Jane Mecom (Franklin) (1712 - 1794)

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Nicknames: "Mecum"
Birthplace: Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
Death: Died in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
Managed by: Margaret, (C)
Last Updated:

About Jane Mecom (Franklin)


Benjamin Franklin is arguably the most famous American ever. His youngest sister Jane is mostly lost to history. But Harvard historian Jill Lepore found her in the letters she and her brother exchanged over their long lives. They were called Benny and Jenny and Benny wrote more letters to Jenny than he did to anyone else. Most of his survive; many of hers do not. Lepore’s new book got an excellent review in The New York Times recently and it’s already nominated for a National Book Award in nonfiction. Here & Now producer Alex Ashlock spoke to Lepore about the book.

Benjamin Franklin was the author of his own life. His youngest sister Jane was the author of other people’s lives, according to historian Jill Lepore.

She had 12 children. Many of them died as infants. Those who grew up to adulthood in many cases had children of their own, only to very soon after die and leave their children for Jane to raise. Her favorite granddaughter died in childbirth, leaving four children for Jane to take care of, in her 70s.

Lepore’s new book is called “Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin” (excerpt below). It’s the story of two 18th century lives. One we know a lot about; the other we don’t but maybe should. The book is based on decades of correspondence Ben and Jane shared. He wrote more letters to her than he wrote to anyone else.

Ben Franklin also wrote his autobiography. Jane wrote what she called her Book of Ages. Lepore says it serves as her life story.

Jane Franklin died on Wednesday May 7, 1794. She was 83. The funeral was held in her home in Boston’s North End on May 10. “Mourners must have been few,” Lepore writes. “She had outlived almost everyone she’d ever loved.”

No one really knows where she is buried.

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Jane Mecom's Timeline

March 27, 1712
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
July 27, 1727
Age 15
May 7, 1794
Age 82
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
May 10, 1794
Age 82