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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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. 

"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.

The Ford Foundation's East European Fellowship Program, ca. 1950-1970

May 15, 2018

From the mid-1950s onwards, the Ford Foundation (FF) awarded research fellowships to hundreds of social scientists, humanities scholars and artists from Communist-ruled East European countries, which was probably the earliest and largest effort to establish academic exchange across the Iron Curtain in the social and human sciences. The program was driven by the idea that allowing extended research stays for East European intellectuals in the West would reduce their isolation and increase their anti-Soviet and anti-Communist tendencies that were observed in the course of the crises in Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia and elsewhere in the bloc in the 1950s. In 1968, the program was merged with similar programs into a new organization called the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX). The documents at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) contain rich materials on the Ford Foundation's own views of the program, on its network of academics that helped to run it and on the conduct of the program including travel notes, etc. It proved very difficult, however, to find detailed information on the individual fellows and their doings during their research stays in Western countries. More research will be necessary to assess the impact of the program.

The Rockefeller Foundation Turns to the East: Polish Social Sciences Fellows during the Interwar Period

January 1, 2011

The Rockefeller Foundation's (RF) social sciences fellowship program in Eastern Europe has been ignored by scholars largely because, from a quantitative and financial point of view, the program was a minor part of the RF's broader scientific policy. Yet, by addressing from a peripheral setting such crucial issues as the training and circulation of scientific elites, the rise of expert-knowledge, or the relations between science and politics in the interwar period, one gains relevant insight into the RF's policy to promote transnational scientific networks and the circulation of knowledge. In this respect Eastern Europe challenges conclusions that resulted from the limited study of the programs carried out only in Western Europe. Therefore Poland is an appropriate case study.

The Rockefeller Foundation in Romania: For A Crossed History of Social Reform and Science

January 1, 2008

During my archival research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) I studied over 100 folders related to the actions of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) in Romania during the interwar period. Some of these folders were from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Archive, but most documented the work of the RF in Romania and its European Office in Paris.

Decision-making in the Rockefeller Foundation's Projects in Hungary

January 1, 2001

After the first World War, Rockefeller philanthropies extended their activities to Eastern Europe, including Hungary. Their support significantly contributed to the improvement of public health in Hungary, a field which had remained backward even during the vigorous economic development of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in the latter 1800s. Indeed, the Rockefeller Foundation helped to establish various public health institutions in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia and attempted to take some initial steps to do the same in other countries in the area, like Bulgaria and Rumania. The outlines of this RF project have been given in an earlier paper by Paul Weindling. The motives of the RF, however, remained largely unknown.

The Rockefeller Foundation's Activity in Hungary

January 1, 2001

The Rockefeller family created several funds for philanthropic purposes in the first twenty-five years of this century: the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research(1901; later renamed the Rockefeller University), the General Education Board (1902), the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease in the South (1909), the Rockefeller Foundation (1913), the Bureau of Social Hygiene (1913), the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial (1918) and the International Education Board (1923). Though all of them have different names and goals, in the popular mind they frequently are confused and people fail to distinguish between them, often referring to the work of the different institutions as being the work of only one, the Rockefeller Foundation. Because the institutions that were active internationally - the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) and its International Health Division (IHD, 1913-1951), the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial (LSRM) and the International Education Board (IEB) - shared the same vision, goals, and, often, personnel, in the following discussion, I will not always distinguish between them either, referring to them generally as the Rockefeller philanthropies.

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