6 results found
Designing a Pictorial Language: Rudolf Modley’s Search for Philanthropic Support for the Development of a Universal System of SymbolsMay 3, 2022
In 1966, acclaimed cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, and graphic designer Rudolf Modley established the nonprofit Glyphs, Inc., to advance the research, classification, and promotion of universal graphic symbols around the world. Creating a visual language and system of symbols, they believed, could transcend language and lead to greater international understanding and harmony. But despite their esteemed records and vast international contacts, Mead and Modley's ambitious and utopian vision was never fully realized, stalled by lack of financing, unclear and unrealistic goals, differences over philosophy and methodology, and competition and criticism from other comparable endeavors. The correspondence, memos, proposals and reports available in the Rockefeller Archive Center holdings -- notably those of the Ford Foundation (and its affiliate, the Fund for the Advancement of Education), the Rockefeller Foundation (specifically those of the Rockefeller-funded General Education Board), and the Russell Sage Foundation -- provide rich insight into the journey and obstacles faced by Rudolf Modley in raising philanthropic support for his ambitious vision in the decades leading up to the formation of Glyphs, Inc. They shed light on the competing effort of renowned industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss to create an international dictionary of symbols, their differing methods and approach, and their lack of familiarity as designers with the nuances of raising philanthropic funds for their ambitious endeavor. Both Modley and Dreyfuss would go on to publish seminal books on graphic and pictorial symbols in the 1970s, but their tireless efforts to garner support from philanthropic foundations were fraught with false starts and disappointments.
A central figure in the General Education Board's effort to improve the lot of southern African Americans was Jackson Davis (1882-1947), a white Virginian who emerged from post-Reconstruction southern society to intervene in the educational disparity that disadvantaged Black school children. Informed by progressive graduate training from Columbia Teachers College, Davis worked in Virginia in the early decades of the twentieth century to secure opportunities for Black teachers and pupils within the emerging separate-but-unequal system of education in the South. That is not to say that Davis, who was directly affiliated with the GEB from 1915 until his death, supported the racial integration of schools, only that he recognized the detriment inherent in under-resourced education for African American children, whose facilities were usually poor and teachers often inadequately trained. As we position Davis's significant contribution within the GEB's program of African American outreach and funding, we must acknowledge him as a white man of a specific time and place but with distinct professional, and perhaps personal, experiences that shaped his views on race and most likely influenced the perspectives of his GEB colleagues.
This research report is part of my dissertation project, "Creating the Well-Adjusted Citizen: The Human Sciences and Public Schools in the United States, WWI - 1950," which examines the ideas of psychological adjustment and shifting meanings of the "well-adjusted citizen" in the human sciences and in public schools. The goal of the dissertation is to explore the implications of adjustment thinking upon the scrutiny of emotional fitness among its citizenry in the United States. This report focuses specifically on how human scientists and educators approached the interpretation or measurement of personality in the interwar years. I argue that within scientific constructions of personality, there existed two tendencies: one sought to quantify and standardize personality into separable traits or measurable quotient; the other treated personality as a dynamic and holistic process in the context of individuals' interactions with culture. Both tendencies bore epistemological and political implications in the history of psychology and schooling. Ultimately, the ways in which experts and educators conceptualized personality shaped ideas of human differences and functioned to reinforce hierarchical understandings of human nature.
Rural Pedagogy as a Tool of International Agricultural Development: IEB’s Club Work in Three Nordic Countries, 1923-28January 8, 2020
On Tuesday February 13 1923, Søren Sørensen, the agricultural attaché of the Danish Legation in Washington, joined Wickliffe Rose and Wallace Buttrick for an evening dinner at the prestigious Cosmos Club in Washington D.C. Founded in 1878 to advance "science, literature, the arts and public service," the private social club was an inspired location for a meeting to discuss the terms for future collaboration between American philanthropists and the Danish government. An earlier conference with Sørensen in December, plus two ad hoc meetings with officials at the United States Department for Agriculture, convinced Rose and the leadership of the International Education Board (IEB) that Denmark offered the "most favorable conditions for first demonstration abroad." Since getting the green light to pursue his agenda on international philanthropy, Rose had been busy contemplating where best to begin implementing his vision of agrarian improvement. Denmark, the Board reasoned, was the "most highly developed in general intelligence, in agriculture, in cooperative activities, in democratic government." If properly conducted, the programme would serve as a symbol of accomplishment, "a training center from which to extend the service to other non-Slavic European countries." It would be, in Rose's phrase, "a bird of passage."
Radio Research and Refugee Scholars: American Philanthropies Respond to the European Crisis before the War, 1933-39July 19, 2018
University presidents and foundation administrators in the United States viewed the global refugee crisis precipitated by Hitler's rise to power in Germany in 1933 as a serious humanitarian disaster in need of immediate attention. It was also, in their view, a historic opportunity to salvage the great minds of Central Europe. For the officers of the Rockefeller Foundation, the crisis coincided with an increasing interest in sponsoring studies on radio and mass communications, public opinion, and the vulnerabilities of Western democracies to fascism. Many European social scientists, with their background in empirical research, were ideally suited to study these problems. The sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld, for example, chose to remain in the U.S. as a Rockefeller fellow when fascism took hold in his native Austria in 1934, and he went on to become the head of a major research institute at Columbia University.This paper considers the efforts of American citizens, academic elites, and foundation officers to aid refugee scholars and researchers by placing them at American institutions and supporting their work through grants and other forms of aid. Officers in the Humanities and Social Sciences divisions of the Rockefeller Foundation, working in concert with the leaders of organizations like the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, were instrumental in supporting these émigrés and their work in the United States. The Emergency Committee, with the financial assistance of the Rockefeller Foundation, assisted more than six-hundred refugee scholars with securing university appointments and grants over its twelve years of existence.
In 1908, when James Henry Breasted published ancient copies of some Biblical texts, he hoped that one interested reader would be Booker T. Washington. Breasted wrote to Washington to bring the matter to his attention, providing him with a copy of the article and explaining its general content. At that time, Washington was preoccupied with the aftermath of an injustice done to black soldiers stationed in Brownsville, Texas, and the subsequent refusal of Theodore Roosevelt, whom Washington had formerly advised, to undo the damage to the men's reputations, careers, and futures. Nonetheless, Washington replied to Breasted the following week, expressing his polite interest in the matter and noting that although he had not had the time to acquaint himself with the ancient history of Ethiopia, he noted that many West African traditions traced their cultural heritage to "a distant place in the direction of ancient Ethiopia." Washington wondered if that "distant place" and the subject matter of Breasted's article could be one and the same. "Could it be possible that these civilizing influences had their sources in this ancient Ethiopian kingdom to which your article refers?" If Washington saw ancient "Ethiopia," that is, the southern Nile River Valley, also known as the Upper Nile, Nubia, and in contemporary political designation the Sudan, as the source of other African people's culture, Breasted would have concurred.
Showing 6 of 6 results