13 results found
Blanchette Rockefeller, Engaged Leadership, and MoMA, 1949-1987December 12, 2022
This essay aims to highlight Blanchette Rockefeller's leadership style, which emphasized artistic appreciation, collaborative leadership, and institution building. As both a prominent donor to the museum as well as a fixture in leadership during the mid-twentieth century, Mrs. Rockefeller's leadership style falls somewhere between what we would think of as philanthropy and management. Not coincidentally, her husband, John D. Rockefeller 3rd, was engaged with public institutions in the sphere of Asia-US cultural and social relations and pioneered a type of philanthropy denominated "venture philanthropy," which entailed an intellectual and social commitment to favored causes that complemented financial support.[i] In some sense, Blanchette's approach to leadership drew on three key areas: an intellectual emphasis, evident in her passion for promoting artistic appreciation; a social component, manifest in her use of collaborative efforts to advance the mission of MoMA; and, finally, an investment of time, which arguably, in addition to financial support, represented a scarce resource she lavished on the various programs and institutions that she was called to pioneer within MoMA.
Friends in Foreign Places: International Understanding in Post-War Civil SocietyAugust 19, 2022
My project seeks to understand the changing practices and discourses of internationalism within post-war British and American civil society. The practices of international friendship—with their emphasis on people-to-people connections—form a crucial but understudied part of the picture of postwar internationalism. My aim with this project is to address the neglect of the "everyday" by using international friendship projects as a window onto discourses and practices of internationalism. In doing so, it will contribute to new and emerging research on the role of emotion and intimacy in shaping transnational relationships. This report explores these issues in relation to three initiatives that sought or received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in the mid- to late 1950s: the Experiment in International Living (a youth exchange program), the Asia Society for cultural and educational exchange, and Eisenhower's expansive but poorly focused People to People Program.
Black Land, Black Power, and Liberal PhilanthropyNovember 9, 2021
The late 1960s saw a revival of the "land question" in African American public life. This was in part a product of the political and intellectual upheavals of the late 1960s, as exponents of the Black Power movement cited the desirability of economic empowerment, institution building, and consciousness-raising as preconditions of nationhood. Liberal philanthropies, such as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation, and others, were central funders of a variety of land-based activism in the rural South, reshaping the process and limits of African American-led rural development initiatives in the region.
“Food-Space-Energy Problems”: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the New Alchemy Institute, and the Emergence of Ecological Design in the 1970sJune 3, 2021
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) initiated its Environmental Program out of long-standing work in conservation and population in 1974. Driven by the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, famines, and the emergence of scientific research into the limits of the earth's resources, the RBF funded organizations that looked for ways to help humans live less destructively on a threatened planet. Its support helped usher in the rise of ecological design through its grant program, funding organizations focused on environmental lifestyles, agricultural practices, and renewable energy technologies. This research report explores the relationship between one such organization, the New Alchemy Institute, and the RBF during that decade. It suggests that the RBF played a critical role in providing networking opportunities and encouraging groups to strengthen their scientific investigations. While RBF support remained strong for nearly ten years, by the end of the 1970s, the Fund began looking towards "middleground" solutions to agricultural and ecological problems. It founded the American Farmland Trust in 1980 and turned most of its agricultural funding towards that institution. The RBF also increasingly sought to support international eco-development. Such changes in granting objectives pushed ecological design groups to shift away from their social critiques and towards international work and an embrace of ecological economics. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, therefore, facilitated both the success of an alternative technology movement and aided its transition into the mainstream.
Researching Human Rights at the Rockefeller Archive CenterApril 23, 2021
This report details my January 2014 visit to the Rockefeller Archive Center. My research agenda was to investigate how and why the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund supported nongovernmental organizations focused on international violations of human rights. During my time at the Center, I explored two principal topics. First, I searched records related to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund's support for the International League for Human Rights, Amnesty International USA, Freedom House, and the American Civil Liberties Union, four nongovernmental organizations whose human rights activism was central to my research. Second, my visit enabled me to explore the broader role played by the Ford Foundation in supporting human rights organizations in the 1960s and 1970s.
Lost in Translation? US Foundations as Mediators between US Interests and the International Climate Policy SpaceSeptember 2, 2020
Given their historic ties with US foreign policy circles, their longstanding commitment to the amicable resolution of national differences, and their active role in forging an international climate regime and attendant "civil society," US foundations were ideally positioned to mediate between US domestic and foreign policy interests, and the international climate policy space. The study of their involvement in the international climate debate provides important insights into how US domestic politics feeds into the international climate policy process and, more specifically, how the alignment of international negotiations on the US position helped deliver the Paris outcome. Drawing on archival material from the Rockefeller Archive Center, this report looks at how philanthropic foundations' early involvement in the international climate debate was affected by domestic issues in the United States.
Report on Research on the Rockefeller Foundation and American PsychiatryMay 28, 2020
I am working on a history of the psychiatric profession in the United States during the long twentieth century – roughly speaking from 1900 to the present. Any such history must perforce take account of the enormous role the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) played in shaping developments in the middle decades of this century. Though Rockefeller support for some aspects of psychiatry began in the nineteen-teens and –twenties (for example with support for the work of Thomas Salmon at the National Committee on Mental Hygiene, and as part of the more general support for the Institute of Human Relations at Yale), at the beginning of the 1930s, psychiatry was elevated to the major focus of the Medical Sciences division of the Rockefeller Foundation, and under Alan Gregg, the RF poured resources into both supporting individual researchers in the field, and underwriting academic departments to upgrade the training of future generations of psychiatrists.
African Students in the United States: Circulations, Politics and Transfers in the Global 60sMay 19, 2020
When more than thirty African countries gained independence in the early 1960s, most of them faced a shortage of qualified manpower to implement their new national projects. The colonial powers had often excluded the vast majority of Africans from higher education, allowing them only to obtain technical qualifications and rarely the skills to become managers. Higher education for Africans was therefore one of the most important issues for the continent's leaders in the aftermath of independence. This goal was also important in the United States: philanthropic foundations, academics, civil rights activists, and politicians, each for different reasons, wanted to participate in the education of the new African elites. The convergence of the interests of these African and American actors led to the creation of two scholarship programs, the African Scholarship Program of American Universities (ASPAU) in 1961 and the African Graduate Fellowship Program (AFGRAD) in 1963. These two programs, which continued until the 1990s, together enabled more than 4,000 young people from 45 African countries to study in the United States.
The American Legal Programs in Brazil: From Modernization Theory to Human RightsSeptember 17, 2019
The year 2014 marked 50 years since the civil-military coup in Brazil, on March 31, 1964. Recently, Brazilian historiography has been devoting a renewed interest in this period of the military rule in the country (1964-1985). A common element in the analyses that have developed identifies a significant role for the rule of law-human rights movement in the country, from which it would have been possible to form a systematic opposition to the Brazilian dictatorship that would lead to the transition to democracy. Nevertheless, there is still an existing gap in this discussion about the Brazilian rule of law-human rights movement, which relates to a consistent analysis of the network of politics and practices, connected to the field of law in Western countries since World War II. It is my premise that this analysis will facilitate a better comprehension of the Brazilian transition and its historical connections with the "Global North." The philanthropic foundations played a significant role in promoting this network. My research contributes by filling in aspects of this gap in the Brazilian debate, and provides an analysis of the role played in the rule of law-human rights international movement by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the programs of philanthropic foundations concerning the field of law directed to Latin American countries.
Personalities at Work: Psychological Testing and the Work Ethic in America, 1940-1980August 2, 2019
I conducted research at the Rockefeller Archive Center for my dissertation and current book project on the history of psychological testing in American business. My work has examined the network of psychologists and management experts who developed and implemented personality tests, such as the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The Rockefeller Archive Center was a crucial site to understand the origins, spread, and influence of personality tests. As a historian of science and business, I sought to understand the translations and circulations of research between psychologists and business. I focused particularly on the way that research into personality and work refracted existing social inequalities and biases of race and gender, at the same time that researchers sought to counter inequality through psychological testing. Both the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations funded research in personality psychology and in management that studied the psychological capacities associated with creative and managerial work. In particular, these two foundations both provided direct grants to four key organizations discussed in this report: Berkeley's Institute for Personality Assessment and Research (IPAR), Educational Testing Service (ETS), the Opportunities Industrialization Commission (OIC), and the Public Agenda Foundation (PAF). IPAR and ETS were especially important as early sites for research and publications on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a personality test whose history I examine in my project. OIC and PAF both conducted research and implemented training programs that linked motivational psychology to the work ethic. All four organizations were important sites for studying the personality traits associated with work in 20th-century America.
Whither the Rural? The Debate over Rural America’s Future, 1945-1980November 19, 2018
Following World War II, rural America experienced a number of interconnected transformations that raised the question of what its future might look like, or whether or not it even had one. My project examines the response of policymakers, rural people, and social scientists to the problems these changes created, which I am calling the "rural crisis." More specifically, my dissertation examines how rural problems were understood by these groups, and the various ways they sought to build a new, more prosperous rural America and redefine the meaning of rural in the process. My research tracks the debates and implementation of public policies across distinct rural settings in California, Missouri, and Georgia.The records at the Rockefeller Archive Center contain significant insights into the broader debate that occurred in postwar America about how rural areas might be revitalized. The records of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation, Mitchell Sviridoff, Bernard McDonald, and Winthrop Rockefeller demonstrate that many Americans did not want to abandon rural places or encourage rural people to migrate. Instead, a variety of groups, from low-income black farmers in the South to foundation officials in New York grappled with the best way to revive declining rural communities. The Archive Center provides some documentation for "nonfarm" development programs that aimed to create a new economic base for rural America outside farming. More significantly, the Center's records provide extensive evidence for a vision of farm reform rooted in economic and racial justice that commanded significant attention in the postwar period.
A History of Climate Action through Foundations’ ArchivesMay 29, 2018
After two years of intensive negotiations, 156 countries signed a Framework Convention on Climate Change at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. Bert Bolin, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 1988 to 1997, believed that it would not have happened if a "well-organized and scientifically credible assessment had not been available in 1990." In turn, the IPCC assessment was possible "only because assessments initiated by the US National Academy of Sciences and the international scientific community had begun a decade earlier." As stated by Bolin, "the emergence of the climate change issue was primarily scientifically driven." But how did the issue move from the realm of science to the realm of politics? Who were the agents of this process? A series of documents produced by scientists, NGO and foundation officers, preserved in archival collections at the Rockefeller Archive Center, provides previously unexplored information about how the climate change issue broke onto the international policy making agenda in the 1980s.
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