2006 marked the tercentenary of Benjamin Franklin's birth. Franklin is celebrated for many things, but his scientific work on electricity made major contributions to the progress of the field, and established his reputation as one of the leading intellects of his age.

A Comprehensive Collection of Franklin's Electrical Works

These files contain a comprehensive collection of Franklin's letters and published work on his studies in electricity, in PDF format. A comprehensive table of contents indexes the letters against the two sources used and also against I. Bernard Cohen's 1941 edition of Franklin's electrical writing. The files can be searched, copied and printed, and are public domain. The screen version is in horizontal format for reading on screen, the print version is in vertical format for convenience in printing. To my knowledge this is the only extensive collection of Franklin's electrical works in electronic format. Please read the introduction in the document for more information.

Ben Franklin As My Lab Partner - Experiments in Electrostatics

This laboratory manual has a selection of Franklin's experiments in his own words, with side-by-side instructions on how to carry out the experiments using inexpensive materials. The introduction gives some history of electrical studies and Franklin's role, followed by instructions for building the equipment. The remaining sections give Franklin's experiments. Each section is illustrated with reproductions of portraits and period diagrams as well as drawings of the modern versions of the equipment. Short video clips (see below) demonstrate the construction and use of the equipment. This material may be reproduced for use in teaching with appropriate credits.

Figure 9 from J. Bigelow 1904, Works of Benjamin Franklin, Volume 2, Page 200
  1. Ben Franklin as my Lab Partner Part I Introduction [PDF - 3.4MB]
    1. Generator Template [PDF - 5KB]
  2. Ben Franklin as my Lab Partner Part II [PDF - 1MB]
  3. Ben Franklin as my Lab Partner Part III [PDF - 1.1MB]
  4. Ben Franklin as my Lab Partner Part IV [PDF - 2.1MB]
    1. George II Template [PDF - 353KB]
  5. Ben Franklin as my Lab Partner Part V [PDF - 75KB]
  6. Ben Franklin as my Lab Partner Part VI [PDF - 326KB]
  7. Ben Franklin as my Lab Partner Part VII [PDF - 1MB]
  8. Ben Franklin as my Lab Partner Part VIII [PDF - 389KB]
  9. Ben Franklin as my Lab Partner Part IX [PDF - 2.7MB]

ComPADRE Digital Library Videos

The collection of video clips illustrates the construction and use of various pieces of equipment for doing Franklin's experiments.