Size: 2,200 cu. ft. of records
200+ cu. ft. of audio-visual material and photographs
11,800 reels of microfilm
Contents: The collection consists of grant files, the correspondence and reports of program and executive officers from the Ford Foundation, unpublished reports, administrative records, films, photographs, building records, and other records that document the philanthropic work of the Ford Foundation.
Organizational history: 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.