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Frequently Asked Questions

Alumni

How can I verify that I attended the University of Pennsylvania?
Verification (or Academic Certification) is obtained through the Registrar’s Office.
How do I get a copy of my yearbook?
The University Archives does not have extra copies of yearbooks to sell. Select back issues of the yearbook can be purchased from pennyearbook.org.
How can I get a replacement diploma?
A replacement copy of a diploma can be obtained through the Office of the Secretary.
How can I get a copy of my transcript?
Transcripts are obtained through the Registrar’s Office.
Can I get a copy of a class syllabus?
The University Archives does not collect syllabi of all classes taught at the University. We do have a collection of University Catalogs and can provide a copy of course descriptions for certain terms.
How do I obtain a copy of my nursing school transcript?
The University Archives does not hold nursing school transcripts. We recommend you consult the Barbara Bates Center for the History of Nursing website for contact information on various programs.

Genealogy

How can I verify that my ancestor attended Penn?
The University Archives can check the Master Alumni Index which lists all individuals who attended the University of Pennsylvania between 1756 and 1977. Please contact us with your ancestor’s full name, city and state where they were from, and possible years he/she might have attended.
What records do you have on my ancestors?
The University Archives receives Alumni Record Files for all deceased alumni. The contents of these files vary by individual, and can range from simple attendance to biographical sketches, newspaper clippings, and obituaries. The University Archives does not hold Alumni Record Files for living alumni.
Do you have photographs of my ancestor?
The University Archives has photographs for some alumni and faculty in its collection. These can occasionally include individual portraits in an Alumni Record File or yearbook photographs. Chances are greater for alumni who graduated from the College after 1902 (when the yearbook started publishing individual portrait photos). The professional schools (dental, law, medicine, and veterinary) also began to publish portraits of graduates around the same time period. The graduate schools, however, did not publish yearbooks.
Can I get a copy of my ancestor’s diploma?
The University Archives does not keep copies of every diploma issued. As such we are unable to provide you with a copy of your ancestor’s original diploma.
Can I get a copy of my ancestor’s yearbook?
The University Archives does not have extra copies of yearbooks to sell. Select back issues of yearbooks from the mid-twentieth century can be purchased from pennyearbook.com. Earlier yearbooks are unavailable for purchase.
My ancestor was a doctor in the 1700s or 1800s. How is it possible he did not attend Penn’s Medical School?
Standards of the time did not dictate that those seeking to be physicians had to attend medical school. Many young men apprenticed under local doctors, while others were able to afford a formal medical education. Others traveled to Philadelphia to study under a private physician, attend lectures at local hospitals or anatomy schools. Therefore it is possible that your ancestor did come to Philadelphia to study medicine, but did not attend the University of Pennsylvania.
My ancestor attended Medico-Chi. Do you have any information on them?
The University Archives does hold some records for Medico-Chi, which merged with the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1916. The extent of information on graduates varies, but we can confirm attendance.

Patient Records

I was admitted to a Penn Hospital. How do I get my medical records?
The University Archives does not hold patient records for any hospital. If you are seeking patient records from: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Hospital, or Pennsylvania Hospital you need to contact the individual hospital’s records department. Please note that by Pennsylvania state law hospitals are only required to retain medical records for a minimum of 7 years (18 years for minors).

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania:
Medical Records Department, 1st Floor Founders
3400 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
215-633-8950

Penn Presbyterian Medical Center:
Medical Records Department
Myrin Basement, 39th and Market Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19104
215-662-8959

Pennsylvania Hospital:
Medical Records Department
2 Cathcart Bldg.
800 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-829-3931

I was treated at Graduate Hospital. How do I get my records?
After 1977 Graduate Hospital operated as an independent medical facility. The Hospital became part of Allegheny Health Systems in 1996 and was later purchased by Tenet Healthcare in 1998. Anyone seeking medical records from Graduate Hospital between 1977 and 2007 should contact Tenet Healthcare corporate offices. Please be advised that under law medical records only need to be retained for seven years.
I was treated at Philadelphia General Hospital. How do I get my records?
The University Archives holdings for Philadelphia General Hospital do not include any patient, health treatment, or residency records. Contact the Philadelphia City Archives for information on their extensive holdings of Philadelphia General Hospital Records.
How do I get a birth certificate?
The University Archives does not hold the records to provide birth certificates. For birth records after June 30, 1915, one must submit an application to the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records. For birth records between 1860 and 1915 one must contact the Philadelphia City Archives.

Special Collections at Penn

Do you have the Louis Kahn Papers?
No, the Louis Kahn Papers are held by the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania. Researchers should contact them directly.
Are all of Penn’s Special Collections housed in one location?
There are many archives and special collection repositories on Penn’s Campus – including the University Archives, the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, the University Museum Archives, and the Barbara Bates Center for the History of Nursing (to name but a few). If you are unsure of where the collection you are interested in might be, please consult the University of Pennsylvania Finding Aid website.