Foundation Center Historical Collections

Welcome to the Archives of the Foundation Center Historical Collections

The Foundation Center was created in 1956 during a period of particularly intense public scrutiny of foundations. Its mission then and today is to collect and disseminate accurate information about foundation activity so as to hold foundations accountable to the public. The roughly 6000 foundations for which the Foundation Center collected information in 1956 had grown to over 68,000 annually.

Due to the creation and dissolution of hundreds of foundations each year, the Historical Foundation Collection contains information on approximately 100,000 foundations.

Form 990-PFs

The Form 990-PFs Series is the largest component of the collection. It consists of over 1.7 million federal tax filings, most commonly referred to as the Form 990-PF. This collection consists of copies of the tax filings of private foundations from 1971-1997. Included in each filing are detailed statements of assets, receipts, and grant disbursements of individual foundations. The Foundation Center routinely collected this information for purposes of issuing its annual directories, usually by purchasing the IRS-produced aperture cards containing microfiche of the Form 990-PFs. Thus the only extant collection of the Form 990-PFs resides at IU Indianapolis where, as noted above, they have proved to be valuable historical documents to a sizable number of researchers. Due to the large size of this collection, a detailed index of the holdings is not available. Please submit a request form for assistance with this collection.

SUBMIT 990-PF Search Request 

Annual Reports

The Annual Reports series, consists of copies of annual reports from nearly 4,000 foundations throughout the United States, including the first annual reports to be issued by a foundation (the Peabody Education Fund) in 1867. Annual reports provide valuable narrative information about their grantmaking activity and operations, expanding upon the raw data of the Form 990-PFs.

To see if the Archives holds the annual report you need, search our online index.

SEARCH Annual Reports Index