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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From Colonial Ethno-Politics to International Demographic Transition Theory? Family Planning Projects in Fiji, 1960-1974

May 23, 2019

The Rockefeller Archive Centre (RAC) is a very rich source of information on the history of family planning and population control in Fiji in the 1960s and early 1970s. The RAC holds files relating to a multitude of organisations great and small that looked to Rockefeller-funded organisations such as the Population Council for advice and/or financial support. Therefore, it is a great resource for analysing the work of voluntary associations, such as the Fiji Family Planning Association (FFPA), which do not always have their own centralised archive, and provide information on discussions beyond the official publications of intergovernmental development organisations such as the South Pacific Commission (SPC). Through these files, it was possible to trace the evolution of the debate around the promotion of family planning in Fiji. In the 1950s, colonial officials in Fiji were preoccupied with demographic disparities between the two largest ethnic groups in Fiji – Fijians and Indo-Fijians. The Population Council files consulted demonstrate that in the 1960s and early 1970s the rationale for introducing family planning in Fiji changed to addressing total population in line with international ideas of demographic transition theory and the need for global population control, although this did not lead to a total departure from colonial thinking. Beyond the files on family planning, the RAC also holds information on other maternal and child health programmes that further demonstrate the uneasy interface between colonial and international health after the Second World War.

Asian Cultural Council; Ford Foundation; Population Council; Population and Reproductive Sciences; Rockefeller Foundation

Yaws and Syphilis: Forgotten Diseases of Asia-Pacific

February 6, 2019

My research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) investigated the pivotal period from the 1920s to the 1940s when health practitioners and scientists in the Rockefeller Foundation were confident that they could alleviate, and probably eradicate, serious but little understood diseases such as yaws. During these decades, the IHD, and its predecessor before 1927, the International Health Bureau (IHB), embarked upon transferring the Foundation's early successes in public health from the southern United States, notably with hookworm and sanitation campaigns, to overseas. In 1916, the IHB had succeeded the International Health Commission (IHC), founded in 1913. The original mission of the IHC drove the IHB/IHD: the "promotion of public sanitation and the spread of knowledge of scientific medicine." Yaws became an add-on to that mission, although syphilis and its links to yaws in tropical countries never quite assumed the attention Turner demanded. But the diseases are entwined, often confused, and worthy of in-depth investigation. My research at RAC formed part of my wider project on the history of yaws and syphilis, but unlike Turner and Sawyer's principal focus on the Caribbean, I sought to concentrate on the vast Asia-Pacific region. My aim is to tackle this history longitudinally and across cultures to look at changing discourse, theories and practices regarding treatments for these diseases and socio-cultural perceptions, especially in relation to causation, symptoms and consequences. These significant diseases have had a huge global impact but have not been investigated together by historians. The Asia-Pacific region is rarely mentioned in publications on syphilis or yaws.

International Health Board; Public Health; Rockefeller Foundation

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