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Exhibition Join In: Voluntary Assocations in America

Continuation of the Account of the Pennsylvania Hospital. Philadelphia: B. Franklin and D. Hall, 1761. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (103.00.00)
Robert Scot (ca. 1744–1823), engraver. The Pennsylvania Hospital, between 1782 and 1793. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (104.00.00)

Early Hospitals (Pennsylvania Hospital)

Influenced by the successes of volunteer hospitals in England, Benjamin Franklin, Dr. Thomas Bond (1712–1784), and several members of the Philadelphia elite devised a plan to create a hospital that would treat the colony’s poor and incapacitated free of charge. The result of their efforts, the Pennsylvania Hospital, was established in 1751 and was one of the first hospitals in America. Its founders secured funding from the Penn family, from the colonial legislature, and from private donations, the largest of which Franklin made himself. It offered free treatment to the poor as well as pioneering efforts in the care of the mentally ill. In the 1990s, it became part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.