The Rockefeller Archive Center
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“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 Foundation Archives
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Size: 6,120 cu.ft.

Contents: The collection is arranged in nineteen record groups and the Cox and Reece Investigations.

  1. Projects, 1912-1989
  2. General Correspondence, 1927-1989
  3. Administration, Program and Policy, 1910, (1913-1989)
  4. China Medical Board, 1913-1929
  5. International Health Board/Division, 1910, (1913-1927)-1951
  6. Field Offices
  7. Treasurer's Office
  8. Comptroller
  9. Personnel (CLOSED)
  10. Fellowships
  11. Information Services (CLOSED)
  12. Officers' Diaries
  13. Oral Histories
  14. Counsel (CLOSED)
  15. Secretary
  16. Minutes and Annual Reports
  17. Dockets
  18. Declinations
  19. Non-Textual Materials

  20. Cox and Reece Investigations, 1952-1954 (Records: 1917-1969)
Material more than 20 years old in record groups 1-8 and 15-19 is open. There is a microfilm card index for personal and institutional names for record groups 1 through 5. There is limited access to record groups 12-13. As indicated, record groups 9-11 and 14 are closed.

The Rockefeller Foundation's Annual Report Archive

Cumulative Index for the Annual Reports of The Rockefeller Foundation, 1913-2003

Photograph Collection: Yes

Organizational History: The Rockefeller Foundation (RF) was established in 1913 by John D. Rockefeller "to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world." From its earliest years, the Foundation has been both a grant-making and direct operating institution. It has given more than $1.8 billion to thousands of grantees worldwide and has assisted directly in the training of nearly 13,000 Rockefeller Fellows.

Philanthropic activity has been divided into five main subject areas:

  1. medical, health, and population sciences
  2. agricultural and natural sciences
  3. arts and humanities
  4. social sciences
  5. international relations
The emphasis on each of these subject areas within the Foundation's program as a whole has varied over time as RF officers have identified new needs.

In its early years, the Foundation made numerous small grants in many fields or to specific worthy causes, but officials soon concluded that concentration in a few carefully selected fields would encourage innovation. As a result, several distinct divisions were created within the RF. Recognizing the domestic success of the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease, the Foundation formed the International Health Board (IHB) to extend its public health work overseas.

The Foundation also established the China Medical Board (CMB) in its first years to develop a system of modern western medical education in China. In 1919, a formal Medical Education Division was established to carry out a program of medical education outside the U.S. ( The General Education Board (GEB), a separate Rockefeller philanthropy, was responsible for U.S. medical education.) Within this program, grants were made to related fields such as nursing and hospital and dispensary development. Fellowships in physics and chemistry through the National Research Council became a continuing interest in 1919. From 1919 to 1923, a Division of Studies within the RF was responsible for projects not covered by the IHB, CMB or Medical Education Division.

In addition to work in these specific fields, the RF played a large part in war relief during World War I, sending more than $22 million in supplies to Belgium, Poland, Serbia, Armenia, and other countries.

As a result of a reorganization of the Rockefeller philanthropies in 1929, the Foundation was merged with the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, integrating its social sciences program, and it inherited the natural science and humanities programs of the GEB and the International Education Board. The China Medical Board was separately incorporated, leaving the International Health Division as the only formal division within the RF.

During the 1930s, the Foundation emphasized "the advancement of knowledge" and its application to improve the human condition through support of research and training in such fields as agriculture and forestry, psychiatry, earth sciences, reproductive biology, international relations and community organization and planning. The Foundation also entered new fields in the humanities and arts: libraries and museums, drama, radio, motion pictures, American Studies, and the collection and interpretation of native cultural materials.

Between 1933 and 1955 the Rockefeller Foundation contributed $1.5 million toward the identification and assistance of 303 European scientists and scholars displaced by racial and political persecution by Nazi and Fascist regimes. Support from the Rockefeller Foundation enabled these refugee scholars to relocate, and many went to universities in the United States. Read Thomas B. Appleget's, "The Foundation's Experience with Refugee Scholars" (March 5, 1946), which provides an overview of the foundation's work in this field and lists the specific scholars aided by the program.

In 1943 the Foundation began field operations in Mexico. This cooperative effort with the Mexican Department of Agriculture was designed to increase production of basic food crops. Success in Mexico encouraged extension of the agricultural program to Latin America, India, the Philippines, and other countries. During the 1940s the RF also supported a program of language studies, as well as a study to determine the effects of forced resettlement of the Japanese population as a U.S. wartime measure.

In 1951, the International Health Division was merged with the medical sciences program, and public health activity was de-emphasized. Population studies, international relations, legal and political philosophy, institutional support of the arts, historical research, and agriculture were the main areas of grants during the 1950s.

During the 1960s a formal population program was established. Grants were made to various institutions for the purpose of improving race relations. In 1968, the RF convened U.S. and foreign experts at an international symposium, "Strategy for the Conquest of Hunger," to develop a plan to eradicate world hunger.

Cooperative efforts with the Ford Foundation during the 1970s included CGIAR (the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research), and regional research programs to improve understanding of population development links in Third World countries. Social history, including women's history, family history, and the use of oral history and film to document America's cultural heritage, was another new area in which the RF made grants. Grants in the humanities continued, including a fellowship program.

Descriptions of selected record groups in the Rockefeller Foundation collection follow.

The Rockefeller Foundation Timeline

RG 1. PROJECTS, 1912-2000.

Size: 2,500 cubic feet

Contents: These project, or grant, files constitute the largest portion of the RF archives. Files in RG 1 document the life cycle of a grant from initial inquiries to the conclusion of the grant. Records typically include correspondence, institutional minutes, internal RF reports, publications, RF officer diary excerpts, and Foundation grant actions.

Arrangement: Records are arranged by geographic area and thereunder alphabetically by subject.

An Alphabetical Guide to Country Codes in the Rockefeller Foundation Archives

Material more than twenty years old is open. A substantial portion of this record group has been processed, and finding aids permit easy access to the unprocessed material.

Record Group 1.1 Projects, Series 600 Asia and Far East; 601 China (Product No. 3299) are available for purchase from Scholarly Resources Inc., 104 Greenhill Avenue., Wilmington, Delaware 19805-1897, Tel.: 1-800-772-8937 Fax: 302-654-3871 e-mail:

Record Group 1.1 Projects, Series 751, Italy has been microfilmed and a guide to the microfilm is available. This material is concentrated in the 1930s and 1940s. Included is a Public Health Survey of 1949; files on universities that received RF grants in medical science (1920-1957); reports by F. Elisabeth Crowell on nursing (1922, 1924); material dealing with natural science grants to universities; and reports on malaria.

The Archive Center has a microfilm version of the card index maintained by the foundation staff. This index permits easy access to material about specific institutions and individuals who corresponded with and/or received financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation.


Size: 1,167 cubic feet

Contents: RG 2 contains material not directly connected with grants. Of particular interest are files relating to refugee scholars victimized by the rise of fascism in Europe (supplementing material found in the project files), material relating to public health (supplementing files of the International Health Board/Division), and correspondence documenting the Foundation's cooperation with the United Nations and U.S. government agencies.

The material includes interoffice memoranda; correspondence with field officers and the home office; forms and other material relating to fellowships; casual requests for information, employment, or aid; printed matter, and crank mail. The volume of annual correspondence expanded considerably between 1940 and 1960.

Arrangement: Material more than twenty years old is open. Correspondence is chronologically arranged; processing is completed through 1957; material for subsequent years has been processed and microfilmed.


Size: 194 cubic feet

Contents: RG 3 is arranged in twenty-eight series by administrative function or area of program activity. Files include correspondence, memoranda, minutes, and reports which reflect the decisions made and agendas established by the RF officers and trustees as well as the day-to-day details of running the Foundation. The material documents the RF's initial interest in a field and the development of a strategy for supporting it. Included is a 21-volume history of the Foundation's programs (1909-1939).

RG 4. CHINA MEDICAL BOARD, 1913-1929. 40 cu.ft. See also China Medical Board of New York

Size: 40 cubic feet

Contents: The record group includes correspondence, administrative and financial records, and minutes and reports retained by the Rockefeller Foundation after the Board was separately incorporated in 1927. Most of the material relates to hospitals, organizations, and individuals in China. Only 2 cubic feet directly relates to the PUMC. See also the description of the China Medical Board of New York, Inc. collection.

Arrangement: Arranged in three series:
  1. Appropriations (38 cu.ft.)
  2. Financial
  3. Minutes and Annual Reports
Series 1 is divided into 2 subseries, 1913-1918 and 1919-1929.

Organizational History: The China Medical Board (CMB) was established upon the recommendations of the China Medical Commission in 1914 as a division of the Rockefeller Foundation to develop modern western medicine in China. The Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) was established in 1917 as part of the CMB's program. It served as a research center as well as a medical school. Plans to develop a second school were delayed and ultimately abandoned.

The Board ceased to be a division of the Foundation in 1927, and the funding of medical projects in Asia was taken over by the Medical Education Division of the RF. Ownership of the PUMC was given to the China Medical Board, Inc., which was created to support the PUMC and/or similar institutions in the Far East or the U.S. A concluding grant of $10 million from the RF to the China Medical Board, Inc. was made in 1947.

RG 5. INTERNATIONAL HEALTH BOARD, 1911-(1913-1927)-1951.

Size: 315 cubic feet

Contents: RG 5 includes correspondence, reports, and financial records of the Board's work in the investigation and control of specific diseases (hookworm, malaria, yellow fever, yaws, schistosomiasis, etc.) and public health education, experimentation, and demonstrations in the United States and overseas.

Arrangement: Material is arranged in four series:
  1. Correspondence (General and Project)
  2. Special Reports
  3. Routine Reports
  4. Rockefeller Institute Virus Laboratories
Organizational History: In 1913, the Rockefeller Foundation established The International Health Board (known as the International Health Commission until 1916, when its name changed to the International Health Board) for the purpose of extending the work of the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease. In addition to hookworm, the Board's early public health activities included control of yellow fever, malaria, tuberculosis, public health education, virus studies and related research. In 1927, the Board was disbanded. Its work was continued by the new International Health Division of the Foundation. In 1951, the International Health Division was merged with the medical sciences program and public health activity was de-emphasized.


RF Field Offices were established in locations around the world. A list of open Field Offices appears below.


Size: 211 cubic feet

Contents: Most of the fellowship files consist of an application, accompanied by a photo of the applicant, and other pertinent background information such as curriculum vitae, a listing and/or copies of their publications, theses, articles, correspondence and grant information. The inventory for the fellowship files includes the fellow’s name, gender, country of origin, and discipline. This will allow for searches by country, date and/or discipline, in addition to name.

Restrictions: To ensure individual privacy, medical and student records are restricted from public access and are closed to research. Until more thorough processing is completed, fellowship files requested for research will be reviewed by an archivist. Information on the fellowship recorder cards (RG 10.2) was collected from the fellowship files (RG 10.1) by RF administrative staff. The recorder cards are available for research without restriction. In addition to information about RF fellows, the recorder cards also document awards given by the General Education Board, the International Education Board, and the China Medical Board.

Arrangement: Material is arranged in 2 series:
  • 10.1 -  Fellowship Program Files
  • 10.2 -  Fellowship Recorder Cards
History: The Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship Program began in 1917 with a few appointments and grew gradually so that by 1925 there were several hundred fellowships awarded annually. By the time the foundation published its Directory of Fellowships and Scholarships, 1917-1970 (1972), approximately 9,500 individuals from around the world had received such support from one of the foundation's five divisions: International Health, Medical Sciences, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities. Direct applications were discouraged; potential applicants were identified by RF officers from staff at universities, research institutes and governmental bodies. A fellowship award was typically for one or two years, and the program required fellows to travel and study outside of their native country.


Size: 43.5 cubic feet

Contents: The preponderance of the collection consists of various summaries of the Rockefeller Foundation and GEB grant administration files prepared by the Foundation staff for use by senior staff and Foundation counsel as they responded to written questions from the Cox and Reece investigations and as they prepared for Dean Rusk’s testimony at the Cox committee hearing.

Arrangement: The Cox and Reece Investigations are arranged into 4 series:
  1. Digest files
  2. Witness Statement files
  3. Washington D.C. Files
  4. Background Information and Miscellaneous
Photograph Collection: No

History of the Cox and Reece Investigations at the Rockefeller Foundation:

The Cox and Reece Investigation files document the Rockefeller Foundation and General Education Board's preparation for and response to investigations by the United States House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations, which were held between 1952-1954. The first investigation was headed by Edward Eugene Cox (R-Georgia) and the second by B. Carroll Reece (R-Tennessee).

The Cox investigation involved subpoenaed responses to a lengthy questionnaire, followed by hearings, at which Dean Rusk, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, testified for the Foundation and the General Education Board, which was inactive, but which maintained a corporate existence whose affairs were administered by the Foundation. The Reece investigation also involved responses to written questions, but hearings were not held.

In the course of the investigations, the political orientation of various organizations was scrutinized, including the Rockefeller Foundation and the GEB, in part by focusing on the political orientation of grant and fellowship recipients, both individuals and institutions.

Please see the online finding aid for further information.

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