As of July 1, 2023, The American Philosophical Society (APS) and University of Pennsylvania Press will partner to distribute and market the books and journals published by the APS. Both the APS and Penn Press’ home university are products of Benjamin Franklin’s fertile imagination, and this new partnership brings together the distinctive strengths of two pillars of Philadelphia’s intellectual landscape.
The APS is the oldest learned society in the United States, founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge.” In keeping with Franklin’s vision, APS is currently relaunching its publishing program, producing a new portfolio of publications that will promote and explore the dynamics of “useful knowledge” in today’s multidisciplinary context. APS has a rich backlist of hundreds of books, including many landmark works. The society also publishes two distinguished journals, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society and Transactions of the American Philosophical Society that will be published as a part of Penn Press’s robust journals program.
Based at the University of Pennsylvania, which Franklin launched in the 1750s, Penn Press was originally incorporated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1890—among the earliest such imprints in America. One of the Press’s first books, published in 1899, was a landmark, as well as an example of the Press’s close ties to its home city: The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study by renowned reformer, scholar, and social critic W.E.B. DuBois. Today, Penn Press publishes more than 100 new books a year and 22 journals, as well as maintaining an active backlist of more than 3,000 titles.
Of the new relationship, Penn Press director Mary Francis comments, “We are proud to collaborate with America’s oldest and most distinguished learned society, providing a combination of intellectual and practical support for the APS aligned with the imaginative and pragmatic spirit of Franklin himself. APS and Penn Press have sterling histories of intellectually strong, socially productive publications; the mission alignment of the two institutions is the foundation of what we believe will be an exceptional partnership.”
The inaugural APS/Penn Press list will commence in 2024. Published under the imprint APS Books, titles will include a combination of new books and classic reprints from the APS backlist. The APS Press is also contemplating a series of short, essayistic books by leading scholars on the dynamic developments that have shaped today’s disciplines and their evolving research agendas; newly edited critical editions of past APS books and works by past APS members; and new books by a wide range of authors on the history and scholarly dimensions of useful knowledge today.
The relaunched APS journals programs will update the society’s two journals, Proceedings and Transactions.Proceedings is a quarterly journal that includes papers read at the APS’s twice-yearly meetings, independent essays by outside scholars, and biographical memoirs of APS Members. The journal also captures talks by today’s prominent professionals, scholars, and scientists that will not be published elsewhere. Recent topics include language and identity in America’s native nations, landscape architecture, the U.S. education system, and the anthropocene. The revised version of Proceedings will include a new feature, field reports from APS grantees.
Transactions is the oldest scholarly publication in the country, covering various fields of study, ranging from 18th-century American history to the history of science, from meteorology to evolution. Recent topics include the future of libraries, education in the early republic, decolonizing special collections, and the power and meaning of maps. In 2024, the journal will focus on thematic edited issues based on APS conferences, as well as an annual issue selected from the APS blog. Transactions will be moving to an all-edited issue format beginning in 2024.
APS Press Director Peter Dougherty notes that, “This new partnership enables us to renew our legacy of ‘promoting useful knowledge’ today by better connecting our authors and their works with the multiplicity of readers reached by Penn Press all over the world.”