gpo-happywave-sm-benThe inspiration for the Ben character comes from Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), who, like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, was one of the most important individuals in early colonial and United States history. As a young boy, Ben worked as an apprentice in a print shop and later went on to draft some of the Nation’s most significant documents.

Although he lived before GPO’s founding, his legacy of publishing information lives on in what we do today.

Lesson Plan from the American Association of School Librarians:
Who was Ben Franklin? Preparing to use Ben's Guide.

Additional Resources about the Life of Benjamin Franklin
  • Ken Burns’s four-hour documentary, Benjamin Franklin, explores the revolutionary life of one of the 18th century’s most consequential figures and compelling personalities, whose work and words unlocked the mystery of electricity and helped create the United States. Franklin's 84 years (1706-1790) spanned an epoch of momentous change in science, technology, literature, politics, and government — fields he himself advanced through a lifelong commitment to societal and self-improvement.
  • Introduction to Benjamin Franklin (Grades: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) This introduction to the Benjamin Franklin documentary contains an overview of his widespread accomplishments, his personal and professional failures, his values, contradictions, and his compelling life story.
  • The Power of Words: Benjamin Franklin’s Mastery of Media (Grades: 6-8, 9-12) In 1718, Benjamin Franklin began work at his brother’s print shop, where he gained physical skills and rich reading opportunities. When Boston’s first independent newspaper, The New England Courant, launched, Franklin began a writing career under the pseudonym “Silence Dogood.”
  • As a teenager, Franklin was a writer. He published his first letter in the New England Courant under the pen name of “Silence Dogood,” a fictional widow of a country minister who has strong opinions. In November of 1731, Benjamin Franklin founded the first public library in the United States, the Library Company of Philadelphia.