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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Listening to Each Other? – Opportunities and Challenges in Music Exchanges between the United States and the People’s Republic of China in the Late Twentieth Century

March 4, 2024

Cultural exchanges between the United States and the People's Republic of China were formalized in the 1970s. With the ever-increasing interest in understanding each other's culture, American and Chinese governments and cultural institutions organized exchange trips in different fields. Music was among the first professions that was used to establish rapport. This essay introduces some of the early efforts to facilitate the musical exchanges, including by the Asian Cultural Program of the JDR 3rd Fund and the Center for United-States Arts Exchange founded by Chou Wen-Chung. It highlights how the American non-profit sector shaped the cultural dialogue through grantmaking from the 1970s to the 1990s. Despite the legacy of fostering interests in learning the cultural differences between the two countries, archival materials show a Euro-American-centric sentiment by expecting Chinese visitors to bring American knowledge back to their home, and that Americans have the expertise and knowledge to assist Asians to better understand their own cultural heritage. With mostly white Americans in control of the visitors they could bring in, who tended to be talented performers and artists of ancient or traditional art forms, they avoided more politicized contemporary works and discourses. Chinese immigrants in America were also limited in terms of their ability to participate in these cultural exchanges. Such a narrow approach to cultural exchange also limited Americans' understanding of China (and Asia, at-large) in the contemporary context.

Asia Society; Asian Cultural Council; Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Papers; International Relations; JDR 3rd Fund; Music; National Committee on United States-China Relations; Rockefeller Family

Nelson Rockefeller’s Report and Richard Nixon’s Foreign Policy towards Latin America

October 13, 2023

This research paper is composed of four parts. The first one presents Nelson Rockefeller's mission to Latin America in 1969 and details his official report to President Richard Nixon. In the second part, I highlight the main aspects of the new foreign policy designed by the Nixon administration toward Latin America. The third part points out several primary sources related to the mission that could help academics improve their current understanding of the Latin American Cold War. Lastly, the final section of this paper evaluates the results of this new policy.

International Relations; Nelson A. Rockefeller Papers; Rockefeller Family

Grace McCann Morley and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs

September 9, 2022

While conducting research for my doctoral dissertation, "Grace McCann Morley and the Dialectical Exchange of Modern Art in the Americas, 1935-1958," I visited the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in order to learn more about Grace McCann Morley's work with Nelson Rockefeller and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (CIAA), through materials in Nelson A. Rockefeller's personal papers. In 1940, Rockefeller invited Morley, the director of the San Francisco Museum of Art (SFMA; now San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), to serve as an advisor to the CIAA and its Committee on Art. This committee planned exhibitions such as La Pintura Contemporánea Norteamericana for Latin American audiences and Latin American Art for US audiences. Although my research in the archives did not uncover correspondence between Rockefeller and Morley, it did reveal useful contextual information about Rockefeller's investment in collecting and exhibiting Latin American art and Morley's relationship with Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA).

Art; International Relations; Nelson A. Rockefeller Papers; Rockefeller Family

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

“More than Pawns in the Game of War”: The Rockefeller Foundation, Council for Foreign Relations, and Interwar Mineral Internationalism

February 8, 2022

This report is a preliminary attempt to plot the Rockefeller Foundation's connections to resource internationalism into a global history of interwar political economy. The Foundation channeled funds to think tanks, international organizations, and resource internationalists to help devise a peaceable solution to the raw materials problem. Here, I focus on the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and a group of economic geologists studying how mineral interdependence influenced international relations. One important outcome of the Rockefeller Foundation-CFR collaboration was the Mineral Inquiry of 1931-33, which had lasting effects on US resource policies.

International Relations; Interwar Years; Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller RG 2; Rockefeller Family; Rockefeller Foundation

People-to-People Contacts between China and the United States in the 1970s: Report on Materials at the Rockefeller Archive Center

February 12, 2021

The primary collection I travelled to the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) to use was the newly available archival collection from the US non-governmental organisation, the National Committee on United States-China Relations (NCUSCR, or simply the National Committee). That group was set up in the 1960s and soon established itself, first, as the leading organisation for lobbying for an end to US containment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and, then, the foremost group for managing transnational visits between the United States and the People's Republic of China. The group was co-host for the visit of Chinese table tennis team to the United States in 1972, the return leg of the famous ping-pong diplomacy that kickstarted Sino-American rapprochement in April 1971.

Douglas P. Murray Papers; International Relations; National Committee on United States-China Relations; Social Science Research Council

Japanese Participants at the International Studies Conference and the Institute of Pacific Relations in the Twenty Years’ Crisis

November 19, 2020

The proposed project for the research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) was "a re-assessment of the discourse of the International in the twentieth century." It was to examine how the idea of the "International" was formed. By the "International," I meant the counter-communist notion of the "International," which became the core of what we often term the "liberal international order" of the twentieth century. This research now forms a part of my broader book project. What follows here are my findings on one of the three focuses in this recent research at the RAC, which were also synthesized with documents from the League of Nations Archives and the Unesco Archives, and my thoughts on them.

International Relations; Interwar Years; Rockefeller Foundation; Social Sciences

Politics of the Past: Archaeology, Nationalism, and Diplomacy in Afghanistan, 1919–2001

July 27, 2020

This research report provides edited excerpts from my PhD thesis, "Politics of the Past: Archaeology, Nationalism and Diplomacy in Afghanistan, 1919–2001," submitted to the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge. The aim of the thesis was to assess the relationship between nationalist agendas and the discipline of archaeology in Afghanistan from 1919 to 2001. The material collected from the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) contributed to Chapter 5 of the thesis, which focused on the political period 1946–1978 in Afghanistan, when Afghan leaders began to open the country to international archaeological teams. At the RAC, I was particularly interested in uncovering material pertaining to a travelling exhibition of artefacts from the National Museum of Afghanistan, which opened at Asia House in New York City in 1966. The following segments also draw on archival material from the JFK Library in Boston, Massachusetts and the National Archives in Delhi, India. The material collected from the RAC helped demonstrate how Afghan leaders used archaeology to build diplomatic relations with key allies, including Japan and the United States, during the 1960s.

Archaeology; Art; Art History; Asia Society; International Relations

The Origins of the Near East Foundation's Iran Programmes, 1943-1950

July 9, 2020

In October 1950, Edward C. Miller and Halsey B. Knapp, both finance officers for the philanthropic Near East Foundation (NEF), embarked on a three-month tour of the Middle East. Founded in 1915 as a direct response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the Armenian Genocide, Near East Relief (as it was then known) had gained an international reputation for its humanitarian and relief programmes. But by 1930, it transformed itself into the Near East Foundation from, in the words of Keith David Watenpaugh, "an ad hoc food relief organization to…a bureaucratized, multidisciplinary, nongovernmental 'development' organization.'" During their travels, Miller and Knapp examined the multitude of agricultural, education, and sanitation programmes operated by the NEF in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Greece. Their goal was to seek an answer to the question: "What is the present standing of the Near East Foundation?"

International Relations; Near East Foundation

Modernization and Documentary Film in  the Americas

June 29, 2020

Historians and other scholars have recognized the centrality of visuality and images to the modernization theory that drove US policy in the Global South during the Cold War. However, these scholars have so far failed to take into account the process of creating and consuming images and how that process shaped popular and expert ideas of what modernization would look like. Focusing primarily on efforts in Latin America, my book will trace the complex interplay between documentary filmmaking and international development institutions and agencies formed during and in the decades after World War II. This report traces the convergence of economic development and documentary film by examining some of the 1940s productions of Nelson Rockefeller's Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA), as well as some Rockefeller Foundation agricultural films of the early 1960s. In particular, it looks at a few films made by director Willard Van Dyke, who was trained in the New Deal documentary tradition and went on to make films for both the OCIAA and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Agriculture; Film; International Relations; Mass Communications; Nelson A. Rockefeller Papers; Political Science; Rockefeller Family; Rockefeller Foundation; Social Sciences

No Dead Languages, Only Dormant Minds: U.S.- Spanish Educational Exchanges through the Ford Foundation

November 11, 2019

My dissertation examines the role of smart power in U.S.-Spain relations during the Spanish transition to democracy. The archives of the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) held several collections that enriched my analysis of the development of soft power by the United States in Spain. At the archives, I found records on the movement of Pablo Picasso's Guernica from the Museum of Modern Art to the Prado in Madrid, Nelson Rockefeller's impact on the Spanish transition, how the Ford Foundation and Peter Fraenkel helped administer Spanish educational reforms and exchanges of the 1970s, and how human rights played a vital role in the Spanish transition.

Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Papers; Education; Ford Foundation; International Relations; Nelson A. Rockefeller Vice Presidential Records; Rockefeller Family

From Propitious Birth, through Troubled Adolescence, to Prosperous Maturity: The Journey of the National Committee on United States- China Relations, 1966-1972

September 24, 2019

One of the primary goals of the founders of the National Committee on United States-China Relations was to encourage discussion of China policy. In 1966, when they formed the group, there was little debate on the topic, and much public ignorance concerning current and recent events on the Chinese mainland. While the NCUSCR as an organization took no political positions, its leaders all supported ending the U.S. isolation of the Chinese Communists and pursuing a new policy of outreach and rapprochement. This occasioned some opposition from conservatives who supported existing policies, and who saw the Committee as a de facto lobby, despite its leaders' protestations of non-partisanship and its tax-exempt status as a non-political organization. Within less than five years, the Committee appeared to become a victim of its own success. Discussion of the issue was uncontroversial, and President Nixon had begun the process of outreach to China. The organization gave serious consideration to closing up shop. Yet rapprochement, while threatening one primary mission, increased opportunities to pursue the other: public education, particularly in the form of cultural exchanges. This gave the group new relevance and renewed public prominence, allowing it to maintain its presence and persevere.

Detente; International Relations; National Committee on United States-China Relations

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