Founded in 1727, Benjamin Franklin’s Junto Club was an educational organization that provided opportunities for individuals from all walks of life to engage in learning activities. The group convened curious thinkers, avid readers, and scholarly intellectuals for a variety of events. The members were encouraged to read and discuss books, politics, natural philosophy, and morals. They gathered together on Friday evenings and discussed a wide variety of topics.
In the early 1800s, books were prohibitively expensive in Pennsylvania. To improve literacy, the Junto Club was founded. In addition to lending books to members, the Junto Club also compiled a lending library. Members could borrow books from the library to read and discuss. Several members of the Junto Club were also involved in designing the University of Pennsylvania.
Franklin’s Junto Club was founded on the belief that knowledge should benefit society. He believed that the best way to achieve this was by providing a venue where people of all walks of life could participate in educational activities. Franklin’s group gathered avid readers, scholarly intellectuals, and individuals from all walks of life to discuss books, politics, natural philosophy, and ethics. They also gathered books for a lending library, which became the basis for the Philadelphia Public Library.
During the Junto Club’s 38-year life, members were encouraged to participate in projects that benefited their local community. Members of the Junto Club also formed a Volunteer Militia to protect the colony. Franklin also helped members of the Junto Club form the Union Fire Company.
Franklin also had a hunch that a collaborative library could be a useful way to improve literacy in Philadelphia. He argued that a communal library could prove to be an effective statement of an artisan’s identity. The library held works spanning the areas of poetry, history, travel, morality, and science. After a year, artisans would take the books they had gathered home. They were encouraged to read and discuss books and were rewarded with the knowledge that they gained from reading.
Franklin’s Junto Club was a pioneer in the field of peer advisory groups. Peer advisory groups are groups that provide professional guidance and support to ambitious individuals and groups. They can include any number of members and can range from informal social groups to professional groups. The best groups will offer members a structured experience, such as accountability and professional support. The group may also provide an opportunity for members to learn about the latest technologies or design principles.
Benjamin Franklin’s Junto Club was not the only group to initiate such a concept. The French dames of the seventeenth century were influential in the early days of the industrial revolution. The salons of the great dames of that era were an example of a free exchange of ideas. This allowed for the creation of the most fertile creative environments in human history.
Benjamin Franklin’s Junto Club is just one example of the many successful and innovative groups that have emerged since its founding. Modern-day mastermind groups are designed to serve ambitious leaders. Often, these groups include an expert panel that discusses a specific topic. The panel will often feature an advice-giver, a developer, and a designer. The group may also involve a guest speaker or idea exchange.
Today, CEO University has adopted this concept and modernized the Board meetings to give today’s CEOs the best Personal Board of Directors experience they can get.