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Political Art Documentation/Distribution (PAD/D) Archive: The Collection

Overview of the Collection

After PAD/D's closure, the archive remained at 339 Lafayette Street, until it was donated by Lucy Lippard to The Museum of Modern Art Library in 1989. The donation was facilitated by then chief librarian Clive Phillpot, who was present at the Printed Matter meeting where PAD/D was officially founded. The collection continued to be organized and indexed by members Barbara Moore and Mimi Smith onsite at MoMA until 1993. The individual folders and a portion of the posters were cataloged by the library, and the collection remained open for public access in the library until 2022. It was then transferred to the MoMA Archives and the files, posters, and card catalog were incorporated into one cohesive collection, whose finding aid can be found here.

The collection is organized into five series: artist and organizational files, audio/visual recordings, posters, stencils, and the card catalog index. Series I contains the original collected archive of PAD/D, and the papers of PAD/D founders Lucy Lippard, Rudolf Baranik, and Dore Ashton. They include correspondence, press releases, exhibition invitations, flyers, posters, mail art, artist books, and more. Series II contains a small set of audio/visual recordings which were originally housed separate from the files. Series III contains PAD/D's extensive collection of more than 780 posters. The collection includes a variety of items such as hand-painted protest signs, handbills, artist-editioned posters, and exhibition posters. Series IV includes a small number of handmade stencils used to create some of the posters included in the 1983 and 1984 Not For Sale exhibitions. Finally, Series V contains the index cards that composed the original card catalog made by Barbara Moore and Mimi Smith.

Image courtesy of MoMA Archives, Library and Research Collections.

Card Catalog

Barbara Moore and Mimi Smith were the two PAD/D members most dedicated to the physical archive. They created a highly detailed card catalog system to make research and discovery in the archive easier. Each individual folder had its own card detailing the items within, but more importantly, they cross-referenced all of the folders to create a subject index. Located at the beginning of the catalog, each card represented a specific subject—such as the AIDS crisis, women's issues, gentrification, and nuclear warfare—and listed the related folders of artists and organizations who had materials relating to that subject. The original set of cards comprise Series IV.

PAD/D. V.1, MoMA Archives, NY (top). PAD/D. V.3, MoMA Archives, NY (bottom).

Artist and Organizational Files

PAD/D was founded first and foremost as a political art archive. It was Lippard's original desire to find a place and a system of organizing the materials that were sent to or collected by her. This are some examples of the type of materials housed in Series I of the PAD/D Archive. The contents of this series include correspondence, press releases, exhibition invitations, flyers, posters, mail art, artist books, and more.

PAD/D, I.1049. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, I.189. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, I.1096. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, I.1096. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, I.1514. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, I.543. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, I.224. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, I.309. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, I.2153. MoMA Archives, NY.

Administrative Records

In addition to the artist ephemera above, the first series of the PAD/D Archive also houses administrative records of the organization itself. This includes sketches for issues of Upfront, internal memos, correspondence, research, and handwritten notes.

PAD/D, I.764. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, I.2015. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, I.1657. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, I.2293. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, I.1850. MoMA Archives, NY.


PAD/D found posters to be a very successful tool for communication and distribution of information. It was cost efficient and easily reproduced and accessible to all, and they favored posters in the majority of their projects and exhibitions. Through the course of their 7 years as an organization they amassed a collection of over 770 posters. The MoMA Archives are currently in the process of digitizing the entire poster series so that they may be available in their entirety through the MAID database.


Some of the more dynamic materials found in the PAD/D Archive are the actual stencils used to make the posters used in the 1984 Not For Sale: Art for the Evicted exhibition. Each stencil is hand cut by a PAD/D member and was typically used in the creation of multiple posters. Below are images of the posters in the collection alongside the stencils made to use them.

PAD/D, III.419. MoMA Archives, NY. PAD/D, IV.11. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, IV.10. MoMA Archives, NY. PAD/D, III.20. MoMA Archives, NY.

PAD/D, III.58. MoMA Archives, NY. PAD/D, IV.3. MoMA Archives, NY.

MoMA Library: PAD/D Publications

While the PAD/D archives contains many publications produced by PAD/D, additional copies of those and other materials can be found in the MoMA library.