RE:source is a digital storytelling and educational site produced by the Research & Education team at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC). As historians, educators, and archivists, we examine the role that philanthropy has played in shaping the world we live in today.

From the civil rights movement to environmental conservation, the performing arts, overseas development, public health, education, agriculture, and beyond, private giving has influenced many aspects of social, political, economic, and cultural life around the world. Much of this activity is documented in the RAC’s archival holdings, which span a century and a half and comprise the records of more than forty organizations and over one hundred individuals.

RE:source examines the stories behind and about philanthropic giving and the changes it has tried to effect — big or small, for better or worse — in the past.

Our aim is to bring archival resources to life for an audience that includes but also extends beyond researchers who have worked in our collections. We hope that our journalistic style and multiple story formats (photo essays, timelines, and narrative pieces) will offer an entry point into the history of American philanthropy and its impact on U.S. and global life, as well as food for thought about current discussions and debates.

Initially we are presenting work on race and social justice, the environment, global engagement, medicine and public health, and arts and culture. Collectively, these fields represent many of the main concerns with which American philanthropy has traditionally engaged.

Often our stories also examine the inner workings of philanthropy, such as the development of new grantmaking strategies, the debates among foundation staff, or the programmatic responses to changing political contexts. By exploring issues like these, RE:source hopes to illuminate the evolution of key parts of the ecosystem of what is often called the third sector.

For educators, we are building a library of curricula, activities, and primary source sets that can be used in the classroom. These include documents, photographs, posters, advertisements, and film clips, along with research guides and media literacy tips. The materials range in level from middle and high school to undergraduate. Teach with our collections.

You can expect to see three to four new stories each month. Subscribing to our newsletter ensures that you will be kept in the loop on new content.

The RAC is an independent operating foundation that serves as both repository and research center dedicated to preserving and making accessible archival records related to American philanthropy. This website has been developed with support from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.