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Observations on John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Involvement with Colorado’s Work-Relief ProgramOctober 21, 2020
With the formal conclusion of the coal miners' strike at the Colorado Fuel and Iron pits in December 1914 and the suspension of the United Mine Workers' strike benefits in February 1915, former strikers and their families were once again solely dependent on wage labor. Yet demand for coal had plummeted due to mild winter weather and a deep economic recession. The lack of work quickly left many families destitute. In response to this dire situation, local officials turned to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (JDR, Jr.) and the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) to create a work-relief program for unemployed miners in the form of local road-building projects. The RF supplied $100,000 for the work-relief program that employed 4,250 men. (They were paid in vouchers that could only be used for clothes or food.) The program lasted from April through June 1915 in seven Colorado counties. W.L. Mackenzie King represented the Rockefeller Foundation in negotiations with Colorado officials to hammer out an agreement to access RF funds. During these talks, King not only made sure to protect RF funds from misuse, fraud, and waste by incorporating multiple oversights into the final agreement, but he also had to convince JDR, Jr. that the relief effort was a worthy endeavor. King clearly oversold aspects of Colorado's work-relief program. He exaggerated the degree of private/public partnership as neither sector contributed meaningful dollars to the endeavor. In the end, the entire work-relief project rested solely on the Rockefeller Foundation's funding.
A New Dealized Grand Old Party: Labor, Civil Rights, and the Remaking of American Liberalism, 1935-1973July 21, 2020
Drawing on the wealth of material from the Nelson A. Rockefeller papers held at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), my dissertation project examines the rise and fall of the "liberal" wing of the mid-twentieth century Republican Party. Big city Republicans from industrial states faced social movements that made mass democracy a vibrant force. Liberal Republicans emerged among the typically wellto-do men and women of older and established neighborhoods in New York, San Francisco, and Minneapolis. While no less an elite class than other Republican partisans, urban Republicans witnessed the upheavals and political transformation of the city firsthand. Unlike the rural and suburban right, big city Republicans simply could not imagine mounting a frontal assault against the vaunted New Deal coalition. In this setting, the reactionary bent of the party's base actually looked more like an electoral liability. Liberal Republicans insisted that winning statewide (or national) office required votes from major cities home to a diverse and organized working class that otherwise voted for Democrats. But securing any significant segment of that vote required a series of accommodations that most Republicans simply could not tolerate.
My paper documents the history of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Park, created on Rockefeller-owned lands in northwestern Wyoming shortly after WWII. A collaboration between Laurance Rockefeller, president of Jackson Hole Preserve, Inc., the New York Zoological Society and the State of Wyoming, the park sought to educate the public about the need for conservation by creating a living exhibit of the West's major wild animals - primarily elk, bison, moose, antelope, and a variety of deer species. It was thought that if people could see these majestic animals in their natural environment versus the typical urban/suburban zoo, they would be more apt to become involved in the effort to save them and the habitats necessary for their survival. Almost simultaneously, the founders established a scientific research facility to enable studies of the area's animals, plants, watershed, and other features impacting the landscape.
Cultural Resources in a "Natural" Park: Early Preservation Efforts at Menor's Ferry in Grand Teton National ParkJanuary 1, 2013
Grand Teton National Park has long been celebrated for the grandeur of the Teton Mountains, and the Rockefellers, particularly John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and his son, Laurance S. Rockefeller, have long been recognized for their role in conserving that natural setting.
Colter Bay Village: Understanding the Historic Significance of the Recent Past in Grand Teton National ParkJanuary 1, 2010
My research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) was conducted to inform a National Register of Historic Places nomination for Colter Bay Village in Grand Teton National Park. Dedicated in 1957, Colter Bay Village centralized visitor services in the park, offering rustic log cabin accommodations, one of the first trailer camps in a national park, an innovative "tent village," a cafeteria and general store, the first Laundromat in a national park, a shower building, a marina and boat ramp, a picnic area, an amphitheater, two service stations, and a visitor center and museum, all in one fully planned and carefully designed site. Jointly funded by the National Park Service and the Grand Teton Lodge Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of the John D. Rockefeller founded and Laurance S. Rockefeller led non-profit Jackson Hole Preserve, Inc., Colter Bay Village was immediately praised as "the first [effort] toward a completely rounded and integrated series of facilities" in the national park system, and a pilot project in the nationwide Mission 66 program.1 What I hoped to understand through research at the RAC was whether Colter Bay Village was historically significant and eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
The grant-in-aid that I received from the Rockefeller Archives Center in the spring 2008 facilitated greatly research for my dissertation on the Survey of Race Relations on the Pacific Coast, 1923-1925. My dissertation examines the formation of the Survey of Race Relations (SRR) and the influence religious reformers and philanthropists, and especially John D. Rockefeller, Jr., had in its formation. More broadly, I focus on the religious reform movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and the ways in which they fused Social Gospel reform agendas with a new internationalist and anti-racist social agenda.
Beginning in 1927, John D. Rockefeller Jr. (JDR Jr.) initiated a captivating conservation and tourist management project in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. His venture involved purchasing private lands and changing them into Grand Teton National Park (GTNP). Since becoming a National Park in 1950, Jackson Hole has been pictured everywhere from the walls of New York City's enormous Grand Central Station, to endless truck commercials on television, as the global icon of rugged Western American mountain "wilderness."
Through the generosity of a Rockefeller Archive Research Grant, I made my second visit to the RAC during the week of 27 October 2002. It was a busy but rewarding week of research, and I am deeply grateful to the center for its continuing support of my research on "Power, Toil, and Trouble: The Nature of Industrial Struggle in the Colorado Coalfields through the Ludlow Massacre of 1914.
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