Conferences / Philanthropy and Historical Research

A Grantee’s Freedom and Independence

Editors’ Note: In anticipation of “An American Dilemma for the 21st Century” conference at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in NYC next Wednesday (where she will be presenting), HistPhil co-editor Maribel Morey encourages here on HistPhil some dialogue on the relative constraints and freedoms of the funder-grantee relationship, a topic of mutual interest to both scholars and practitioners of philanthropy.

In 2004, a Carnegie Corporation newsletter noted that “Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, [is] generally viewed as one of the most important results of grantmaking by Carnegie Corporation of New York.” Predictably with such a significant study, mythological stories abound on how and why the study came to be. And quite early on, Carnegie Corporation President Frederick P. Keppel fostered such myths in his own foreword to An American Dilemma where—for his own strategic reasons—he centered deceased trustee Newton D. Baker as the book’s initiator and emphasized the independence of Gunnar Myrdal as director of the study.

In this way, and citing Ellen Condliffe Lagemann’s The Politics of Knowledge (1989) which also relies on Keppel’s foreword to reason through the book’s origins, Carnegie Corporation’s 2004 newsletter explains that the “book that was ultimately published in 1944—over six years after Carnegie Corporation president Frederick Keppel invited Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal to ‘lead a comprehensive Study of the Negro in the United States’—was not the one intended.”

Myrdal biographer Walter Jackson likewise reasons in Gunnar Myrdal and America’s Conscience (1990) that: “Given Keppel’s disinclination to interfere with research, much would depend upon how Myrdal defined the role of foreign observer.”

Leaning on Keppel’s foreword to An American Dilemma and Lagemann’s and Jackson’s accounts of the institutional roots of An American Dilemma, many Americans long have assumed that Keppel harbored relatively narrow and vague expectations for the Corporation’s study, and that Myrdal—enjoying absolute intellectual freedom from the Corporation—produced a final project wholly unique, more expansive, and ultimately surprising to the Corporation.

In my book on the colonial African roots to An American Dilemma (under contract with UNC Press), I challenge this understanding of the funder-grantee relationship between Carnegie Corporation and Gunnar Myrdal, and in the process, also illustrate how President Keppel had much more ambitious expectations for the project. I explain that many scholars– relying on the above sources rather than critical readings of An American Dilemma offered by fellow scholars such as Ralph Ellison and Oliver C. Cox–have misunderstood both the purpose and significance of Myrdal’s 1944 study in the United States and what precisely the text’s funder and author intended it to achieve. Amplifying the importance of Black nationalist and leftist critics’ perspectives on An American Dilemma, I argue in the book that An American Dilemma should be remembered as a project with great dialogue and intent between its funder and author: a project whose author delivered on the funder’s intentions to further solidify white Anglo-American rule across the Atlantic, and most immediately, to help white policymakers in the U.S. synchronize public policies on Black Americans at the national level.

In anticipation of my presentation at An American Dilemma for the 21st Century” conference at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City on October 30th, I write this HistPhil post in order to inspire dialogue on a specific topic of mutual interest among scholars and practitioners of philanthropy: the relative constraints and freedoms of the funder-grantee relationship.

Below, I provide a visual snapshot of the routine in-person meetings and written correspondence between Carnegie Corporation President Frederick P. Keppel, his assistant Charles Dollard, and Gunnar Myrdal during Myrdal’s directorship of the study between 1938 and 1942. During the research stage of the project (1938-40), Carnegie Corporation rented offices for Myrdal within walking distance from the Corporation, making routine in-person dialogue between Myrdal, Keppel, and Dollard relatively easy to execute. When Myrdal sat down to write the manuscript from Princeton, NJ between 1941 and 1942 (and reflecting greater geographic distance between the men), the President’s office and Myrdal significantly increased their written correspondence to each other.

As I explain in the book, President Keppel was the actual initiator of the study—not Newton Baker—and Keppel did not cease being an active architect of the study after he selected and commissioned Myrdal to lead the project. Rather, President Keppel played a rather active role throughout the span of the project (in fact, a more active role than he ever played with any grantee during his tenure as president), and increasingly so during its writing stage. President Keppel and his assistant Charles Dollard read and commented on drafts of Gunnar Myrdal’s final report, hoping to ensure that Myrdal indeed would achieve the project’s national policy objectives.

Both funder and grantee were in agreement that Myrdal’s task was to propose means for white policymakers across the country to come together toward harmonious public policies on Black Americans. Within this restricted framework, Myrdal enjoyed intellectual space from Carnegie Corporation to think through the best means for successfully achieving such a national policy program in the United States.

The biggest point of disagreement between funder and grantee would center around the question of whether the white South was critical for a national policy program on Black Americans. For Keppel, white Southerners were crucial; while for Myrdal, the influence and power of this group did not match that of another group of white Americans he deemed best suited and capable of shepherding such a national policy program: white Americans in the North and New Deal government.

This disagreement between funder and grantee became most acute during the writing stage of the project. And when Keppel voiced these concerns directly to Myrdal, Myrdal responded. For example, and duly noting Keppel’s suggestion that he generally should be cautious about his description of white Southerners in the manuscript and specifically reconsider his analogy between the status of Black people and white women in the U.S. (a comparison Keppel reasoned would meet resistance particularly among white Southerners), Myrdal extracted this analysis from his fourth chapter and buried it as the fifth of ten appendices in the final manuscript, calling this Appendix 5 “A Parallel to the Negro Problem.”

That is to say that, while Myrdal enjoyed intellectual independence from Carnegie Corporation in thinking through his specific task of brainstorming ways for white Americans to come together across governments in the U.S. toward a national policy program on Black Americans, President Keppel reined in on some of Myrdal’s creative license in this undertaking and Myrdal equally responded to Keppel’s editorship.

At the end, Keppel largely was pleased with Myrdal’s final manuscript. After all, as director of the study, Myrdal fulfilled his obligation to propose means for white Americans to come together toward a national policy program on Black Americans (with Myrdal emphasizing in An American Dilemma how the American Creed could inspire all white Americans, and particularly white Northerners and New Dealers, to mobilize the federal government to further assimilate Black Americans into white American life along the lines of white Americans’ priorities, described by Myrdal as a “rank order of discriminations”). Though reflecting Keppel’s assumption that white Southerners were critical for any such national policy program and reasoning that Myrdal had not sufficiently allured this group of Americans in the text, this then-retired foundation president wrote a foreword to An American Dilemma intended to appeal to white Southerners (In the foreword, for example, Keppel not only used Newton Baker to deflect his own central role in the study, but also to associate the study with the white South. In this way, Keppel described Baker as the “son of a Confederate officer [who] attended the Episcopal Academy in Virginia and the Law School of Washington and Lee University”).

With the below timeline focused on the in-person meetings and correspondence between Carnegie Corporation President Keppel’s office and Gunnar Myrdal during the span of his directorship, my hope is that scholars and philanthropy practitioners alike will question further why many Americans have been so eager to believe the myth that Myrdal wrote An American Dilemma independent of any intellectual guidance from the Corporation, or that Myrdal would not accept his funders’ advice at times.

Even more broadly, I hope that this essay encourages scholars and practitioners of philanthropy to analyze what it means for independence and freedom to exist between funders and grantees. And instead of debating in the absolute—whether grantees such as Myrdal have or have not enjoyed absolute freedom and independence from funders such as Carnegie Corporation—we should acknowledge that in reality freedoms do not exist in a vacuum, but rather, in dialogue with other people and in societies that at times support, restrict, or simply undermine them. Philanthropy scholars and practitioners thus should shed the idea that grantees have enjoyed the impossible in any society—absolute independence and freedom—and instead analyze the reality of grantees’ exercise of freedom and independence within restrictions and constraints.

-Maribel Morey

Maribel Morey is the co-editor of HistPhil and an Assistant Professor of History at Clemson University. During the 2019-20 academic year, she is visiting international professor of philanthropy at ESBH’s Center for Civil Society Research in Stockholm, Sweden. Here is a link to Maribel’s prior publications.

Overview of Meetings and Correspondence

between Carnegie Corporation and Gunnar Myrdal (1938-1942)

October 3-20, 1938: Report from General Education Board’s Jackson Davis to Carnegie Corporation President Frederick P. Keppel, “Trip with Gunnar Myrdal and Richard Sterner.” This is a 21-page day-by-day report of Davis’s trip with Myrdal and Myrdal’s Swedish assistant Richard Sterner.

January 28, 1939: Gunnar Myrdal’s 63-page report to President Keppel: “The purpose of this letter is to present to you a summary report on the present status of the study on the American Negro, for which I am responsible, with the object in view that it will serve as a basis for a discussion of the further approach.”

March 6, 1939: Carnegie Corporation receives report of a meeting between Myrdal and Rockefeller contacts.

March 8, 1939: Myrdal provides a 10-page update to Keppel.

March 16, 1939: Myrdal meets with Keppel. Here, Keppel agrees to Myrdal’s proposal and offers suggestions.

March 21, 1939: Myrdal again reports to President Keppel’s office, specifically on evolving developments and staffing on the study.

April 28, 1939: Myrdal sends an 8-page progress report to Keppel.

May 2, 1939: Myrdal meets with Keppel.

May 8, 1939: Myrdal sends a 5-page progress report to Keppel.

July 25, 1939: Myrdal sends a 15-page report to Keppel, plus several appendices: “I am sending you enclosed a memorandum showing the present status of the Study of the American Negro with a very preliminary budget estimate attached. To this memorandum I should like to add some personal comments.”

August 14, 1939: Myrdal sends Keppel a 3-page progress report.

August 31, 1939: Myrdal sends Keppel an 8-page memorandum, “Report of Progress.”

October 26, 1939: Myrdal sends Keppel a 9-page memorandum, “Report of Progress.”

November 20, 1939: Myrdal meets with President Keppel’s assistant Charles Dollard.

November 27, 1939: Carnegie Corporation President Keppel and Gunnar Myrdal have a luncheon meeting at the Century Club in NYC.

December 20, 1939: Myrdal sends Keppel an 8-page memorandum, “Report of Progress.”

February 7, 1940: Myrdal attends a meeting at Carnegie Corporation offices, with Keppel’s assistant Charles Dollard and the SSRC’s Donald Young, whose help Keppel had solicited for shaping the research structure of the project.

February 14, 1940: Myrdal sends Keppel a 26-page memorandum, “Report of Progress.”

April 13-14, 1940: Meeting between Myrdal, Carnegie Corporation’s Dollard, and sociologist Samuel Stouffer.

April 15, 1940: Myrdal and Dollard meet to continue discussions of the study.

April 22, 1940: Myrdal provides Keppel with study updates, including news that he will need to leave the study to return to Sweden, after Germany invaded neighboring countries.

April 23, 1940: Myrdal sends Keppel a memorandum, “Report of Progress.”

April 24, 1940: Carnegie Corporation’s Keppel and Dollard correspond about the future of Myrdal’s project.

April 29, 1940: Keppel, Myrdal, and Stouffer meet to discuss the study.

May 13, 1940: Letter from President Keppel to “Members of The Staff of The Negro Study,” noting Myrdal will be leaving, and introducing new leadership in the meantime.

July 12, 1940: Carnegie Corporation’s Keppel and Dollard meet with sociologist Samuel Stouffer, who would serve as interim director while Gunnar Myrdal and family returned to Sweden during the war.

[The Myrdal family travels back to Sweden, soon after Germany invaded neighboring countries. The following year, Gunnar Myrdal and then Alva Myrdal would return to the U.S. to complete the study.]

February 28, 1941: Carnegie Corporation’s Dollard and Samuel Stouffer meet: “Discussed further work on various manuscripts. Stouffer is relatively encouraged with the progress being made./ Stouffer pointed out that Myrdal was due in San Francisco on Monday, March 3, and would probably try to see him on his way through Chicago.”

March 12, 1941: Meeting between Dollard and Gunnar Myrdal: “During luncheon with Myrdal and Donald Young, CD got the impression that the former understood clearly that his responsibility was to write his own report as quickly as possible and keep clear of Stouffer and his committee.”

April 8, 1941: Report to President Keppel on Gunnar Myrdal’s progress reading through memoranda, which Myrdal was accomplishing from a hotel in Jackson, Mississippi.

May 12, 1941: Report to President Keppel (from GEB’s Jackson Davis) on Myrdal’s progress on the study: “GM had just spent some time at Jackson, Mississippi, going through the material, reading reports prepared by members of his staff. He expects to spend the summer at Hanover, N.H., where he will have access to the Dartmouth library, and where he hopes to write most of the report within the next four months. He said he would like to have a further conference with JD around July. He will be back and forth for occasional conferences with the officers of the Carnegie Corporation.”

June 10, 1941: Letter from Carnegie Corporation’s Charles Dollard to Ordway Tead, Harper and Brothers, coordinating publication of Myrdal’s study and accompanying monographs.

July 3, 1941: Letter from President Keppel to Myrdal.

July 7, 1941: Letter from Myrdal to Keppel.

July 11, 1941: Meeting between Carnegie Corporation’s Charles Dollard and Gunnar Myrdal, over dinner in NYC.

July 18, 1941: Letter from Dollard to Myrdal, offering advice on the study.

August 4, 1941: Letter from President Keppel to Myrdal: “Over Sunday I read every word of the material which came with your letter of July 25. It seems to me you have selected the best, indeed perhaps the only, form of effective attack for your introductory material…/ I like also the general scheme for the remaining chapters. I have made some marginal queries which I will hold until [Charles] Dollard gets back from his holiday to see whether he agrees with me about them—nothing of importance.”

August 21, 1941: Letter from Dollard to Frank Aydelotte, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, coordinating Myrdal’s winter headquarters to write in “isolation and [in] proximity to good library resources.”

August 24, 1941: Letter from Myrdal to Dollard, providing updates on the study, both on staff and writing plans.

August 28-29, 1941 (Hanover, NH): Meeting between Carnegie Corporation’s Charles Dollard and Gunnar Myrdal: “CD went over FPK’s suggestions as to GM’s outline and draft. He took all the criticisms very well. He tends, more than in the past, to assign too many of the shortcomings in his material to his contributors.”

September 4, 1941: Letters from Gunnar Myrdal to Keppel and Dollard.

September 15, 1941: Memorandum from Carnegie Corporation Treasurer to Dollard, confirming that the Corporation was securing a “small house” in Princeton for the Myrdals.

September 17, 1941: Letter from Charles Dollard to Ordway Tead, Harper and Brothers, coordinating publication of Myrdal’s study and four accompanying monographs.

November 12, 1941: Letter from Myrdal to Keppel: “I am, hereby, sending you a first draft of the first two chapters of my volume on the Negro study… I am now at work on the chapter on ‘Race.’ I expect to have both this chapter and the following chapter on Population in a first draft within a month. In another month, that is, before the middle of January, I hope to have Chapters 6 and 7 on Negro Economics in the same shape. If I reckon three weeks for each of the chapters on Discrimination and Politics and six weeks on the chapter on the Negro Community, I should have the whole book, except Chapter 2 on America and the Negro, Appendix 2, a Methodological Note on Facts and Valuations in Social Science and the final chapter on the Negro Problem, in a first draft by the middle of April…/ Meanwhile it would be a tremendous stimulation to have your comments on these two first chapters and the general scheme of the book, if you could fine the time to glance over it.”

November 28, 1941: Letter from Dollard to Myrdal: “After having read your draft independently, Mr. Keppel and I spent several hours discussing it, and what follows represents our joint thinking on the subject…”.

January 13, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Keppel.

March 14, 1942: Meeting between Dollard and Myrdal.

March 17, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Keppel: “As you will see from the enclosed revised time schedule I am working under, you will not have to expect any new instalments of first drafts before the beginning of May… As it will be exceedingly difficult to send manuscripts or galley proofs between us or even to communicate by letters after my departure (let us hope that we can cable), it is highly desirable, not to say necessary, that I leave you a finished manuscript, ready for the printer, and I am putting all my energy to this end.”

March 27, 1942: Letter from Dollard to Myrdal.

June 17, 1942: Conference over telephone between Dollard and Myrdal.

June 22, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Dollard: “When you have looked over the time schedule in my memorandum to Mr. Keppel, I would urge you to come out here for an evening. I really need to talk over a lot of practical matters with you. There is a very good train leaving Pennsylvania Station at 4:00 which brings you to Princeton at 4:55. If you could take that train, it would make it possible for you and me to have one hour’s conference before we come together, all of us, with some good food and liquor. Please do this.”

June 22, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to President Keppel: “By the time this letter arrives, you will have in your hands the major part of the manuscript. With this letter I am sending Chapters 5 and 7.”

July 1, 1942: Letter from Carnegie Corporation’s Charles Dollard to Frederick Keppel: “Gunnar Myrdal is now on the last leg of the four-year Study of the Negro in America, which he has been directing for the Corporation, and is anxious to be back at his post in the University of Stockholm some time in September.”

July 1, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Dollard: “Thanks for your kind remarks after reading the first four chapters and good luck for the continuation.”

July 6, 1942: Conference between Keppel and Dollard, discussing the “Myrdal Manuscript.”

July 6, 1942: Letter from President Keppel to Myrdal: “I am well launched on the pleasant and stimulating task of reading the manuscript, and barring accidents connected with my [wartime] Washington job, I ought to be through within about a week.”

July 7, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Carnegie Corporation’s Charles Dollard.

July 10, 1942: Conference over telephone between Keppel and Dollard: “FPK suggested that wherever possible [reviewer Louis Wirth] should not merely express his dissatisfaction with a given sentence or paragraph, but provide a substitute. Also said that in its present state it was not always clear whether a statement removed from the text should go into a footnote on the page or a footnote at the end of the chapter or section. FPK urged that wherever possible it should be the second disposition, because many people would make their decision as to reading the book at all by the appearance of the page in the preliminary thumbing over.”

July 10, 1942: Letter from Dollard to Myrdal: “I have now finished reading Chapters 1 to 7 and Part IV (Politics) and I am returning them to you under another cover. Most of my comments are in extensive marginal notes which you are welcome to disregard if they seem irrelevant. I have also suggested numerous changes in wording which I thought would clarify your argument. Here and there I have struck out paragraphs or sentences which seemed digressive or superfluous. My general comments on the various chapters follow…”

July 13, 1942: Letter from Keppel to Myrdal: “[Charles] Dollard, too, has shown me his letter to you of the tenth. You and he can fight it out as to most of his suggestions without help from me, though I’ll make one exception, and that it is to back Dollard about the inherent dangers of over-emphasizing the Woman-Negro analogy in Chapter 4, and I would also suggest that you give special consideration to his comments and suggestions on Chapter 20.”

July 16, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Dollard, sending manuscript sections.

July 17, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Dollard, discussing whether Carnegie Corporation would approve acknowledgment of his two writing assistants Arnold Rose and Richard Sterner.

July 21, 1942: Letter from Dollard to Myrdal: “Mr. Keppel and I have together gone over your brief story and have only minor suggestions to make as to its revision.”

July 22, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Dollard, discussing once again acknowledgment of Rose and Sterner. Also providing updates on the writing of the manuscript.

July 24, 1942: Letter from Dollard to Myrdal. After some hesitation, Dollard accepts Myrdal’s request “to have Rose’s name on the title page.”

July 27, 1942: “Confidential Memorandum” from Keppel to his successor at Carnegie Corporation, Walter Jessup, discussing Myrdal’s study.

July 30, 1942: Letter from President Jessup to Keppel, discussing Myrdal’s study.

July 31, 1942: Letter from Dollard to Myrdal: “I have now finished chapters 12 and 13 and parts 5,6 and 7, and am returning them to you under separate cover. I have made fairly extensive marginal notes and hence my general comments will be very brief.”

August 4, 1942: Conference between Carnegie Corporation’s Charles Dollard and Myrdal (Princeton, NJ): “Myrdal and CD went over all of CD’s criticisms on his manuscript. In general, he has taken them very well, but he is fairly impervious to any suggestions that the document can be substantially shortened.”

August 5, 1942: Letter from Dollard to Myrdal, discussing Myrdal’s compensation for the study.

August 10, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Keppel: “I have today sent by Railway Express, Chapters 8 and 9 on Population and Migration which belong to Part II on Race and population and the five first chapters of Part VIII on Negro Leadership and Concerted Action. There are four chapters yet to be typed belonging to Part VIII on Negro Organizations, Church, Education and the Press. I hope to be able to send them within a few days. We are practically finished with the remaining seven chapters in the economics part and hope to send them also within the next week…”

August 17, 1942: Letter from Keppel to Myrdal.

August 17, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Dollard.

August 21, 1942: Conference between Carnegie Corporation’s Dollard and Lester, “Negro Study—Office Space.” Dollard and Lester discuss office space for Arnold Rose and his two assistants, who would be shepherding Myrdal’s manuscript to publication after Gunnar and Alva Myrdal shortly returned to Sweden.

August 24, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Dollard: “Everything is going fine. I have carefully revised all the chapters I got back from Louis and you.”

August 28, 1942: Letter from Dollard to Myrdal.

August 31, 1942: Letter from Myrdal’s secretary Ruth Moulik to Dollard, coordinating conclusion of the study, both at the level of turning over research documents and finalizing financial arrangements.

September 2, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Dollard: “I am sending you a copy of a letter and memorandum to Mr. Keppel, which is my last progress report. As you find in the memorandum, I want you, who are left on the strand, to have considerably wider possibilities when I am gone to make changes in the manuscript than you mentioned in your letter of August 28th.”

September 2, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Keppel, including 13-page progress report: “You have by now received the entire manuscript (except Part IX on the Negro Community which, as I have previously planned, will be finished by Mr. Rose after my departure, and the last chapters of Part III on the economic problems which are now being typed and will be sent out, perhaps tomorrow.”

September 3, 1942: Letter from Dollard to Myrdal.

September 4, 1942: Letter from Myrdal to Dollard.

September 10, 1942: Conference between Dollard, Myrdal and publisher Ordway Tead, “Subject: Myrdal Manuscript.”

September 11, 1942: Conference between Dollard and Myrdal.

September 18, 1942: Letter from Dollard to Keppel: “Before they slip my mind, I want to make certain suggestions about Myrdal’s report, none of which need to be acted upon at this moment…”

November 30, 1942: Letter from Arnold Rose to Keppel, “Progress Report on Myrdal Book.”

December 10, 1942: Conference between Carnegie Corporation’s Florence Anderson and Arnold Rose, “Subject—Negro Study.”

December 15, 1942: Memorandum titled “Negro Study Windup,” likely written by Florence Anderson.

December 21, 1942: Letter from Ordway Tead, Harper & Brothers, to Keppel, coordinating the book’s publication.

December 22, 1942: Conference between the Corporation’s Florence Anderson and Arnold Rose, “Subject—Negro Study.”

December 22, 1942: Letter from Rose to Anderson, updating Carnegie Corporation on the winding down of the study.

December 31, 1942: Letter from Keppel to Tead, coordinating printing agreement for Myrdal’s study.

January 12 and 13, 1943: Conference between Anderson and Rose, “Subject—Negro Study.”

January 13, 1943: Letter from Arnold Rose to former Carnegie Corporation President Keppel, “Final progress report on the Myrdal manuscript.”

January 14, 1943: Letter from Keppel to Rose: “I have just read your final progress report, and I am delighted to learn that the manuscript is now ready for the printer.”

February 3, 1943: Letter from Myrdal to Carnegie Corporation’s Charles Dollard: “Dear Charles, I know you must now be tremendously busy winning the war, but please put pressure on Mr. Tead so we get the book out this spring.”


Carnegie Corporation of New York Papers, “Negro Study General Correspondence, Roll No. 1,” Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Oliver C. Cox, Caste, Class and Race: A Study in Social Dynamics (New York: Modern Reader Paperbacks, 1948).

Ralph Ellison, Shadow and Act (New York: Random House, 1964).

General Education Board and Rockefeller Foundation Papers, Rockefeller Archive Center.

Walter A. Jackson, Gunnar Myrdal and America’s Conscience: Social Engineering and Racial Liberalism, 1938-1987 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1990).

Frederick P. Keppel, “Foreword,” in Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1944).

Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, The Politics of Knowledge: The Carnegie Corporation, Philanthropy, and Public Policy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989).

Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1944).

2 thoughts on “A Grantee’s Freedom and Independence

  1. Great post Maribel. I think this resonated with me and my research for two reasons. Firstly, I have not looked at the archives of the foundation I am conducting my analysis on – The Atlantic Philanthropies. This archive is currently being brought together and digitised. I am interested to find out what documents are in the archive and whether there may be further insights into the influence that Atlantic has had on the pursuit of specific funding projects in Ireland. In the case of the empirical focus of my research I am interested to see how it influenced the development and adoption of prevention and early intervention approaches to children’s services. Was there resistance from grantees or other partners (such as government)? What internal conversations may have happened around the leveraging of government support and funding for this approach? Some of the tensions between government and the foundation in relation to a previous funding partnership in the area of third level education, and the funding of the Centre for Public Inquiry are highlighted in the autobiography of Atlantic’s founder, which is the second reason this post resonated with me. The biography, titled The Billionaire who Wasn’t, was written by a journalist and Chuck Feeney encouraged his colleagues and friends to co-operated with the author. However, I am curious as to whether there was any editorial influence from the founder or the foundation as the book materialised. There are certainly critical passages and incidents in the book but I am interested in how these may have evolved during the writing of the book. Looking forward to reading more about Gunnar Myrdal in your forthcoming writing.


  2. Thank you for your kind note, Naomi. As you already know, these are great questions to keep in mind as you start working with The Atlantic Philanthropies’ archival material. It’s always great to go into the archives with general questions (since these guideposts help us maintain focus though also flexibility while navigating what sometimes seem to be an overwhelming, infinite amount of documents). As always, please reach out with any questions or requests (for example, to publish on HistPhil! :)). I really can’t wait to read your work on The Atlantic Philanthropies.


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