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This paper discusses Rockefeller and Ford Foundations' participation in the development of new universities in former British Africa in the post-war era. By utilising sources from the Rockefeller Archive Center, it suggests that while American foundations' engagement with African universities has been merely described as "generous" in the context of British imperial histories, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations had also projected their own philanthropical and diplomatic agendas for African universities. This report focuses specifically on initiatives of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations and their perspectives on British-style development of African universities in Ghana and Nigeria. I argue that vigorous engagements of American foundations had an energising effect on the growth of African universities. Through analysis of the ways in which American foundations participated in and dominated the development of African universities, this report shows a more balanced picture of both Anglo-American cooperation and competition for new universities from the 1950s to 1970s. This research comes out of my doctoral research on British strategies for new universities at the end of the British Empire, focusing on the activities of the InterUniversity Council for Higher Education in the Colonies (later renamed the InterUniversity Council for Higher Education Overseas).
Early in September 2015, I was discussing my research with a Ph.D. candidate that I had met for the first time at the University of Texas, Austin. I told him that I had conducted preliminary research at the British National Archives and Cadbury Research Library in Birmingham, England during the previous summer. These archives had colonial and missionary documents, respectively, and I expressed a desire to explore documents on healthcare in Nigeria by groups other than the government or the church. My colleague told me about the Rockefeller Archive Center's (RAC) collection and encouraged me to contact an archivist about documents on Nigeria. Of course, I was skeptical. "What can an archive in New York have on early Nigerian history?", I mused. Seeing my reluctance, he reiterated that there was no limit to the collection's reach and gave me a link to the website. I contacted an archivist who encouraged me to search the Center's database. I was surprised and delighted to find tons of files on medicine and reproductive health in Nigeria.
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