Rockefeller Archive Center

Rockefeller Archive Center Research Reports are created by recipients of research travel stipends and by many others who have conducted research at the RAC. The reports demonstrate the breadth of the RAC's archival holdings, particularly in the study of philanthropy and its effects. Read more about the history of philanthropy at resource.rockarch.org. Also, see the RAC Bibliography of Scholarship, a comprehensive online database of publications citing RAC archival collections.
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“American Patrick Manson” Goes to China: Ernest Faust’s Career Path to Peking Union Medical College

November 21, 2022

Based on primary sources from the Rockefeller Archive Center, this research report examines the leading American tropical medicine specialist Ernest Carroll Faust's initial career choice to go to Rockefeller-sponsored Peking Union Medical College in the early 20th century. It argues that Faust accepted the position and introduced a medical-zoological-based tropical medicine to China mainly because of his own career ambitions and his mentor Henry Ward's ardent promotion of this new field, within the Rockefeller Foundation's expanding global network. With this case study, my report also challenges the current dominant model which treats tropical medicine as colonial medicine.

Biology and Medical Research; China Medical Board, Inc.; Medicine and Healthcare

“An Obligation and a Conviction to Work for Women Less Fortunate than I Am”: Joan Dunlop, Women’s Reproductive Rights, and the Work of the Population Council

November 9, 2022

This report details my research trip to the Rockefeller Archive Center in July 2016. My research agenda was to analyse the work of the Population Council, as a case study through which to explore the ways in which American non-governmental actors could negotiate a decolonising, Cold War world. I was interested in how philanthropic organisations work as spaces determined by "values" and how these "values" might both shape and be shaped by encounters with the wider world, especially actors and communities in the Global South. My focus on the Population Council also led me to explore particularly the work of Joan Dunlop, and her role in determining American NGO-led policy towards the role of women in the Global South, particularly focusing on the issue of reproductive rights.

Joan Dunlop Papers; John D. Rockefeller 3rd Papers; Population and Reproductive Sciences; Rockefeller Family; Women

“If Human Ears Were Tuned to Bat Frequencies": Inaudible Sound and the Sciences of Bat Echolocation

October 27, 2022

This report provides draft excerpts from my PhD dissertation titled "The Inaudible Sounds of Science and Medicine: Animals and Media from the Galton Whistle to Bat Echolocation," a chapter of which explores the laboratory work of Donald R. Griffin – and especially the emergence of the concept of bat echolocation – as it contributed to a sonic history of "ultrasound" and other typologies of liminal sound vibrations. Such "inaudible sounds" repeatedly defied amplification (efforts to make them louder); their frequencies were too high or too low to vibrate the human eardrum. But humans have long suspected that insects, bats, dogs, and other animals could hear them and communicate through them. The following research on bat echolocation in the Griffin laboratory is one aspect of a much more comprehensive historical project, which platforms nonhuman listeners in 19th- and 20th-century experimental contexts as they repeatedly pushed the limitations of human hearing. Broadly speaking, the dissertation suggests that animal figures are useful vectors for exploring an expanded history of sounds, including high-pitched frequencies, in science and medicine. My objective is to better understand how scientists designed media and choreographed animal listeners in order to make meaning from the sounds they could not hear on their own. I am most invested in understanding how humans exploited, collaborated with, and coexisted with animals to make sense of the insensible – or, to understand the unheard bestial worlds of communication.  In this report, I draw on material from the Donald R. Griffin Papers, held at the Rockefeller Archive Center, which includes a vast array of Griffin's laboratory notebooks, correspondences, sound films, newspaper clippings, and publications. The analysis spans the years between Donald Griffin's first experiment on bat navigation in the dark (1938) – conducted during his early graduate training years – and his postwar research on the physical principles of bat pulses into the 1960s.  More specifically, I characterize the ways in which various forms of media were deployed in experimental settings to study bats and the inaudible sounds emitted by them for orienting their bodies in flight. Scientists and collaborators of the Griffin lab relied on an array of mixed media, from the sound transposing devices of Harvard physicist George W. Pierce, to mechanical-visual apparatuses such as cathode-ray oscillograms and sound spectrographs, through to hand-written laboratory notes and printed correspondences and – ultimately – the bats themselves, to answer their questions. Furthermore, I explore the epistemic techniques of listening for sound and silence in the Griffin laboratory, in which the ears and eyes of scientists interfaced with special acoustic media to produce certain knowledges about bats and their patterns of flight. This project also engages with the highly militarized scientific contexts that constituted Griffin's work on bat echolocation.

Biology and Medical Research; Donald R. Griffin Papers; Rockefeller University; Technology; World War II

The Ford Foundation’s 1970s Program for School Finance Reform: Origins and Overview

October 13, 2022

As a foundation, Ford tried different approaches to ameliorate social problems.  For example, the Ford Foundation both funded community control of schools to make local fundraising easier and lawsuits to equalize state resources during the late 1960s.  Yet, the ideas behind the Ford Foundation's public education grantmaking conflicted: Should democracy be based on voting or participation? Should schools be run by the community or by experts? Should legislatures volunteer or courts require school finance reform?  From the start of its influential school finance grantmaking in 1969, Ford funded policy ideas rather than political action, looking to the courts for top-down orders to end the discriminatory use of property taxes to fund schools.  The foundation pursued two strategies: supporting groups reforming discriminatory school finance and building "intellectual strength."

Education; Ford Foundation; Taconic Foundation

Berlin, a “Hollow Shell”: The City as a “Laboratory Study” - A Report on the Ford Foundation’s Cultural and Artistic Projects in Post-war Berlin

September 23, 2022

Throughout the Cold War, American philanthropic organisations founded new institutions and supported already established institutions in West Berlin. They became essential players in the cultural life of the Western part of the former German capital. After a disastrous war and the dismemberment of Germany, the ex-capital Berlin, however, continued to exist – to employ a term of a British diplomat – as a "city on leave." Partly destroyed, disconnected from the "economic miracle" ("Wirtschaftswunder") of West Germany, and dependent for its survival on material assistance from the Federal Republic, the city nevertheless gained symbolic importance in the ideological conflict between the Soviet Union and the West. On a military level, the city was, as the French political scientist Raymond Aron put it, just a "glacis" in the Cold War's confrontations. But as a cultural outpost of Western democratic countries, the city obtained importance as a showcase for new artistic movements and cultural tendencies.

Cold War; Ford Foundation; Humanities; Rockefeller Foundation

Grace McCann Morley and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs

September 9, 2022

While conducting research for my doctoral dissertation, "Grace McCann Morley and the Dialectical Exchange of Modern Art in the Americas, 1935-1958," I visited the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in order to learn more about Grace McCann Morley's work with Nelson Rockefeller and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (CIAA), through materials in Nelson A. Rockefeller's personal papers. In 1940, Rockefeller invited Morley, the director of the San Francisco Museum of Art (SFMA; now San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), to serve as an advisor to the CIAA and its Committee on Art. This committee planned exhibitions such as La Pintura Contemporánea Norteamericana for Latin American audiences and Latin American Art for US audiences. Although my research in the archives did not uncover correspondence between Rockefeller and Morley, it did reveal useful contextual information about Rockefeller's investment in collecting and exhibiting Latin American art and Morley's relationship with Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA).

Art; International Relations; Nelson A. Rockefeller Papers; Rockefeller Family

Friends in Foreign Places: International Understanding in Post-War Civil Society

August 19, 2022

My project seeks to understand the changing practices and discourses of internationalism within post-war British and American civil society. The practices of international friendship—with their emphasis on people-to-people connections—form a crucial but understudied part of the picture of postwar internationalism. My aim with this project is to address the neglect of the "everyday" by using international friendship projects as a window onto discourses and practices of internationalism. In doing so, it will contribute to new and emerging research on the role of emotion and intimacy in shaping transnational relationships. This report explores these issues in relation to three initiatives that sought or received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in the mid- to late 1950s: the Experiment in International Living (a youth exchange program), the Asia Society for cultural and educational exchange, and Eisenhower's expansive but poorly focused People to People Program.

John D. Rockefeller 3rd Papers; Nelson A. Rockefeller Papers; Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller RG 2; Rockefeller Brothers Fund; Rockefeller Family; Rockefeller Foundation

Contested Subjects across Cold War Frontiers: Hungarian Refugees from 1956

July 29, 2022

My project follows Hungarian refugees from the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956 through the Cold War ideological and institutional structures of the immediate postwar period. To what extent did they adopt a Cold War script, and conversely and to what extent were they conditioned by the constraints of the geopolitical order? Moreover, how did they help constitute the international meaning of the Revolution? This project is motivated by answers to these questions and uses individual Hungarian refugee trajectories to unpack new insights on the Cold War, as well as how the Cold War obscured other concerns at the time – for instance, decolonization and processing the memories of the Second World War.

Cold War; Rockefeller Foundation

Higher Education, Private Philanthropy, and Music Patronage in the Mid-Twentieth Century

July 18, 2022

This report offers evidence of key actors' strategies to forge a new union between new music and higher education as means to solve the economic instability of performing arts organizations and artists in the mid-twentieth century. Their rationale and resulting programming established American higher education institutions as the main site of creative music-making. Additionally, their decisions implicated the style and genre of music in higher education. Specifically, Rockefeller Foundation trustees emphasized the importance of continuing high arts cultural patronage in the style of European aristocrats in the sixteenth through early nineteenth centuries; and officers of the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation advocated for improving the quality of, and access to, music education of the same repertoire. Their impacts cemented higher education music departments and schools of music as sites of elite, white culture into the twenty-first century.

Academic Research and Education; Music; Rockefeller Foundation

The Ford Foundation and the National Committee on United States-China Relations: How They Assisted Chinese Economic Reforms during the 1980s

July 8, 2022

This research report summarizes my research experience at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in July 2017. I went to RAC to collect records related to the activities organized by the National Committee on United States-China Relations (NCUSCR) and the Ford Foundation to support the People's Republic of China's (PRC) post-1978 economic reforms. I incorporated a significant amount of materials from these records into my PhD dissertation, which analyzes how different American institutions, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), assisted and encouraged China's economic transition during the 1980s.The documents I found were extremely helpful in my effort to reconstruct and analyze the activities and the exchanges the NCUSCR and the Ford Foundation undertook with China during the 1980s. Furthermore, the records also clarified the motivations behind this assistance, revealing not only a genuine desire on the part of the two organizations to learn more about the PRC's economic outlook but also driven by an interest to disseminate ideas that these NGOs believed were necessary to strengthen a world in which liberalism and democracy would dominate. 

Detente; Economics; Ford Foundation; National Committee on United States-China Relations

Life’s Networks and the American Art World

June 17, 2022

Life magazine's vast networks and the connections and collaborations between its editors and museum trustees, collectors, curators, critics, and artists at a wide range of institutions led to some of the most fascinating and innovative exhibitions, magazine articles, and programs in the mid-century American art world.

Art; Journalism; Mass Communications; Nelson A. Rockefeller Papers; Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller RG 2; Rockefeller Family

Thomas Whittemore, Fundraiser for Russian Refugees

June 8, 2022

Thomas Whittemore (1871-1950) was an intriguing person whose interests spanned various fields of endeavor, including teaching art history, conducting archaeological excavations, carrying out humanitarian relief, educating refugees, collecting art, and uncovering the mosaics of the church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Various writers have explored discrete aspects of Whittemore's life, but the one part of his work that made his enterprises possible has yet to be studied: how Whittemore succeeded, over more than thirty years, in raising the funds he needed to carry out his projects. This research explores Thomas Whittemore as a fundraiser, particularly for Russian refugees, by examining his relationship with the Rockefeller family and its associates. Materials in the Rockefeller Archive Center help to sketch a preliminary picture of Whittemore's fundraising work in that domain after the First World War. His success was built first and foremost on his ability to immerse himself in the culture of the localities where he worked and thereby earn the trust of those whom he met. He built networks of supporters who advocated for him and introduced him to ever wider circles of people with wealth and influence. Whittemore's mix of cultural competence, personal appeal, and organizational efficiency led to long-standing relationships that served him and his work well for decades.

Humanitarian and Disaster Relief; Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial; Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller RG 2; Rockefeller Family; Rockefeller Foundation

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