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Franklin - Local Town Pages

In Franklin, MA, It’s All About the Benjamin!

Franklin, Massachusetts’ biggest claim to fame is that it is named for the great 18th century polymath and patriot, Benjamin Franklin, and that Franklin in his wisdom, repaid the compliment with a generous gift of books. The town’s people made the most of this and turned this gift into the first free public lending library in North America. 

It was a good move. Franklin farm boy, Horace Mann, the ”father” of American Public education, educated himself in large part through the books donated by Ben and Oliver Dean, another local influenced by access to Ben’s books, founded Dean Academy in Franklin (now Dean College)!

Today, with the town’s growth and a renewed focus on arts, culture, and history in the town’s Cultural District, a literary and library past is being celebrated with Ben Franklin Book Week, Jan 14-21, “A Community Rediscovery of Ideas, Literature, and the Shared Gift of Language.” This new annual event that celebrates the birthday of Benjamin Franklin (Jan. 17) and his gift of books to the town AND it recognizes the town’s ongoing book- and culture friendly environment, with a growing slate of events and activities! 

Book Week is cosponsored by the Franklin Historical Museum, Franklin Public Library, and Escape into Fiction book store with funding provided by Mass. Cultural Council through the Franklin Cultural District Committee.

Events include lectures, a film premiere, a live ‘readathon’ of Ben Franklin’s Autobiography, a concert with the Glass Harmonica instrument invented by Ben Franklin, a lecture and demonstration of Ben’s fundamental contribution to the understanding of electricity, and more. 

More information is available at

A current list of events continues below.

Ben Franklin Book Week, Jan 14-21

1/14 Museum Second Sunday Speaker Series: Historian Joe Landry on History of Thompson Press — a Franklin-based maker of printing presses, once located on Dean Ave. Event is at the Franklin Historical Museum, 80 West Central Street. Doors open at 1, talk begins at 1:15. This is also the last day that the model of 1932 Franklin’s downtown will be on display for the season. Museum closes at 4pm. FREE

1/15 Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday — no events.

1/16 Ben Franklin’s Journey from Slaveholder to Abolitionist AND African Son, a discussion. Local historian Jim Johnston and Historical Commission Chair, Alan Earls, will discuss Ben Franklin’s initial acceptance of the institution of slavery and his eventual “conversion” within the context of the 18th century world, the Enlightenment, the Great Awakening, and the American Revolution. Jim will then take the story of slavery into the 19th century with a discussion of his novel, African Son*, which traces the fortunes of an African man who is enslaved in 1815 and has his survival skills tested in his new “home” in pre- Civil War Georgia…6:30 PM at the Franklin Historical Museum. FREE

1/17 Ben Franklin Autobiography* LIVE Readathon at the Franklin Historical Museum, 80 West Central Street, 9:30 AM on Ben’s Birthday, Jan 17 2023. Come and participate! Contact Alan Earls with any questions ([email protected]). FREE. Note, the ‘kick off ‘ speaker will be Franklin’s Congressman, Jake Auchincloss followed by State Rep. Jeff Roy.  Volunteer readers typically participate for 10-15 minutes in sharing this classic work of American literature. Completion times vary but the event will likely end around 5 pm.

1/18 World PREMIERE, “The Boatbuilders” Pre-release Screening & Discussion Thursday January 18th. 6.30 p.m. Franklin Public Library. Join Director Gregg Seibert and Producer & Dean College Historian R. A. Lawson for a Pre-release screening of the first episode and Discussion of their new Documentary Series, “The Boatbuilders”! The docuseries uncovers the historical legacy and present-day impact of the boat building community, showcasing boatbuilders, sailors, and owners who speak to the realities of boat building today. FREE

1/19 Get to know ‘Ben’s Books’ — Meet Reference Librarian Vicki Earls on the second floor of the Franklin Public Library, at the display case, at 2pm for the story of the books — what are they and how did they end up in Franklin! FREE

1/19 BIG Library Book Sale. Friday, January 19th, 1:00-5:00 p.m. and Saturday, January 20th, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon. All books are just one dollar!

1/20 Ben Franklin, America’s First Scientist — a talk and demonstration by engineer-entrepreneur John Berg, on Saturday, Jan 20, 2023 from 10 to 1 at the Franklin Historical Museum, 80 West Central St. FREE

1/20 Bag Sale Finale of Library Book Sale. $5 per bag!

1/20 Vera Meyer and Ben Franklin’s Glass Harmonica. Among Ben Franklin’s most amazing inventions is the glass Harmonica (or armonica), a series of concentric, rotating crystal glass bowls that can be played (think of the sound of wine glass rims being rubbed). Mozart and others composed music for it. And Boston area musician and expert Vera Meyer will return to Franklin for a performance featuring many styles of music. Don’t miss the haunting, ethereal, and beautiful sounds of the harmonica at the Franklin Public Library 6:30-8 pm. FREE (School St entrance)

1/21 Ben Franklin Considered and Reconsidered — an authorized showing of PBS interviews with modern leaders discussing the many facets of Ben Franklin. Sunday Jan 21, 2023 from 1-4 at the Franklin Historical Museum, 80 West Central St. Audience members will be encouraged to continue the discussion! FREE

Check back for updates and/or new events and activities

*copies will be available at the gift shop of the Franklin Historical Museum