Smithsonian

Essay: Miffspelling

5. MiffPellings

For an exercise in close reading, give students clipped-out copies of these three notes, which Benjamin Franklin printed for the colony of Pennsylvania in 1764. Ask the students to search for the differences in the text of the notes. When they discover the key difference—the misspellings of Pennsylvania —explain that Franklin did this deliberately, to set a trap for counterfeiters.

If students read the "s" in Pennsylvania as "f" and take this as a misspelling as well, explain that the letter is in an antiquated form called "long s" or "leading s." This might prevent any "f" and "s" confusion in the upcoming lesson.