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 Fellows in Social Sciences: Transnational Networks and Construction of Disciplines - The Example of East Central Europe

January 1, 2012

During my research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), most of my time was devoted to the collective research project, "The Rockefeller Foundation fellows in the Social Sciences (1924-1970): Transnational Networks, Construction of Disciplines and Policy Making in the Age of Globalization," coordinated by Ludovic Tournès and Michael Werner. This program aims at analyzing the role of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) in the shaping of the social sciences in the world between the 1920s and 1970s, especially through its fellowship program. It is based on a study of fellows, the goal of which is to reconstruct their careers and trajectories before, during and after their fellowships. The worldwide geographical scope of the project gives the opportunity to go beyond national borders and to draw a global map of the construction and development of transnational networks of social scientists in which the RF played a prominent role. In following the fellows' careers, we can also study the way the social sciences were used, both at the national and international levels, and as intellectual tools in the elaboration of public policies, especially through the channel of expertise. This project fits into the growing field of transnational history applying its methods to the intellectual and institutional history of fellows, who have been largely neglected by historians of philanthropy, since many earlier studies have focused on grants given to institutions. The goal of this project is the construction of a database of all Rockefeller fellows in the social sciences between 1924 and 1945.

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