The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, founded in 1805, is the oldest art museum and school in the United States. The records in its Archives were accumulated as a result of the Academy's two primary activities: collecting, preserving, and exhibiting art, and training artists. An important research facility, the Academy's extensive archives document not only the history of the institution, but the development of the fine arts and art education in America.

The Dorothy and Kenneth Woodcock Archives’ holdings primarily consist of institutional documents (papers, files, and publications) created by members of the PAFA community and maintained by the Archives as a record of the Institution’s activity. Our archival collection includes: papers, documents, electronic files, photographs, videos, cassettes, financial records, letters, and personal materials relating to PAFA. Materials in the Dorothy and Kenneth Woodcock Archives are housed in secure, temperature-controlled environments.

In order to carry out its mission to acquire materials of enduring value for preservation and access, the Dorothy and Kenneth Woodcock Archives collects the following types of records:

  • Non-current records of administration, academic departments and student activities: Records which are no longer of immediate routine use and that document the everyday functions of the Institution.
  • Official publications, including newspapers, newsletters, yearbooks, directories, pamphlets, advertisements, posters, and notices.
  • Blueprints and information about PAFA’s campus and buildings.
  • Clippings and photographs related to PAFA: News accounts, including photography, that record important events at PAFA or are created by PAFA’s communications department.
  • Faculty publications: Books, articles and other published material by faculty who are teaching at the time of the publication.
  • Student theses and dissertations.
  • Photographs, scrapbooks and memorabilia that document the PAFA student experience.
  • Records generated by affiliated organizations.
  • Records of select Philadelphia art organizations.
  • Papers of American artists associated with the Academy or of significance to American Art history.

The Archives acquires material primarily through donation from departments of the Institution and from alumni, students and interested members of the community.

To learn more about contributing materials to the archives, please click here.


  • The Archives is open by appointment only for scholarly research.  Appointments must be scheduled with at least two weeks advance notice.
  • In order to schedule an appointment, the researcher must provide a written description of the research project and indicate the collections to be consulted.
  • Permission to examine archival materials will be granted upon completion of a registration form and the researcher's agreement to follow the Archives’ Access Procedures.
  • The Archives provides access to the Museum’s records and manuscripts to the fullest extent possible on a fair and equitable basis. Certain materials are restricted to protect individual privacy rights and proprietary rights of the Museum.
  • Photocopies of archival materials may be made under certain conditions as stated in the Photocopy Policy and Copyright Notice.  Photographs, color transparencies, and other reproduction options may be arranged through the Museum’s Rights and Reproductions Department. For more information, please email jjohns@pafa.org.
  • Archival material may only be published with the written consent of the Archivist. Those seeking publication permission must submit a Permission to Publish Request form and a copy of the proposed manuscript.  Archival material must be cited using the following format:  [Item identification and date], [Series], [Record Group or Manuscript Collection], Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Archives.
  • Laptop computers are permitted in the Archives, but scanners are prohibited.
  • The Archives does not appraise materials.  Please contact the American Society of Appraisers, P. O. Box 17265, Washington, D. C., 20041 at 1-800-272-8258 for a list of appraisers in a specific area. 

Digital Collections Rights and Usage Statement

PAFA's Digital Archive was created to help fulfill PAFA's educational mission. Materials found in these collections are either in the public domain, are made available by permission, or are permitted by an exception such as fair use. Although these materials are publicly accessible, some restrictions on further use may still apply. Permitted uses are limited to research, educational, and scholarly purposes.

Publication, transmission, or reproduction of items protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Whenever possible, accurate information about the copyright status of material is provided in the item record and/or documentation for material in the collection.

It is the researcher's responsibility to determine copyright and other possible restrictions on reuse (e.g. publicity, privacy, moral rights) and to obtain proper permission when publishing or distributing materials found in these collections. Researchers must make their own assessments of rights in light of their intended use. 


PAFA’s Digital Archives are accessible for purposes of education and research. Materials previously deposited into the PAFA Digital Archive may be removed or restricted at the request of the creator(s), contributor(s), or other individuals holding rights to the material. Upon request, we will remove material from public view while we address a rights issue.


The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts makes digital versions of collections accessible in the following situations:

  • They are in the public domain
  • The rights are owned by The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  • The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has permission to make them accessible
  • We make them accessible for education and research purposes as a legal fair use, or
  • There are no known restrictions on use.

We have made the best effort to adhere to all known copyright and rights of privacy, publicity, or trademark of material, but due to the nature of archival collections we are not always able to identify this information. We are eager to hear from any rights owners, so that we may obtain accurate information.

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