Stories from the History of Philanthropy
RE:source is a 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.
Subscribe to our email newsletter to learn about new content.
New Research: Neuroscience Funding, Colorado Coal Strike, Population Control Debate, and the Politics of Crime
The reports featured in this installment draw on several personal papers as well as the archival collections of the Commonwealth Fund, the Population Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, and others.
Philanthropy and the Green Revolution
The Rockefeller Foundation’s Mexican Agriculture Program, 1943-1965
The Rockefeller Foundation’s first intensive agriculture endeavor is now credited with launching the global transformation known as the “Green Revolution.”
The Birth of International Agricultural Research Institutes in the Mid-20th Century
Rockefeller Foundation agriculture programs begun in Mexico achieved global reach through four major research institutes. Building them was the result of partnership.
The Rockefeller Foundation’s Agriculture Program in India
India was not the first country to take up the new seeds and methods developed by the Rockefeller Foundation, but the story of India’s adoption of them in the 1960s is dramatic.
The Complicated History of American Philanthropy and Race
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Philanthropy’s Fight Against Tuberculosis in World War I France
What does it take to control the outbreak of a deadly disease?
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.
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.
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.
Eradication or Control? The Rockefeller Foundation’s Global Anti-Malaria Campaigns
A foundation set on eradicating mosquito-born diseases had to accept that disease control was good enough.