Philadelphia Area Archives

Philadelphia Area Archives portal, (formerly PAARP) is generously hosted by the University of Pennsylvania. PAA provides access to descriptions of over 12,000 collections from over 200 regional institutions documenting the region’s vital role in our collective history and beyond. Many of these collections were described during two Hidden Collections Processing Projects funded by the Council On Library and Information Resources (CLIR), as well as other finding aids created by PACSCL member libraries before and after the project.

PAA also contains additional records from dozens of smaller institutions in the greater Philadelphia area from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s project, “Hidden Collections Initiative for Small Archival Repositories,” funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The database is hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.

On this site, researchers will find descriptions of archival collections, or “finding aids,” relating to local, national, and world history; the natural and social sciences; medicine; literature; religion; art and architecture; business and industry; the performing arts; and other topics.

Searchable by creator, topic, repository, and keyword, this diverse and ever-growing group of finding aids is an ideal starting point for researchers to discover related collections across the greater Philadelphia area.

Please note that these finding aids represent the work of staff from the repositories represented here over a long period of time. While there have been changes in standards and practice within the profession on archival description, users may come across harmful or offensive language about individuals and groups who created or are represented in historical records. Please see our Statement on Archival Description and Harmful Language for more information.

[PACSCL DEI -Statement on Archival Description and Harmful Language]

Note for beginning researchers: a “finding aid” is a collections guide that will help you decide whether or not to visit a library or archives to view the materials. It includes
  • a biographical/historical note that provides information on the subject of the collection
  • a scope and content note that describes the collection generally
  • a list of containers (boxes, folders, etc.) with brief descriptions of their contents
  • links to digitized resources, in some (but by no means all) cases