Access & Inquiries   Mission   Collection Policy   Helpful Links

Access and Inquiries

Digital Collections
A large number of the Archives' photographs and publications (i.e., annual reports, school catalogs, commencement programs, newsletters, and exhibition catalogs) have been digitized and made available on the UArts Libraries' Digital Collections under Archival University Publications and Archival Photographs collections. Most administrative records have not been digitized, due to their volume, as well as privacy issues and other restrictions. Researchers are instead encouraged to search those collections through finding aids.

Finding Aids
According to the Society of American Archivists, a finding aid is a "single document that places the materials in context by consolidating information about the collection, such as acquisition and processing; provenance, including administrative history or biographical note; scope of the collection, including size, subjects, media; organization and arrangement; and an inventory of the series and the folders."

Researchers can access the University of the Arts Archives' finding aids through the UArts Digital Collections under Archival Finding Aids.

Researchers, please note: We do not currently maintain the personal papers of individual administrators, alumni or faculty members. Similarly, we do not collect faculty and staff employment records or any student records. Archival documents do not constitute official records of graduation or even attendance. Official confirmation of attendance, degrees earned, etc., must be obtained from the UArts Registrar. Researchers looking for information on former students should first contact the UArts Registrar at 

Requests for archival information or research will be accepted only in writing (e-mail is considered writing) and may require about a month's time for a reply. Please do not visit without an appointment as it is likely staff may be unavailable. Instead, please provide as much information as you can in writing about your question, including approximate year for your person or event, which college, where you've already found information and what you already know, etc. Please submit archival inquiries in writing to:

Sara MacDonald
Public Services Librarian
The University of the Arts Libraries
320 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102


The University of the Arts Archives seeks to acquire, preserve, and provide access to records and other materials that document the history of the University of the Arts and its predecessor institutions. The University of the Arts was formed in 1985 when Philadelphia College of Art merged with Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts. At the time of the merger both colleges were over a century old and held prominent reputations in Philadelphia as educators of the visual and performing arts. Known for a short time as Philadelphia Colleges of the Arts, the school changed its name to University of the Arts in 1987 after being granted university status from the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education. The University of the Arts remains the only university in the United States dedicated to "educating students in the visual and performing arts, design, and writing". The Archives aims to reflect this unique heritage and convey its significance within the larger social and cultural history of arts education in Philadelphia from the late 19th century to the present.

Collection Policy

As defined by the Society of American Archivists, archives are "the noncurrent records of an organization or institution preserved because of their continuing value." Thus the University of the Arts Archives contains records and documents produced by the University of the Arts and its preceding institutions that are no longer of routine use. These materials generally consist of the following:

  • Non-current records generated or received by the University’s administrative offices, academic departments, University clubs and organizations, and student activities. Included are such records as meeting minutes and agendas, correspondence, memos, and reports.
  • Official university publications, including annual reports, newsletters, yearbooks, handbooks, brochures, and posters.
  • Alumni and student publications (if focused on UArts-related topics, with the intended dissemination to the University community).
  • Programs, photographs, video-recordings, and other documentation of official University events, such as commencement exercises, exhibitions, symposia, parties, plays, concerts, and recitals.
  • Press releases on University news and events.
  • Blueprints, photographs, and master plans of the University campus.

The University of the Arts Archives collects records of a wide variety of formats. In addition to paper documents, holdings also include photographs, digital files, audio/visual materials, realia, and scrapbooks.

We do not currently maintain the personal papers of individual administrators, alumni or faculty members. Similarly, we do not collect faculty and staff employment records or any student records. Researchers looking for information on former students should first contact the UArts Registrar. Graduate theses are shelved in the Libraries’ Visual Resources and Special Collections, and can be searched on the UArts Libraries’ online catalog.

The Archives receives its holdings from various offices and departments at the University in accordance to the official UArts Records Retention Policy. On occasion we accept donations from alumni, faculty, and other members of the University community if they are relevant to the scope of our collections. We do not purchase or sell materials.

Helpful Links

UArts Digital Collections
For accessing archival photographs, full-text publications, finding aids, and more.

The University of the Arts: Name Changes
This helpful webpage provides a clear and concise chronology of the many mergers and name changes the University and its predecessors have undergone.

Dorrance Hamilton Hall
A short history of the iconic building that has long served as the University’s emblem. Written by Eugene Bolt, former Associate Director of Development, with additional content by Sara MacDonald, Public Services Librarian.

Leslie W. Miller
Leslie William Miller served as the first principal of the art school from 1880 to 1920.

Locations of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art
A timeline of the various locations of Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art (PMSIA, now The University of the Arts' College of Art, Media and Design), prior to the move to Hamilton Hall in 1893.

Notable University of the Arts Alumni
A frequently updated list of the renowned artists, dancers, musicians, actors, writers, and other creative thinkers who attended UArts and its predecessor institutions.

JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.
JavaScript disabled or chat unavailable.