« ZurückWeiter »
This organization continued in existence until the year 1834, when, by act of the Institute, it was abolished, and in its place there was established' the “ Committee on Science and the Arts,” with enlarged powers and a wider field of labor. As originally constituted, membership in this committee was open to all members of the Institute in good standing who chose to enroll their names, and who by thus voluntarily associating themselves with the committee, pledged themselves to perform the duties assigned to them.
Under this form of organization the committee continued for more than fifty years, and its usefulness during this long period is attested by its records, containing the results of the examination of a great number of inventions, and of its investigations of many subjects of importance entrusted to it by the Institute.
In the year 1886, the Institute adopted an amendment to its by-laws, by which this committee was reorganized on an elective basis, thus abolishing the plan of voluntary association which had heretofore been a distinguishing feature. By this amendment the Institute established a Committee on Science and the Arts, to be composed of forty-five members of the Institute, to be chosen at the annual election (fifteen each year), and “who shall pledge themselves by their acceptance of membership to perform such duties as may devolve upon them, and to sustain by their labors the scientific character of the Institute."
Some years later the membership of the committee was increased from forty-five to sixty and by a provision recently adopted the members are elected by the Board of Managers, twenty each year.
During the past twenty-five years the committee has investigated over 900 discoveries, processes, and inventions.
The publication of a journal for the diffusion of knowledge on all subjects connected with science and the useful arts, was embraced in the plan of the founders, and was undertaken shortly after the organization had been effected. This publication has been continued without interruption to the present time, and has proved most useful, not only in directly promoting the aims and objects of the Institute, but also in extending the sphere of its influence beyond the limits of its local habitation.
The first step to secure a publication was taken by the Institute as early as 1825, when, by arrangement with C. S. Williams, publisher, a magazine bearing the title The American Mechanics' Magazine, and which had been founded by him in New York at the beginning of that year, was acquired by Dr. Thomas P. Jones, who had recently been elected professor of mechanics in The Franklin Institute. At the outset the responsibility of this venture appears to have been assumed by Dr. Jones, after he had received assurances of active co-operation and support from the members of the Institute, who were warmly interested in its success.
The prospectus of the new publication, which was issued August 1, 1825, announced the fact that “ shortly will be published
MECHANICS IN THE INSTITUTE."
The object of The Franklin Journal, as defined in the prospectus, was, "to diffuse information on every subject connected with useful arts.”
In the prospectus of The Franklin Journal attention is called to the fact that it was intended to give a list of patented inventions, with remarks upon their utility and originality. This proposition was literally maintained and continued as a prominent feature of the JOURNAL to the close of 1859, save that the “Remarks,” which were in many cases of the greatest value to those interested in the progress of the arts and manufactures, were discontinued on the death of Dr. Jones. His accession to the position of Superintendent of the Patent Office naturally caused him to devote special attention to the preservation of the record of patents in the pages of the JOURNAL. This circumstance has since proved, of,, considerable value to all who have need to refer to the early patents of the United States, as will appear from the following explanation:
In the official Patent Office publications, issued by the Government prior to the year 1843, the publication of the claims was omitted; while, for a considerable period, the JOURNAL published an abstract of the specifications and the claims in full. The JOURNAL, consequently, is the only source at present available for reference to the specifications and claims of patents issued by the United States, from 1828 to 1842, inclusive. The JOURNAL can also be used, in place of the official publications, as a source of reference to the patents granted during the period 1826–1859 in which the patent lists were published therein.
The complete file of the JOURNAL embraces The Franklin Journal, 1826 1827, and the Journal Of The FRANKLIN INSTITUTE, 1828 to the present time, 190 volumes in all, with a General Index, 1826 to 1885, and three decennial volumes covering the years 1886 to 1915, inclusive.
In its present form, the JOURNAL is an octavo of over 150 pages. It is published monthly, the twelve impressions being divided into two volumes yearly-January to June and July to December, each separately paged, and supplied with title-page and index.
THE SCHOOL OF MECHANIC ARTS The first Board of Managers of the Institute provided for the establishment of a standing Committee on Instruction, charged with the duty of directing its educational work.
This committee speedily perfected plans for systematic instruction by means of lectures and demonstrations. Professorships in chemistry, in natural philosophy and mechanics, and in architecture were established and filled by the election of capable instructors.
Provision was next made for the instruction of mechanics and apprentices and those engaged in the useful trades, and early in the fall of 1824 a school of mechanical and architectural drawing was established. This experiment seems to have been crowned with complete success; and the managers proceeded to establish another school, in which should be taught "all the useful branches of English literature and the ancient and modern languages.” This project was realized in 1826. In 1827 over three hundred scholars were upon its roll. It was the model upon which the Central High School, shortly afterwards established by the city as part of the public school system, was patterned. With the organization of the public high school, that of the Institute was abandoned as unnecessary. The drawing school, however, was continued, and has maintained an uninterrupted existence to the present. Its leading feature--that of training pupils for actual work in shop and office has always been rigorously preserved, and at the present time, as a school for mechanical draughtsmen, it is conceded, by those best qualified to judge, to be one of the most thorough and practical of any in the country.
Twenty-three years ago classes in mathematics were established; these later became a part of the school of machine design. Instruction in naval architecture was first given in October, 1899.
All departments of instruction were united in the year 1910 and are now known as the School of Mechanic Arts.
These have always occupied a prominent place in the scheme of the Institute's work, from the beginning to the present.
The first course was given in the old Academy Building, on Fourth Street, near Arch, owned by the University of Pennsylvania, the use of which for this purpose was granted by the trustees; and the work of the professors was ably supplemented by a corps of volunteer lecturers from the membership of the Institute. A little later, the Institute rented the lower floor of the old Carpenters' Hall for this purpose, and finally, on the completion and occupancy of the hall, the lectures were held in its own lecture room.
For many years the lectures were of the nature of regular courses on architecture, mechanics, physics, and chemistry, varied of course from year to year, but following generally the plan of graded or consecutive instruction, as in schools and colleges. This system, however, though for a long period admirably useful in meeting the needs of the public, was found in time to be gradually outgrowing its usefulness. Lecture courses on scientific themes, which for years had been practically pre-empted by The Franklin Institute, in time were made attractive features in the schools and colleges, and the popular science lecturer became a conspicuous figure on the public lecture platform. And so it came about, naturally, that the Committee on Instruction found i
it advantageous gradually to modify its plans to adapt them to the changes of the times. For a number of years, accordingly, the character of the Institute lectures has departed widely from the old-time pattern. The object at present most conspicuously kept in view in the selection of the lectures is to give the members of the Institute the advantage of having presented to them the latest advances in the useful arts and the sciences bearing thereon; and, to this end, the committee's efforts each year are directed to the purpose of securing the services of men of eminence in their respective fields of labor, who are invited to select their own themes. Since its foundation The Franklin Institute has given free to the public thousands of lectures by distinguished scientists and technologists on scientific and technological subjects in addition to numerous popular and illustrated addresses on subjects of immediate interest to the public and germane to the topics of the day.
MEETINGS General meetings of the Institute's entire membership are held once each month, except during the summer. At these meetings great inventions and discoveries, important engineering projects, and notable achievements in all fields of scientific progress are presenied, exhibited or discussed. Many of the epoch-making inventions have been shown in their experimental stages at these meetings—as the phonograph, the electric light, the typewriter, liquid air apparatus, machine telegraphy, etc.
EXHIBITIONS As a means of promoting the mechanic arts, the holding of exhibitions was highly favored by the founders, and in this field of activity the Institute, for many years, was conspicuously prominent.
The first exhibition of American manufactures was held in October, 1824, in Carpenters' Hall.
This, it should be remembered to the credit of the Institute, was the first of the kind to be undertaken in this country.
The exhibitions of the Institute were held yearly or biennially, down to the year 1858. Many of the earlier events took place in the old Masonic Hall, on Chestnut Street, above Seventh, and in a temporary annex thereto; and the more recent ones in the one-time famous Museum Building, at Ninth and Sansom Streets, the destruction of which by fire, in the year 1850, made it necessary for the managers, for several years, to adapt themselves to less desirable quarters, and finally to discontinue the exhibitions for a time for want of a centrally located building suitable for the purpose.
In the year 1874 occurred the fiftieth anniversary of The Franklin Institute, and a fortunate circumstance enabled the managers to signalize the event by holding an exhibition, which proved from every point of view an eminently successful one. The circumstance spoken of was the fact that the Pennsylvania Railroad Company placed at the service of the Institute, for exhibition purposes, the old building at Thirteenth and Market Streets, for many years occupied as a freight station. Over 268,000 visitors attended this exhibition.
Successful, however, as was the exhibition of 1874, it was eclipsed in brilliancy, and in value from the educational and technical standpoint, by that of 1884, which will ever be memorable in the annals of The Franklin Institute. This was the Electrical Exhibition, held in the autumn of that year, under the direction of the Institute, and which by Act of Congress, approved February 26, 1883, was made international in character. It was the first exhibition in America devoted exclusively to the electrical arts.
In 1885 the Novelties Exhibition was held in the building erected for the electrical exhibition.
No further exhibitions have been held since that time, though the Institute co-operated with the Commercial Museum of Philadelphia in the management of the National Export Exposition of 1899.