Treasures Within a Treasure: The Rockefeller Archives Center
By Barrett Seaman –
Perched gracefully atop a hill just outside the hamlet of Pocantico Hills, ”Hillcrest,” a 17,000-sq. ft. mansion built in 1963 for Martha Baird Rockefeller, John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s second wife, serves as the repository for the historical materials and family records of the Rockefeller family and all their many philanthropic endeavors over nearly a century and a half. It houses the records of Rockefeller University, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and now also includes those of the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, Commonwealth Fund, Russell Sage Foundation, Asia Society, and the Trilateral Commission. All told, it holds the records of over 40 organizations and more than 100 individuals.
In any given year, some 400 researchers from around the world—graduate students, professors, independent scholars and journalists—are granted access to a vast trove of primary source material—56,000 cubic feet of archival material ranging from papers and pictures to audio and film and memorabilia.. The RAC also administers a grant program that funds 50 researchers who come and work on-site. To gain admission, they need to apply.
Martha Rockefeller apparently never spent a single night there, preferring to live at her husband’s “apartment” at 740 Park Avenue in the city. The house became the home of the archives in 1975, but most of the rooms on the main floor are filled with family artwork and furniture. What had been John D. Rockefeller Jr.s oak-paneled office at 26 Broadway is now relocated to what had been the music room in the house’s original configuration. The rest of the building and an adjacent carriage house have been re-purposed to house the archival material.