Rockefeller Brothers Fund Archives


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Size: 520 cubic feet

Contents: The collection includes correspondence, reports, memorabilia, grant actions, and other material documents the philanthropic work of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Arrangement: The collection is arranged in five Record Groups:

RG 1       Accounting and Administrative Records
RG 2       Office of the President
RG 2.1    Office of the President – Dana S. Creel
RG 2.2    Office of the President – William M. Dietel
RG 3       Project Files
RG 3.1    Project Files
RG 3.2    Project Files
RG 4       Special Studies Project
RG 5      West Africa Program

Material in Record Groups 3-5 more than ten years old is open for research. Portions of Record Group 4 are restricted. Record Group 1 is closed.

Photograph Collection: Yes

Organizational History: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) was established in 1940 by John D. 3rd, Nelson A., Laurance S., Winthrop, and David Rockefeller. The RBF makes grants to local, national, and international philanthropic organizations that depend on the general public for funds. As a general rule, contributions are made to agencies whose activities reach a large number of people.

The RBF's program also includes support for, and in some instances direct operation of, experimental or new undertakings.

Record Group 3 Project/Grant Files, 1941-2003

Size: 750 Cubic Feet

Contents: Grant-making is the core of Rockefeller Brothers Fund operations. The RBF makes grants to local, national, and international philanthropic organizations that depend on the general public for funding. Principally, contributions are made to organizations whose activities reach a large number of people. The RBF's program has also included support for, and in some instances, direct operation of, experimental or new undertakings.

Files include: correspondence, memoranda, reports, financial records, and background material relating to grant applications and grant administration. Each file contains records documenting the grant giving history of the RBF with that given institution.

Arrangement: The files are presented alphabetically by the institutional name of the grant recipient, and further arranged by date. A specific institution may have received more than one grant for several programs, or may have received more than one grant for any given time period represented in the folder. Dates are inclusive, and reflect the dates of material within the folders; they cannot be taken to represent continuous support, although in some cases continuous support may indeed have been given.

The distinction between Subgroup 1 and Subgroup 2 is artificial, primarily dependent on the date that the material was shipped to RAC.

Record Group 3.1, Box 1-1123 (561.5 cu. ft.), consists of material dated 1941-1989 and received by RAC through 1990.

RG 3.2, Box 1124-1492 (184.5 cu. ft.), consists of material dated 1967-2003 (bulk: 1980-1995) and received by RAC after 1990.

Documentation of the grant activity of a given institution may appear in both Subgroups.

Photograph Collection: Yes

Please see the Collection Guide for further information.

Record Group 4. Special Studies Project Records, 1956-1960. Portions are restricted.

The material is arranged in ten series:

Series A - Subpanel I:  International Objectives and Strategies
Series B - Subpanel II:  International Security Objectives and Strategy
Series C - Subpanel III:  International Economic and Social Objectives and Strategy
Series D - Subpanel IV:  U.S. Economic and Social Policy
Series E - Subpanel V:  U.S. Utilization of Human Resources
Series F - Subpanel VI:  U.S. Democratic Process
Series G - Subpanel VII:  The Moral Framework of National Purpose
Series H - Subpanels VI and VII Joint Report-Writing Committee
Series I - Overall Panel
Series J - Office Reference and Report Publication Files

The Special Studies Project was inspired by Nelson A. Rockefeller, who served as president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund during the period 1956-1960. Its purposes were to "define the major problems and opportunities" facing the U.S. in the late 1950s, to "clarify national purposes and objectives," and to develop principles which could serve as the basis of national policy.

Harvard professor Henry Kissinger was chosen to serve as the director for the project, and he coordinated the solicitation, criticism, and editing of papers from a host of specialists. Many of these papers were used, in some measure, as the basis of discussion by the panels. The papers and discussion sessions resulted in the final reports by each panel, which were published as Prospect for America: The Rockefeller Panel Reports (1961).

The collection constitutes a rich source for the intellectual history of American domestic and foreign policy from 1945 to approximately 1960. Papers and criticisms of papers were contributed by leading academic and government authorities.

Record Group 5. West Africa Program Records, 1953-(1957-63)-1977.

The material is arranged in three series:

Series 1 - General Files
Series 2 - Projects
Series 3 - Feasibility Studies

Between 1957 and 1962 the Rockefeller Brothers Fund undertook a West Africa Program to provide technical assistance to Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria. Its major function was to contract for feasibility studies designed to provide realistic frameworks for economic or industrial development in those nations at their request. The program's main office in Lagos, Nigeria was a distribution point for these studies. Its director, Robert I. Fleming, acted as a liaison between the African governments and groups of American investors and arranged their contracts with governmental personnel.

The records include correspondence from the New York and Lagos offices, memoranda, reports, administrative and financial material, personnel correspondence, and a complete set of feasibility studies. Subjects include cable and wire manufacturing, ceramics, cigar industry, coal mining, coffee harvesting, concrete masonry, cotton textile industry, the drug trade, economic development projects, fisheries, flour mills, forest products, glass manufacturing, grain milling, gravel industry, housing, lumber industry, plastics, and water storage and supply.

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