Archives > Online Collection Guides


Office of Alumni Records
Master Alumni File Collection, 1927 - 1977

UPF 1.8

6 Cubic ft.
Prepared by J.M Duffin
May 2001

Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center.


Transferred from the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs in 1991.



The collection is organized in one series, Microfilm, with four subseries: Archival Master, Print Master, Service Copy and 1981 Negative. All the subseries are arranged alphabetically by the content of the film reels.



The Alumni Records Office has its origins in The University of Pennsylvania Fund, the first major fund raising campaign of the University launched in October 1924. One of the critical tasks that needed to be completed in order to start the campaign was the creation of an accurate and complete list of alumni of the University. In the spring of 1923, the Alumni Lists Department was created to amass the names and current addresses of alumni as the first step in preparing for The University of Pennsylvania Fund and to prepare an alumni directory to be published in 1927. The office worked with the various alumni organizations to consolidate and create one master mailing list. In June of 1927 the Department of Lists was taken over by the Office of the Secretary of the University and transformed into the Alumni Records Office. The Alumni Records Office had charge over the former duties of the Lists Department as well as the creation of a biographical file of alumni, later called the Alumni Record File, and a master file of all people who attended the University. The centralized mailing list became an integral part of the fund raising efforts of the Alumni and Athletic Council.

Charles Harrison Cox was the first director of the office holding the title of Alumni Records Registrar. As part of the preparations for the alumni directory, which was never published, Cox proposed the creation of the an attendance record file which would be "a permanent authentic record containing the name of every person that attended the University, showing the department in which he is enrolled, the year in which he registered, the degree he received with the dates and his permanent class affiliations." This record, called the Alumni Master File, would not only capture the names graduates but also non-graduates of the University. The Secretary of the University approved of the project and authorized Cox to commence compiling the information from all the surviving matriculation and other student records of the University. By 1930, the Alumni Record Office had compiled index cards, designed by Cox, for every person who attended the University between 1850 and 1930. The card file was updated on a regular basis and extended the attendance data back to the founding of the College of Philadelphia in 1754. In the 1970s when the Alumni Records Office, part of the Office of Development and Alumni Relations Office since the 1960s, began to computerize its operations, the Alumni Master File was discontinued and replaced by an electronic record. The last cards were updated in 1977.



The Alumni Master File is a record all people who attended the University of Pennsylvania from c.1753 to 1977. The attendance information is typed and written on index cards. The cards give the name of the individual, their home address, and a listing of all those and years they attended as well as any degrees they earned and the date the degree was conferred. The collection consists of microfilm created in 1981 of the card file.

Return to the top