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 Also, see the RAC Bibliography of Scholarship, a comprehensive online database of publications citing RAC archival collections.
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American Philanthropy and Russian, Slavic, and Eurasian Studies in the United States, 1920–1940s

August 25, 2023

The unprecedented growth of Russian/Slavic/Eurasian area studies programs in North America during the Cold War was a direct consequence of massive government support, including from military and intelligence agencies, which turned these programs into some of the most influential and sustained areas of research activity in the English-speaking world. The boom in Russian/Eurasian area studies underscored the paucity and inadequacy of the previous scholarship, which was primarily represented by a small number of individual researchers, driven by their own idiosyncratic interests and agendas. If prior to the Second World War, the more systematic studies of the Eurasian space, produced in Germany, Austria-Hungary and France, enjoyed steady government support, the production of knowledge about Eurasia in the United States had to rely on funding from selected universities and private benefactors who came predominantly from the world of industry, finance, and commerce.

Academic Research and Education; Cold War; Rockefeller Foundation

Thomas Whittemore, Fundraiser for Russian Refugees

June 8, 2022

Thomas Whittemore (1871-1950) was an intriguing person whose interests spanned various fields of endeavor, including teaching art history, conducting archaeological excavations, carrying out humanitarian relief, educating refugees, collecting art, and uncovering the mosaics of the church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Various writers have explored discrete aspects of Whittemore's life, but the one part of his work that made his enterprises possible has yet to be studied: how Whittemore succeeded, over more than thirty years, in raising the funds he needed to carry out his projects. This research explores Thomas Whittemore as a fundraiser, particularly for Russian refugees, by examining his relationship with the Rockefeller family and its associates. Materials in the Rockefeller Archive Center help to sketch a preliminary picture of Whittemore's fundraising work in that domain after the First World War. His success was built first and foremost on his ability to immerse himself in the culture of the localities where he worked and thereby earn the trust of those whom he met. He built networks of supporters who advocated for him and introduced him to ever wider circles of people with wealth and influence. Whittemore's mix of cultural competence, personal appeal, and organizational efficiency led to long-standing relationships that served him and his work well for decades.

Humanitarian and Disaster Relief; Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial; Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller RG 2; Rockefeller Family; Rockefeller Foundation

The Ford Foundation, the Cultural Cold War, and the Russian Diaspora in the USA: A Case Study of the Free Russia Fund / East European Fund (1951-1961)

January 1, 2016

I formulated the aims of my research as the following: -- to discover specific ties between charitable organizations such as the Ford Foundation, government, and society in the USA during the Cold War era, using a case study of Free Russia Fund / East European Fund; to study an institutional history of Free Russia Fund / East European Fund, its organization, financing, functioning, and liquidation; to clarify the role of Russian émigrés in establishing and maintaining different enterprises, supported by Free Russia Fund / East European Fund; to study general tendencies of the development of Russian-language community in the USA in the 1950s and the impact of American philanthropy on it.

Democracy Assistance in Post-Communist Russia: Case Studies of the Ford Foundation, the C.S. Mott Foundation, and the National Endowment for Democracy

January 1, 2013

This research report specifically focuses on The Ford Foundation, Early Explorations, and Motivations. Historic changes brought about by perestroika, glasnost, and the eventual collapse of the Soviet communist system in the late 1980s and early 1990s offered an unprecedented opportunity for the international community to support transitions to democracy and social transformations in a region that had long known totalitarian rule. Only a few years prior, few could have imagined that democracy's chief global rival -- communism -- would fall so dramatically and so rapidly in the USSR, transforming the day-to-day lives of millions of people who had lived under one-party rule, a command economy, and ideological and institutional control for decades. While financial and technical assistance to support transitions flowed into the region from the governments of industrialized democracies including the United States and many individual member states of the European Community, from international financial institutions, and from multilateral organizations, also among the key institutional players engaged in providing support were U.S. grantmaking institutions.

The Rockefeller Foundation's Financing of the NBER Study of the Soviet Economy

January 1, 2003

In 1953 the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) made a grant of $275,000 to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) for a four-year research project, AStudy of Soviet Economic Growth@ (RF 53125, p. 397). In 1957 an additional grant of $60,000 was made to complete the study, which was not completed until 1962. In January 2003 I visited the Rockefeller Archive Center to research the Rockefeller Foundation funding of the NBER study. My objective was to determine the origin and history of these grants and how the RF and NBER staff interacted in this matter.

Rockefeller Philanthropies in Revolutionary Russia

January 1, 1989

As the new Rockefeller philanthropies of the 1910s and 1920s sought to meet their general goal of improving the well-being of mankind, they soon faced the challenge of how best to help people in Soviet Russia, a nation experiencing serious social and political upheaval. As foundation officers examined and discussed the needs of Soviet society, they wrote about its political organization and ideology - a departure from an evolving approach to philanthropic administration devoid of overt political calculation.

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