This is the first volume to come from a great scholarly undertaking, the assembly and editing of Benjamin Franklin's complete writings and correspondence. Sponsored jointly by the American Philosophical Society and Yale University, this new edition of forty volumes will contain everything that Franklin wrote that can be found and, for the first time, in full or abstract, all letters addressed to him, the whole arranged in chronological order. To be published over a period of fifteen years, it will supersede all previous editions, for thousands of letters by Franklin have been located since Smyth's edition fifty years ago.
This first volume, for example, contains more than triple the amount of material in the Smyth edition for this period of Franklin's life, from his birth on January 17, 1706 to the end of 1734. This is a period reflecting the young Franklin of Boston and Philadelphia as a man of letters—essayist, journalist, pamphleteer—and as a rising young printer. here are the literary pieces he wrote and printed in the New-England Courant, the American Weekly Mercury, or the Pennsylvania Gazette, or as separately printed pamphlets. Here are the first issues of Poor Richard's Almanack. Here is his famous Epitaph and his ritual for private worship, "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion," together with legal and business papers connected with his printing business. Also included is a genealogy, the fullest ever compiled, of Franklin's complicated family, with chronology of Franklin's first twenty-nine years. Each volume will have its own index, with a cumulative index at the end.
As a large proportion of Franklin's literary production has never been reprinted since it first appeared in the 1720s and 1730s, this volume should add usefully to the available body of early American materials. Especially significant to collectors will be the reproduction in photographic facsimile, for the first time, of the entire twenty-four pages of the "first impression" of the first Poor Richard, that for 1733, from the unique copy in the Rosenbach Foundation.