Visitors and researchers at the Rockefeller Archive Center often are surprised to learn of the international scope and the broad range of subjects
that have received support from the philanthropy of the Rockefeller family. "Rockefeller philanthropy" is the short-hand term that encompasses both
the combined personal charitable gifts of members of the Rockefeller family and the grants awarded by the various philanthropic institutions established
by generations of family members. Documents at the Rockefeller Archive Center trace this rich legacy back to 1855, when John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937)
first went to work in Cleveland, Ohio, and began to donate part of his earnings to the Baptist church he attended. Rockefeller entered the oil business
in the 1860s and in 1870 founded the Standard Oil Company, which grew to dominate the oil industry and made Rockefeller and his partners wealthy men.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960) joined his father's office in 1897 but soon focused his efforts on philanthropy rather than business and helped his
father develop several major institutions in medical science, education, and philanthropy. Together, he and his wife Abby (1874-1948) expanded the
Rockefeller philanthropic legacy in new directions, such as art and historic preservation, and passed the family tradition of philanthropic stewardship
on to their children - Abby (1903-1976), John 3rd (1906-1978), Nelson (1908-1979), Laurance (1910-2004)), Winthrop (1912-1973), and David (b. 1915), known
collectively as the Brothers generation. They, in turn, have passed the legacy on to their children, the Cousins, such that four generations of Rockefeller
family members have collaborated to establish major foundations - the Rockefeller Foundation (1913), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (1940) and the
Rockefeller Family Fund (1967) - to address the collective concerns of their era, while particular family members also have established their own
philanthropic institutions to address issues of concern to them. Rockefeller Philanthropy: A Selected Guide offers a brief introduction to the subject.