Welcome to RE:source, the Rockefeller Archive Center‘s storytelling platform. We are a team of historians, archivists, and educators working from the idea that philanthropy has impact on everyday life, sometimes in ways that many of us don’t realize. Our stories and images mine the archival record to bring to light events, people, innovations, and turning points from the past that have relevance for understanding the present. Subscribe to receive newly released stories in your inbox.

Foundations Engage with the Civil Rights Movement

Race & Social Justice

An Unlikely Partnership: Ted Watkins and the Rockefeller Foundation

Urban unrest erupted across the United States in the late 1960s. Race and unequal opportunity became national concerns. In response, the Rockefeller Foundation (RF) partnered with a charismatic activist from the Watts district in Los Angeles, one of America’s poorest neighborhoods, a man whose background and political agenda would challenge the Foundation’s civil rights strategy…

Race & Social Justice

Photo Essay: Supporting Minority Enterprise in the late 1960s

In 1968, the Ford Foundation began to fund minority enterprise and other social investments using a new tool, the Program-Related Investment (PRI). This photo essay shows the breadth of these investments and diversity of activities that PRIs funded in both inner city and rural environments…

elementaChildren 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 of Education, school desegregation loomed large in the South. The Fund for the Advancement of Education, a Ford Foundation creation, launched a massive research project in 1953. Its racially integrated research team believed that the numbers would speak for themselves on education equality. They were mistaken…

Race & Social Justice

The Origins of the Rockefeller Foundation Equal Opportunity Program

A fundraising appeal from the United Negro College Fund in 1962 prompted the Rockefeller Foundation to design and launch a full-blown Equal Opportunity program, the first in its history. How a simple request come to have such a broad impact…

Grantee Spotlight

Arts & Culture

Timeline: Foundations and the Walker Art Center

The story of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, provides one example of how foundation involvement from mid-century to the present has enabled American cultural organizations to grow, thrive, and innovate. Investment from multiple foundations has enabled such non-profit institutions to break ground in the cultural sector…

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Philanthropy and Business

Philanthropy's Long Legacy in Health

Medicine & Public Health

The Commonwealth Fund Brings Hospice Care to America

Hospice, or non-cure-oriented care at the end of life, was a European concept. But the Commonwealth Fund boosted the US hospice movement by supporting its beginnings. The first modern American hospice opened in Branford, Connecticut in 1980, supported by Commonwealth and other foundations…

Medicine & Public Health

The Long Road to the Yellow Fever Vaccine

Rockefeller Foundation scientists, led by future Nobel Prize winner Max Theiler, developed a yellow fever vaccine in the 1930s that was later given to thousands of American and British soldiers during World War II. The serum drastically reduced the worldwide occurrence of yellow fever. Today it remains the only vaccine in use for the deadly virus. However, the road to creating the vaccine was long and bumpy…

Medicine & Public Health

Photo Essay: The Rockefeller Sanitary Commission and the South

Hookworm disease, sometimes called the “germ of laziness” for its symptoms, was widespread in the US South at the turn of the last century. Yet the science of treatment was simple. The Rockefeller Sanitary Commission battled the disease and in the process developed a new model for public health work…

Medicine & Public Health

The “Insulin Gift”

In 1923, a large donation of funds by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., helped ensure the wide distribution of the newly mass-produced treatment for diabetes, insulin. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s gift, known as the “Insulin Gift,” also provided funds to train patients, nurses, physicians, and families to administer this new wonder treatment…