Ben Franklin on Video

The Ben Franklin exhibit continues!

Obviously, there are many documentaries on Ben Franklin. One from the History Channel not only features Ben, it also has a snippet from the series Save our History. Another from the History Channel includes a small printed study guide. Ben is even the main subject of one of the discs of the channel's The Founding of America series.

There are also some more interesting DVDs we have that include Ben. Liberty's Kids, a chidlren's TV series from 2002 has Ben as one of its main characters. There is also a short Disney production based on the book Ben and Me.

Two characters that have been named after the real Ben are Benjamin Franklin Pierce, from M*A*S*H, and Benjamin Franklin Gates, from National Treasure.

My personal favorite is either the "Ben Franklin" episode of The Office, or the musical film 1776, starring Howard Da Silva as our beloved Ben.

Poor Richard's Almanack

Poor Richard's AlmanackPoor Richard's Almanack

Almanacs generally contain a calendar of the days, weeks and months of the year, astronomical and climatological information, as well as suggestions for farmers throughout the seasons. Rising and setting times for the sun and the moon, moon phases, planetary information, tide schedules, holidays, and even medicinial remedies are typically included in an almanac as well. Perhaps you are familiar with The Old Farmer’s Almanac? It is still published every year!

Under his pseudonym “Poor Richard” or “Richard Saunders”, Ben Franklin published Poor Richard’s Almanack annually from 1732 until 1757. Since almanacs were very popular in colonial times, Ben Franklin felt it was his duty to educate the public. In fact, it was common for the almanac to often be the only publication a person ever purchased. Poor Richard’s Almanack sold as many as 10,000 issues per year. Most notably, Poor Richard’s Almanack is memorable for Ben Franklin’s aphorisms and proverbs emphasizing frugality, good sense and hard work. You can view some scanned pages from original Poor Richard’s Alamanacs here.

“Take counsel in wine, but resolve afterwards in water.”
“Beware of little expenses: a small leak will sink a great ship.”
“Be always ashamed to catch thyself idle.”
-Benjamin Franklin

Book Discussion : "The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin"

Please join us for a discussion of The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin on Wednesday June 8, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Leading historian of the American Revolution Gordon S. Wood's illuminating portrait of BF is more of a study than a biography. It follows the twists and turns of Franklin's life - from the commoner to the gentlemen, from Royalist to Patriot - with great insight. We come to see Franklin as complex and often contradictory, and much more interesting than the "mythology that has blinded generations of American to the man he really was".

Author and Psychoanalyst Hans Keilson dies at 101

Hans Keilson, before he became a renowned author last year, was better known as a psychoanalyst and an expert in childhood trauma.

A German-born Jewish doctor, Keilson's medical career was halted with Hitler coming to power. Keilson fled to the Netherlands and joined the Dutch Resistance as counselor for children orphaned by the Holocaust.

His two books gained critical acclaim worldwide after author Francine Prose gave praise to Keilson's books in the New York Times. His first book, Comedy in a Minor Key, was first published in 1947 and re-released in 2010 was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

His second book, The Death of the Adversary, was published in 1959 and became an instant best seller. It gained a brief moment of attention in 1962 after being translated into English and was considered by New Times Magazine as one of the ten best books of the year.

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EMU Professor John G. McCurdy Discusses Ben Franklin's America

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Professor John G. McCurdy will be your guide back in time to the eighteenth-century world that Benjamin Franklin inhabited. Franklin's Boston, Philadelphia, and London were alive with divisive controversies, racial strife, and constant international tension. It was also a time of new media, new ideas, and the creation of the American self. Learn what lessons Ben Franklin's America has for us at the dawn of the millennium.

John G. McCurdy is an Associate Professor of History at EMU and author of "Citizen Bachelors: Manhood and the Creation of the United States" (Cornell, 2009).

Held in conjunction with the Downtown Library May 4 - July 8 exhibit, Ben Franklin: In Search of a Better World

Tuesday June 7, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

The Boston Bequest

Gift of MoneyGift of Money Let's continue the story of the Benjamin Franklin bequest to Philadelphia and Boston. One of the outcomes of the Boston bequest was the establishment of the Franklin Institute of Boston, which is known today as the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology. It's interesting to learn about American history. Read more about Benjamin Franklin and other famous Americans using the Biography and Genealogy Master Index. Like Russel Crowe, are you curious about local history? Check out the "The Making of Ann Arbor" or "Ypsilanti Gleanings".

Celebrities love The Making of Ann Arbor

The Local History databases aren't just for Ann Arborites, international celebrities like them too! The AADL's resources got some national attention this weekend when Russell Crowe retweeted a link to our The Making of Ann Arbor database!

Ann Arbor has been a used as a film location for many years, which means we've had our fair share of celebrity visitors to our fair city. This weekend, actor Russell Crowe tweeted about enjoying a visit to Ann Arbor and asked his followers if they knew the origin of the name. Local History Databases to the rescue! Woo hoo!

As Russell and his followers soon found out, the origin of the name "Ann Arbor" is still hotly debated. Ann's Arbor? Annarbour? Depending on which tome you consult, the name has a different origin. There are a litany of possible Ann's from history that could hold the honor of having the city named after them but which one? The world may never know! But if you want to do your own research beyond The Making of Ann Arbor be sure and check out:

All About the Benjamins: The Art of Money

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When one thinks of Ben Franklin, one thing that comes to mind is the fact that his face is on the United States $100 bill. Hence, the slang term for $100 bills is Benjamins (thanks to a track by Puff Daddy). But how did he end up there? What about the other faces on US and World currency? And what’s with all those colors?

The Art of Money: The History and Design of Paper Currency From Around the World is a beautiful book by David Standish. Those bank notes that pay your monthly bills are rich in history. The author discusses the history of money, and touches on money’s relation to Queen Liz, industry, agriculture, trains, and war. The book is easy to follow and is chock full of colorful images of various paper money, which is the focal point of the art side of money.

As for Benjamin Franklin… He created many things, but he did not create the first paper money. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1723, at the age of seventeen, the first year paper money was used there. As his career progressed, he ended up designing and printing paper money for various colonies over a long period of time. His face didn’t appear on the $100 bill until 1914. The first $100 bill had an image of a bald eagle, which was then followed by a version featuring Abraham Lincoln.

A new $100 bill was set to be released in April of this year, with slight changes to the bill, but problems with the printing have delayed the release.

To learn more about Ben Franklin and see what else is happening with Ben around AADL, including the BIG exhibit and special programming, see here.

Literacy Series -- Be a Renaissance Kid

Ben Franklin caricature by Donkey Hotey, Flickr.comBen Franklin caricature by Donkey Hotey, Flickr.com
You may have noticed that here at the library we are crazy for Ben Franklin. In honor of Ben's 300th birthday, we are going to party all summer long, and the literacy series is getting into the act.

Why was Ben Franklin famous? Because he was a true "Renaissance Man" -- someone who has many different talents. If you would like follow Ben's lead and be a Renaissance Kid, just take a look at these suggestions below:

1. Music -- Ben Franklin was a talented musician who played the guitar, violin and harp, and invented an instrument called the glass armonica. Be like Ben by exploring music.
Check out this interactive glass armonica.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony webpages.
Renaissance Kid - Music

2. Reading -- Ben Franklin created the first American library. Be like Ben by enjoying some books!
Ben Franklin for Children
Renaissance Kid - Reading

3. Sports and Games -- Ben Franklin was an avid swimmer and a chess fan. Be like Ben by cultivating your physical and mental health!
Parent Child Education -- Colonial American games, crafts and activities.
Renaissance Kid - Sports and Games

4. History -- Ben Franklin lived during an exciting time in history, the founding of our nation! Learn all about this tumultuous period in our history.
Colonial Williamsburg's kids' page
Liberty! -- A page by PBS on the American Revolution.
Renaissance Kid - History

5. Science and Invention -- Ben Franklin's curiosity and constant exploration of his world led him to make inventions that are still used today. Be like Ben by exploring and inventing!
Ology -- The American Museum of Natural History's website for kids.
Inventive Kids
Renaissance Kid - Science

6. Spycraft -- Ben Franklin was part of the exciting world of Revolutionary War spies. Learn more about espionage of the past...and the present!
International Spy Museum's kids' page
Renaissance Kid - Spycraft

Of course, don't forget to come to our Ben Franklin events! Concerts, Spy School, Crafts -- we have it all. Hope to see you there!

Author Jerry Weinberger Discusses His Book "Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, and Political Thought"

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Think of all the ways you could define Benjamin Franklin: founding father, printer, inventor, public servant and even the unsavory titles of scoundrel and womanizing phony. So, who was the real Ben Franklin? Well, MSU Professor, Jerry Weinberger, looks behind the many masks of this historical figure and proves that the man was far more remarkable than anyone has yet discovered!

This event includes a book signing and copies of Weinburger's book 'Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, and Political Thought' will be on sale. This lecture is held in conjunction with the Downtown Library May 4 - July 8 exhibit, Ben Franklin: In Search of a Better World

Tuesday May 17, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

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