America 250 at Penn

The University of Pennsylvania (then the College of Philadelphia), located In the heart of the city, was at the center of the dramatic events of 1776 and the Revolution that followed. Members of the Penn community were closely linked to the creation of the Declaration of Independence and other founding documents.

Signatures of eight signers of the Declaration of Independence with a connection to the University of Pennsylvania superimposed on an engraving of Benjamin Franklin

Series Overview

The Semiquincentennial (250th anniversary) of the Declaration of Independence, also being referred to across the country as America 250, provides the Penn community with an ideal opportunity to re-examine one of the founding documents of our country from both historical and contemporary perspectives. The Penn Libraries is taking the lead in bringing together colleagues from across campus to begin a conversation about how we might recognize this anniversary through a range of programming, from exhibitions art commissions and performances to innovative courses and conferences, which engages with a number of important ideas raised by the Declaration that continue to resonate in our time.

Working with other institutions across Philadelphia, including the Museum of the American Revolution, the American Philosophical Society, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the Library Company of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania seeks to play an instrumental role in exploring multifaceted approaches to recognizing how history can help us better understand the present and create a sustainable and inclusive future.


Image above: Detail from engraving of Benjamin Franklin overlaid with the signatures of eight University of Pennsylvania signers of the Declaration of Independence: James Wilson, Francis Hopkinson, Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, Robert Morris, George Clymer, William Paca, and Thomas McKean (all from Ms. Coll. 621, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Penn Libraries; image by Chris Lippa.)