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 Also, see the RAC Bibliography of Scholarship, a comprehensive online database of publications citing RAC archival collections.
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Prevailing Upon the World John D. Rockefeller, Jr. & the Architecture of International Houses (1921-1936)

January 1, 2016

In 1946 when the newly formed United Nations was searching for a suitable site for its headquarters, the American philanthropist and heir to the Standard Oil and Gas fortune, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., bought and gifted eighteen acres of land on Manhattan's east side to the organization. This gift -- as well as the Second World War that had preceded it -- marked the official resumption of American leadership in world affairs. But for Rockefeller it was also the culmination of a decades-long campaign of architectural patronage and cultural philanthropy, which had aimed at positioning the United States as exactly the type of political messiah it was now becoming. A precursor to the UN project, and to this idea of American leadership, may be found in the earlier and relatively obscure International House movement in the United States and France, which was also championed by Rockefeller.

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