Franklin's House
Historic Stuctures Report
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Very little not a primary source in one form or another has been used in this report. A few repositories have provided manuscript materials relating to the house. The Franklin and Bache collections in the Library of the American Philosophical Society are far and away the most valuable and extensive of these. From them have come the house plans, correspondence between Franklin and Deborah Franklin about details of construction, data about the period of Bache family occupancy, and account entries for payment of tradesmen who worked on the house. These collections also have provided letters of importance from Franklin's correspondence with his sister, Jane Mecom. From the Historical Society of Pennsylvania has come an account of payments made from funds entrusted to Franklin's friend, Samuel Rhoads, and several items about houses similar to Franklin's and their builders. The Franklin Institute has yielded the account book of Richard Bache, Franklin's son-in-law, who maintained the house after 1767 and made payments for repairs and building of additions and such adjunctive structures as the coach house and stable. Yale University, in addition to a major Franklin collection, also warehouses the thousands of manuscript copies of the Franklin Papers publication project, arranged chronologically and cross-referenced. These great resources have provided the ultimate test of completeness and verification for materials used in this report. The Library of Congress chipped in a few references to the house's addition from the sizeable Franklin collection located in the Manuscript Division. Scattered items came from the libraries of Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania, the Library Company, and half a dozen other such institutions.

Published primary sources, most notably William Duane's Letters, contained some valuable materials from manuscripts lost long ago.

A heavy debt is owed Carl Van Doren's prize-winning biography for interpretations of Franklin's character after 1757, narrated virtually entirely from source.

Public records, those recording will and deeds and the levying of taxes, provided some surprising data—even the dimensions of structures, principal materials used in them, and numbers of stories. Federal, state, and municipal records all contributed their small share. The files of one ancient fire insurance company produced a survey of great value while those of the second one to insure the house turned out be survey-less.

Pictorial materials have been disappointingly meager although more can be hoped for when further investigation can be undertaken.

The writer has refrained from compiling a tedious listing of secondary sources. Few other figures in history have become the subject of as much writing as Franklin, so it would have been possible to work up a bibliography gross enough to satisfy the most pedantic—little of it pertinent. Footnote references to secondary works have been given in sufficient detail to guide anyone seeking more information. The several reports prepared by National Park Service historians and archeologists have been referenced with this in mind.

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Last Updated: 30-Jun-2008