The Rockefeller Archive Center
“If we assist the highest forms of education – in whatever field – we secure the widest influence in enlarging the boundaries of human knowledge.”
—John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Rockefeller Family Archives


See Collection Guide

Size: 92 cu. ft.

Contents: The papers of John D. Rockefeller 3rd document his personal life as well as his interest in population issues, Asia, philanthropy, and the arts. The collection includes correspondence with his parents and other family members, speeches, personal material such as information on homes and awards, and travel records. Also included are materials relating to the work of organizations founded by Rockefeller to address issues of concern to him. The bulk of the collection is opened for research.

Restrictions: Material has been closed that relates to the life and work of living members of the Rockefeller family or to the net worth of the family or of a single family member. Also, material has been closed that relates to personnel matters or to searches for corporate philanthropic officers.

The papers are divided into three series:
  • Series 1, Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller Files, (1906- 1961)-1969
  • Series 2, Rockefeller Family and Associates Files, 1942-(1962-1977)
  • Series 3, Office and Homes Files, 1928-(1955-1978)

Series 1, Office of the Messrs. Rockefeller Files, (1906-1961)-1969, 98 boxes, 34.5 cu. ft.

Size: 34.4 cu. ft.

Arranged into seven subseries which are described below:
  1. Personal Papers
  2. Personal Correspondence
  3. Asian Interests
  4. Lincoln Center
  5. Population Interests
  6. Trips
  7. Financial Material

Subseries 1, Personal Papers, 1906-1961

Size: 9 cu. ft.

Contents: Contains information on Rockefeller's birth, education, engagement, wedding, club memberships, wartime naval service, art collection, and real estate properties. Surviving childhood and school papers include coloring books, autograph collection, notebooks, yearbooks, and examinations. This subseries also contains the congratulatory notes (folder 12) received by JDR 3rd's parents at the time of his birth (including a telegram from Andrew Carnegie) as well as the condolences Rockefeller received upon the death of his grandfather, John D. Rockefeller, Sr. in 1937 (folder 158), and of his mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller in 1948 (folders 149-151). Correspondence with John Foster Dulles and handwritten notes document Rockefeller's refusal of the ambassadorship to Indonesia in 1956 (folder 116). News clippings and magazine articles (folders 21-29) on topics of interest to Rockefeller as well as a scrapbook (box 21) that contains clippings about him can also be found in this subseries. Rockefeller's personal diaries, 1920-1961(folders 36-72) are as valuable source of information. Begun at the age of 13 as a record of people, time, and events, the diaries offer a mixture of the routine interlaced with revealing personal insights. In December 1929, when Rockefeller began working in his father's office at 26 Broadway, the format of the diaries changed from handwritten to typescript. At that point, the diaries became more reflective of his business rather than his personal life. (For diaries from 1962 until Rockefeller's death in 1978, see Series 3, subseries 1.)

Arrangement: Arranged alphabetically by subject or type of material.

Subseries 2, Personal Correspondence, (1906-1961)-1966

Size: 4.5 cu. ft.

Contents: This subseries includes the letters to Rockefeller from his mother, wife, siblings, and other extended family (Rockefeller and Hooker) members. The vast majority of the correspondence is incoming with a few carbon copies of Rockefeller's outgoing letters. Of special note is the correspondence between Rockefeller and his father (folders 287-300), which reveals much about their relationship, most especially JDR 3rd's drive to please his father. Other correspondents include Rockefeller's girlfriends and female acquaintances (such as Anne Colby, Alida Milliken, Elizabeth "Pete" Peterson, and Betty Stickney) and school chums, some of whom became lifelong friends (William Cochran, Douglas Dillon, Douglas Robertson, Bob Russell, and Latimer Stewart, among others.) Also included in this subseries are letters to Rockefeller from his former nurse-governess, Florence Scales, and from Fannie Evans, John D. Rockefeller Sr.'s housekeeper, as well as from Benjamin and David Rowntree, the British children to whom Rockefeller and his wife were foster parents during the war. The "Famous people" file (folder 237) includes correspondence from Jane Addams, Dean Acheson, Winston Churchill, Indira Gandhi, Jacqueline Kennedy, U Thant, and Shigeru Yoshida, among others.

Arrangement: Divided into chronological and alphabetical segments.

Subseries 3, Asian Interests, (1949-1961)-1969

Size: 8 cu. ft.

Contents: Through correspondence, reports, and memoranda, this subseries documents Rockefeller's interest in and commitment to Asia. Rockefeller was deeply concerned about the need for increasing America's understanding and appreciation of the peoples of Asia. To that end, he was involved in the support of cultural exchange programs; the revival of the Japan Society; the formation of the Asia Society; the construction of Asia House, the Asia Society's New York City headquarters; and the construction of the International House of Japan in Tokyo. The files documenting the teaching of the English language in Japan (folders 452-455) reflect Rockefeller's belief in the importance of English to Japan's growth in the international community. Also included here are files relating to the Council on Economic and Cultural Affairs, Inc. (CECA), an organization established by Rockefeller in 1953 to stimulate and support economic and related activities focusing on Asia. Rockefeller's work for the John Foster Dulles peace mission to Japan in 1951 led to a renewed acquaintance with Shigeharu Matsumoto, with whom he had worked at the Institute of Pacific Relations conference in 1929. The Matsumoto and Rockefeller families became close friends. Included in this subseries are Rockefeller's report for Dulles and the State Department (folder 446), as well as correspondence between Matsumoto and JDR 3rd (folders 477-478; for additional Matsumoto family correspondence see Series 3, subseries 2, folder 147.). Also represented here are two commercial ventures developed by Rockefeller to sell in the United States quality merchandise manufactured in Asia; namely, Products of Asia, Inc. and Products of India, Inc. These companies, which were meant to increase trade and encourage cultural contact, were sold in 1965.

Arrangement: Arranged alphabetically by geographical area, country, or organizational name.

Subseries 4, Lincoln Center, (1955-1966)-1969

Size: 8.5 cu. ft.

Contents: The bulk of this subseries is devoted to the years Rockefeller spent in the creation and development of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. His role in the early stages of planning the Center, as well as the myriad details involved in its construction, are documented here. The records demonstrate Rockefeller's ability to forge a partnership among federal, state, and city officials and private philanthropists. As president (and later chairman) of Lincoln Center, Rockefeller was responsible for all details of the project, including acquisition of the property, architecture and construction, public relations, seating capacities, and, most importantly, fund- raising from both foreign and domestic donors. Due to considerable effort on Rockefeller's part, the Center raised over $175 million in contributions and grants during its formative years. (For additional material on Lincoln Center, see Series 3, subseries 3, folders 285-290.)

Subseries 5, Population Interests, (1951-1961)-1967

Size: 2 cu. ft.

Contents: John D. Rockefeller 3rd developed an interest in the population field during his work for the Bureau of Social Hygiene. Rockefeller, who in speeches consistently linked population control to quality of life, became an acknowledged world leader in combating overpopulation. In addition to the files that reveal Rockefeller's general concern regarding the population issue (folders 667-670), this subseries documents the 1951 Conference on Population Problems (folders 718-723) held at Colonial Williamsburg, which was convened by Rockefeller and led to the founding of the Population Council, Inc. a year later. The subseries also sheds light on the early work of the Population Council, an organization founded by Rockefeller to fund biological and demographic research and training fellowships.

Subseries 6, Trips, 1920-1960

Size: 3.5 cu. ft.

Contents: Beginning with his family's trip to the western United States in 1920, Rockefeller kept accounts of each day's activities in travel logs and diaries. Of note in this subseries are Rockefeller's record of his college graduation world tour in 1929 (folders 728-731), his General Education Board field trips, 1940-1947 (folders 733-734), and the trips to Europe, the Far East, and Africa undertaken on behalf of the Rockefeller Foundation. The field trips undertaken with other GEB trustees involved a study of poverty, race relations, and education in the rural South, notably Georgia, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Also documented here are Rockefeller's "annual mid-winter visits" to Asia which began in 1951. With his travels, Rockefeller intended to gain firsthand knowledge of the region's economic and social conditions. To that end, he traveled extensively in Asia, Europe, and Africa. His diaries and logs contain observations on the cultures, societies and people of the various countries he visited.

Arrangement: Arranged chronologically.

Subseries 7, Financial Material, 1930-1961

Size: 1 cu. ft.

Contents: Consists of annual and cumulative financial reports prepared by family associates, most notably Arthur W. Packard and Dana Creel, that document Rockefeller's charitable contributions from 1932-1961. The subseries also contains Packard's charitable corporations activities reviews for 1943-1946. (For information on contributions in later years, see Series 3, subseries 9.)

Series 2, Rockefeller Family and Associates Files, 1942-(1962-1977)

Size: 17.5 cu. ft.

Contents: This series documents Rockefeller's work for the U.S. Bicentennial, including his efforts on behalf of the National Committee for the Bicentennial, as well as awards received (1942-1976) and trips taken (1962-1976). It also contains reading copies and drafts of speeches (folders 45-123) given and statements (folders 367-371) made by Rockefeller between 1964 and 1976. In this series, "Speeches" are filed under "Addresses." (Additional and overlapping material on Rockefeller's speeches can be found in Series 3, subseries 6.) The Statements files include JDR 3rd's testimony before Wright Patman's House Ways and Means Committee during hearings on the 1969 Tax Reform Bill (folders 367-368). In his testimony, Rockefeller offered his views on the impact the new tax proposals would have on the state of philanthropy. (For additional material on this topic, see "Tax reform" files in Series 3, subseries 3, box 62, folders 399-402.) Newspaper and magazine articles written by and about Rockefeller will be found here, as will information regarding purchases and prospective additions to his valuable art collection (filed under "Works of Art," folders 402-438.) Other topics covered in this series include public relations; radio and television appearances; real estate properties; invitations to speak, and invitations to attend dinners, luncheons, and receptions.

Arrangement: The filing order into which this series was organized in the Rockefeller family office has been maintained. General correspondence, 1962-1976, is filed before the alphabetical subject sequence. Chronological correspondence, 1962-1969 (folders 206-298), which consists of copies Rockefeller's outgoing correspondence, includes letters that Rockefeller wrote in his capacity as chairman of Lincoln Center.

Series 3, Office and Home Files, 1928-(1955-1978), 114 boxes, 40 cu. ft.

Size: 40 cu. ft.

Arrangement: Arranged into nine subseries which are described below:
  1. Personal Papers
  2. Correspondence
  3. Philanthropy and Public Interests
  4. Population Interests
  5. Asian Interests
  6. Speeches
  7. Trips
  8. Subject File
  9. Financial Material

Subseries 1, Personal Papers, 1956-1978, Boxes 1-29, 10 cu. ft.

Size: 10 cu. ft.

Contents: This subseries contains information on Rockefeller's later years. Of note is the continuation (1962-1978) of the diaries begun in Series 1, subseries 1. Also included here are appointment books, 1956-1978, which list meeting schedules and participants, along with an occasional reference to the subject to be discussed, as well as telephone logs, 1954-1969, which list details of phone calls made or received by Rockefeller. Two sets of index cards containing information on acquaintances, on American and foreign business leaders and government officials, and on countries will also be found in this subseries (boxes 16-25). Material related to Rockefeller's extensive art collection including correspondence with galleries, museums, and with Edgar P. Richardson, his adviser on American paintings, is also part of this subseries (folders 22-54). While these files do contain some information on his Asian art collection, the bulk of the material on Asian art in this series can be found in subseries 3 (folders 514-519). Records pertaining to the death of JDR 3rd are also contained in this subseries. Condolence letters received by his wife, his son, and the various organizations with which he was associated, as well as a memorial service program and booklet, are filed here (folders 58-74).

Arrangement: Arranged alphabetically by subject or type of material.

Subseries 2, Correspondence, 1935-(1962-1978)

Size: 4 cu. ft.

Contents: This correspondence documents Rockefeller's business, civic, governmental, philanthropic, cultural, and social activities. The personal correspondence contains incoming and outgoing letters from family members, friends, associates, and American and foreign government officials. The "Famous people" correspondents (folders 137-138) include Rosalyn Carter, Kurt Waldheim, and members of Congress and of the cabinet. Letters between Rockefeller and Charles Percy, John D. Rockefeller IV's father-in-law, reveal the warm relationship between the two families. Also located in this subseries are letters from Shigeharu Matsumoto and his family, close personal friends with whom the Rockefellers visited during their numerous trips to Japan. This section also contains correspondence between Rockefeller and his associates David K. Lelewer, Donald H. McLean, Jr., and Datus C. Smith, Jr.

Arrangement: Arranged into personal, chronological, and alphabetical sections. The chronological file contains copies of Rockefeller's outgoing correspondence, 1970-1978. The alphabetical file contains outgoing correspondence for the year 1978 filed by name of the recipient.

Subseries 3, Philanthropy and Public Interests, 1937-(1952-1978), Boxes 42-66, 9 cu. ft.

Size: 9 cu. ft.

Contents: The bulk of this subseries is devoted to materials relating to the work of organizations and commissions founded by Rockefeller to address issues of concern to him. One of Rockefeller's earliest involvements was as chairman of a Boys Bureau committee that studied the causes of juvenile delinquency. Youth in the Toils (folders 242-243), the culmination of the committee's six years of effort, was published in 1938. Also to be found in this subseries are files relating to Colonial Williamsburg (folders 248-250). Rockefeller worked closely with his father on this restoration project, which is evidenced by their correspondence (folder 249). Rockefeller's involvement with the Rockefeller Foundation (folders 322-334) and with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (folders 311-320) is also documented here. Material that complements the Lincoln Center files in Series 1 can be found in this subseries (folders 285-290). Of particular note is a 1977 interview conducted with Rockefeller adviser Edgar B. Young on JDR 3rd's role in the development of Lincoln Center. Rockefeller was also instrumental in the establishment of the Rockefeller Archive Center (folders 305-310) and the Rockefeller Public Service Awards (folders 335-343), which honor civilian employees in the Federal government. The collaborative efforts of Rockefeller, John E. Harr, Datus C. Smith, and Richard Schickel in the writing of The Second American Revolution are extensively documented in drafts, correspondence, and memoranda (folders 344-398). In addition to material on the JDR 3rd Fund and it's Arts in Education Program (folders 282-284), this subseries contains a number of files on the Youth Task Force. Established by the JDR 3rd Fund in 1970 to promote understanding among youth, business, and professional leaders, the Task Force sponsored a series of dialogs and underwrote surveys by Daniel Yankelovich, Inc. (folders 427-435). As a result of Wright Patman's attacks on philanthropy, Rockefeller became a lobbyist on its behalf. Numerous elements of this subseries reflect his efforts to protect, reform, and enhance philanthropy in the United States. Related material will be found under the headings "Corporate giving" (folders 264-267); "Tax reform" (folders 399-404), and "Third sector" (folders 406-419). Rockefeller's search to find methods of partnership between philanthropy, on the one hand, and government and private enterprise on the other hand, led to the creation of the Commission on Foundations and Private Philanthropy ("Peterson Commission," folders 251- 254) and the Commission on Private Philanthropy and Public Needs ("Filer Commission," folders 254-260).


Arranged alphabetically by subject or name of organization.

Subseries 4, Population Interests, 1965-(1970-1978)

Size: 3 cu. ft.

Contents: The bulk of this subseries documents Rockefeller's role in the national and international population movement during the 1970s. In 1972, President Richard Nixon appointed Rockefeller chairman of the National Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. The commission, which had been created by Congress, was charged with making recommendations regarding a broad range of population issues. The work of the commission and its findings are documented in this subseries. A number of files in this subseries reveal Rockefeller's strong interest in the abortion issue, an interest which predated the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. After the decision, Rockefeller and Joan Dunlop, his adviser on population and on the status of women, attempted to develop strategies to influence public opinion in favor of access to contraceptive and abortion services. This subseries also contains material on the operation and fund-raising efforts of the Population Council. Of special note is Frederick Osborn's 1969 interview regarding Rockefeller's role in the founding and development of the council (folder 494). Rockefeller's correspondence with the Vatican (folder 511), as well as his efforts on behalf of the United Nations' World Leaders' Statement on Population (folder 513), for which he obtained the signatures of over 30 world leaders, can also be found in this subseries.

Arrangement: Arranged alphabetically by subject or name of organization.

Subseries 5, Asian Interests, 1949-1978

Size: 2 cu. ft.

Contents: This small subseries contains general material as well as files on the funding and leadership of two organizations: the Asia Society and the Japan Society. Of special note are transcripts of proceedings from the American Policy Toward China Roundtable in 1949 and documents and records of sessions from the Japanese Peace Conference in 1951. This subseries also houses files on the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, a Philippine organization created and financed by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, to confer awards upon Asians who had given noteworthy public service to the peoples of Asia. Material on the Pgan restoration in Burma will also be found here. (For additional information on this restoration, see Series 1, subseries 3, folder 382.)

Arrangement: Arranged alphabetically by subject or name of organization.

Subseries 6, Speeches, 1928-1978

Size: 6.5 cu. ft.

Contents: The files contain reading copies and drafts, as well as correspondence and memoranda relating to the preparation of speeches and to their reception when released or delivered. The speeches are a valuable resource for charting JDR 3rd's reactions to events and his involvement in numerous activities and causes. They can be used to trace Rockefeller's evolving views on such issues as population and philanthropy. In addition to speeches, this subseries includes Rockefeller's testimony before various congressional committees. Following the chronological arrangement of speeches, a separate, mostly redundant collation of "Speeches, remarks, and releases" will be found in boxes 96 through 98. Arrangement: Arranged chronologically. An index to the speeches can be found in the first folder in this subseries (folder 549).

Subseries 7, Trips, 1958-1971, 1976

Size: 1 cu. ft.

Contents: Included in this subseries, which is a continuation of the travel records in Series 1, subseries 6, and in Series 2, are the notebooks and diaries from Rockefeller's almost annual visits to Asia.

Arrangement: Arranged chronologically. Background material, on countries visited by Rockefeller in his years of travel, is arranged alphabetically and is filed at the end of this subseries.

Subseries 8, Subject File, 1936-1978

Size: 2 cu. ft.

Contents: This eclectic subseries contains information on a wide range of topics, including public relations, staff, and foreign relations. Of note in this subseries is the typescript of the autobiography of Frederick T. Gates, Chapters in My Life, which was given to Rockefeller by Gates's granddaughter, Janet Gates Bonney. Also found here are copies of Rockefeller's oral history interviews with Columbia University as well as reactions to The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty by Peter Collier and David Horowitz. This subseries contains the printed journal from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration conference in 1943 to which Rockefeller was a Navy Department representative. Records of Rockefeller Brothers, Inc., a venture capital operation, are also housed here.

Arrangement: Arranged alphabetically.

Subseries 9, Financial Material, 1962-1978

Size: 2.5 cu. ft.

Contents: This subseries, which is a continuation of the financial records in Series 1, subseries 7, contains the annual reports of Rockefeller's charitable giving.

Arrangement: Arranged chronologically.

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