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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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

A Missed Rebirth: The Rockefeller Foundation's Involvement in the Economic and Social Development of Sardinia after the Second World War

October 2, 2023

The stipend from the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) under the Research Stipend Program has provided me with an opportunity to clarify one of the most forgotten pages of the late phase of the "Sardinian Project" i.e., the involvement of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) in the studies for the economic and social rehabilitation and development of the Italian Island of Sardinia in the early 1950s. The issue has been particularly debated in the contemporary history of Sardinia, as well as in the political debate at that time because, despite the initial great interest, the involvement of the American institution (and other international players) did not take place. On the contrary, the economic "re-birth" of Sardinia was possible mainly through the so-called "Rebirth Plan," approved by the local and national governments in June 1962, twelve years after the "missed rebirth."Over the past seventy years, two main positions have emerged in this regard. One agrees that the RF was never involved "for a lira or a dollar" in the planning of Sardinia's socio-economic development. The second one states that the American foundation was, to some extent, directly involved, at least in the preliminary phase. However, to date, both theories have failed to look directly and deeply into the historical record for a more precise and objective reconstruction. This report summarizes the first results of my research conducted at the RAC in September 2022, which aims to gain a better knowledge of this page of local history, that possesses underrated - and largely unknown - national and international implications.

Cold War; 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

“Developing” Intellectuals in Cold War Burma: The Production of The Atlantic's 1958 Country Supplement

July 28, 2023

This report features part of an article I am working on about development, soft power, and Cold War competition in 1950s Burma and Indonesia, from the perspective of Burmese and Indonesian intellectuals and artists.  It tells the backstory of the production of The Atlantic's 1958 supplement on Burma, one of several country supplements the Ford Foundation produced throughout the 1950s as part of its Intercultural Publications project. James Laughlin's reports in the Ford Foundation archives reveal the fascinating backstory of the issue and the agency of intellectuals within Cold War development programs, while pointing to the neglected role of "culture" in the history of development.  

Cold War; Ford Foundation; Journalism

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

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

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

Cultivating Moderates: East-West Exchanges and International Influences on Poland’s Transition to Democracy

May 13, 2022

Beginning in the 1950s, American nongovernmental organizations and US government agencies sponsored exchange programs to bring Eastern European scientists, humanists, scholars, and professionals to Western Europe and the United States, in the belief that exposure to the West would pull East Europeans toward democratic capitalism and undermine communist power. Four decades later in 1989, Poles from both government and opposition groups sat together at a round table to negotiate a transformation from one-party communist rule to capitalist democracy. But did these trips and experiences influence how political elites sought to reform their society at the end of the Cold War? Put most broadly, can pathways of influence and shifts in perception within specific epistemic communities be measured, mapped, and visualized to better illustrate and understand exogenous influences on the democratization process in Eastern Europe?This interdisciplinary project combines traditional, archivally-based qualitative techniques used by historians with digital network analysis tools to better understand the complex, overlapping networks of political revolution and international exchange that came together during the Round Table negotiations in Warsaw in 1989.

Cold War; Ford Foundation; International Relations; 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

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

Broadcasting Modernization: Ford Foundation’s Shifting Priorities in Colombia during the Cold War, 1962-1972

September 27, 2021

The Ford Foundation was one of the most prominent private partners of President John F. Kennedy's Alliance for Progress (AFP) program, 1961-1973, aiming to modernize Latin American societies and to enhance hemispheric relations during the global Cold War. Colombia was the operation hub of the Ford Foundation, as Bogotá started to host its Latin American headquarters from 1962 until 1972, when the Foundation dissolved the office due to civil unrest in Colombia. In 1968, under McGeorge Bundy's leadership, the Ford Foundation adopted a broad, organizational strategic shift from focusing on managerial elites to alleviating poverty for the popular masses. This report synthesizes some of my findings about the internal debates about the Foundation's strategic reform and Colombia's unique significance for its work in Cold War Latin America. These findings were gathered during my visit to the Rockefeller Archive Center in January 2020 under a generous research stipend from the Archive. This is a working document for a chapter in my dissertation, tentatively titled The Power of Philanthropy: Development, Empire, and Non-State Actors in Cold War Colombia, 1961-1973.

Cold War; Ford 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

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