Case Files

The Case Files are a unique repository in the history of science and technology.

As the documentary record of The Franklin Institute Awards program, the Case Files are filled with stories of scientific enterprise.

The long, distinguished history of The Franklin Institute Awards Program dates back to 1824, when the Institute was founded by a group of leading Philadelphians to train artisans and mechanics in the fundamentals of science.

Learn about the Awards Program

Albert Einstein Case File Headshot
Relativity and the Photo-Electric Effect

Albert Einstein

In 1935 Albert Einstein was awarded the Franklin Medal in recognition of his contributions to theoretical physics, especially his work on Relativity and the Photo-Electric effect.

Alexander Graham Bell portrait
Electrical Transmission of Articulate Speech

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the Elliott Cresson Medal in the field of Engineering in 1912 for Electrical Transmission of Articulate Speech.

Historical photo of the old Bell Telephone logo
Contribution in Telephone Service


The Franklin Institute awarded AT&T with The Franklin Medal and the Elliott Cresson Medal for their contribution in telephone service.

Locomotive 1520
Design and Experimentation with Locomotives

Baldwin Locomotive Works

Mattias Baldwin's mechanical tinkering led him to winning the Cresson Award from The Franklin Institute for designing and experimenting with locomotives.

1st page out of 4 of the Street Railway Journal, Ad for Double Girder Lap Joint Track, Gibbon Duplex Street Railway Tracks, 9/1891.
Improvement in Street Railway Track Construction

Catherine L. Gibbon

Catherine L. Gibbon was awarded the John Scott Legacy Medal in 1892 for Improvement in Street Railway Track Construction.

Copy of the 1936 Franklin Medal certificate, 5/20/1936
Automotive Engineering

Charles F. Kettering

Due to his contribution in the science of automotive engineering, Charles F. Kettering was awarded the 1936 Franklin Medal by The Franklin Institute.

Claude Elwood Shannon Case File Headshot
Statistical Functions in Communications

Claude Elwood Shannon

The 1955 Stuart Ballantine Medal was awarded to Dr. Claude Elwood Shannon for his intelligence in statistical functions in the field of communications.

"Medal Day Proceedings;" an article reprinted from The Journal of The Franklin Institute, Vol. 254, No. 6, December, 1952
Invention of the Point Contact Transistor

Dr. John Bardeen and Walter Brattain

Dr. John Bardeen and Walter Brattain received the Ballantine Award for their invention of the Point Contact Transistor.

Edwin Hubble Case Files Headshot
Contribution to Physics

Edwin Hubble

The 1939 Franklin Medal was one of many awards given to Edwin Hubble for his contribution to physics.

Elmer Sperry photo portrait
Gyroscopic Compass

Elmer A. Sperry

he Franklin Institute recognized Elmer Sperry and his gyroscopic compass for its unique design and excellent function, awarding him the John Scott Legacy Medal.

Enrico Fermi Case File Headshot
Theoretical and Experimental Physics

Enrico Fermi

For his accomplishments in theoretical and experimental physics, Enrico Fermi received the Benjamin Franklin Award in Physics.

Black and white historical photo of Francis Jenkins in front of machine
Phantoscope Projector

Francis Jenkins

Francis Jenkins was awarded the Elliott Cresson Medal in Invention by The Franklin Institute in 1897 for the Phantoscope projector.

Portrait photograph of George Ellery Hale
Development of Astrophysics

George Ellery Hale

George Ellery Hale was honored throughout his life for his contributions in the development of astrophysics.

Guglielmo Marconi Case Files Headshot
Application of Radio Waves to Communication

Guglielmo Marconi

In 1918, Guglielmo Marconi was awarded the Franklin Medal in Engineering for the application of radio waves to communication.

Harlow Shapley Laureates medal.
Assessment of the Milky Way

Harlow Shapley

Harlow Shapley's assessment of the Milky Way changed astronomy forever, awarding him The Franklin Medal in Physics in 1945.

Black and white photograph of Henry Ford standing
Motor Car for the Multitudes

Henry Ford

In 1907, Henry Ford vowed to make a motor car for the great multitude rather than a luxury item for the rich. He would accomplish this by bringing down the price and producing large quantities to achieve economies of scale.

Herman Hollerith Case File Headshot
Electric Tabulating Device

Herman Hollerith

The 1890 Elliott Cresson Medal was awarded by The Franklin Institute to Herman Hollerith for his Electric Tabulating Device.

Press clipping concerning the uses of Sikorsky amphibian airplanes, January 1933.
Sikorsky Aviation Company

Igor Sikorsky

In 1929, the Sikorsky Aviation Company became a subsidiary of United Aircraft Corporation, granting Sikorsky fame and recognition. 

Carty, Who Telephones Through the Air. October 2, 1915.
Large-Scale Switchboard Technology

John J. Carty

Carty made early contributions to large-scale switchboard technology and in describing and eliminating the phenomenon of cross talk. 

Black and white photo of John Mauchly And J Presper Eckert looking at an open book with a person in military uniform

John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert

Though computers have undergone a myriad of changes since the ENIAC, the design outlined by Mauchly and Eckert remains the structure of computers today.

Marie Curie | ca. 1900 | Tekniska Museet, Stockholm
Discovery of Radiation in Uranium

Marie Curie

Curie's first hypothesis that radiation originated in a sample of elemental uranium set the stage for discoveries on atomic structure. 

Nikola Tesla Letter, to William H. Wahl, Acknowledging receipt of The Franklin Institute Committee on Science and the Arts report and expressing appreciation for the Cresson award, 4/10/1894
Coil for Production of Electric Oscillations

Nikola Tesla

Tesla described his coil as a simpler device for the production of electric oscillations for use in the design of high frequency machines.

Historical photo of Orville Wright

Orville Wright

Though he never finished high school, Orville Wright had successful business ventures in printing, bicycle repair, and aviation.

Photograph of Medal Day Attendees 5/19/1937.

Robert A. Millikan

Millikan's accomplishments included the design and fine-tuning of experiments which confirmed the most important scientific theories of his time.

Edison's Franklin Medal Citation, The Franklin Institute Science Museum, 4/7/1915.

Thomas A. Edison

Nicknamed The Wizard of Menlo Park, Edison was not particularly wizardly. Rather, he was a savvy businessman who understood the value of iterative invention.

Photograph of Coolidge, Lantern Slide.
Incandescent Lighting and X-Rays

William Coolidge

William Coolidge received the 1927 Edison Medal for "contributions to the incandescent electric lighting and the X-rays art."

William S Jennings Case Files Headshot

William Jennings

His personal and professional travels allowed him to photograph America; his collection of scrapbooks and photographs are an invaluable portrait of the 19th and early 20th century United States.

William S. Burroughs

William S. Burroughs

Young Burroughs realized that when America was experiencing a rapid growth of industry, there was a need for a machine that could add numbers quickly.