Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
In January 1957, Merle Curti published "The History of American Philanthropy as a Field of Research." Curti believed the time was right for historians to ask: "how important has relatively disinterested benevolence been in giving expression to, and in promoting at home and abroad, a major American value---human welfare?" Historians have done much research over fifty years to answer Curti's question. Some historians argue that philanthropic benevolence has been relatively unbiased when supporting research to solve social and economic problems; these historians interpret philanthropic support of social research as generally "compatible" with unbiased selection of research problems and methods. Other historians believe philanthropic financial assistance has been incompatible with the ideal of neutral and detached social research, that is, that philanthropic support is often in "conflict" with this ideal. During the first half of the twentieth century, the premier philanthropic organizations supporting social research to lift the human prospect were the Rockefeller Foundation and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial. In this dissertation, I work with published literature and archival materials to show that Rockefeller philanthropies were important between 1911 and 1946 in promoting an improved human condition in the United States and around the world. I respond to previous historians with my thesis that neither the "compatibility" nor "conflict" explanations best describe the relationship between Rockefeller philanthropy and social science. The best description is what some recent historians describe as a "complexity" relationship.
Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/
David Lee Seim
Seim, David Lee, ""Perhaps we can hit upon some medium of course": Rockefeller philanthropy, economic research, and the structure of social science--1911-1946" (2007). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 15502.