RE:source is a digital publication of the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC), where a team of archivists, educators, and historians share stories, photo essays, timelines, educational resources, and updates on new research in RAC collections.

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The Complicated History of American Philanthropy and Race

Elementary children of diverse ethnic backgrounds get ready to go inside their school, two hold hands
Race & Social Justice

Can Data Drive Social Change? Tackling School Segregation with Numbers

In the years before Brown v. Board, a philanthropic fund hoped research and data would turn the tide on attitudes toward segregation.

History of Philanthropy

Timeline: A Century of American Philanthropy’s Engagement with Race and Racism

Delving into a century of philanthropic engagement with race, from Reconstruction to the Civil Rights era.

Race & Social Justice

Black Education and Rockefeller Philanthropy from the Jim Crow South to the Civil Rights Era

Applying a vast fortune to the American race problem, but with decades of false assumptions and well-intended approaches that fell short.

Race & Social Justice

Photo Essay: Supporting Minority Enterprise in the late 1960s

In 1968, the Ford Foundation began to make social investments using a new tool borrowed from the for-profit world, the Program-Related Investment.


“Without Distinction of Race, Sex, or Creed”: The General Education Board, 1903-1964

In the early 20th century, the General Education Board was devoted to the cause of improving education throughout the United States, without distinction of race, sex, or creed.

Issues in Philanthropy

Funding a Social Movement: The Ford Foundation and Civil Rights, 1965-1970

A story recounting many accusations, from rigged elections to the meddling of big private money in grassroots organizing.

Race & Social Justice

“Highest Standards”: Elite Philanthropy and Literary Black Voices during the Civil Rights Era

Against a backdrop of white, establishment concepts of literary excellence, one foundation struggled to appreciate Black voices.

Just published

New Research

New Research: International Friendship, Museum Director Grace Morley, Cold War West Berlin, and School Finance Reform

In this edition of the series, the authors have used the papers of Nelson A. Rockefeller and John D. Rockefeller 3rd, the records of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Ford Foundation, and the Taconic Foundation, as well as archival materials from the Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller. 

Foundations During Wartime

Archives and Libraries

Documenting Injustice: Recording the Histories of the Japanese American Incarceration

The origins and legacy of a research project conducted in the American concentration camps for Japanese Americans.

Global Engagement

The Rockefeller Foundation’s Refugee Scholar Program

Saving scholars threatened by Nazis was not easy, but choosing which ones to save was even more difficult.

Global Engagement

Timeline: Philanthropy and World War I

The onset of World War I created new demands on American foundations and donors.

Global Engagement

The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations Navigate Civil War in Nigeria

What happened to a massive agricultural development program when war broke out?

Peace & Conflict

The Rockefeller Foundation’s Role in Creating the Atomic Bomb

In the aftermath, Foundation staff struggled to rectify their organization’s involvement with this weapon of mass destruction.

Medicine & Public Health

Philanthropy’s Fight Against Tuberculosis in World War I France

What does it take to control the outbreak of a deadly disease?

Global Engagement

Global Engagement

Ping-Pong Diplomacy: NGOs and International Relations

When a friendly interaction unexpectedly emerged between American and Chinese table tennis players, one nonprofit seized the opportunity to support broader cultural diplomacy.

Social Sciences

Building Global Understanding: Area Studies, Language, and History

Encouraging cross-cultural knowledge in an interconnected postwar world by shaping new interdisciplinary programs and retooling traditional academic fields.

Medicine & Public Health

Rockefeller Philanthropy and Population-Related Fields

As the scarcity of global resources became increasingly worrisome in the 20th century, these organizations more boldly approached work in population and family planning.

"Action shot of the Dictionary staff. Korean Language Research Society, Seoul, Korea." - caption on the back of the photograph
Cultural Preservation

Saving a Language: The Korean Dictionary Comes to Life Against Tough Odds

What might appear to be a simple publication project came to fruition only after a decade of political upheaval, cultural repression, war, and Rockefeller Foundation support.

Women Work for Women

Medicine & Public Health

The Women Pioneers of Global Nursing Education Who Built the Rockefeller Foundation Program

A massive program in nursing education extended to 53 schools across the globe. But it never became a top priority of the foundation that supported it.

Issues in Philanthropy

Centering Women’s Rights in the Population Field: The Ford Foundation and Sexual Health in the 1990s

A 1994 meeting moved women’s empowerment front and center for grantmaking in global population.

Issues in Philanthropy

The Fairy Godmothers of Women’s Studies

Moving scholarship by and about women from margin to center.

Latest RAC Research Reports

New Research

New Research: Universal Symbols, Poland and Democracy, Science in Colonial India, and Thomas Whittemore

In this edition of the series, the authors have used the records of the Ford Foundation, the General Education Board, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, as well as archival materials from the Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller.

New Research

New Research: Math and Modernity, New Internationalisms, Philosophy Conferences, and Segregated Parks

Recently published reports draw on the records of the Ford Foundation, the International Education Board, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Simon Flexner APS microfilm collection, and the Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller, along with the papers of Laurance S. Rockefeller.

New Research

New Research: Prisons, Macroeconomics, Nurses of Psychiatry, and Colonial Medicine

The latest installment in our series of newly-published research reports.

New Research

New Research: Life Magazine, US-China Relations, Music Patronage, and Hungarian Refugees

In this edition of the series, the authors have used the papers of Nelson A. Rockefeller, the records of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, the Ford Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, as well as archival materials from the Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller.