I began compiling Benjamin Franklin: A Documentary History as a source for a biography of Franklin. I gradually came to think that it had scholarly value of its own, though I still intend it to be the basic documentation for the biography. Since the Documentary History (DH) is arranged chronologically, the dates in the biography can be readily checked in the DH, where bibliographical references are given. The DH calendars but does not print Franklin's writings. It refers to The Papers of Benjamin Franklin far more frequently than to any other source, citing the Papers for the innumerable scholarly contributions made by that great edition. Since The Papers of Benjamin Franklin is also arranged chronologically, the date itself in the DH can serve as a reference to the Papers.
This site presents a 7-Volume "Documentary History" of Benjamin Franklin with content useful for researchers and educators. The content was originally compiled by historian J. A. Leo Lemay of the University of Delaware, writing a biography of Franklin. Volume One of the Documentary History abstracts all contemporary references to Franklin. Naturally the Documentary History becomes more detailed as Benjamin Franklin became older. The latter volumes are more selective, but at least for the first three volumes (until his departure from America in 1757), Lemay attempted to include all references regarding Franklin's whereabouts and his opinions. Lemay believes that the documentary history is more accessible and useful online than as a series of expensive, ponderous volumes. In essence Lemay is correct, however the site's technology is out of date, making it difficult to use and read.