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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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

University Development of American Foundations in British Africa

September 10, 2020

This paper discusses Rockefeller and Ford Foundations' participation in the development of new universities in former British Africa in the post-war era. By utilising sources from the Rockefeller Archive Center, it suggests that while American foundations' engagement with African universities has been merely described as "generous" in the context of British imperial histories, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations had also projected their own philanthropical and diplomatic agendas for African universities. This report focuses specifically on initiatives of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations and their perspectives on British-style development of African universities in Ghana and Nigeria. I argue that vigorous engagements of American foundations had an energising effect on the growth of African universities. Through analysis of the ways in which American foundations participated in and dominated the development of African universities, this report shows a more balanced picture of both Anglo-American cooperation and competition for new universities from the 1950s to 1970s. This research comes out of my doctoral research on British strategies for new universities at the end of the British Empire, focusing on the activities of the InterUniversity Council for Higher Education in the Colonies (later renamed the InterUniversity Council for Higher Education Overseas).

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

Brazil: Transition and Reconciliation, a Cold War Strategy

July 7, 2020

My research project analyzes the Latin American Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, from 1977 (when it was established) to 1983. The Center is important for Brazilian and Latin American history especially because of the iconic discussions within the social sciences about the transition to democracy and the academic and political repercussions of that process. Financed by the Rockefeller and the Ford Foundations, the Latin American Program was established under the direction of Abraham Lowenthal, with the support of a very selective group of intellectuals, including Robert A. Dahl, Juan Linz, Adam Przeworski, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Albert Otto Hirschman, Guillermo O'Donnell, Ricardo Ffrench-Davis, Leslie Manigot, Olga Pelecer de Brody, Thomas Skidmore, Karen Spalding, and Philippe C. Schmitter. The Latin American Program held three big conferences on the subject of transition and published them in four volumes in 1988, under the title Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for Democracy, edited by Guillermo O'Donnell, Philippe C. Schmitter, and Laurence Whitehead. Albeit the importance of the "Transition Project," not much is known about the organization of the conferences and the involvement of different scholars, students, and government staff at the debates, reports, and meetings held at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, already one of the most important think tank organizations in the USA. In this project, I propose to explore the complexity of those debates, the agenda, and efforts to move from dictatorships to democratic governments.

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

Research Report on the Social Science Research Council’s Africa Program

June 22, 2020

This is a report on the week-long archival visit that I undertook to the Rockefeller Archive Center in 2015. My main work involved reading through the archives of the Social Science Research Council's Africa Program and, in particular, the materials associated with a key meeting of scholars in the African humanities that it convened in 1984. That meeting allows us to have a fuller understanding of the trajectory of work in the African humanities in the United States since the 1980s.

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

Management, Modernity and Nation-Building: The Contested Histories of Management Education in India

June 17, 2020

The United States has been at the forefront of globalization of research and education in the field of Management. US business schools and philanthropic foundations, most notably the Ford Foundation, have led the institutionalisation of management research and education institutions across the globe. In the global histories of Management, there has been a long-standing interest in interrogating US influence on management theory, curricula, pedagogy, and practices of knowledge production. Commonly understood as Americanization, these global histories of management have mapped the diverse and particular historical trajectories of the field in various parts of the globe, most notably western Europe, the Mediterranean, Brazil, and India. (See, for example: contributions to a symposium issue of Journal of Management Inquiry, led by Üsdiken 2004; also see Gemelli 1998, Srinivas 2008, among others.)

Academic Research and Education; Ford Foundation

African Students in the United States: Circulations, Politics and Transfers in the Global 60s

May 19, 2020

When more than thirty African countries gained independence in the early 1960s, most of them faced a shortage of qualified manpower to implement their new national projects. The colonial powers had often excluded the vast majority of Africans from higher education, allowing them only to obtain technical qualifications and rarely the skills to become managers. Higher education for Africans was therefore one of the most important issues for the continent's leaders in the aftermath of independence. This goal was also important in the United States: philanthropic foundations, academics, civil rights activists, and politicians, each for different reasons, wanted to participate in the education of the new African elites. The convergence of the interests of these African and American actors led to the creation of two scholarship programs, the African Scholarship Program of American Universities (ASPAU) in 1961 and the African Graduate Fellowship Program (AFGRAD) in 1963. These two programs, which continued until the 1990s, together enabled more than 4,000 young people from 45 African countries to study in the United States.

Academic Research and Education; Education; Ford Foundation; Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Philanthropic Funding of the British Social Sciences after World War Two

December 17, 2019

My research undertaken at the Rockefeller Archive Center focused on US philanthropic funding of the British social sciences in the post-World War Two period. In particular, I was interested in the significance of Rockefeller Foundation funding for the development of anthropology and sociology in British universities and research institutes. While the significance of the Rockefeller Foundation for the growth and consolidation of British social anthropology in the interwar period has been well established, there has been little consideration of this later period. Studies of philanthropic funding of the social sciences in the post-war period, moreover, often concentrate on the impact of the Cold War and the foreign policy objectives that are perceived to drive the patronage of particular research agendas, inevitably centring the US perspective. However, Mark Solovey, for example, has pointed to the multiple factors beyond Cold War politics that influenced academic perspectives, such as personal relationships, local dynamics, and transnational networks. Along these lines, by focusing on the attitudes and interests of the British-based applicants and recipients of funding from US foundations, as well as the foundations themselves, I hope to shift the focus away from US foreign policy objectives and towards the dynamics of the social sciences in Britain in the post-war period, as well as the transatlantic interactions between academics in these fields. This investigation of the relationship between US foundations and British academics is part of my broader project that aims to uncover some of the negotiations and compromises that lie behind the production of particular works and ideas in the field of social anthropology in the 1950s and 1960s.

Academic Research and Education; Anthropology; Rockefeller Foundation; Social Sciences; Sociology

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