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 Population Control to Reproductive Health Campaigns? Family Planning in Nigeria

September 27, 2017

Early in September 2015, I was discussing my research with a Ph.D. candidate that I had met for the first time at the University of Texas, Austin. I told him that I had conducted preliminary research at the British National Archives and Cadbury Research Library in Birmingham, England during the previous summer. These archives had colonial and missionary documents, respectively, and I expressed a desire to explore documents on healthcare in Nigeria by groups other than the government or the church. My colleague told me about the Rockefeller Archive Center's (RAC) collection and encouraged me to contact an archivist about documents on Nigeria. Of course, I was skeptical. "What can an archive in New York have on early Nigerian history?", I mused. Seeing my reluctance, he reiterated that there was no limit to the collection's reach and gave me a link to the website. I contacted an archivist who encouraged me to search the Center's database. I was surprised and delighted to find tons of files on medicine and reproductive health in Nigeria.

Ford Foundation; Population Council; Population and Reproductive Sciences

The Inverted "Red Triangle" and Communicating the Small Family Norm in the Developing World

September 22, 2017

In December 1968, Frank Wilder presented a paper in a Carolina-USAID Workshop on 'Mass Communications in Family Planning.' This was, perhaps, the first time he presented the inverted "Red Triangle" to the developing world. As a consultant to the Ford Foundation's India Office focused on Mass Communications for Family Planning, he had been working on the symbol for the past three years. In his paper, he added a note that the symbol was now ready for circulation across the 'developing countries' or what we know as the Global South.

Ford Foundation; Mass Communications; Population and Reproductive Sciences

Capitalizing I.Q.: Intelligence as Human Capital in the Twentieth Century

January 1, 2015

My dissertation focuses on the transnational history of intelligence testing in the twentieth century, and explores the relationship between war and international tensions, and psychometric testing. By examining major transnational actors and trends, principally from the United States, France, and Great Britain, it sheds light on the numerous connections between international conflict and the rise of population-based national psychometric testing programs. International conflicts over the course of the twentieth century helped to heighten consciousness and concern over the quality, as well as quantity, of national populations. Unprecedented opportunities to apply intelligence tests to large populations, which were in part created by the context of war, yielded mass amounts of testing data that elevated experts' concerns about national levels of intelligence at the same time that population experts vocalized anxieties about overpopulation. Experts from the fields of psychology, demography, genetics and eugenics spoke to these concerns in their research and advisory roles.

Population Control, Foundations and Development of Demographic Research Centres in Maharashtra (India): 1950-1970

January 1, 2015

In the early 1950s, the question of poverty was causally linked to India's growing population in the works of many US based demographers (Davis, 1951). The inflow of funds through the foundations for population control and for demography as a discipline substantially strengthened this understanding. During this period, number of demographic research centres were also established in India with the infusion of massive funds from the Rockefeller Foundation (RF), the Population Council (PC) and the Ford Foundation (FF) (Caldwell and Caldwell, 1986). The research emanating from this centres considered population growth as the single most important cause for the low economic development of India(Bhende, etal 1976). There was also a growing realisation among the policy makers, government officials and the middle class elites, that India rapid population growth was leading to increased poverty. Thus, the findings from the demographic studies produced a 'consensus' that India was facing an impending 'crisis' with the uncontrolled growth of population (Bose, 1970).

Rockefeller Philanthropy and Maternal/Infant Health in the Republic of China

January 1, 2015

The Rockefeller-founded China Medical Board and the Rockefeller Foundation's International Health Commission/Board/Division (hereafter, IHC/B/D) maintained operations in China from the early to mid-twentieth century. These efforts developed in close relation to Rockefeller-funded endeavors elsewhere in the world, though they soon adopted emphases and methods to address the particularities of the Chinese case. Although initially hindered by a highly volatile and violent political environment, by 1930, these Rockefeller-affiliated health philanthropies forged an enduring partnership with the Kuomintang (KMT or Chinese Nationalist Party)-led government founded in 1927. Given China's climate, prevalent maladies, and gendered norms surrounding childbirth, the interests of these parties converged on maternal and infant health as a matter of utmost concern for public health and national development.

Population Control and Local Elites in the "Third World": the Family Planning Program in Postcolonial South Korea

January 1, 2014

The international campaign of population control has become a subject of historical study, as fertility rates have been declining in most areas in the world (Connelly 2003: 122). According to many researchers, population control programs were directly influenced by the international order, especially during the Cold War (Finkle and Crane 1975; Donaldson 1990; Luke and Watkins 2002; Connelly 2003, 2008, 2009). Population control to reduce the fertility rate spread to developing countries (Barrett and Tsui 1999), which had just been decolonized. It was Alfred Sauvy, a demographer and France's representative on the UN Population Commission, who coined the term "Third World" in 1952 (Connelly 2009: 474- 475).

Agents of Fertility: The Ford Foundations' Fertility Research Program Guided by its Biomedical Advisors

January 1, 2013

I am most grateful to the RAC as they awarded me a generous grant to investigate the newly acquired archives of the Ford Foundation with respect to their Population Program. During my archival research I investigated the following sources: 1) Oscar Harkavy's office files preserved in 27 boxes 2) Ford Foundation unpublished reports, on paper and on microfilm 3) Ford Foundation "logs" (unsuccessful grant applications) and grants; amongst these, I processed all cases and projects advised by A. Southam and E. Witschi.

The Role of the Ford Foundation in Shaping Family Planning Communication Policies in India

January 1, 2013

India was the first country to undertake family planning as an official policy. It was also the first to develop an organized family planning communication process. The Ford Foundation led the field of family planning communication from the very beginning, and because the Foundation was already involved with India's family planning program, it was natural for its officers to expand their work into communications as well.

Demography and Population Politics

January 1, 2012

This is a report of research conducted at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) during August 2012 for my dissertation, "Prediction and Control: Global Population, Population Science, and Population Policy in the Twentieth Century."1 The records housed at the RAC are integral to my dissertation, which is a history of global demography, beginning in 1920, and of the relationship between demography, population change, and population politics. It focuses on population projections -- estimates of future population size and structure -- as a key interface between these three dimensions. Since I have not yet had a chance to fully analyze the material I found, this report will simply discuss what those materials are and how I plan to use them in my dissertation. The dissertation is comprised of three sections, and material from the RAC will be important to each.

The Making of Global Biomedical Science: Christopher Tietze and the Globalization of Contraceptive Research

January 1, 2012

I intended to document the work of Christopher Tietze, director of the National Committee on Maternal Health, regarding the growing importance of research ethics and feminist activities which put under scrutiny biomedical research and, especially, contraceptive research. My purpose was to confirm the reputation Tietze had in the broad women's health movement. There is, however, very little evidence that Christopher Tietze was close to being a feminist or was "pro-choice," so to speak. Although, as I started to dig deeper into the National Committee on Maternal Health (NCMH) files, I realized that it would not be that simple. The NCMH files are chronologically organized and mix a variety of different types of documents.

The Population Council, World Population Problem, and Contraceptive Studies during the Early Postwar Era

January 1, 2011

My archival research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) aimed to situate the establishment of the Population Council in the early postwar era when Americans were facing and defining world population growth -- its problems, and potential solutions. My reading of the documents suggests that the population experts from different fields during the 1940s and 1950s had seriously considered a variety of solutions to the rapidly increasing population: the social and economic development, the enhancement of agricultural productivity, the distribution of world population through international migration, and the practices of fertility control. To employ birth control as the effective means for population control required the transformation of both ideas and techniques among scientists, as well as governments. In this research report, I address three of my observations: first, in the mind of leading figures who participated in instituting the Population Council (PC), fertility control had shifted from one of the solutions to the world population problem, to the solution; second, the Medical Division of the Council seemed more interested in contraceptive studies than research on the physiology of human reproduction; third, the 1962 International Conference on the intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) was one of the Population Council's efforts for promoting certain contraceptives globally, via its international network and generous funding.

Rockefeller Foundation Support to the Khanna Study: Population Policy and the Construction of Demographic Knowledge, 1945-1953

January 1, 2011

In the years that followed Indian independence from British Colonial rule, occurring in 1947, the people of India experienced unprecedented attempts to limit their numbers. In 1952, as the government of India began what was a 'pioneering' project of state-sponsored family planning, as part of the program of national development in its First Five Year Plan, advisors and funds flowed from abroad to encourage, augment, and supplement the program. I visited the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in 2010 as part of my Ph.D. research, in which I examine the history of population control in post-colonial India. At that point, my project looked widely at this history, guided by two broad research questions: why did population control become such an important project within the newly independent Indian nation, and why did India occupy such a central position within global 'overpopulation' discourse and related population control interventions? However, two weeks of research barely scratched the surface of the materials held at the RAC, where information on Indian population control spanned the records of the Rockefeller Foundation (RF), the Rockefeller Family, and the Population Council (PC).

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