Congratulations to the CCL Class of 2020!

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

A BIG CONGRATULATIONS to Dr. Anna Marley, PAFA’s Curator of Historical American Art and Director of the Center for the Study of the American Artist (and my boss!). Anna has been named a Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellow for 2020!

Dr. Anna Marley, Curator of Historical American Art and Director for the Center of the Study of the American Artist
Dr. Anna Marley, Curator of Historical American Art and Director for the Center of the Study of the American Artist

The Fellowship includes instruction from Columbia Business School faculty, exposure to real-world challenges faced by cultural institutions, and a week long residency shadowing a Director at another major museum.

I am extremely proud of Anna and all her accomplishments (she recently celebrated her 10-year work anniversary at PAFA this past March). Anna is one of the strongest proponents of PAFA’s Archives program and much of her work affirms PAFA’s place in the American Art canon. I am grateful to have an amazing and supportive mentor here at PAFA! My favorite Anna quote, “There is no American Art without PAFA.”

Rediscovering John Rhoden: Project Update

Kelin Baldrige, Project Archivist for the John Rhoden papers surveying the collection.

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

We are excited to announce the official launch of the NEH grant funded project to process and digitize the John Rhoden (1916-2001) artist papers.

The funds will help support the Archives’ efforts to preserve and provide greater access to the rich primary records of the under-recognized American sculptor John Rhoden. The Archives is also happy to introduce Kelin Baldridge who will serve as Project Archivist. Kelin will spearhead the one year project which includes surveying, processing, cataloging, and digitizing the artist’s papers.  

In true PAFA fashion, Kelin hit the ground running during her first two weeks on the job! Please check back here regularly for updates on the project. 


Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

Archives resumes normal business hours

PAFA’s Archives will resume public hours beginning September 23, 2019:

MondayFriday: 10am – 4:30pm

As a reminder, individuals wishing to review records need to schedule an appointment in advance of their arrival. Appointments are required, due to limited seating capacity and staff. For more information on visiting the archives for research, please visit here.

Don’t forget to visit PAFA’s Digital Archives for additional online resources. New digital collections are routinely added.

PAFA’s (New) Digital Archives

The Archives has successfully upgraded its online digital archives platform. PAFA’s Digital Archives (PDA) gives researchers more efficient tools to view and search the voluminous digital collections held at the Archives. The new Digital Collections site ( ) updates the previous web interface to a more user-friendly experience that improves users’ ability to discover images, learn more about holdings, and browse collections.

Screenshot of the landing page for PAFA's upgraded Digital Archives portal.

“Aesthetically, the front-end user interface looks similar to our previous site. The main improvements come on the back-end with more robust features that will help connect users to more items,” said Hoang Tran, Director of Archives. “Moreover, the project included an upgrade to our hosting server which ensures all digital assets are preserved and continually accessible.”

Added features include full-text search of PDF files, expanded metadata vocabularies, and linked open data.

Annual Archivist Conference: Archives*Records

Contributed by Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

The Society of American Archivists (SAA) joined the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA) for a joint Annual Conference held in Washington, DC. The joint conference brought together record breaking attendance at the historic Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. With all the information professionals in DC, it was obvious that the week long conference would be filled with informational sessions, tours, projects, and networking events.

A popular session titled “Email Archiving Comes of Age. Included 13 speakers!

At the Library of Congress for the Unconference: Teaching with Primary Sources

LOD stands for Linked Open Data

With so many events and sessions, I had to thoughtfully plan my week. I had to balance my personal/professional goals with the needs of PAFA’s archives program.

For the second year, I attended the Unconference: Teaching with Primary Sources. We were introduced to the Library of Congress’ many initiatives and resources that help educators, including archivists, to establish workshops and/or classes to assist students, teachers, and faculty on easy and scalable approaches of incorporating the use of primary source materials. In the second half of the afternoon, we broke off into different groups to discuss various topics. We had a chance to network and hear stories about successes (and failures). One particular success story came from the Brooklyn Historical Society where they developed free online curricula and resources. Using resources as models, it would be easy to adapt them to our needs.

Another well attended sessions was the SAA Museum Archives Section Group Symposium. It was great learning more about the projects at some of the leading museums in the nation–The Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, Yale Center for British Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Another interesting session was on Web Archiving. As we know, we are producing a huge amount of information online and most are ephemeral in nature. How does one begin to archive the information for posterity? What information do we save or discard?

A particular session that resonated with the archives here at PAFA came from True Confessions: Paying off the Technical Debt of Early Digital Projects. Just last year, we launched PAFA’s Digital Archive, which now has over 6400 items! The research, design, and implementation process was methodical and well thought out. We knew we needed to mitigate any issues that would cause an issue for the archives further down the line. we’re glad we spent the time doing so!

Linked Open Data (LOD) is a fairly new concept in the archives and information field. LOD in the simplest form is a method of publishing structured data (information) so that it can be interlinked and become more useful when conducting research. Often times, the linked data provides additional/optional/necessary contextual information. By leveraging the power of the web and computers, LOD makes it easier to share and browse data. The session Progress (and Pitfalls) of Linked Data Projects outlined some tips, resources, and tools on how to implement LOD. Our neighbors at the Philadelphia Museum of Art discussed their current project, Building a Duchamp Research Portal at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Filled with great food, sites, and history, Washington, DC was an amazing host city for the conference. Until next time!

IMLS Project Update: PAFA’s New Digital Archive

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ (PAFA) Dorothy & Kenneth Woodcock Archives is excited to announce the public beta launch of its new online Digital Archives. With the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Archives was able to develop a comprehensive plan to digitize and disseminate some of the Archives’ most significant holdings. For the one year pilot project, the Archives selected a high value/high risk collection—the Annual Exhibition Photograph collection—to test and develop proper workflows, guidelines, and best practices.

To increase the searchability and discoverability of digital resources, images were cataloged using widely adopted metadata standards. To ensure we reproduced high quality digital surrogates, we developed a digitization workflow that adhered to national standards and guidelines. The results from the pilot project will help guide future digitization projects.

As the IMLS Grant Project comes to a close, we are happy to announce that we have exceeded the initial goal of the pilot project. This past year, we were able to develop internal guidelines for digitization and cataloging, rehouse 100% of the photograph collection, digitize, catalog and provide free online access to over 3,600 images, and even develop a new online database.

The project is also significant as it provides us the ability to better serve our patrons. We are aware of the changing trends in research methodologies and how scholars have come to expect online access to primary sources. We will use the momentum created by the success of the pilot project to continue developing digitization projects. Please continue to visit the Digital Archives for newly digitized items and collections.

IMLS Project Update: That’s a wrap!

Contributed by: Tess Amram, IMLS Project Archivist

I want to wrap up by extending my thanks to IMLS for the grant that made this project possible. Overall, I’m incredibly proud of the work I did here at PAFA, and there are so many images that I can’t wait to send to people to discuss, once everything is up and running online. (That old adage that ‘everyone has a twin’ is more true than I thought – I’ve lost count of how many double takes I’ve done, thinking the subject of a painting from over a hundred years ago was actually a friend of mine now. Also, there are so many adorable dogs the world deserves to see.)

Even aside from all the technical (that is, marketable) skills I’ve learned, working with these materials has been an object lesson in how small the world can be – for example, the first time I saw the painting “Three Friends,” by Joseph Rodefer DeCamp, was not in installation photographs from the 1912 Annual Exhibition, but hanging in the main library of my alma mater six years ago, dourly watching over thousands of undergrads going about their academic lives. It’s little things like that that were, for me, the most exciting part – those moments of connection between Back Then, and Now.


“Three Friends,” by Joseph Rodefer DeCamp

The Dorothy & Kenneth Woodcock Archives receives IMLS Grant!

Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

Exciting news! The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services‘ (IMLS) Museums for America program to digitize, catalog, re-house, and provide online access to its historic Annual Exhibition photograph collection.






Larger project goals include: This one-year project represents the archives’ inaugural efforts to digitize and provide online access to its collections. The award will not only fund the purchase of necessary equipment, but also hire and train project employees to assist in the digitization and cataloging of at least 2,000 photographs.


  • Establishing guidelines, workflows, best practices for digitizing archival collections.
  • Developing metadata standards.
  • Developing a digital archive.

We are thankful to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the funds to help us reach our goals!




The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.”

PAFA First!


Contributed by: Hoang Tran, Director of Archives

For more than two centuries, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) has played a pivotal role in defining the future of American art. To ensure that PAFA will continue to be a leading force in collecting and exhibiting American art, educating artists, and engaging the public, we have embarked on a transformative capital campaign: PAFA First: For the Future of American Art.

Increasing Our Commitment to Contemporary Art and Art-Making

The Campus Master Plan will increase PAFA’s art storage capacity by 80%, ensuring the successful care of our existing collection and accommodating new contemporary acquisitions made possible by the acquisition fund. The plan will also allow us to distribute the storage of our collections to the buildings where they are most likely to be exhibited.

Writing the Future of American Art History

You cannot teach the history of American art without PAFA. PAFA’s priceless collection of archives pieces together the invaluable back stories of our key leaders, alumni, teachers, and artists, many of whom are iconic figures in American art history. To make countless documents, sketchbooks, photographs, records, works of art on paper, and published volumes accessible to students and scholars of American art, as well as to the general public, we have established the Center for the Study of the American Artist.

The Center consolidates our unique archives, fine arts library, works on paper collection, and rare books on the refurbished fifth floor of the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building and features a Works on Paper Study Room, conservation facility, and a climate-controlled storage vault.


Read more about PAFA’s capital campaign here.