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.

  • 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 complete PAFA's online form.
  • 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.

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.

The Archives make every effort to comply with copyright, privacy, confidentiality, and donor restrictions before making collections accessible online. If you are a rights holder and have not granted permission, or are the subject of materials that have been made accessible on this site, you may request these materials be removed or embargoed.

A takedown request may be initiated by:
  • The individual or organization who is the copyright holder.
  • The individual or organization who is the subject of the record containing personal or confidential information.
  • A legally authorized agent representing the copyright holder or record subject.
To submit a takedown request, please email archives@pafa.org and please provide the following information:
  • Name
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • URL to the record(s)
  • Reason for Request
  • Supporting Documentation

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.

In order to broaden access to the Archives’ collections, and reduce the impact of frequent handling, the Archives is digitizing its most valuable and used collections. High-resolution surrogates of the Archives’ digitized collections are created and available online for researchers, scholars and the public to view, and download for personal and educational purposes.

PAFA uses national standards and best practices whenever possible in order to preserve and make our collections accessible. We exercise flexibility based on the need of the project. The type of material, donor requirements, target audience, intended use, and funding availability are all factors in the decisions for individual projects. The materials in the Archives’ collections vary in fragility. The handling and light necessary for digitization contribute to the wear and tear of collections.

The specifications are followed when digitizing materials such as photographs, negatives, documents, manuscripts, diaries and books.


  • 6,000 pixels on the long axis of the image
  • Minimum value is 600 ppi (pixels per inch), increasing resolution in intervals of 25 ppi as necessary to achieve a minimum of 6,000 pixels along the long axis.

Digital File Format

  • Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) using Windows (PC) byte orientation
  • For color images, a 48bit RGB setting is used, yielding 16 bits per color channel.
  • For black and white images, a 24 bit RGB setting is used. 

File Compression

  • None

PAFA's archives contains records that are historical in nature and products of the time and society in which they were created. As a result, some of the materials presented here may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions. In addition, some of the materials may relate to violent or graphic events and are preserved for their historical significance. PAFA does not endorse the views expressed in these materials, which are inconsistent with our commitment to promoting and fostering an inclusive environment free from discrimination and harassment. Historical items have been retained as they originally existed to preserve the integrity of the historical record and to foster accountability for the actions and decisions of the records creator.