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 resource.rockarch.org. Also, see the RAC Bibliography of Scholarship, a comprehensive online database of publications citing RAC archival collections.
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Berlin, a “Hollow Shell”: The City as a “Laboratory Study” - A Report on the Ford Foundation’s Cultural and Artistic Projects in Post-war Berlin

September 23, 2022

Throughout the Cold War, American philanthropic organisations founded new institutions and supported already established institutions in West Berlin. They became essential players in the cultural life of the Western part of the former German capital. After a disastrous war and the dismemberment of Germany, the ex-capital Berlin, however, continued to exist – to employ a term of a British diplomat – as a "city on leave." Partly destroyed, disconnected from the "economic miracle" ("Wirtschaftswunder") of West Germany, and dependent for its survival on material assistance from the Federal Republic, the city nevertheless gained symbolic importance in the ideological conflict between the Soviet Union and the West. On a military level, the city was, as the French political scientist Raymond Aron put it, just a "glacis" in the Cold War's confrontations. But as a cultural outpost of Western democratic countries, the city obtained importance as a showcase for new artistic movements and cultural tendencies.

Cold War; Ford Foundation; Humanities; Rockefeller Foundation

Grace McCann Morley and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs

September 9, 2022

While conducting research for my doctoral dissertation, "Grace McCann Morley and the Dialectical Exchange of Modern Art in the Americas, 1935-1958," I visited the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in order to learn more about Grace McCann Morley's work with Nelson Rockefeller and the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (CIAA), through materials in Nelson A. Rockefeller's personal papers. In 1940, Rockefeller invited Morley, the director of the San Francisco Museum of Art (SFMA; now San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), to serve as an advisor to the CIAA and its Committee on Art. This committee planned exhibitions such as La Pintura Contemporánea Norteamericana for Latin American audiences and Latin American Art for US audiences. Although my research in the archives did not uncover correspondence between Rockefeller and Morley, it did reveal useful contextual information about Rockefeller's investment in collecting and exhibiting Latin American art and Morley's relationship with Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA).

Art; International Relations; Nelson A. Rockefeller Papers; Rockefeller Family

Higher Education, Private Philanthropy, and Music Patronage in the Mid-Twentieth Century

July 18, 2022

This report offers evidence of key actors' strategies to forge a new union between new music and higher education as means to solve the economic instability of performing arts organizations and artists in the mid-twentieth century. Their rationale and resulting programming established American higher education institutions as the main site of creative music-making. Additionally, their decisions implicated the style and genre of music in higher education. Specifically, Rockefeller Foundation trustees emphasized the importance of continuing high arts cultural patronage in the style of European aristocrats in the sixteenth through early nineteenth centuries; and officers of the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation advocated for improving the quality of, and access to, music education of the same repertoire. Their impacts cemented higher education music departments and schools of music as sites of elite, white culture into the twenty-first century.

Academic Research and Education; Music; Rockefeller Foundation

Life’s Networks and the American Art World

June 17, 2022

Life magazine's vast networks and the connections and collaborations between its editors and museum trustees, collectors, curators, critics, and artists at a wide range of institutions led to some of the most fascinating and innovative exhibitions, magazine articles, and programs in the mid-century American art world.

Art; Journalism; Mass Communications; Nelson A. Rockefeller Papers; Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller RG 2; Rockefeller Family

Designing a Pictorial Language: Rudolf Modley’s Search for Philanthropic Support for the Development of a Universal System of Symbols

May 3, 2022

In 1966, acclaimed cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, and graphic designer Rudolf Modley established the nonprofit Glyphs, Inc., to advance the research, classification, and promotion of universal graphic symbols around the world. Creating a visual language and system of symbols, they believed, could transcend language and lead to greater international understanding and harmony. But despite their esteemed records and vast international contacts, Mead and Modley's ambitious and utopian vision was never fully realized, stalled by lack of financing, unclear and unrealistic goals, differences over philosophy and methodology, and competition and criticism from other comparable endeavors. The correspondence, memos, proposals and reports available in the Rockefeller Archive Center holdings -- notably those of the Ford Foundation (and its affiliate, the Fund for the Advancement of Education), the Rockefeller Foundation (specifically those of the Rockefeller-funded General Education Board), and the Russell Sage Foundation -- provide rich insight into the journey and obstacles faced by Rudolf Modley in raising philanthropic support for his ambitious vision in the decades leading up to the formation of Glyphs, Inc. They shed light on the competing effort of renowned industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss to create an international dictionary of symbols, their differing methods and approach, and their lack of familiarity as designers with the nuances of raising philanthropic funds for their ambitious endeavor. Both Modley and Dreyfuss would go on to publish seminal books on graphic and pictorial symbols in the 1970s, but their tireless efforts to garner support from philanthropic foundations were fraught with false starts and disappointments.

Ford Foundation; General Education Board; Humanities; Rockefeller Foundation; Russell Sage Foundation

Siegfried Kracauer’s New York Networks

April 20, 2022

When Siegfried Kracauer arrived in the United States in May 1941 aboard the Nyassa, he was one of countless German émigrés to have narrowly escaped the Nazi conquest of Europe. By the time of his death a quarter century later, Kracauer had found his footing in the American scene, having published significant contributions to the emerging discipline of film studies (From Caligari to Hitler, 1947; Theory of Film, 1960). He had been hard at work on a monograph about the craft of the historian, which would be published posthumously as History: The Last Things Before the Last (1969). How did this exile gain his bearings upon disembarking in New York Harbor? What were the waystations? Who provided the helping hands? Where did Kracauer turn? 

Film; Humanities; Mass Communications; Political Science; Rockefeller Foundation; Social Sciences

Report on Research Examining the Ford Foundation’s Influence on the Producing Model of US Regional Theaters

June 9, 2021

This report provides draft excerpts from my PhD research on the evolving relationship between US regional theaters and the New York-based cluster of legitimate commercial theaters and producers, collectively known as "Broadway," between 1947 and 2017. After World War II, Broadway had near total control over the professional production and regional distribution of new plays and musicals. In response to this stranglehold, there were calls to decentralize the American theater. The resident (or regional) theater movement that eventually arrived in response to these calls is generally credited to the massive investments, technical assistance, and public advocacy of the Ford Foundation. Between 1959 and 1980, the Foundation awarded approximately $31.5 million in support of strengthening resident professional theater. Material from the Ford Foundation (FF) archives collected at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) contributes to a chapter in my dissertation examining how requirements, constraints, and forms of support provided by the FF shaped the first generation of modern resident theaters, including their relationship with Broadway. To that end, two questions are currently motivating my review and analysis of documents collected in the FF collection: (1) Did financial support, technical assistance, and the imprimatur proffered by the FF strengthen or weaken the agency of resident theaters vis-à-vis Broadway? (2) Did the FF's support encourage resident theaters to adopt structures, policies, practices, goals, and beliefs that ultimately confined them to fulfilling a distributary (franchise) or tryout (farm club) function vis-à-vis Broadway, rather than the tributary (independent feeder) role that regional theaters were once imagined to fulfill?

Ford Foundation; Rockefeller Foundation

Searching for Female Agency among Documents: Postwar Japanese Female Intellectuals and Their Network

May 11, 2021

Since the late 1980s and 1990s, the research field of the cultural Cold War has flourished and produced numerous works in the United States and in other countries. This development has inspired studies on Japanese culture during and after the occupation in the context of Cold War cultural policies, which, programmed and conducted by various US agencies both public and private, provided the arena of hegemonic negotiation. Representative works include: Fumiko Fujita, Amerika Bunka Gaiko to Nihon: Reisenki no Bunka to Hito no Koryu [U.S. Cultural Diplomacy and Japan in the Cold War Era] (2015), Takeshi Matsuda, Soft Power and Its Perils: U.S. Cultural Policy in Early Postwar Japan and Permanent Dependency (2007), Yuka Moriguchi Tsuchiya, Military Occupation as Pedagogy: the U.S. Re-education and Reorientation Policy for Occupied Japan, 1945-1952 (2005). This scholarship has treated cultural policies as something functional and instrumental in the reconstruction of post-war Japanese subjectivity. In the field of American literary studies as well, this vantage point has been shared since the 2000s.  What has not been fully explored, however, is the fact that there were women deeply involved in this process, working as a kind of agent: as translators, librarians, and others who had mediating functions. The aim of this research project is to explore and to trace this network of "book women," which was generated and reinforced in the process of the Rockefeller Foundation's philanthropic projects for US-Japan cultural relationship.  What has not been fully explored, however, is the fact that there were women deeply involved in this process, working as a kind of agent: as translators, librarians, and others who had mediating functions. The aim of this research project is to explore and to trace this network of "book women," which was generated and reinforced in the process of the Rockefeller Foundation's philanthropic projects for US-Japan cultural relationship.

Charles B. Fahs Papers; John D. Rockefeller 3rd Papers; Rockefeller Family; Rockefeller Foundation

The Aesthetics of Scientific Neutrality

March 25, 2021

On February 9th, 1932, the Rockefeller family's new Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), in Manhattan, opened its first architectural exhibition, "Modern Architecture: International Exhibition (1932)," curated by Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock. While the Museum would soon be leveraged to create connections between Latin America and the United States, beginning with Mexico in particular, "Modern Architecture" focused exclusively on designs realized within the Global North in order to challenge Europe's modern architectural hegemony, while shaping the aesthetic choices of US architects and the general public. Though the exhibition was a resounding success in its time, its co-publication, The International Style (1932), conceived by Barr and Hitchcock before the decision to launch the exhibition, has ensured the circulation of the curators' concerns over the intervening decades.

Rockefeller Foundation

The Music and Performing Arts Programs of the Rockefeller Foundation

March 8, 2021

The Rockefeller Foundation had originally left out much grantmaking to the arts during the first decades of its operations, instead devoting greater resources to efforts such as the alleviation of global hunger, the expansion of access to public libraries, or the eradication of hookworm. Its support of music prior to the 1950s had totaled less than $200,000 over four decades. After the Second World War, however, it began giving substantial funds to the arts and humanities. The Rockefeller Foundation funded projects in new music, like commissions made by the Louisville Orchestra, operas and ballets at New York's City Center, and the work of the "creative associates" at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In total, between 1953 and 1976, the Rockefeller Foundation granted more than $40 million ($300 million in 2017) to the field of music alone. 

Music; Performing Arts; Rockefeller Foundation

Politics of the Past: Archaeology, Nationalism, and Diplomacy in Afghanistan, 1919–2001

July 27, 2020

This research report provides edited excerpts from my PhD thesis, "Politics of the Past: Archaeology, Nationalism and Diplomacy in Afghanistan, 1919–2001," submitted to the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge. The aim of the thesis was to assess the relationship between nationalist agendas and the discipline of archaeology in Afghanistan from 1919 to 2001. The material collected from the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) contributed to Chapter 5 of the thesis, which focused on the political period 1946–1978 in Afghanistan, when Afghan leaders began to open the country to international archaeological teams. At the RAC, I was particularly interested in uncovering material pertaining to a travelling exhibition of artefacts from the National Museum of Afghanistan, which opened at Asia House in New York City in 1966. The following segments also draw on archival material from the JFK Library in Boston, Massachusetts and the National Archives in Delhi, India. The material collected from the RAC helped demonstrate how Afghan leaders used archaeology to build diplomatic relations with key allies, including Japan and the United States, during the 1960s.

Archaeology; Art; Art History; Asia Society; International Relations

The Ford Foundation and Post-Independence Indian Theatre

July 15, 2020

With the research stipend from the Rockefeller Archive Center, initially, my intended research was to focus on theatre in Palestine. While Palestinian theatre is a worthwhile subject, I found that the Rockefeller Archive Center had a greater volume of archived records pertaining to theatre in India. As a result, I embarked on research with a concentration on the work of philanthropic organizations and their role in the India's cultural development in the latter half of the twentieth century. Thus, I reconstructed a narrative of the history of the Indian theatre.

Ford Foundation; Performing Arts; Theatre

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