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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Cultivating Moderates: East-West Exchanges and International Influences on Poland’s Transition to Democracy

May 13, 2022

Beginning in the 1950s, American nongovernmental organizations and US government agencies sponsored exchange programs to bring Eastern European scientists, humanists, scholars, and professionals to Western Europe and the United States, in the belief that exposure to the West would pull East Europeans toward democratic capitalism and undermine communist power. Four decades later in 1989, Poles from both government and opposition groups sat together at a round table to negotiate a transformation from one-party communist rule to capitalist democracy. But did these trips and experiences influence how political elites sought to reform their society at the end of the Cold War? Put most broadly, can pathways of influence and shifts in perception within specific epistemic communities be measured, mapped, and visualized to better illustrate and understand exogenous influences on the democratization process in Eastern Europe?This interdisciplinary project combines traditional, archivally-based qualitative techniques used by historians with digital network analysis tools to better understand the complex, overlapping networks of political revolution and international exchange that came together during the Round Table negotiations in Warsaw in 1989.

Cold War; Ford Foundation; International Relations; Rockefeller Foundation

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'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.

Academic Research and Education; Cold War; Ford Foundation

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.

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