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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The Rockefeller Foundation’s Rural Health Program and the Oil Nationalization Crisis in Iran, 1949-1951

March 26, 2024

This research report examines the efforts of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) to build a rural health initiative in Iran from 1949 through 1951. It details the RF's progress in contributing toward improving Iranian public health during this period, and it analyzes the impact of the Iranian oil nationalization crisis that began in early 1951 on the Rockefeller Foundation's activities. Ultimately, this report argues that the oil nationalization crisis forced the RF to end its Iranian initiative in late summer 1951 without completing its work there, but these rural health initiatives nevertheless helped lay a foundation for Iran's later public health efforts and contributed to positive American-Iranian relations prior to the 1953 coup.

Agrarian and Rural; Medicine and Healthcare; Rockefeller Foundation

“Among a people such like their own”: Thai Nursing Students in the Philippines, 1920-1931

January 5, 2024

In the early twentieth century, the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) worked to expand the nursing profession in the Philippines and in Thailand. Using the close geographic proximity and the well-established circulation of health professionals between the two countries, the RF helped sponsor six Thai nursing students to study abroad in Manila. Due to the status of the Philippines as a colony of the US, while Thailand was not within the US's official purview, the encounter between the colonized nursing instructors and the Thai nursing students learning within a colonial system created contradictory positions of power. Depending on who perceived this crossing, it could reflect the expanding influence for different parties invested in nursing education, either the Foundation, Filipino medical workers, Thai elites, or both Thai and Filipino women. This report examines these crossings and the approximate relationships of domination that supported and confounded the US empire. For example, rather than American colonizers' relationships with Filipinos, I examine the roles of Filipino women, Filipino men, and Thai women who participated in uneasy and shifting tensions of domination. These relationships of power were contested and circulated in complicated forms, not just unilaterally, but within expansive spheres attached to US ambitions within Asia, as well as the Philippines and Thailand's own ambitions for sovereignty and modernity. Lastly, this report examines Filipino women's fraught relationship to power vis-a-vis science and medicine, which also represented (even if incompletely, temporarily, and immemorably) both the domination and the collaboration of Thai women.

Medicine and Healthcare; Nursing; Rockefeller Foundation

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

China Medical Board and Modern Medicine in Seoul

June 27, 2023

This report describes the role of China Medical Board (CMB), a Rockefeller-endowed philanthropy, in promoting modern medical research and education at Seoul National University (SNU). Although the Rockefeller Foundation refused to fund Keijo Imperial University, a predecessor of SNU during Japanese Colonial Rule (1910-1945), CMB actively supported the schools of medicine and nursing at SNU after 1963, through its extensive fellowship program as well as research grant awards. Moreover, CMB provided funding for designing the new main building at Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH), as well as its medical library and research laboratory. Hence, CMB, along with the United States federal government, became a primary agency of promoting modern medicine in South Korea. However, Korean professionals at SNU had their own ideas and agendas, which made them respond to CMB's plans and strategies in their own way. The interplay between the two formed a key part of Korea's story of making modern medicine.

China Medical Board, Inc.; Medicine and Healthcare; Rockefeller Foundation

Planned or by Accident? The Inception of the Chinese Materia Medica Research Program at the Peking Union Medical College

April 17, 2023

This report chronicles the events that led to the inception of the Chinese materia medica (CMM) research program at the Peking Union Medical College (PUMC). Dozens of herbal drugs were investigated during the decade after the program was conceived in 1921, including ma-huang, from which ephedrine, an anti-asthmatic drug of global impact, was isolated in 1924.  The program was primarily born out of a serendipitous intersection of two independent pursuits by Dr. Ralph G. Mills and Mr. Bernard E. Read, two PUMC faculty members, of their interests in CMM, instead of a preconceived grander aim or strategy by the institution or by any visionary. The establishment of the program, however, was the result of pragmatic handling of personnel and administrative issues by the China Medical Board (CMB)'s key decisionmakers, who accepted the seemingly plausible scientific value and various utilitarian promise of CMM and were open to its research at the PUMC.The discovery of ephedrine is the most celebrated scientific achievement from the CMM research program, and one of the few highlights of Chinese science during the entire Republican Era. Reconstructing the origin of the program will hopefully place this highly acclaimed scientific event in an accurate historical context and enable the construction of a non-whiggish historiographical narrative.

Biology and Medical Research; China Medical Board, Inc.; Medicine and Healthcare; Rockefeller Foundation

The China Medical Board’s Fellowship Programs and Its Shifting Focus to Taiwan during the Postwar Era, 1951–1973

March 6, 2023

In this report, I investigate the institutionalization of the China Medical Board's (CMB) exchange fellowship programs and its shifting focus from Mainland China to a broader East Asia region from 1951 to 1973. In particular, this report looks at the CMB fellowship programs in Taiwan, which facilitated a gigantic wave of young health professionals moving from Taiwan to the United States during the postwar era. I begin by analyzing the major historical events that ultimately shifted CMB's direction from Mainland China to other parts of Asia, and the ways in which Taiwan became a critical focus for CMB after its retreat from Mainland China. The report's second half lies in the anatomy of the CMB fellowship program's operation in the two elite medical schools in Taiwan—the Medical College at the National Taiwan University (NTU) and the National Defense Medical Center (NDMC). I examine the demographical trends from the CMB fellowship allocation files and the key components that emerged from the CMB fellowship program. 

China Medical Board, Inc.; Medicine and Healthcare; Nursing; Rockefeller Foundation

“American Patrick Manson” Goes to China: Ernest Faust’s Career Path to Peking Union Medical College

November 21, 2022

Based on primary sources from the Rockefeller Archive Center, this research report examines the leading American tropical medicine specialist Ernest Carroll Faust's initial career choice to go to Rockefeller-sponsored Peking Union Medical College in the early 20th century. It argues that Faust accepted the position and introduced a medical-zoological-based tropical medicine to China mainly because of his own career ambitions and his mentor Henry Ward's ardent promotion of this new field, within the Rockefeller Foundation's expanding global network. With this case study, my report also challenges the current dominant model which treats tropical medicine as colonial medicine.

Biology and Medical Research; China Medical Board, Inc.; Medicine and Healthcare

The Rockefeller Foundation and Scientific Collaboration in Late Colonial India

May 24, 2022

After submitting my doctoral thesis, I studied documents on public health research in colonial India at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC). The visit, from the end of September to early December 2019, allowed me to expand my research on medical infrastructure and sanitary regulations in colonial India. My thesis looked at the sanitary interventions by the British colonial state and Christian missionaries in British Indian port cities in the nineteenth century for protecting the health of European seamen. In my follow-up research, I wanted to explore the development of the study of health and disease in the twentieth century. The governance of public health in this phase was arguably driven by new explorations into bacteriology and virology in various institutes across India. The Rockefeller Foundation (RF) was substantially involved in many of these disease research centers as part of its global fight for public health. It was instrumental in establishing the All-India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health (AIIHPH). As a scoping study for my pile-up project on public health in the first half of the twentieth century, I read reports and correspondence regarding the planning and early years of the institute. I spent a highly fulfilling two months with the RAC, reading important documents on the RF's medical philanthropy and its role in shaping public health research in British India. The stint also enabled me to connect with researchers working on similar subjects.

Medicine and Healthcare; Rockefeller Foundation

Constructing Changes: Seoul National University Hospital and China Medical Board Support, 1967-1978

April 7, 2022

This paper analyzes the construction of SNUH during the 1960s and 1970s, in conjunction with the changing medical landscape in Korea, focusing on support from the China Medical Board.  American influence in medical practice and education in Korea was significant, starting in the late 1950s. Much research has focused on the early American influence on Korean medicine such as missionary activities or the Minnesota Project by the International Cooperation Administration. Recently, more attention has been given to later support for Korean medicine from Western private philanthropies, such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the China Medical Board.  This support laid the material foundation and research organization for contemporary Korean medicine.

Architecture; China Medical Board, Inc.; Medicine and Healthcare

A History of Diabetes at the Rockefeller Archive Center: The Development of Oral Hypoglycaemic Drugs and the UGDP Debate

December 3, 2021

With very generous research funding provided by the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), I was able to travel from Scotland in early August 2018.  This was my first trip to the RAC, as well as my first time in the United States.  Having just finished up at a three-month internship at the Scottish government, I was thrilled to be granted time and financial support for archival research.  This report presents a summary of my time at the RAC and how the material I accessed there has supported my thesis.  For those interested in the history of pharmacy in the second half of the twentieth century, or specifically the history of diabetes, this report provides an overview of the history of the development of the first oral anti-diabetic agents. It highlights the debate that followed one of the most contentious medical trials in the history of medicine, the University Group Diabetes Program.

Biology and Medical Research; Mass Communications; Medicine and Healthcare; The Medical Letter

The Franco-American Race for the Yellow Fever Vaccine

August 30, 2021

This paper looks at the cooperation and rivalry between the Rockefeller Foundation and the French Pasteur Institute during the development of the 17-D and Dakar vaccine strains for inoculation against yellow fever. Using sources held at the Rockefeller Archive Center, this paper recovers the tenuous relationship between the researchers funded by the two institutions, and shows how their work was shaped by national, imperial, and scientific rivalries. In the race to the yellow fever vaccine, the Pastorians, in particular, utilized their imperial network, which allowed them to bypass ethical concerns raised by researchers in Paris and elsewhere, and proceeded to human trials using a vaccine that had been criticized for its adverse neurological effects on certain subjects. 

Biology and Medical Research; International Health Board; Medicine and Healthcare; Public Health; Rockefeller Foundation

Nurses in the History of Psychiatry: The Role of the Rockefeller Foundation

October 14, 2020

I made multiple trips to the Rockefeller Archive Center throughout 2014 and 2015 for research on the history of psychiatry, especially in relation to nursing. I found extensive records on the Rockefeller Foundation's activities in this area. Its Medical Sciences Division had a major interest in the ways that psychiatry and psychiatric education could be used to solve social problems during and after WWII and into the Cold War period

Medicine and Healthcare; Mental Health; Nursing; Psychiatry; Rockefeller Foundation

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