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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.
SOME INSTANCES OF THE INSTITUTE'S WORK
1824. It held the first Exhibition of American Manufactures in Carpenters' Hall on October 18, 19, 20. Silver medals were awarded for steel, domestic carpetings, straw and grass bonnets, etc.
Classes were established in Chemistry, Mechanics, Natural History, Architecture, Mathematics, and Drawing.
The first course of lectures commenced April 28 and was held in the Academy Building, Fourth Street near Arch.
1826. In January the first number of The Franklin Journal was issued under the editorial management of Dr. Thomas P. Jones, who two years later became Superintendent of the United States Patent Office.
It extended its educational efforts by establishing on April 6th a High School, in which Mathematics, Drawing, Geography, History, Latin, Greek, French, Spanish and German were taught. Three hundred and four pupils were in attendance in October.
Thirty-four thousand visitors attended the Institute's Third Industrial Exhibition during its four days' progress.
1827. Select Committee on Dry Docks made a lengthy illustrated report, giving costs, methods of operation, etc.
1829. Committee appointed to investigate the efficiency of moving water as a motive power (water wheel experiments).
1830. Committee appointed to inquire into causes of the explosion of steam boilers.
1831. Joint Committee of The Franklin Institute and American Philosophical Society first began systematic meteorological observations in aid of agricultural and other interests.
1832. Commission appointed to examine into the resources, including agricultural, of Pennsylvania, an action which led to a Geological Survey of the State.
Notable paper in JOURNAL OF THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE by Professor Walter R. Johnson on "The Strength of Steam Boilers.”
The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States requested a further extension of the Institute's inquiry into the causes of the explosion of steam boilers to include the prevention of steam boiler explosions.
Committee appointed to investigate the strength of materials. This committee devised apparatus of various forms for the testing of metals, steam boilers, building materials, etc.
The Institute was requested by the State Legislature to examine and report upon the then existing system of weights and measures.
1834. The Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania presented the thanks of the State for the report on weights and measures received from the Institute.
1837. The general interest created by the Institute's work gave rise to a movement for the establishment of a school of arts. The project failed at that time, but resulted later in the founding of the Department of Science of the University of Pennsylvania.
1838. The report of the Committee on Uniformity of Weights and Measures was printed. (The present laws of the State are based on this report.)
1839. November JOURNAL contained full translation of Daguerre's original communication to the French Academy describing his discoveries in photography (the Daguerreotype).
1840. Professor A. D. Bache's report on education in Europe appeared in the JOURNAL. (This report was made for use in connection with the organization of Girard College.)
1843. The Pennsylvania Legislature appropriated $4000 to be devoted to the purchase of instruments for the equipment of stations throughout the State for the systematic observation and collection of meteorological facts ; the expenditure being left in the hands of the Institute.
This is the earliest instance on record of the appropriation, in any country, of public funds for the collection of facts relating to the weather.
1850. The School of Design for Women was founded by the Institute. Mrs. Sarah Peters, first Directress.
1863. Monthly reports of Meteorological Phenomena at Philadelphia were published in the JOURNAL. (These were continued to 1869.)
1864. The shape and proportion of screw threads used in machine construction were investigated by a special committee. The report of this committee was presented in 1865 and recommended for adoption by machine builders throughout the United States a uniform and simplified system of screw threads.
A few years later this was officially adopted by the Government, and under the designation of the “U. S.” or “Franklin Institute Standard” is now in universal use.
1869. Resolutions passed by the meeting in August and addressed to Congress suggested an exhibition to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the United States and resulted in the holding of the Centennial Exhibition of 1876.
Solar Eclipse Expedition to lowa in August, Dr. Henry Morton, Director. The services of the observers were gratuitous, the instruments were borrowed and the transportation for the party and equipment was furnished by the railroads.
1872. Committee on the mode of determining the horsepower of steam boilers published its report.
1873. The Institute approved Professor Lesley's recommendation of a more thorough Geological Survey of Pennsylvania, and asked the Legislature