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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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

The Birth and Death of Near East Foundation’s Community Development

October 18, 2021

My research looks at the Near East Foundation (NEF) from 1930 to 1979, exploring the rural education programs carried out in the Near East. Its predecessor, the Near East Relief (NER), provided assistance in former Ottoman territories after WWI. The epigraph above serves as an illustration of US sentiment towards the organization's work as its days of relief were almost phased out (like NER) and programs shifted to scientific philanthropy, addressing the underlying rural problems of poverty, pestilence, and ignorance. The story of the NEF is one of survival and relevance where it began by drawing on ideas of domestic philanthropy such as the Jeanes Fund, the General Education Board, and the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease. These philanthropies' collective goals of education, health, and sanitation expansion into the US South formed the basic idea of reform. Additionally, the NEF drew on the Phelps-Stokes Fund's early expertise in transferring ideas of educating African Americans in the US South to expanding education in "primitive" situations in Africa. Collectively, these US organizations became a model for how NEF reimagined "primitive" Near East villages from Greece to Persia and eventually throughout the eastern hemisphere.

Academic Research and Education; Agrarian and Rural; Cold War; Education; Interwar Years; Near East Foundation

The Midwest Program on Airborne Television Instruction and the Ford Foundation

November 6, 2020

The Midwest Program on Airborne Television Instruction (MPATI) was a major investment by the Ford Foundation and other philanthropies in the 1950s and 1960s.  Project administrators used broadcast antennae on airplanes to provide educational programs to schools across a six-state region, with the goal of closing the gap between wealthy, higher-performing schools in the region, and poorer school systems in cities and rural areas.  Furthermore, MPATI was envisioned as a potential model for other disadvantaged regions, such as Appalachia, as well as for other nations.  This report draws primarily from correspondence between Ford Foundation officials and MPATI administrators.

Education; Ford Foundation; Technology; Television

University Development of American Foundations in British Africa

September 10, 2020

This paper discusses Rockefeller and Ford Foundations' participation in the development of new universities in former British Africa in the post-war era. By utilising sources from the Rockefeller Archive Center, it suggests that while American foundations' engagement with African universities has been merely described as "generous" in the context of British imperial histories, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations had also projected their own philanthropical and diplomatic agendas for African universities. This report focuses specifically on initiatives of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations and their perspectives on British-style development of African universities in Ghana and Nigeria. I argue that vigorous engagements of American foundations had an energising effect on the growth of African universities. Through analysis of the ways in which American foundations participated in and dominated the development of African universities, this report shows a more balanced picture of both Anglo-American cooperation and competition for new universities from the 1950s to 1970s. This research comes out of my doctoral research on British strategies for new universities at the end of the British Empire, focusing on the activities of the InterUniversity Council for Higher Education in the Colonies (later renamed the InterUniversity Council for Higher Education Overseas).

Academic Research and Education; Education; Ford Foundation; Rockefeller Foundation

Management, Modernity and Nation-Building: The Contested Histories of Management Education in India

June 17, 2020

The United States has been at the forefront of globalization of research and education in the field of Management. US business schools and philanthropic foundations, most notably the Ford Foundation, have led the institutionalisation of management research and education institutions across the globe. In the global histories of Management, there has been a long-standing interest in interrogating US influence on management theory, curricula, pedagogy, and practices of knowledge production. Commonly understood as Americanization, these global histories of management have mapped the diverse and particular historical trajectories of the field in various parts of the globe, most notably western Europe, the Mediterranean, Brazil, and India. (See, for example: contributions to a symposium issue of Journal of Management Inquiry, led by Üsdiken 2004; also see Gemelli 1998, Srinivas 2008, among others.)

Academic Research and Education; Ford Foundation

African Students in the United States: Circulations, Politics and Transfers in the Global 60s

May 19, 2020

When more than thirty African countries gained independence in the early 1960s, most of them faced a shortage of qualified manpower to implement their new national projects. The colonial powers had often excluded the vast majority of Africans from higher education, allowing them only to obtain technical qualifications and rarely the skills to become managers. Higher education for Africans was therefore one of the most important issues for the continent's leaders in the aftermath of independence. This goal was also important in the United States: philanthropic foundations, academics, civil rights activists, and politicians, each for different reasons, wanted to participate in the education of the new African elites. The convergence of the interests of these African and American actors led to the creation of two scholarship programs, the African Scholarship Program of American Universities (ASPAU) in 1961 and the African Graduate Fellowship Program (AFGRAD) in 1963. These two programs, which continued until the 1990s, together enabled more than 4,000 young people from 45 African countries to study in the United States.

Academic Research and Education; Education; Ford Foundation; Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Psychologizing School Problems: The Science of Personality Adjustment in Interwar U.S.

April 28, 2020

This research report is part of my dissertation project, "Creating the Well-Adjusted Citizen: The Human Sciences and Public Schools in the United States, WWI - 1950," which examines the ideas of psychological adjustment and shifting meanings of the "well-adjusted citizen" in the human sciences and in public schools. The goal of the dissertation is to explore the implications of adjustment thinking upon the scrutiny of emotional fitness among its citizenry in the United States. This report focuses specifically on how human scientists and educators approached the interpretation or measurement of personality in the interwar years. I argue that within scientific constructions of personality, there existed two tendencies: one sought to quantify and standardize personality into separable traits or measurable quotient; the other treated personality as a dynamic and holistic process in the context of individuals' interactions with culture. Both tendencies bore epistemological and political implications in the history of psychology and schooling. Ultimately, the ways in which experts and educators conceptualized personality shaped ideas of human differences and functioned to reinforce hierarchical understandings of human nature.

Children and Youth; Commonwealth Fund; Education; General Education Board; Psychology; Social Sciences

Communication of Librarianship between China and the United States in the R.O.C. Period: A Preliminary Report

April 17, 2020

As a part of my Ph.D. dissertation, "From Professional Activity to Cultural Diplomacy: Communication of Librarianship between China and the United States in the R.O.C Period" (a period also known as 民国,from 1912 to 1949), I sought to understand the position philanthropic foundations played in library communication during this period. This paper is only a preliminary report of my findings related to my visit to the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in 2016.  While there, my work focused on evaluating the Rockefeller Foundation's role and impact on the course of Sino-American library and book exchanges.  From my experience, I recognize the extensive value of the RAC archives on this topic.

Archives and Libraries; Dorothy I. Parker Papers; Rockefeller Foundation

Separate and Unequal: Giftedness in the United States 1900 – 2000

March 5, 2020

This project studies how parents, educators, and experts mobilized ideas about race and intelligence in the postwar era to separate students on the basis of "ability," re-inscribing racial segregation in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education. Using previously unexplored archives, I argue that despite the breadth of the definition of giftedness—which emphasized exceptional ability in a variety of subjects including music, athletics, and leadership—giftedness ultimately came to be defined by differences in degrees of academic ability rather than kinds of ability. Experts chose to measure giftedness through an IQ exam. Giftedness appealed to a wide variety of actors because of the flexibility of the term; it could be used to promote the expansion of educational opportunities to disadvantaged groups including the working class, women, and minorities. But at the same time, giftedness could also be used to maintain the status quo by legitimizing the existing social order as natural and fair, based on the results of unbiased tests. The Cold War initially enabled the implementation of policies to group gifted students in separate classrooms and schools amidst concerns about whether "segregation" of ability was undemocratic. Instead, experts found that segregation was indeed fair and democratic because it promoted equality of opportunity as opposed to equality. Experts and educators argued this practice was more likely to promote academic achievement for gifted students over other alternatives. Thus, I make an interdisciplinary intervention in the literature on academic tracking in the social sciences and education policy by exploring how and why this practice became widespread.

Education

A Progressivist Program in China: Planning and Building Peking Union Medical College

February 24, 2020

At the Rockefeller Archive Center, I conducted archival research on the architectural history of Peking Union Medical College, a major enterprise of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) and the China Medical Board (CMB), which was funded by the RF. The buildings of PUMC are still standing and are widely recognized as the precursor of attempts to adapt the best of Chinese architectural elements to modern Western science. This adaptation was first described and analyzed by Professor Jeff Cody who also visited the RAC in the early 1990s. It had been vehemently criticized by the first generation of Chinese architects in the 1930s and 1940s for overwhelming emphasis on the roof with little systematic research at the time, and was further dismissed as the bastion of American imperialism under Maoism. But undeniably, the buildings of PUMC have a distinct place in modern Chinese architectural history, and need to be well-analyzed based on exhaustive collection and careful reading of related archives.

Architecture; Mary E. Ferguson Papers; Simon Flexner Papers APS Microfilm

Ford Foundation Support for Bilingual Education in the Civil Rights Era

February 7, 2020

This report is part of a book project that examines the ways that the institutionalization of bilingual education in the post-Civil Rights era served to maintain racial hierarchies. The primary focus of the report examines the role of the Ford Foundation in funding this institutionalization of bilingual education. After providing a general overview of the foundation's support for bilingual education internationally and domestically, it examines the Ford Foundation's support for bilingual education within its broader efforts to promote the creation of and institutionalization of the Southwest Council of La Raza (SWCLR). This report illustrates the ways that the Ford Foundation was able to effectively utilize funding as leverage for pressuring the SWCLR to transition away from supporting politically contentious community organizing work toward a professional advocacy organization focused on lobbying elite political actors. This, in turn, also pressured more radical elements of the Mexican American community to moderate their stances through active participation in electoral politics. As a result, bilingual education gradually shifted from being an issue connected to grassroots political struggles toward professionalized advocacy reliant on philanthropic and federal funding. As this funding began to dry up with the ascendency of neoliberalism, Mexican American community leaders found themselves ill-equipped to counter the dismantling of bilingual education.

Education; Ford Foundation; Latino Studies

"Law and Development" in Latin America, 1965-1979

October 28, 2019

In the context of the "Decade of Development," and as part of the non-military strategies of containment of communism, different public and private US. institutions turned their attention to projects of technical assistance in Asia, Africa, and Latin America that sought to modernize the legal systems of the countries of the Third World. In the Inter-American context, several initiatives were promoted under the label "Law and Development" (LD). Financed mostly by the Ford Foundation and USAID, they were conceived and implemented in the 1960s and the 1970s by those institutions, in cooperation with US law schools (Harvard, Stanford, Wisconsin, and Yale, among others) and local universities in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Peru. The common purpose of these programs was the transformation of the national legal systems following the US model. The effort centered on removing obstacles to development attributed to obsolete legal structures and a conception of the role of the law and lawyers incompatible with the challenges of modernization.

Academic Research and Education; Ford Foundation; Law

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