Virtual Talk: American Sheet Music at the British Library

Although once disregarded by historians as sentimental and ephemeral, today American sheet music is valued for the unique light it sheds upon the nation’s concerns and aspirations. In this talk, Eccles Centre for American Studies librarian Jean Petrovic will share items held at the British Library. She will consider how this music moved ‘from the sacred to the secular and from the timeless to the timely’ and will explore how songs associated with World War I and the movement for female suffrage captured, reflected – and possibly even shaped – the cultural and political zeitgeist.

Image: Marie Zimmerman, Votes for Women. Suffrage Rallying Song. Philadelphia: E.M. Zimmerman, 1915. British Library shelfmark: H.3992.r.(18)

Virtual Talk: Benjamin Franklin and Black Lives Matter

Benjamin Franklin was born at a time when the abhorrent practice of slaveholding was common.  He was initially accepting of owning slaves, and came to London with two black servants, Peter and King, who became free on arrival in Britain.  His years on Craven Street led to a fundamental transformation. House Director, Dr. Márcia Balisciano, will explain how Franklin became the American founder who campaigned against slavery, spending his last days as the President of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.

This event was free to attend but we would ask attendees to consider making a voluntary donation here to support Benjamin Franklin House continue to share Franklin’s story as we begin to reopen to the public.

Watch the full talk and Q&A here:

American Independence Day Tours

Join us for a special reopening celebration of Independence Day at Benjamin Franklin House and enjoy a tour of the world’s only remaining Franklin home!

As a founder of the United States, Franklin was the only statesman to have signed all four documents that created a new nation, including The Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Paris, and The Constitution. The first of these was signed on 4 July 1776.

Buy your tickets here.

Tours times are:

Saturday July 4th: 2pm and 3pm

Sunday July 5th: 2pm and 3pm

To ensure we keep everyone safe:

  • We are limiting group sizes to 4 people from separate households. If your group has more than 4 people from your household, please contact us at info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org or +44 207 839 2006 to arrange your booking
  • All staff and visitors (excluding those exempt under current UK government guidance) will be required to wear a mask inside the House – on entry, visitors will find a station with hand sanitiser, masks, and gloves
  • Our staff will be regularly cleaning the public areas throughout the days we are open to the public to ensure a safe environment

We look forward to welcoming you again to Benjamin Franklin’s only surviving home in fulfilment of our mission to bring history and innovation to life!

Benjamin Franklin House Team

We’ve Reopened!

We are excited to announce that following new UK government guidelines on museums and galleries, Benjamin Franklin House will be reopening to the public.

In celebration of American Independence Day, we will offer Architectural Tours from 2-4pm on and 5 July.  Please make a booking for this special celebration here.

Following, we will be open Friday-Sunday12-5 for Architectural Tours from Friday, 10 July.  We hope to begin running our primary offering, the Historical Experience, before the close of summer.

Please make a booking for Architectural Tours here.

Changes to ensure the safety of visitors and staff

To ensure we keep everyone safe:

  • We are limiting group sizes to 4 people from separate households. If your group has more than 4 people from your household, please contact us at info@benjaminfranklinhouse.org or +44 207 839 2006 to arrange your booking
  • All staff and visitors (excluding those exempt under current UK government guidance) will be required to wear a mask inside the House – on entry, visitors will find a station with hand sanitiser, masks, and gloves
  • Our staff will be regularly cleaning the public areas throughout the days we are open to the public to ensure a safe environment

We look forward to welcoming you again to Benjamin Franklin’s only surviving home in fulfilment of our mission to bring history and innovation to life!

Benjamin Franklin House Team

Virtual Talk – True Grid: François-Marc-Louis Naville and his moral tables

“The days flow by. I feel myself dragged about by time as if by a torrent. A decrease in energy and health, though possibly only temporary, makes me nevertheless fear for an early death. I feel deeply that there is nothing more to be desired than what pertains to eternity, that I should not waste a moment of time, that I should hurry to fulfill at least part of my task.”

Harro Maas, professor in history and methodology of economics at the Centre Walras-Pareto for the history of economic and political thought at the University of Lausanne,  will use these words from the diary of François-Marc-Louis Naville, a turn-of-the nineteenth-century Genevese pastor and pedagogical innovator, as a cue to examine his use of Benjamin Franklin’s tools of moral calculation and a lesser known tool, Marc-Antoine Jullien’s moral thermometer, to improve his moral character. He will situate Naville’s use of these tools within the Swiss pedagogical reform movement of Pestalozzi and others in the early nineteenth century and will examine in detail how Naville used and adapted Franklin and Jullien’s tools of moral accounting for his own moral and religious purposes. We will see that God’s most precious gift to man, Time, provided Naville the ultimate measure of his moral worth.

Watch the full talk and Q&A here:

Virtual Talk: Fuelling Democracy – Ben Franklin and Coffee Houses

Join us for a talk on how Benjamin Franklin used the stimulating environment of coffee houses to help shape his early political ideals by our Operations Manager, Caitlin Hoffman. These public and social establishments were centres of the 18th century Enlightenment and provided a foundation of early American politics.

Virtual Talk: The Rise of the Private Banker in Franklin’s London

Dr Perry Gauci, Tutor in Modern History at Lincoln College, Oxford University, will speak on the development of the banking profession in mid-Georgian London. In common with many of his fellow London residents, Franklin benefited from the increasing availability of specialist banking services, and this talk will examine the social and cultural impact of the private bankers, several of whom were located close to Craven Street. Both in their business and their sociability, the bankers were a dynamic force, and acted as key intermediaries within metropolitan society.

Image: Ben Franklin’s Wallet on display at Benjamin Franklin House

Full talk and Q&A below:

Virtual Talk: The value of being luckily wrong

There is only so much we understand. There is only so much we make sense of in advance. Are we spending too much time trying to be right, and too little time simply maximising our chances of getting lucky?

Join Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman of Ogilvy UK and Board Member of Benjamin Franklin House, for this fascinating talk.

Watch the full talk and Q&A below:

Virtual Talk: ‘A Mere Matter of Marching’?: The War of 1812, The Battle of Queenston Heights

“The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching” -Thomas Jefferson, 1812

Mallory Horrill, PhD student at University College London, Institute of the Americas, House Manager and Curator of the Emery Walker Trust, and former Operations Manager of Benjamin Franklin House, will be speaking on the Battle of Queenston Heights, a seminal battle in the War of 1812. This talk will explore why the United States entered into war with Great Britain (referred to by some as the ‘Second War of Independence’) and discuss in detail the Battle of Queenston Heights, the first major battle in the war. Mallory is especially interested in identity and will explore how this battle and the larger British victory of the War of 1812 impacted and shaped the formation of the Canadian identity. 

Watch the full talk and Q&A here:

Virtual Talk: The Story of Thomas Paine by Paul Myles

In this talk, Paul Myles will look at the life and times of Thomas Paine and his role in the American Revolution, focusing on his time in the town of Lewes and the Case of the Excise Officers. 

Paul Myles was an engineer who managed large construction projects for 25 years. In 2009 he moved into history when he oversaw a major festival in Lewes to mark the 200th anniversary of Paine’s death, which led to the publication of two books: Thomas Paine in Lewes, 1768-1774: A Prelude to American Independence, released in 2009 with a new edition hot off the presses this year, and The Rise of Thomas Paine and the Case of the Excise Officers published in 2018. He is also a board member and officer of the Thomas Paine Society UK.

Watch the full talk and Q&A below: