Providence Franklin Society

> Sometime in the year 1821, William T. Grinnell left his store and walked across South Main Street to the apothecary shop of Joseph Balch, Jr. to discuss the formation of a society for the investigation of philosophical subjects. Originally named the Philosophical Association, the group was granted a charter by the General Assembly and incorporated under the name of the Providence Franklin Society on January 28, 1823. The members had pooled their books on science and deposited them in their “laboratory” on Benefit Street; the books were moved when the society rented rooms on South Main Street in April of that same year. The annual membership fee was $5 (roughly equivalent to $125 today), but was reduced to $3 in 1826 when the Society broadened its scope to “the whole range of the sciences and of general literature.” Beginning in 1828, collections of specimens began to flow into the Society’s possession (including minerals, fossils, shells, plants, seeds, skeletons, artifacts of native peoples, and other material to the point where departments of zoology, botany, geology & minerology, mechanics, and the fine arts had to be formed to organize it all. It was, in fact, the Providence Franklin Society which provided the impetus (and the finances) to move forward with plans to found a public library, natural history museum, and art gallery in Providence. It was not, alas, to be, and the specimens collected went instead to Roger Williams Park in Providence.

2 thoughts on “Providence Franklin Society

  1. >The Joseph Balch apothecary, later J.B. & Son, was purchased by George and Arthur Claflin in 1873 and is today Rhode Island's Claflin Company, the medical supply company headed by Ted Almon.

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