Decade: 1930s

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.

Philanthropy and Oceanography: An Episode in Field-Building

Funding on levels large and small helped this new area of scientific research grow and evolve.

Photo Essay: A Mother, a Son, and Modern Art

Abby Aldrich Rockefeller’s passion for modern art influenced her children, especially her son Nelson Rockefeller, and continues to reach the public through the museum she co-founded.

Photo Essay: John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and the Design of The Met Cloisters

How an American philanthropist’s love of medieval art created an immersive Old World experience at The Cloisters museum in New York City.

The Met Cloisters: An Unlikely Pair Makes a Home for Medieval Art in New York City

Does philanthropy always require a perfect partnership to create something great? Peering behind the facade of The Met Cloisters museum reveals that the answer is sometimes “no.”

Public Health: How the Fight Against Hookworm Helped Build a System

A hundred years ago, hookworm disease was an epidemic across the US South. Northern philanthropy tried to help.

Rebuilding a Cathedral: The Media, American Money, and French Heritage

Stepping in to save French monuments without stepping on French pride.

Who Belongs in the Boy Scouts? Philanthropy’s Support for Black Scouting

How a new foundation helped one of America’s oldest youth organizations become more racially inclusive.

Insanity Defense illustration in Harper's Weekly, February 27, 1859. Library of Congress.

The Commonwealth Fund and the “Insanity Defense”: Unexpected Outcomes

Our understanding of the insanity defense relies on a book that was an unintended outcome of a Commonwealth Fund grant.

The Long Road to the Yellow Fever Vaccine

The yellow fever vaccine developed in the 1930s has been used worldwide ever since. Creating it took years and cost several lives. Some thought it would never happen.