A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

“Mathematicks and Philosophy”

John Adams believed "Mathematicks and Philosophy" fell between the science of "Politicks and War" and the art of "Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture." He felt his sons should study these fields, as well as "Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture."

In these respective disciplines, Benjamin Franklin, Richard Gridley, and Samuel Dexter each made significant contributions to American independence and to the advancement of human knowledge.

Benjamin Franklin's brass matrices for casting type
Brass type made in France, circa 1740

B. Franklin of Philadelphia L.L.D. F.R.S.
Mezzotint engraving by Edward Fisher after Mason Chamberlin, [between 1763 and 1785]

Richard Gridley's side chair
circa 1760

Spectacles belonging to Samuel Dexter
circa 1785


Exhibition: 13 June to 7 September 2013

What is the meaning of historical objects? Why are they preserved, and why have they survived? Are they valued for their associations with notable historical figures or landmark events, as objects of beauty, as the survival of relics from a distant past, or for the stories they convey? This exhibition explores these questions through the display of 18th-century portraits and objects from the Society's collections, along with rarely seen engravings, needlework, maps, weapons, furniture, clothing, scientific instruments, and silver.

The exhibit runs from 13 June through 7 September 2013, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM.

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