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Six Roles of Philanthropy in John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s Response to the 1913-14 Colorado Coal StrikeJanuary 20, 2023
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.'s understanding of labor issues prior to 1914 was shaped largely through his philanthropic and civic activities, including contributions to five liberal, Progressive-era organizations concerned with improving industrial conditions. Simply put, philanthropy provided his education.Following the tragic events in Colorado, especially the so-called Ludlow Massacre, JDR Jr. employed philanthropic giving, in combination with a variety of other strategies, to address the problems at the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company (CF&I), while also restoring the Rockefeller family's good name: He used philanthropy to:Improve social and economic conditions in Colorado immediately following the strike;Involve the YMCA's industrial department as part of the company's expanded employee welfare programs;Express gratitude and demonstrate camaraderie with CF&I employees following his historic 1915 visit to Colorado;Promote the ideas of employee representation and personal relations in business; andEncourage research in the emerging fields of industrial relations and organizational behavior. This research report highlights philanthropic aspects of JDR Jr.'s response to the strike and are based on a larger investigation that examined JDR Jr.'s efforts as milestone events in modern public relations and industrial relations as well as JDR Jr.'s emergence as a 20th century icon. Observations about his philanthropic strategy are discussed.
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.
The Road to Ludlow: Work, Environment, and Industrialization in Southern Colorado, 1869-1914January 1, 2002
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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