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.

Ford Foundation Archives

Extent: Approximately 2,300 cubic feet (cu. ft.) -- comprised of 2,064 cubic feet of paper records, 11,451 microfilm reels, and 200+ cubic feet of audiovisual materials.

Date: 1936-2011

Access: Records more than 10 years old are open for scholarly research, unless otherwise noted.

Language of Materials: Predominantly written in English.

Biographical/Historical Sketch: The Ford Foundation was chartered by Henry and Edsel Ford in 1936 "to receive and administer funds for scientific, educational and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare", and initially served the Ford family's charitable interests in the Detroit area. Following the deaths of Edsel Ford (1943) and Henry Ford (1947), the Foundation was propelled to the forefront of philanthropy as the largest American foundation in terms of both endowment and yearly expenditures, and with an international scope to its major program areas.

During the Foundation's first twenty years its major programs were in international economic development, primary and higher education, educational & public broadcasting, behavioral sciences, civil liberties, urban development, fine arts & the humanities. The Ford Foundation also partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation in supporting agricultural development in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Since the 1970s, the Foundation has also pioneered programs in women's rights, energy policy, micro-financing in under-developed countries, establishing human rights groups, and improving international HIV/AIDS education.

Scope: The collection consists of grant files, the correspondence and reports of program and executive officers from the Ford Foundation, catalogued reports, administrative records, films, photographs, building records, and other materials that document the philanthropic work of the Ford Foundation.

The records, papers and special collections of the Ford Foundation are documented in more than 250 finding aids summarized below. Each finding aid hyperlink -- example (FA732A) -- links directly to DIMES, the RAC collection guide website.

Each brief summary also provides title, date, extent, and further arrangement information (when applicable) for each collection.

Central Files


General Correspondence


Log Files

Action Control Slips

Central Index

Annual Reports and Publications


  • Office of the Vice President
    • Office Files of David Bell, 1966-1981 (FA624) (16.28 cu. Ft.)
      • Series I. International Division Files, 1966-1981
      • Series II. General Correspondence Files, 1966-1980
      • Series III. Trustee Meeting Files, 1966-1980
      • Series IV. Agriculture Files, 1966-1979
      • Series V. Population Files, 1966-1981
      • Series VI. Subject Files, 1966-1981
      • Appendix A. Reports
  • Information Services
    • Office of the Vice President of Administration, Office Files of Arthur D. Trottenberg, 1968-1979 (FA669) (29.36 cu. Ft.)
      • Series I. Administration and Operations
      • Series II. Memoranda and Correspondence
      • Series III. Financial
      • Series IV. Personnel
      • Series V. Information Systems and Services
      • Series VI. Overseas
      • Series VII. Program Activity
      • Series VIII. Self Study
      • Series IX . Subject Files
      • Series X. Real Estate
      • Series XI. Board of Trustees
      • Appendix A: Staff and Consultant Reports in Collection: Administrative
      • Appendix B: Staff and Consultant Reports in Collection: Programmatic
      • Appendix C: Budget Reports Removed from Collection
      • Appendix D: Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, and Finance Committee PaperRemoved from Collection
      • Appendix E: Program-Related Investments Removed from Collection
      • Appendix F: Legal Consultants Removed from Collection


  • Higher Education and Research Division
    • Program Staff Files, 1954-1975 (FA546) (6.8 cu. Ft.)
      • Series I. Broadcasters Nonprofit Satellite Service (BNS)
      • Series II. International Program
      • Series III. PAYE (Pay-As-You-Earn)
      • Series IV. Science and Engineering
      • Series V. Abel Amaya Correspondence
      • Series VI. Peter E. de Janosi
      • Series VII. Corinne Kirchner
      • Series VIII. Edward J. Meade

  • Education and Public Policy Division
    • Office Files of Richard Sharpe, 1960-1981 (FA557) (14.9 cu. Ft.)
      • Series I. Chronological Correspondence
      • Series II. Public Policy and Social Organization Meeting Minutes, Agendas, and Materials
      • Series III. Future Program Planning Project
      • Series IV. Reports, Conference Papers, Reprints
      • Series V. Education, Social Sciences and Public Policy Programming Files
  • Middle East and Africa

Regional Offices/Field Offices

  • Overseas Office, Asia
    • Hanoi Field Office Files, 1974-2000 (FA673) (4.7 cu. Ft.)
      • Series I. General Files
      • Series II. Organization Files
      • Series III. Economic Files
      • Series IV. International Affairs Files
      • Series V. Reproductive Health and Population Files
      • Series VI. Upland Management Files
      • Appendix A: Reports

Special Collections

  • Ford Foundation Fund files, 1949-1973 (FA715) (4.4 cu. Ft.)
    • Fund File A - Miscellaneous Grants (Michigan Fund)
    • Fund File D - Exchange of Persons
    • Fund File F - Near East--Ford Fund for Overseas Development
    • Fund File H - President's Discretionary Fund (President's Authority)
    • Fund File I - India Program
    • Fund File J - Pakistan Program
    • Fund File M - Board on Overseas Training
    • Fund File N - Burma Program
    • Fund File O - Indonesia Program.
    • Fund File P - Public Affairs Program
    • Fund File Q - Iran Program
    • Fund File R - Education Program
    • Fund File S - Research and Training in Mental Health
    • Fund File U - Humanities and Arts Program
    • Fund File V - Program in Latin America
    • Fund File W - Program in Africa
    • Fund File X- Program in Science and Engineering
    • Fund File Y - Overseas Development Program
  • The Fund for Adult Education (FAE) records, 1951-1972 (FA716) (9.24 cu. Ft.)
    • Series I. Administrative records
    • Series II. Financial, Legal and Tax Files
    • Series III. Grant and Project Files

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