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

Pastoral Agriculture: John B. Griffing, Agricultural Missionaries, and Transnational Agricultural Development

August 9, 2023

This report examines the life and career of John B. Griffing to understand the larger transnational project of rural development in the twentieth century. Griffing had an eclectic career that took him to various parts of the United States, China, and Brazil. While Griffing's papers are scattered across multiple institutions and countries, collections from the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) were particularly useful in tracing the evolution of Griffing's ideas about rural development over time. At least two themes emerge when studying his career. The first is his views on religion and rural development. As the son of a small-town dairy farmer and grandson of a Methodist minister, Griffing found a way to blend these two influences by working as an "agricultural missionary" where he promoted agricultural improvement as a tool for spreading Christianity in China. His later work in Brazil focused less on proselytizing but he continued to champion the rural church as an effective center for agricultural change. The second theme is Griffing's emphasis on extension work and the importance of reaching rural youth through programs such as 4-H clubs. For Griffing, club work (which focused mostly on boys) was an effective way to cultivate a form of rugged masculinity, while also spreading new agricultural crops and practices to their parents. 

Agrarian and Rural; Agriculture; American International Association for Economic and Social Development; Religion; Rockefeller Family

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 Ford Foundation and the National Committee on United States-China Relations: How They Assisted Chinese Economic Reforms during the 1980s

July 8, 2022

This research report summarizes my research experience at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in July 2017. I went to RAC to collect records related to the activities organized by the National Committee on United States-China Relations (NCUSCR) and the Ford Foundation to support the People's Republic of China's (PRC) post-1978 economic reforms. I incorporated a significant amount of materials from these records into my PhD dissertation, which analyzes how different American institutions, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), assisted and encouraged China's economic transition during the 1980s.The documents I found were extremely helpful in my effort to reconstruct and analyze the activities and the exchanges the NCUSCR and the Ford Foundation undertook with China during the 1980s. Furthermore, the records also clarified the motivations behind this assistance, revealing not only a genuine desire on the part of the two organizations to learn more about the PRC's economic outlook but also driven by an interest to disseminate ideas that these NGOs believed were necessary to strengthen a world in which liberalism and democracy would dominate. 

Detente; Economics; Ford Foundation; National Committee on United States-China Relations

Red Scare Recovery: The Ford Foundation’s Role in Rescuing China after McCarthyism

March 9, 2022

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, McCarthyism blighted the American intellectual landscape. The search for communists and communist sympathizers destroyed the careers of many scholars whose work touched on sensitive or controversial topics. It was exactly this "multistranded nature of McCarthyism" that made it so vexing for its antagonists and has made it such fertile ground for historians.

Academic Research and Education; Cold War; Ford Foundation; 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

Envisioning the Future of the Rockefeller Foundation in Wartime and Post-War China, 1943-1946

August 18, 2020

In April 1946, Walter W. Stewart, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF), appointed a three-man commission to investigate the social and political situations of China in the immediate aftermath of the SinoJapanese War (1937-1945). The commission was asked to make recommendations for RF's policy (and for the policy of the China Medical Board) regarding post-war China. After a three-month visit to major cities along the Chinese coast and in interior China, the Rockefeller commission drew a conclusion that the support of the RF should be restricted to a single project of reestablishing the Peking Union Medical College. This marked a deviation from the Rockefeller Foundation's pre-war China policy. This research report asks about the factors that caused this dramatic change. It traces back to the unhappy wartime experience of RF-sponsored projects both in and out of China, and the increasingly active role of the Chinese state in relief efforts. Contrasting with the rapidly expanding historical literature of humanitarianism, post-war China has received limited scholarly attention. Much of the current research has still focused on the Chinese Civil War (1946-1950) and on China's foreign relations. This research report, consisting of part of my PhD research on post-war relief and rehabilitation in China from 1943-1948, underscores the process through which the Sino-Japanese War and its immediate aftermath transformed the landscape of non-state agencies in China.

Rockefeller Foundation; World War II

The Daily Life of Hygiene and Public Health in Republican China

May 7, 2020

The Peking Union Medical College was the leading medical education institution in China for decades, producing doctors and nurses whose qualifications were on par with those from American universities. But alongside the running of this medical college and attached hospital, the China Medical Board was also involved in the conception, establishment, staffing, and funding of a range of smaller-scale, localised initiatives that prioritised public health and hygiene education at the grassroots level. From the Rockefeller Archive Center, I gathered reports, accounts, and correspondence about such projects as the Peking First Health Station, the Shanghai Kao-Chiao Health Demonstration Area, and the Mass Education Movement at Ting Hsien, to demonstrate how hygiene was taught and health services were provided to Chinese laypeople in the early twentieth century. The China Medical Board worked with local governments, sponsors, and reformists to adapt global ideals of hygienic reform and localise them for norms and culture. In time, they would create distinctly Chinese models of communal hygiene that could be emulated throughout Republican China. My dissertation examines the experiences of these reformists and highlights how the proliferation of their projects features in the everyday lives of the Chinese people in the early twentieth century. Moreover, it demonstrates that public health initiatives thrived on the municipal, provincial, and county levels, even when the centralised national government was in flux.

China Medical Board RG 4; China Medical Board, Inc.; Medicine and Healthcare; Public Health; Rockefeller Foundation

Communication of Librarianship between China and the United States in the R.O.C. Period: A Preliminary Report

April 17, 2020

As a part of my Ph.D. dissertation, "From Professional Activity to Cultural Diplomacy: Communication of Librarianship between China and the United States in the R.O.C Period" (a period also known as 民国,from 1912 to 1949), I sought to understand the position philanthropic foundations played in library communication during this period. This paper is only a preliminary report of my findings related to my visit to the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in 2016.  While there, my work focused on evaluating the Rockefeller Foundation's role and impact on the course of Sino-American library and book exchanges.  From my experience, I recognize the extensive value of the RAC archives on this topic.

Archives and Libraries; Dorothy I. Parker Papers; Rockefeller Foundation

A Progressivist Program in China: Planning and Building Peking Union Medical College

February 24, 2020

At the Rockefeller Archive Center, I conducted archival research on the architectural history of Peking Union Medical College, a major enterprise of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) and the China Medical Board (CMB), which was funded by the RF. The buildings of PUMC are still standing and are widely recognized as the precursor of attempts to adapt the best of Chinese architectural elements to modern Western science. This adaptation was first described and analyzed by Professor Jeff Cody who also visited the RAC in the early 1990s. It had been vehemently criticized by the first generation of Chinese architects in the 1930s and 1940s for overwhelming emphasis on the roof with little systematic research at the time, and was further dismissed as the bastion of American imperialism under Maoism. But undeniably, the buildings of PUMC have a distinct place in modern Chinese architectural history, and need to be well-analyzed based on exhaustive collection and careful reading of related archives.

Architecture; Mary E. Ferguson Papers; Simon Flexner Papers APS Microfilm

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