About HistPhil

HistPhil is a web publication on the history of the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, with a particular emphasis on how history can shed light on contemporary philanthropic issues and practice. In founding and editing this blog, we hope to foster humanistically oriented discussion and debate on the sector and to bring together scholars, nonprofit practitioners, and philanthropists in common dialogue on the past, present, and future of philanthropy. For more on the vision and motivation behind HistPhil, please see the opening post. And if you would like to pitch a blog post idea, please feel free to contact us via email (historyofphilanthropyblog@gmail.com) or Twitter (@HistPhil).

-Benjamin Soskis, Maribel Morey, and Stanley N. Katz, co-founders and editors of HistPhil.

Editors’ Bios: 

Benjamin (@BenSoskis) is a Research Associate at the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy. He is a frequent contributor to the Chronicle of Philanthropy; his writing on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector has also appeared in the Washington Post, The Atlantic online, the New Yorker.com, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, and the American Prospect. He is the co-author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song that Marches On (Oxford, 2013), and the co-author (with Stanley Katz) of Looking Back at 50 Years of U.S. Philanthropy (Hewlett Foundation, 2016). He is also a consultant for the history of philanthropy program of the Open Philanthropy Project, which from 2015-2016 funded his work on this blog. His work on HistPhil is currently being support by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. He lives in Washington DC with his wife and two daughters.

Maribel (@MaribelMorey1) is a twentieth-century U.S. historian and global historian of U.S. philanthropy. Assistant Professor of History at Clemson University, she is working on two book projects facilitated by an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship during the 2016-18 academic years. The first book focuses on the global and imperial roots of Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma (1944), a text commissioned and funded by the Carnegie Corporation and one of the most famous texts identified with post-World-War-II transformation of U.S. civil rights. Detailing networks of U.S. philanthropic managers and their advisers and social researchers analyzing white-black relations in colonial Africa and the United States, the book provides a genesis story to Myrdal’s 1944 text that is less about racial equality in the U.S. (as many Americans would like to remember the study) and more about racial control across the Atlantic. The second book explores when and why elite foundations such as the Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford foundations became especially invested in the U.S. civil rights movement. Much as with the first book, the second book project moves beyond idealized and hegemonic images of these private foundations chartered to serve the public good. They provide the human, fallible, and imperfect reasons why, when, and how these foundation leaders became particularly engaged with white-black relations in the 20th century. For more information on Maribel, please go to http://www.maribelmorey.com.

Stanley was originally trained in early American history, but has since moved on to study the history of philanthropy in the United States. Currently a member of the faculty at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, he has also taught at Harvard, Wisconsin and Chicago.  His work on philanthropy began in the 1970s in collaboration with Barry D. Karl of the University of Chicago. Oft-cited examples of their collaboration include “Foundations and Ruling Class Elites,” Daedalus (1987) and “The American Private Philanthropic Foundation and the Public Sphere 1890-1930,” Minerva (1981)Now he works with two former students! For further information on Stanley, please go to http://www.princeton.edu/~snkatz/

3 thoughts on “About HistPhil

    • Hi Linda,
      Thanks for your query. Yes, we agree that it’s important to be transparent about our funding sources. In his above bio, Ben mentions that he is a consultant for the history of philanthropy program of the Open Philanthropy Project, jointly funded by Good Ventures and GiveWell, which has also supported his work on HistPhil. Stan and I do not receive blog-specific funding. However, we both are employed by academic institutions; and at least in my case this year, I included HistPhil as a professional service activity during my yearly review.
      Very best,


  1. Pingback: The Influence of Philanthropy on the Presidential Election |

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