Caroline Bruzelius Elected to the American Philosophical Society

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Caroline A. Bruzelius, Anne Murnick Cogan Professor Emerita of Art and Art History, has been elected a Member of the prestigious American Philosophical Society. Thirty-four Members were elected this year, including others in the humanities such as Elizabeth Alexander, President, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Marin Alsop, Music Director, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: Lonnie Bunch III, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution; Carla Hayden, Librarian, Library of Congress; David W. Oxtoby, President, American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and André Watts, Pianist and Distinguished Professor of Music, Indiana University.

The American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the United States, was founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge.” The Society sustains its mission in four principal ways. It honors and engages distinguished scientists, humanists, social scientists, and leaders in civic and cultural affairs through elected membership and opportunities for interdisciplinary, intellectual fellowship, particularly in the semi-annual Meetings in Philadelphia. It supports research and discovery through grants and fellowships, lectures, publications, prizes, exhibitions, and public education. It serves scholars through a research library of some 13 million manuscripts and other collections internationally recognized for their enduring scholarly value.

The American Philosophical Society’s current activities reflect the founder’s spirit of inquiry, provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and convey the conviction of its members that intellectual inquiry and critical thought are inherently in the public interest.

Early Members included George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Marshall.  In the nineteenth century, John James Audubon, Robert Fulton, Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, and Louis Pasteur were among those elected.  Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, and George Marshall hint at the scientific, humanistic, and public accomplishments of 20th-century Members.  The first woman was elected in 1789 - the Russian Princess Dashkova, president of the Imperial Academy of Sciences of St. Petersburg. 

Today the Society has 1,051 elected Members, 852 resident Members and 169 international Members from more than two dozen foreign countries. Only 5,715 Members have been elected since 1743. Since 1900, more than 260 Members have received the Nobel Prize.