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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Rockefeller Foundation and Postwar Public Health in India

January 1, 2003

I undertook research at the Rockefeller Archive Center in December 2003, as part of my doctoral research on the history of international health. I became interested in the Rockefeller Foundation's records as a potential means of shedding light on some of the controversies and difficulties faced during and immediately after the Second World War, when the field of international health was still being defined and its boundaries debated. In writing an international history of public health, one of my main areas of interest has been the connections forged between individuals, institutions, and ideas within an increasingly global field of public health. Much work has been done on the role of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) as a conduit for this kind of international exchange of ideas and personnel in the inter-war years. The major part of my dissertation, however, focuses on the 1950s, a period in which the foundation had scaled back its involvement in public health. Yet I found that for this period, too, the foundation's archives are an important source. The diaries of the RF officers in Asia, in particular, provide the perspective of "informed outsiders" on the complex, often tortured, negotiations between the UN agencies and national governments. This kind of source material is particularly valuable given the paucity of post-independence archival material which I was allowed to see in India and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

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