Richard Oswald. 1782 November 26. Passy, France. Photocopy of autograph letter signed.
    • FAR Box 19 (4) Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Matthew Carey. 1786 August 10. Photocopy of autograph letter signed. 1 page.
  • FAC 752 Galloway, Joseph. Letter to William Franklin mentioning Benjamin Franklin [FACSIMILE]. 1773 November 25.
  • FAC 751 Franklin, William. Letter to Benjamin Franklin. 1775 August 14
  • FAC 474-477 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Silas Deane. 1776-1777 France Facsimiles of 4 letters
  • FAC 753-756 Walpole, Thomas. Letter to Benjamin Franklin. 1777 February–December Facsimiles.
  • FAC 750 Bancroft, Edward . Letter to Benjamin Franklin. 1777 March 4 Facsimile

Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically in one box.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

Personal Names

Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790 -- Archives.
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790 -- Autobiography.
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790 -- Autographs -- Collecting and collectors.
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790 -- Correspondence.
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790 -- Criticism and interpretation.
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790 -- Manuscripts.

Subjects

Seven Years War, 1756-1763 -- Sources.
United States -- History -- 1783-1815 -- Sources.
United States -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775 -- Sources.
United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Sources.

Forms/Genres

Letters (Correspodence) -- United States -- 18th century.
Manuscripts -- United States -- 18th century.

Alternate Authors

Belcher, Jonathan, 1682-1757.
Chaumont, Jacques-Donatien Leray de, 1725-1803.
Cooper, Samuel, 1725-1783, addressee.
Dumas, Charles Guillaume Frédéric, 1721-1796, addressee.
Loudoun, John Campbell, Earl of, 1705-1782, addressee.
Strahan, William, 1715-1785, correspondent.


Collection Contents

Box 1

 

1750 July 26 Belcher, Jonathan. Order to the Treasurers of New Jersey to pay Benjamin Franklin for printing Sundry Acts & Laws ... HM 1472

Burlington, New Jersey. Document signed. 1 page; 19.5 x 16 cm.

Document also signed by Charles Read, Secretary, and endorsed by Benjamin Franklin.
Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 4: 6-7.
Acquired from the E. N. Crane Library (Smith).
 

1753 June 6 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to [Joseph Huey]. HM 22613

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Contemporary copy. 4 pages; 23 x 19 cm.

First page incorrectly titled "Copy of Dr. Franklin's letter to Geo. Whitfield …"
 

1753 June 26 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Peter Collinson. HM 21693

New Haven, Connecticut. Autograph letter signed. 2 pages.

Bound.
Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 4: 511-512.
Purchased from the F. R. Halsey sale (lot 432), February 17-19, 1919. Card lists letter to Collinson and "Deborah Franklin, his wife, L. S., April 30, 1755, to the same; William Franklin, their son, A. ?L. S., June 18, 1764, to William Strahan, with portraits of B. Franklin and Collinson, all inlaid to folio size, and bound in light morocco.
 

1753 [i.e. 1754] January 1 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to "Gentlemen" [Thomas Darling and Nathan Whiting]. HM 21675

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Autograph letter signed. 1 page; 21 x 21 cm.

In the margin: two-line note written and signed by Nathan Whiting.
Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 5: 487.
Bixby.
 

1756 June 22 Franklin, Benjamin. Memorial to James Abercromby on expresses. LO 1239

New York. Autograph document signed. 2 pages; 32 x 20.5 cm.

With postscript on second page signed by Franklin, July 22, 1756.
Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 6: 462-463.
Purchased as part of the Loudoun papers from the Campbell family through the agency of Sotheby's and Sir Joseph Duveen, 1923. From Loudon Papers.
 

1756 July 22 [Franklin, Benjamin]. Memorial of the State of the Forces in Pensilvania [i.e. Pennsylvania]. LO 1328

New York. Autograph document. 2 pages; 32 x 20 cm.

Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 6: 470-471.
Purchased as part of the Loudoun papers from the Campbell family through the agency of Sotheby's and Sir Joseph Duveen, 1923.
 

[1756 August?] [Franklin, Benjamin]. Extract of letter to Thomas Pownall. LO 1298

Contemporary copy. 1 page; 30 x 18.5 cm.

Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 6: 497-498.
Purchased as part of the Loudoun papers from the Campbell family through the agency of Sotheby's and Sir Joseph Duveen, 1923.
 

1756 September 9 Franklin, Benjamin. Extract of letter to Thomas Pownall. LO 1749

Contemporary copy. 1 page; 31.5 x 20 cm.

Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 6: 502-503.
Purchased as part of the Loudoun papers from the Campbell family through the agency of Sotheby's and Sir Joseph Duveen, 1923.
 

1757 January 31 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to William Strahan. HM 22614

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Autograph letter signed. 2 pages with leaf of superscription; 33 x 21 cm.

The letter is preceded by Franklin's copy of a previous letter from Franklin to Strahan, January 1, 1757.
Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 7: 115-116.
Anderson 1386.
 

1757 February 20 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to John Campbell, the Earl of Loudoun. LO 2870

Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 7: 133.
Purchased as part of the Loudoun papers from the Campbell family through the agency of Sotheby's and Sir Joseph Duveen, 1923.
 

1757 March 3 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to [John Campbell, the Earl of Loudoun]. LO 2963

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Autograph letter signed. 1 page; 20 x 16 cm.

Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 7: 143.
Purchased as part of the Loudoun papers from the Campbell family through the agency of Sotheby's and Sir Joseph Duveen, 1923.
 

[1757 March 21] [Franklin, Benjamin]. Extracts and answers to points proposed to be amended in the bill now before the Governor. LO 3119

Autograph document. 8 pages; 32.5 x 20.5.

Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 7: 145-152.
Purchased as part of the Loudoun papers from the Campbell family through the agency of Sotheby's and Sir Joseph Duveen, 1923.
 

1757 April 21 List of Servants, Belonging to the Inhabitants of Pensilvania and taken into His Majesty's Service, For whom Satisfaction has not been made by the Officers according to Act of Parliament [with an abstract]. LO 3415

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Document. 22 pages; 42 x 33.5 cm, folded.

Table containing claims of 612 servants (listing number, owners names, servants names, term bound for, term serv'd, term of service due, considerations/money paid, due to the owner, and regiment or company enlisted in). The title and a note of 3 lines on page 22 are in the handwriting of Franklin. With loose 1-page abstract: "Castings of the Account of the List of Servants belonging to the Inhabitants of Pensilvania [sic]" and loose note on folded leaf: "This List is not yet compleat; the Claims continuing to come in daily."
Purchased as part of the Loudoun papers from the Campbell family through the agency of Sotheby's and Sir Joseph Duveen, 1923.
 

1757 May 21 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to John Campbell, the Earl of Loudoun. LO 3699

Woodbridge, New Jersey. Autograph letter signed. 2 pages; 23.5 x 19 cm.

Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 7: 214-215.
Purchased as part of the Loudoun papers from the Campbell family through the agency of Sotheby's and Sir Joseph Duveen, 1923.
 

1763 May 9 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to William Strahan. HM 22616

Virginia Autograph letter signed. 2 pages; 23 x 19 cm.

Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 10: 260-261.
Hoe library (Smith)?; And. 13867.
 

1763 September 22 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to William Strahan. HM 22615

Boston, Massachusetts. Autograph letter signed. 1 page; 22 x 18.5 cm.

Transcribed in Labaree, ed. Papers, vol. 10: 343.
Smith; Grove sale.
 

1768 December 6 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to George Whitefield. HM 21676

Craven Street [London, England]. Autograph letter signed. 1 page; 29 x 18.5 cm.

9-line handwritten biographical sketch of Franklin is attached to bottom of leaf.
Transcribed in Willcox, ed. Papers, vol. 15: 286.
Removed from "Autograph letters of Benjamin Franklin" extra-illustrated collection of portraits" Bixby.
 

1771 July 4 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to William Smith. HM 25022

London, England. Autograph letter signed. Bound with HM 3000. 1 page.

Transcribed in Willcox, ed. Papers, vol. 18: 163-164.
 

1776 July 20 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Lord Howe [Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe]. CO 33

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Letter signed. 4 pages; 33.5 x 21 cm.

Marked: "Copy."
Transcribed in Willcox, ed. Papers, vol. 22: 518-521.
 

1777 April 26 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to [Jan Ingenhousz]. HM 21677

Passy (Paris, France) Autograph letter signed. 2 pages; 23 x 18.5 cm.

Transcribed in Willcox, ed. Papers, vol. 23: 613-614.
Removed from "Autograph letters of Benjamin Franklin" extra-illustrated collection of portraits" Bixby.
 

1778 April 7 Strahan, William. Letter to Mary Lacock Hall. HM 44037

London, England. Autograph letter signed. 1 page; 23 x 18.5 cm.

The letter quotes a February 4, 1777, letter from Franklin.
Acquired from Bernard Quaritch, October 8, 1976.
 

1779 March 12 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Charles Dumas. HM 22617

Passy (Paris, France) Letter signed. 3 pages; 31.5 x 20.5 cm.

In the handwriting of William Temple Franklin.
Transcribed in Obserg, ed. Papers, vol. 29: 100-101.
Grove sale.
 

1779 October 27 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Samuel Cooper. CO 38

Passy (Paris, France) Letter signed. 3 pages; 31.5 x 20.5 cm.

In the handwriting of Jean L'Air de Lamotte. Additions and corrections in Franklin's hand. Marked: "Copy."
Transcribed in Obserg, ed. Papers, vol. 30: 397-9.
 

1780 March 16 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Samuel Cooper. CO 27

Passy (Paris, France) Letter signed. 3 pages; 23 x 19 cm.

In the handwriting of William Temple Franklin.
Transcribed in Obserg, ed. Papers, vol. 32: 117-118.
 

1780 December 2 [Franklin, Benjamin]. Letter to Samuel Cooper. CO 53

Passy (Paris, France) Letter signed. 2 pages; 31.5 x 20.5 cm.

In the handwriting of William Temple Franklin. Signature cut away; autograph subscription and address. With seal. On cover: "To be sunk if in Danger of being taken."
Transcribed in Obserg, ed. Papers, vol. 34: 96.
 

1781 January 18 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Charles Dumas. HM 22770

Passy (Paris, France) Letter signed. 4 pages; 23 x 18 cm.

In the handwriting of Jean L'Air de Lamotte. The postscript is in Franklin's handwriting.
Transcribed in Obserg, ed. Papers, vol. 34: 287.
Hoe library (Smith)?
 

1781 November 26 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to John Trumbull. HM 21678

Passy (Paris, France) Letter signed. 1 page; 23 x 18.5 cm.

In the handwriting of William Temple Franklin.
Transcribed in Cohn, ed. Papers, vol. 36: 118.
Removed from "Autograph letters of Benjamin Franklin" extra-illustrated collection of portraits" Bixby.
 

1783 May 20 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Samuel Cooper. CO 29

Passy (Paris, France) Letter signed. 2 pages; 23 x 18.5 cm.

In the handwriting of Jean L'Air de Lamotte.
Transcribed in Cohn, ed. Papers, vol. 40: 42-43.
 

1783 December 15 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to William Carmichael. HR 153

Passy (Paris, France) Letter signed. 3 pages; 25 x 20 cm.

In the handwriting of Jean L'Air de Lamotte.
Transcribed in Cohn, ed. Papers, vol. 41: 290-291.
Possibly Harbeck Collection (HR 153).
 

1785 July 13 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to Jane Mecom. HM 22771

St. Germain, France. Autograph letter signed. 1 page; 22.5 x 18.5 cm.

Transcribed in Albert Smyth, ed. The Writings of Benjamin Franklin (1905-07), vol. IX: 363-364.
Grove sale.
 

1786 March 26 Franklin, Benjamin. Letter to William Alexander. HM 22786

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Autograph letter signed. 3 pages; 23 x 19 cm.

G.D. Smith.
 

1787 April 10 Franklin, Benjamin. Order to the Secretary of the Council. HM 5265

[Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. Autograph document signed. 1 page; 11 x 20 cm.

Smith 204.
 

1787 June 13 Franklin, Benjamin. Order to David Rittenhouse, Treasurer, to pay Samuel Meredith. BR Box 260 (7)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Document signed. 1 page; 18 x 20.5.

With Meredith's receipt on verso.
 

1787 June 17 Chaumont, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de, 1760-1840. Letter to William Alexander & Company. BR Box 260 (8)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Autograph letter signed. 1 page; 23.5 x 19 cm.

 

1787 June 21 Pennsylvania. Supreme Executive Council. Patent to Samuel Pleasants for 416 1/2 acres in Bedford County. HM 1771

Document signed. 1 page; 34.5 x 40 cm.

Vellum with seals. Signed by Benjamin Franklin and attested by James Trimble for John Armstrong.
Smith.
 

1787 October 29 Pennsylvania. Supreme Executive Council. Commission appointing Christian Gettig, Joseph Jacob Wallis, and Samuel Weiser as Justices of the Peace. HM 1772

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Document signed. 1 page; 30 x 37.5 cm.

Printed form filled in. Signed by Franklin and attested by Charles Biddle, with recorder's note and signature of J. Simpson. With seals broken in the folds.
Purchased from Anderson Galleries Learmont Library sale (lot 310/1325), January 9-11, 1918.
 

1787 November 21 Franklin, Benjamin. Order to the Secretary of the Council. HM 39940

[Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. Autograph document signed. 1 page; 16 x 24 cm.

Verso has fragment of petition by Saml Judah [Samuel Bernard Judah?].
Removed from RB 87821.
 

[Before 1790] [Franklin, Benjamin]. Copy of verses on a Philadelphia Gent. HM 900

Autograph manuscript. 1 page; 15 x 18.5 cm.

14 lines beginning "Religion take from …"
Removed from "Autograph letters of Benjamin Franklin" extra-illustrated collection of portraits" Bixby.