Ann Smith Franklin
Ann Smith Franklin was the wife of the printer James Franklin and
sister-in-law to Benjamin Franklin. After experiencing harsh censorship
in Boston--including a jail term -- for the supposedly "wicked"
articles he published in The New England Courant, James
decamped for the freer atmosphere of the colony of Rhode Island.
He and Ann
first printing press to the colony and published its first newspaper,
Rhode Island Gazette. When James died in 1735, Ann was left
a widow, with five young children to support, at the age of thirty-nine.
She seems to have learned printing soon after her marriage in 1723.
Although she did only commercial job work in her first year of widowhood,
she soon expanded her repertoire, reviving the profitable Rhode
Island Almanack and becoming official printer to the colony.
In 1745 she undertook her largest commission, five hundred copies
of a folio
edition of the
Acts and Laws of Rhode Island. Princeton's copy is
bound in its original marbled papers. The volume also includes another
item printed in her official capacity, the colony's charter
granted by Charles II.
Acts and Laws, of his Majesty's Colony of Rhode-Island,
and Providence-Plantations, in New-England, in America,
Newport, Rhode-Island: Printed by the Widow Franklin, and to be Sold
at the Town-School-House [sic], 1745.
The title page woodcut shows the arms of the colony.
Rare Books Division, the Miriam Y. Holden Collection on the History
Other works in the exhibition:
- The Charter Granted by His Majesty King Charles II to the
Governor and Company of the English Colony of Rhode-Island and
in New-England in America, Newport, Rhode-Island: Printed
by the Widow Franklin, and to be Sold at the Town School-House,