Benjamin Franklin's Legacy
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
- Benjamin Franklin, BFIT Benefactor
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology owes its existence to the vision and wisdom of one of America's greatest inventors, scientists and diplomats, Benjamin Franklin. The college is Franklin's living legacy in Boston. The college evolved directly from his bequest of £1000 to “the Inhabitants of the Towne of Boston,” set forth in a codicil to his will in 1789. Well over 200 years after his death, Franklin's legacy continues to do great public good.
Benjamin Franklin believed that "good apprentices would become good citizens." That vision has guided the college's pragmatic approach of developing curricula that meets industry needs, and ensuring student success through comprehensive support. Our goal is to create a career path by developing a learning environment, through industry partnerships, shared resources, and effective classroom and laboratory practices, which sets the standard for a job-oriented technical education, at both the associate and bachelor's degree level.
After working briefly with his father, a tallow chandler, Franklin became an apprentice to his brother James, one of only several printers in Boston, where he learned the trade. Eventually a bitter quarrel with James led to a split that resulted in Ben’s move to Philadelphia in his late teens after James warned his competitors not to hire Ben. Unlike so many of the Founding Fathers who came from the colonial gentry, Franklin belonged to the “leather apron” class. Although one of the most significant men of his era, he remained ever proud of his trade and specified that his gravestone be engraved “Benjamin Franklin, Printer.”
In Franklin's codicil, he noted that the kindness of two friends in helping him set up his business, had been the basis of his fortune, he continued: “I wish to be useful even after my Death…in forming and advancing other young men that may be serviceable to their country.”
In December 1904, the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, who heralded Benjamin Franklin as one of his heroes, matched the money in the Franklin Fund to build the College on two conditions: that the new school be an industrial school similar to the Cooper Union and New York City’s Mechanics’ and Tradesmen’s School, and that the City of Boston provide the land. On Friday, September 25, 1908, the Franklin Union building was dedicated.
Fun Historical Facts:
Soon after Henry Ford introduced the Model T, the affordable car that would put average Americans on the road, the course in Gas and Gasoline Engines became so popular that the College had to establish a waiting list and people lined up around the corner of Berkeley Street and onto Tremont in order to get on the list.
On May 15, 1916, the first conference call was made at the college, linking San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. More than nine hundred people filled the Franklin Union auditorium to hear guest speakers from around the country via telephone, including Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, and his assistant, Thomas A. Watson.
On November 14, 1927 the very first fax was sent from the college. W.E Harkness of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company gave the first public demonstration of the newly developed telephoto process, which could transmit a five-by-seven inch photograph anywhere in the country over telephone wires in seven minutes, a boon especially for the newspaper industry.