American puppetry organization. Puppeteers of America (PofA) was founded in 1937 at the second American Puppet Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. Paul McPharlin organized the first American puppet conference in Detroit, Michigan, in 1936, which began the process of forming an organization. The organization provides information, encourages performances, and builds a community of people who love puppet theatre.

Paul McPharlin began his efforts to bring puppeteers together in 1930 with the publication of Puppetry: A Yearbook of Puppets and Marionettes (1930-1948). George Latshaw founded the magazine Puppetry Journal in 1949. Puppetry Journal was published six times a year through 1982, and four times a year from 1983. In 1999, a centre section of colour photos was added. Past presidents of Puppeteers of America include Marjorie Batchelder, Rufus Rose, Martin Stevens, George Latshaw and Jim Henson.

Following the first six Puppeteers of America (PofA) festivals, there were no national festivals during World War II (1942-1945). PofA had its first post-war festival at the studio of Rufus and Margo Rose in 1946. From the early 1950s, PofA has included members and performers from Canada, and three Canadians have served as president. Festivals are held in different locations in the United States and usually held on university campuses, using university housing. Festivals are generally presented without the benefit of government support. The festivals include both workshops and performances.

At the 1966 PofA festival in San Diego, UNIMA-USA was formed as a separate organization to provide American representation at UNIMA International congresses. In 1980, Puppeteers of America and UNIMA-USA hosted the UNIMA 13th Congress in Washington, DC.

There was a PofA national festival every summer from 1946 to 1987 and occasional smaller regional festivals, often organized by local puppetry guilds. In 1988, PofA began alternating regional festivals with a national festival held every other year. Foreign performers at PofA festivals include: Walter Wilkinson (Great Britain), Mané Bernardo (Argentina), Roberto Lago (Mexico), Philippe Genty (France), Albrecht Roser (Germany), Sergei Obraztsov (Russia), and Richard Bradshaw (Australia).

(See United States of America.)


  • McPharlin, Paul. International Yearbook of Puppets 1930-1947. Ed. Luman Coad (CD ROM reprint). North Vancouver (BC): Charlemagne Press, 2004.
  • McPharlin, Paul. Puppetry: A Yearbook of Puppets and Marionettes. Ithaca (NY): Cornell University, 1930. (Digitalized May 21, 2009.)