University of Pennsylvania

The Occom Circle

University of Pennsylvania

Name (variant)

College of Philadelphia


Philadelphia, PA


The College of Philadelphia, also called The Academy and College of Philadelphia, was founded in 1749 by Benjamin Franklin, and in 1791 joined the University of Pennsylvania. It was formed on Franklin's educational philosophy that schools should be taught in English, not Greek or Latin, and that the curriculum should include useful subjects like natural history, geology, geography, and modern languages. He envisioned the Academy for younger students with the College preparing them for university, as well as for public office and as school teachers. The Academy opened in 1751 and the College opened in 1757, graduating its first class in May 1757. Many future leaders of the US graduated from the College. Although Franklin's innovative vision was tempered by Provost William Smith's dedication to classical languages and the conservativism of Anglican Trustees in the 1760s and 1770s, his concept of higher education became the definition of a liberal education.


Introduction: From Franklin's Vision to Academy to University of Pennsylvania." Penn University Archives and Records Center.