About the Project

The Papers of Benjamin Franklin is a collaborative undertaking by a team of scholars at Yale University to collect, edit, and publish the writings and papers of one of America’s most remarkable founding fathers and indeed one of the most extraordinary people this nation has ever produced. His ever-curious and inventive mind explored nearly every aspect of his world, both pragmatic and theoretical, and he corresponded with an astonishing range of men and women of all classes and nearly all professions in America, Great Britain, and Europe. In a life spanning from 1706 to 1790, his collected papers present a panoramic view of the eighteenth century.

The Papers of Benjamin Franklin was established in 1954 under the joint auspices of Yale University and the American Philosophical Society and was supported first by a generous gift from Life Magazine and subsequently by numerous grants from individuals, foundations, and two government agencies (the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the National Endowment for the Humanities). The project has enjoyed longstanding and generous support from the Packard Humanities Institute through Founding Fathers Papers, Inc., the Florence Gould Foundation, The Cinco Hermanos Fund, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Major underwriting also has been provided by Yale University, Richard Gilder, Charles and Ann Johnson, Mason Willrich, the Yale Class of 1954, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary. The Friends of Franklin also help to sustain the enterprise. Forty-one volumes have been published to date. The entire edition is projected to reach 47 volumes and will publish in full or in abbreviated from the total corpus of Franklin’s approximately 30,000 extant papers.

One of the most successful examples of collaborative scholarship in the humanities, the Franklin edition is recognized around the world as an example of the highest of American scholarly achievements. One French reviewer noted, «Une fois de plus, les universitaires américains nous éblouissent.» (Once again, American academics dazzle us.) An American reviewer said of the edition, “Its subject is important; its coverage is breathtakingly comprehensive; its editorial protocols are of the highest quality; its annotations are erudite and insightful; its indexing is very useful . . .  This is the gold standard in scholarly editing, and a genuine ornament of American letters.”