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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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

American Philanthropy and Post-1956 Hungarian Refugee Aid

August 6, 2021

My research at the Rockefeller Archive Center focused on the records of the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. Some materials from the Nelson A. Rockefeller papers and the Rockefeller University archives were also consulted. The primary goal of my research was to identify the role of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations in supporting collaboration across the Iron Curtain in the humanities.Upon arriving at the Archive Center and gaining an initial insight and a better overview of the potentially relevant materials, I complemented my original research agenda with an additional aspect. I realized that among the records of both the Rockefeller and the Ford Foundations, a large number of collections deal with humanitarian actions that benefited Hungarian refugees leaving their country in 1956 and 1957, after Soviet military forces defeated the Hungarian revolution and before the borders were closed and strictly controlled. While it was known that American philanthropic foundations were involved in humanitarian aid, existing scholarship in the field has not reported on the extent of their involvement. The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations gained passing mentions at best, or not at all. Considering the potential benefits for the international research community, I decided to cover these numerous records during my stay. The number of documents on Hungarian refugee aid far exceeded the amount of materials on soft cultural diplomacy in Hungary. Considering that previous researchers have already reported on Ford Foundation's Eastern European Fund, probably, the most important cultural diplomatic effort targeting the region during the early Cold War (that I covered myself to gain firsthand knowledge on the program), I will rather focus in this report on what other researchers did not.

Cold War; Ford Foundation; Refugee Scholars

Polish Experts and American Internationalists in the Field of Social Science

December 23, 2020

The archival holdings of the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) are a valuable resource for the history of expertise. I have used several of the RAC collections to write a social history of the interchange of knowledge between Polish social scientists and American internationalists in the 1920s and the 1930s. I would like to see this story as the Continental prehistory of American area studies. This report offers an overview of my work at the RAC, in particular, the types of materials I have looked through. It briefly discusses how the evidence enriched my understanding of the ways that expert knowledge traveled between Eastern Europe and the United States. 

Interwar Years; Rockefeller Foundation; Social Sciences

The Ford Foundation in Greece, 1958-1982

December 9, 2020

I am working on a historical examination of the Ford Foundation's activities in Greece. I initially came across the Ford Foundation, one of the most significant US philanthropic institutions, along with the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation, during my Ph.D. research on the political publishing field in Greece during the "long 1960s." The Ford Foundation (FF) grants are very much present both in oral testimonies, as well as in the Greek press from the late 1960s until the early 1970s. However, until now, the issue has been assessed only at a political level or a mere journalistic one.I mainly focus on the first period of the Ford Foundation activities in Greece, from 1958 to 1968, and on the second period from 1968 to 1982 during the tenure of Kaiti Myrivilli, the on-site director of operations and a key person for the development of Ford Foundation's program. During the former period, funding was directed primarily to (state) institutions. The latter period of the FF's operations in Greece was rather controversial, as it initiated a time of left-wing grantees during a military dictatorship perceived to having been US-led, causing heated debate and polemics. My project goal is to reconstruct the history of the Ford Foundation activity in Greece within the context of the cultural Cold War and at the same time keep conspiracy theories and Manichaeism away from my analysis.

Ford Foundation

Intellectual Relief in Europe following the First World War

September 16, 2020

This project examines the phenomenon of intellectual relief in Europe following the end of the First World War. Intellectual relief is defined as aid that was specifically aimed at intellectuals and cultural institutions and constituted not only food and medicine, but also specialist reading material and equipment. My project aims to establish why intellectuals were targeted for bespoke relief and what philanthropic and humanitarian bodies, such as the Rockefeller Foundation, Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, and Commonwealth Fund, sought to achieve by it. It also poses the question of who the "intellectuals" were and how they were identified. In a wider sense, my research will provide a new means of understanding how Europe transitioned from war to peace and how contemporaries sought to build stable democratic states.

A Tale of Two (Nursing) Schools: Sofia and Zagreb through the Rockefeller Foundation’s Lens

January 28, 2020

This paper addresses the following set of questions: What constituted the "nursing question" in Bulgaria and the "nursing situation" in interwar Yugoslavia? What comparisons could be made about those two cases? What were the other international organizations involved in nursing education and how did they compete/collaborate with the RF? How did the development of nursing training in Europe, sponsored by the RF, intertwine with various administrative reorganizations within the RF?

Rural Pedagogy as a Tool of International Agricultural Development: IEB’s Club Work in Three Nordic Countries, 1923-28

January 8, 2020

On Tuesday February 13 1923, Søren Sørensen, the agricultural attaché of the Danish Legation in Washington, joined Wickliffe Rose and Wallace Buttrick for an evening dinner at the prestigious Cosmos Club in Washington D.C. Founded in 1878 to advance "science, literature, the arts and public service," the private social club was an inspired location for a meeting to discuss the terms for future collaboration between American philanthropists and the Danish government. An earlier conference with Sørensen in December, plus two ad hoc meetings with officials at the United States Department for Agriculture, convinced Rose and the leadership of the International Education Board (IEB) that Denmark offered the "most favorable conditions for first demonstration abroad." Since getting the green light to pursue his agenda on international philanthropy, Rose had been busy contemplating where best to begin implementing his vision of agrarian improvement. Denmark, the Board reasoned, was the "most highly developed in general intelligence, in agriculture, in cooperative activities, in democratic government." If properly conducted, the programme would serve as a symbol of accomplishment, "a training center from which to extend the service to other non-Slavic European countries." It would be, in Rose's phrase, "a bird of passage."

Philanthropic Funding of the British Social Sciences after World War Two

December 17, 2019

My research undertaken at the Rockefeller Archive Center focused on US philanthropic funding of the British social sciences in the post-World War Two period. In particular, I was interested in the significance of Rockefeller Foundation funding for the development of anthropology and sociology in British universities and research institutes. While the significance of the Rockefeller Foundation for the growth and consolidation of British social anthropology in the interwar period has been well established, there has been little consideration of this later period. Studies of philanthropic funding of the social sciences in the post-war period, moreover, often concentrate on the impact of the Cold War and the foreign policy objectives that are perceived to drive the patronage of particular research agendas, inevitably centring the US perspective. However, Mark Solovey, for example, has pointed to the multiple factors beyond Cold War politics that influenced academic perspectives, such as personal relationships, local dynamics, and transnational networks. Along these lines, by focusing on the attitudes and interests of the British-based applicants and recipients of funding from US foundations, as well as the foundations themselves, I hope to shift the focus away from US foreign policy objectives and towards the dynamics of the social sciences in Britain in the post-war period, as well as the transatlantic interactions between academics in these fields. This investigation of the relationship between US foundations and British academics is part of my broader project that aims to uncover some of the negotiations and compromises that lie behind the production of particular works and ideas in the field of social anthropology in the 1950s and 1960s.

No Dead Languages, Only Dormant Minds: U.S.- Spanish Educational Exchanges through the Ford Foundation

November 11, 2019

My dissertation examines the role of smart power in U.S.-Spain relations during the Spanish transition to democracy. The archives of the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) held several collections that enriched my analysis of the development of soft power by the United States in Spain. At the archives, I found records on the movement of Pablo Picasso's Guernica from the Museum of Modern Art to the Prado in Madrid, Nelson Rockefeller's impact on the Spanish transition, how the Ford Foundation and Peter Fraenkel helped administer Spanish educational reforms and exchanges of the 1970s, and how human rights played a vital role in the Spanish transition.

"From Mosquitoes to People": Marston Bates and the Rockefeller Foundation International Health Division

July 2, 2019

This essay charts the career of the entomologist and popular author Marston Bates (1906-1974) within the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) between 1935 and 1952. Today, Bates is best remembered as a science communicator. Publishing over a dozen books on natural history and the environment, he helped bring ecological ideas to broader public audiences during the 1950s and 1960s. Not simply a popularizer of contemporary scientific concepts, Bates stood out for his critical commentary on the environmental problems of economic development, conservation, and global population growth, as well as the need for more integrative, cross-disciplinary approaches to understanding humans in nature. Long before becoming a public intellectual, however, he worked for the RF as a mosquito specialist, serving as director of International Health Division malaria and yellow fever laboratories in Albania, Egypt, and Colombia during the 1930s and 1940s. Bates' mid-career shift from researching mosquito ecology to writing about human ecology may seem to be a sudden left turn. A closer look at the archival record reveals the pivotal role played by the Rockefeller Foundation in shaping Bates' career trajectory and ideas about the environment. Furthermore, placing Bates' work in the context of his time with the RF reveals connections between twentieth-century U.S. environmental thought and international health projects.

Austrian Economists, the Rockefeller Foundation, and International Economics

June 25, 2019

This paper examines the role that Austrian economists played in international economics discussions in the 1920s and 1930s. With the support of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, Austrian scholars received the opportunity to study abroad, learning the latest social scientific techniques in use, particularly in the United States. They also applied to the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) for funds to support their ongoing research in Central Europe. The most notable innovation was the Institut für Konjunkturforschung (IfK; Institute for Business Cycle Research), which existed as an independent economics institution until the Anschluss in 1938. The IfK became the crown jewel in a string of Central European business cycle institutes. Under the leadership of Friedrich Hayek and especially Oskar Morgenstern, the institute introduced innovative techniques and produced reliable economic data. Additionally, the Austrians wrote books and organized conferences about the Great Depression. Finally, when many Austrians sought refuge from the ever-worsening political situation in Europe, they turned to their contacts at the RF for assistance in finding employment or for financial assistance. For several of the émigré Austrian scholars, the relationship with the RF endured throughout most of their productive careers. Well into the 1960s, the RF continued to sustain projects from the Austrians, some of which outlived their originators.

"Peaceful Revolutionary Heroes": Non-Violence, Revolution, and Opposition in Cold War Peripheries

March 28, 2019

The ascendance of a norm of non-violent protest or "civil resistance" against a government or occupying force may, at first, seem self-evident. As modern states have come to attain overwhelming military and policing powers over their populations, the idea of using violent means to oppose a regime seems ineffective, at best, and dangerous, at worst. Yet, the near total embrace of and insistence on non-violence should not be considered a foregone conclusion. They must be examined historically so as to understand how people across time and space have supported what was fundamentally a radical ideology of resistance to inequality, colonialism, and political repression.This project centers on the question of how non-violence became a norm for resistance and struggle. It focuses on the potential entanglement of two processes of transformation: the Black American freedom struggle and the regime changes in East Central Europe in 1989, that are inexorably linked to non-violence or peaceful transition. It considers how the "other" transatlantic relationship, between Black Americans and eastern Europeans during the Cold War, shaped opposition politics in East Central Europe.  This project places a special emphasis on the intellectual roots, social organization, and tactical methods of non-violent political opposition and peace movements in Hungary from approximately 1947 to 1990. It will also pay special attention to how the socialist ideal of revolutionary action changed over time, as the needs of socialists states changed. These changes then required a reformulation of what type of behavior fit into the framework of communist and anti-communist revolutionary activity, but also a reformulation of masculinized heroism that butted heads with older tropes of the muscular industrial worker and the defiant freedom fighter.

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