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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Frederick Gates and Philanthropic Timeliness

April 8, 2024

An embrace of perpetuity is often assumed to be one of the founding principles of modern American philanthropy. Yet while some of the pioneering figures in the field, such as Andrew Carnegie, explicitly and unreservedly championed the cause of perpetuity, the views of many others toward time-based considerations in philanthropy were more fluid and complex. This was certainly the case with Frederick Gates, the Baptist minister who served as John D. Rockefeller's chief philanthropic advisor, holding leadership positions in many of the Rockefeller foundations in their early, formative years. He can arguably claim to be more responsible than any other individual for crafting the animating theories that came to define 20th century American philanthropy.

Frederick T. Gates Papers; John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Papers; Rockefeller Family; Rockefeller Foundation

Six Roles of Philanthropy in John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s Response to the 1913-14 Colorado Coal Strike

January 20, 2023

John D. Rockefeller, Jr.'s understanding of labor issues prior to 1914 was shaped largely through his philanthropic and civic activities, including contributions to five liberal, Progressive-era organizations concerned with improving industrial conditions. Simply put, philanthropy provided his education.Following the tragic events in Colorado, especially the so-called Ludlow Massacre, JDR Jr. employed philanthropic giving, in combination with a variety of other strategies, to address the problems at the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company (CF&I), while also restoring the Rockefeller family's good name:  He used philanthropy to:Improve social and economic conditions in Colorado immediately following the strike;Involve the YMCA's industrial department as part of the company's expanded employee welfare programs;Express gratitude and demonstrate camaraderie with CF&I employees following his historic 1915 visit to Colorado;Promote the ideas of employee representation and personal relations in business; andEncourage research in the emerging fields of industrial relations and organizational behavior.    This research report highlights philanthropic aspects of JDR Jr.'s response to the strike and are based on a larger investigation that examined JDR Jr.'s efforts as milestone events in modern public relations and industrial relations as well as JDR Jr.'s emergence as a 20th century icon. Observations about his philanthropic strategy are discussed.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Papers; John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Papers; Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial; Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller RG 2; Rockefeller Family; Rockefeller Foundation; Rockefeller University

Why a University for Chicago and Not Cleveland? Religion and John D. Rockefeller's Early Philanthropy, 1855-1900

January 1, 1995

Clevelanders sometimes seem to have a "What have you done for me lately?" attitude with regard to John D. Rockefeller. As if the creation on the Cuyahoga's shores of one of the country's most powerful and influential corporations is not enough, some Clevelanders look to Rockefeller's enormous charitable giving and wonder why he built no major institution in Cleveland to provide jobs and world renown under the Rockefeller banner. Most people who express such opinions often point, with a hint of jealousy, to the University of Chicago as an example of Cleveland's missing Rockefeller landmark.

Academic Research and Education; Education; John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Papers; Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller RG 2; Religion; Rockefeller Family

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