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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The Formation of the NBER: Insights from the Rockefeller Archive Center

September 14, 2021

During several visits to the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in 2017 and 2018, I viewed papers from a handful of collections which provided perspective on the early history of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). In my book project, tentatively titled Mapping the Future. A Euro-American History of Business Forecasting, 1920-1980, I investigate the history of four economic forecasting tools that have been developed, disseminated, and applied in the United States, in Europe, and beyond. One of them, leading indicators, was originally developed at the NBER in the 1930s and  remains, till today, one of the most prominent forecasting tools worldwide. In what follows, I offer an overview of my book project and outline the history of the formation of the NBER. In it, I make extensive references to the sources of the Rockefeller Archive Center, which provide the most profound insights into the early history of the NBER.

Commonwealth Fund; Economics; Interwar Years; Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller RG 2; Rockefeller Family; Rockefeller Foundation; Social Sciences

The Franco-American Race for the Yellow Fever Vaccine

August 30, 2021

This paper looks at the cooperation and rivalry between the Rockefeller Foundation and the French Pasteur Institute during the development of the 17-D and Dakar vaccine strains for inoculation against yellow fever. Using sources held at the Rockefeller Archive Center, this paper recovers the tenuous relationship between the researchers funded by the two institutions, and shows how their work was shaped by national, imperial, and scientific rivalries. In the race to the yellow fever vaccine, the Pastorians, in particular, utilized their imperial network, which allowed them to bypass ethical concerns raised by researchers in Paris and elsewhere, and proceeded to human trials using a vaccine that had been criticized for its adverse neurological effects on certain subjects. 

Biology and Medical Research; International Health Board; Medicine and Healthcare; Public Health; Rockefeller Foundation

Foundations and Networks of Korean Studies, 1960s–1970s: Focusing on the Activities of the Council on Exchange with Asian Institutions (CEAI), the Asiatic Research Center (ARC), and the Joint Committee on Korean Studies (JCKS)

August 23, 2021

This paper analyzes the formation of Korean studies in the 1960s and 1970s, focusing on the relationship and activities of the Asiatic Research Center (ARC, the Korea University), the Council on Exchange with Asian Institutions (CEAI), and the Joint Committee on Korean Studies (JCKS). CEAI and JCKS were both connected with the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Korean studies had no choice but to start under an America-centric and asymmetrical knowledge production system during the Cold War. In addition, Korean studies were not as developed as Chinese and Japanese studies. At that time, Korean studies were the result of mobilization and establishment of knowledge resources to obtain "citizenship" in the academy. The purpose of the CEAI's decision to support the ARC was to strengthen Chinese studies. However, the ARC was reborn later as the nucleus of Korean studies. Networks and intellectual assets formed through the ARC exchange program supported by the CEAI were inherited by the JCKS and then cycled back to the ARC. As such, Korean studies formed in Korea and the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, were not separate from each other, but were created by interactions and networks ("The co-production of Korean studies"). In the process of institutionalization of Korean studies, "empirical research based on materials/data" was the agenda that was emphasized the most. The first project launched by the ARC, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation, was to collect and edit historical data concerning Korea. The first project JCKS started, after its establishment in 1967, was to host an academic conference inviting librarians. The institutionalization of Korean studies as "science" and the systematic collection of knowledge resources were impossible on the Korean peninsula, in the shadow of dictatorship and overwhelmed by Cold War ideology. Ironically, what made it possible were the funds and networks offered by the United States, headquarters of the Cold War. The impact of the Cold War on the knowledge production of Korean studies was strong and enormous. However, in order to grasp the meaning of its effect and aftermath, we should be free from Cold War reductionism.

Academic Research and Education; Cold War; Rockefeller Foundation; Social Science Research Council; Social Sciences

American Philanthropy and Post-1956 Hungarian Refugee Aid

August 6, 2021

My research at the Rockefeller Archive Center focused on the records of the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council. Some materials from the Nelson A. Rockefeller papers and the Rockefeller University archives were also consulted. The primary goal of my research was to identify the role of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations in supporting collaboration across the Iron Curtain in the humanities.Upon arriving at the Archive Center and gaining an initial insight and a better overview of the potentially relevant materials, I complemented my original research agenda with an additional aspect. I realized that among the records of both the Rockefeller and the Ford Foundations, a large number of collections deal with humanitarian actions that benefited Hungarian refugees leaving their country in 1956 and 1957, after Soviet military forces defeated the Hungarian revolution and before the borders were closed and strictly controlled. While it was known that American philanthropic foundations were involved in humanitarian aid, existing scholarship in the field has not reported on the extent of their involvement. The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations gained passing mentions at best, or not at all. Considering the potential benefits for the international research community, I decided to cover these numerous records during my stay. The number of documents on Hungarian refugee aid far exceeded the amount of materials on soft cultural diplomacy in Hungary. Considering that previous researchers have already reported on Ford Foundation's Eastern European Fund, probably, the most important cultural diplomatic effort targeting the region during the early Cold War (that I covered myself to gain firsthand knowledge on the program), I will rather focus in this report on what other researchers did not.

Cold War; Ford Foundation; Refugee Scholars

Paul Ylvisaker, “Indigenous Leadership,” and the Origins of Community Action

July 21, 2021

This report examines how Paul Ylvisaker developed his view that the development of "indigenous leadership" represented the key to solving the urban problems of the 1960s. It also looks at how that view shaped the development of the community action programs at the Ford Foundation and in the Johnson administration. I argue that his conception of what "indigenous leadership" meant and the role it should play in US urban politics was formed through a brief stint working on a Ford Foundation project in Calcutta. This conception then affected his management of early conflicts in the Ford Foundation's Gray Areas program, where community action originated. Ultimately, I argue, this story illuminates one way in which debates about community action, antipoverty policy, and urban politics in the early to mid-1960s were conditioned by Americans' competing visions of decolonization and the postcolonial world.

African American Studies; Ford Foundation

International Refugee Relief on the Caucasus Front, 1915-16: Perspectives from the Rockefeller Archive Center

July 12, 2021

Humanitarian relief in the aftermath of the Armenian Genocide is now frequently referred to by historians as a watershed moment in the history of humanitarianism. Keith Watenpaugh has suggested that the efforts of the American Near East Relief (NER), coming to the rescue of surviving Armenians in the aftermath of war and genocide, were representative of a shift to a distinctive "modern" form of humanitarianism. Others have drawn upon the Armenian case to suggest that the shifts in humanitarian relief occurring around this time were more uneven. Rebecca Jinks, for example, draws attention to the way racialised and gendered colonial discourses shaped responses to displaced Armenian women. The wave of scholarship connecting the Armenian Genocide to histories of humanitarianism has thus far focused on interventions in the former Ottoman territories of the Middle East (in particular, the French mandates of Syria and Lebanon). In contrast, the response to the hundreds of thousands of Armenian refugees who fled to the Russian imperial territories of Transcaucasia (the South Caucasus) during and in the aftermath of war and genocide remains relatively less well understood.

Near East Foundation; Rockefeller Foundation; World War I

Political Instability, Modernization, and the Institutionalization of Brazilian Political Science in the 1960s

June 21, 2021

As of the late 1960s, Brazilian political science underwent a process of academic modernization. The field was institutionalized as an autonomous academic discipline and it experienced a theoretical-methodological turn towards scientificity, objectivity, and empirically-oriented methods. In terms of thematic agenda, the discipline envisioned an applied orientation, able to engage in non-academic public debate. Institutionally, political science met a wave of professionalization and academic institutionalization in which several research institutes and graduate programs were created with significant financial support from Ford Foundation's philanthropic funding. In this context, one of the most prominent institutions was Iuperj (Instituto Universitário de Pesquisas do Estado do Rio de Janeiro), in Rio de Janeiro. Founded by the Brazilian intellectual Candido Mendes de Almeida, the center received Ford Foundation support from 1967 through 1989. This report intends to use the case of Iuperj to show how Ford Foundation policy on social science development in Latin America was articulated on three different, interconnected levels — at the highest ranks of the Ford Foundation's New York headquarters; regionally, at the Office of Latin American and the Caribbean (OLAC) and its Social Science Program; lastly, at the local level, in the grant agreement between the Ford Foundation and the Iuperj.

Ford Foundation; Political Science

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

“Food-Space-Energy Problems”: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the New Alchemy Institute, and the Emergence of Ecological Design in the 1970s

June 3, 2021

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) initiated its Environmental Program out of long-standing work in conservation and population in 1974. Driven by the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, famines, and the emergence of scientific research into the limits of the earth's resources, the RBF funded organizations that looked for ways to help humans live less destructively on a threatened planet. Its support helped usher in the rise of ecological design through its grant program, funding organizations focused on environmental lifestyles, agricultural practices, and renewable energy technologies. This research report explores the relationship between one such organization, the New Alchemy Institute, and the RBF during that decade. It suggests that the RBF played a critical role in providing networking opportunities and encouraging groups to strengthen their scientific investigations. While RBF support remained strong for nearly ten years, by the end of the 1970s, the Fund began looking towards "middleground" solutions to agricultural and ecological problems. It founded the American Farmland Trust in 1980 and turned most of its agricultural funding towards that institution. The RBF also increasingly sought to support international eco-development. Such changes in granting objectives pushed ecological design groups to shift away from their social critiques and towards international work and an embrace of ecological economics. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, therefore, facilitated both the success of an alternative technology movement and aided its transition into the mainstream.

Rockefeller Brothers Fund

“A Most Interesting and Complex Involvement”: Cold War Alignments between the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and the Central Intelligence Agency

May 25, 2021

When temperatures on the cultural Cold War front reached boiling point in the early 1950s, both the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) solicited the cooperation of the private sector for funding activities aimed at refuting Communist claims about the United States and its allies—activities that would have suffered from inefficiency had they been openly funded by Washington. This report traces this symbiotic state-private relationship in the case of the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), a worldwide CIA-funded forum for intellectuals of centrist persuasion, established at a time when the US Congress was reluctant to appropriate funding for counterpropaganda. From the very onset, the CIA tried to transfer "Operation Congress" to the philanthropic sector, the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, in particular. Records of these foundations reveal an internal balancing of risks against responsibilities, which tipped in favor of the CCF by the presence of staunch advocates such as John McCloy and Shepard Stone. By the time the Ford Foundation finally decided to commit itself substantially to the CCF, fate struck and exposed its link with its secret patron. A sense of obligation, if not guilt, on the part of Ford Foundation administrators, often combined with a sincere conviction of its continued utility in the concerted endeavor of tearing down the Iron Curtain, ensured the existence of the CCF—renamed into the International Association for Cultural Freedom (IACF)—for another decade. The incapacity of the IACF to adapt itself to the political climate of the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, ultimately led to its demise.

Cold War; Ford Foundation; Francis X. Sutton Papers; John D. Rockefeller 3rd Papers; Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller RG 2; Rockefeller Family; 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

Rockefeller Philanthropies and Malaria Control in Early 20th Century Palestine

April 30, 2021

This report summarizes two weeks of research at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), conducted in April 2019. I focused my research on the involvement of Rockefeller philanthropies such as the International Health Board and Rockefeller Foundation in antimalarial operations in British-ruled Palestine during the beginning of the 20th century. The research I conducted at the RAC helped me determine that the most important scientific unit working to combat malaria in Palestine as well as to facilitate Jewish settlement in the country was, in essence, a quasi-Rockefeller agency. Additionally, the research I conducted suggests that the events in Palestine should be placed in a broader, global context of the interventions of Rockefeller's International Health Board around the world.

International Health Board

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