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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The Institute of International Education: From Prima Donna Idealism to Parastatal Behemoth and Neoliberal Broker (1919–2003)

March 14, 2024

The Institute of International Education (IIE) administers the most prestigious awards for international education such as the Fulbright awards. IIE has dominated international education from 1919 to the present as an intermediary between states and private organizations. The Institute's combination of private administration and capital with the brand of the US government has characterized the shift from massive public spending and bold liberal internationalism in the postwar era to the neoliberalism of the late-twentieth century. In my dissertation, I argue that Americans came to rely on international students as proxies to end global conflicts, fortify the United States' geopolitical standing, advance capitalist economic development in the Global South, and keep US colleges financially afloat. The Carnegie Endowment and Rockefeller Foundation sponsored IIE to be the vanguard of international educational exchanges in the early twentieth century. After World War II, with the federal government and the Ford Foundation as new IIE partners, Carnegie and Rockefeller became wary of how this unchecked growth and IIE's administrative weakness would threaten the core missions of international liberalism. The internal documents available at the Rockefeller Archive Center from IIE, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund, and the Ford Foundation bely the optimism of IIE's published materials. The reports of students also depict the United States as a country aspiring to lead the postwar world but struggling with racial discrimination and a shifting national identity. 

Academic Research and Education; Commonwealth Fund; Institute of International Education; Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial; Rockefeller Foundation

Intervention Programs of Public Health: Rockefeller Fellowship, Dr. Adetokunbo Lucas, and the Development of Public Health in Nigeria, 1963-1986

November 20, 2023

This paper looks at conversations around global exchanges through fellowship programs for public health development by the Rockefeller Foundation (RF), focusing particularly on Dr. Adetokunbo Lucas. Studies about the history of transnational scholarships designed by RF have often centred on Western/Asian recipients with little or no significant discourses on fellows of African descent. By focusing on Dr. Lucas and the University of Ibadan, this paper examines how campus-based politics, fuelled and shaped by larger Cold War politics, interfered with the implementation process of the global public health agenda of the RF in Nigeria.

Academic Research and Education; Cold War; Medicine and Healthcare; Rockefeller Foundation

American Philanthropy and Russian, Slavic, and Eurasian Studies in the United States, 1920–1940s

August 25, 2023

The unprecedented growth of Russian/Slavic/Eurasian area studies programs in North America during the Cold War was a direct consequence of massive government support, including from military and intelligence agencies, which turned these programs into some of the most influential and sustained areas of research activity in the English-speaking world. The boom in Russian/Eurasian area studies underscored the paucity and inadequacy of the previous scholarship, which was primarily represented by a small number of individual researchers, driven by their own idiosyncratic interests and agendas. If prior to the Second World War, the more systematic studies of the Eurasian space, produced in Germany, Austria-Hungary and France, enjoyed steady government support, the production of knowledge about Eurasia in the United States had to rely on funding from selected universities and private benefactors who came predominantly from the world of industry, finance, and commerce.

Academic Research and Education; Cold War; Rockefeller Foundation

The Ford Foundation, Psychometric Experts, and the Dissemination of Aptitude Testing for College Admission in Latin America during the Cold War

April 28, 2023

This report reconstructs the largely unexplored development of a Latin American network of psychometric experts during the Cold War, which was promoted, funded, and organized by private non-profit US-American organizations, such as the Ford Foundation, the Educational Testing Service, and the College Board. The establishment of this network enabled the dissemination of psychometric knowledge and technologies, and the introduction of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) as a college admissions test in several Latin American countries. The dissemination mechanisms of these bodies included the organization of a Workshop in Test Construction for Foreign Scholars, training instances on educational measurement and testing offered in Princeton, New Jersey, to scholars from developing countries; the establishment of testing dissemination centers in South and Central America; and the institution of a Latin American branch of the College Board in Puerto Rico. This dissemination and networking process was triggered and catalyzed by a global discourse coalition that defined a global crisis in higher education admissions due to the rapid expansion of primary and secondary education.

Academic Research and Education; Cold War; Ford Foundation

Academic and Architectural Modernization for Development: Financial and Technical Assistance to the University of Concepción, Chile, 1956–1968

March 16, 2023

The following research is part of my ongoing dissertation project, which examines the planning, design, and construction of university campuses vis-à-vis the intensification of mining and oil extraction in South America between 1945 and 1975. In this report, I offer a brief overview of the technical and financial assistance that the Ford Foundation (FF), the Rockefeller Foundation (RF), and the UN Special Fund (UNSF) gave to one of my case studies, the Universidad de Concepción (UdeC), located in mineral-rich Chile. Multiple holdings at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) reveal that these organizations provided significant aid to the UdeC between 1956 and 1968—a critical period during which the technical and financial assistance programs of the US became entangled with a national developmentalist agenda that tied scientific and engineering education to economic development. The RAC holdings I explore are extremely useful in understanding the geopolitical and economic context that shaped these aid programs, the UdeC's modernization efforts, and the agendas of the multiple actors involved in this process. The textual and visual documents I analyze also underscore the critical role that modern architecture played in all of this as an enabler of the academic reform and the economic transformation of the region, and as a persuasive signifier of "development."

Academic Research and Education; Ford Foundation; 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

Red Scare Recovery: The Ford Foundation’s Role in Rescuing China after McCarthyism

March 9, 2022

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, McCarthyism blighted the American intellectual landscape. The search for communists and communist sympathizers destroyed the careers of many scholars whose work touched on sensitive or controversial topics. It was exactly this "multistranded nature of McCarthyism" that made it so vexing for its antagonists and has made it such fertile ground for historians.

Academic Research and Education; Cold War; Ford Foundation; Rockefeller Foundation

Towards a Philosophical Entente: The Inter-American Conferences of Philosophy in the Mid-Twentieth Century

February 17, 2022

During the Second World War, some of the most wide-ranging and encompassing projects that aimed to bring together Latin and North American philosophers were conceived.  The need to encourage better hemispheric understanding and the idea that philosophy, understood as the highest form of civilization and a response to irrationality and violence, were two of the main motivations for organizing academic meetings and promoting philosophical interchange in the 1940s. In this context, the Inter-American Congresses of Philosophy took place as an effort to set the foundation of an "American" school of thought, in the hemispheric sense of the word, an effort that remains unparalleled to this date.This report sketches the motivations, players, and ideas involved in these conferences, some of the first large-scale projects aimed at fostering the possibility of using philosophy as a common ground for the two Americas. It will become clear that instrumental to this endeavor were certain institutions, especially the Rockefeller Foundation, and a few individuals, such as Charles Hendel, Cornelius Krusé, and William Berrien. Cultural and language barriers, different intellectual backgrounds, and the full reintegration of European philosophers in the philosophical debates will explain why those efforts did not lead to a more continuous philosophical exchange nor to an expression of a North and South American philosophy. 

Academic Research and Education; Philosophy; Rockefeller Foundation

The Modern Subject and the Problem of Mathematics

January 28, 2022

This research forms part of a larger book project examining how the meanings and values ascribed to mathematics—as a universal, neutral discourse and as an idiom of reason and truth—came into being and about its cultural circulation between the 1920s and 1960s in American colleges and universities. Drawing on publications and sources from institutional archives such as the Rockefeller Archive Center, this project explores the relations and exchanges between mathematicians and scholars across the arts and humanities over what knowing mathematics entailed and what it meant to be modern.

Academic Research and Education; Ford Foundation; International Education Board; Mathematics and Logic; Simon Flexner Papers APS Microfilm

The Birth and Death of Near East Foundation’s Community Development

October 18, 2021

My research looks at the Near East Foundation (NEF) from 1930 to 1979, exploring the rural education programs carried out in the Near East. Its predecessor, the Near East Relief (NER), provided assistance in former Ottoman territories after WWI. The epigraph above serves as an illustration of US sentiment towards the organization's work as its days of relief were almost phased out (like NER) and programs shifted to scientific philanthropy, addressing the underlying rural problems of poverty, pestilence, and ignorance. The story of the NEF is one of survival and relevance where it began by drawing on ideas of domestic philanthropy such as the Jeanes Fund, the General Education Board, and the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease. These philanthropies' collective goals of education, health, and sanitation expansion into the US South formed the basic idea of reform. Additionally, the NEF drew on the Phelps-Stokes Fund's early expertise in transferring ideas of educating African Americans in the US South to expanding education in "primitive" situations in Africa. Collectively, these US organizations became a model for how NEF reimagined "primitive" Near East villages from Greece to Persia and eventually throughout the eastern hemisphere.

Academic Research and Education; Agrarian and Rural; Cold War; Education; Interwar Years; Near East Foundation

Foundations and Networks of Korean Studies, 1960s–1970s: Focusing on the Activities of the Council on Exchange with Asian Institutions (CEAI), the Asiatic Research Center (ARC), and the Joint Committee on Korean Studies (JCKS)

August 23, 2021

This paper analyzes the formation of Korean studies in the 1960s and 1970s, focusing on the relationship and activities of the Asiatic Research Center (ARC, the Korea University), the Council on Exchange with Asian Institutions (CEAI), and the Joint Committee on Korean Studies (JCKS). CEAI and JCKS were both connected with the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Korean studies had no choice but to start under an America-centric and asymmetrical knowledge production system during the Cold War. In addition, Korean studies were not as developed as Chinese and Japanese studies. At that time, Korean studies were the result of mobilization and establishment of knowledge resources to obtain "citizenship" in the academy. The purpose of the CEAI's decision to support the ARC was to strengthen Chinese studies. However, the ARC was reborn later as the nucleus of Korean studies. Networks and intellectual assets formed through the ARC exchange program supported by the CEAI were inherited by the JCKS and then cycled back to the ARC. As such, Korean studies formed in Korea and the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, were not separate from each other, but were created by interactions and networks ("The co-production of Korean studies"). In the process of institutionalization of Korean studies, "empirical research based on materials/data" was the agenda that was emphasized the most. The first project launched by the ARC, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation, was to collect and edit historical data concerning Korea. The first project JCKS started, after its establishment in 1967, was to host an academic conference inviting librarians. The institutionalization of Korean studies as "science" and the systematic collection of knowledge resources were impossible on the Korean peninsula, in the shadow of dictatorship and overwhelmed by Cold War ideology. Ironically, what made it possible were the funds and networks offered by the United States, headquarters of the Cold War. The impact of the Cold War on the knowledge production of Korean studies was strong and enormous. However, in order to grasp the meaning of its effect and aftermath, we should be free from Cold War reductionism.

Academic Research and Education; Cold War; Rockefeller Foundation; Social Science Research Council; Social Sciences

The SSRC’s Committee on Economic Stability and the Consolidation of Large-Scale Macroeconometric Modeling in Postwar United States

October 7, 2020

This report presents ongoing research on the history of the Committee on Economic Stability of the Social Science Research Council (1959-1995), which played a major role in the consolidation of large-scale macroeconometric modeling in postwar United States, both inside and outside academia. A key characteristic of the Committee's projects was their scale, which largely surpassed previous model-building work. This feature provides interesting insights into the relevance of the Committee's work in shaping macroeconomics in the postwar period. The Committee's records offer a most valuable source for reevaluating the history of macroeconomics, since much of applied economics and economics outside of academia has been neglected in the historiography of economics.

Academic Research and Education; Economics; Social Science Research Council; Social Sciences

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