About the Secretary's Records

These records consist of the minutes of the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee. For certain minutes, this series also includes supporting materials such as agendas, resolutions, correspondence, and draft minutes, and other related archival material. Every meeting is well documented, and discussions and decisions are described in detail. Included among the minutes are financial reports of the Corporation's holdings, budgets for fiscal years, treasurer's reports, finance committee reports, records of appropriation of funds, attendance lists, and meeting reminder correspondence. In addition, informal notes on conversations at meetings are included. The meetings address issues regarding both the external and internal functioning of the Corporation such as appropriation of funds for specific causes, trustee nominations, and changes in the corporate infrastructure.


The Carnegie Corporation was established in 1911 by Andrew Carnegie. In its early years, the Corporation primarily funded libraries and church organs in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the British Commonwealth. In 1913, at one of the Board’s several meetings held at Skibo Castle, the Corporation decided that they would no longer endorse recurring gifts to the United Kingdom, but their donations to the Commonwealth would continue in perpetuity. At its inception, Andrew Carnegie served as Chairman and President, Elihu Root was Vice President, James Bertram the Secretary, and Robert A. Franks served as Treasurer. The Board originally consisted of 8 members, but by 1916 this was increased to 11. Several of these Board members were the presidents of various Carnegie organizations, such as the Carnegie Institute of Washington and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Starting in this first decade, the Corporation allocated substantial sums to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching for the teacher’s pension fund. During its first decade, the Corporation was influenced by World War One. The impacts of WWI are seen in the meeting minutes, and in the Corporation’s gifts to the Red Cross as well as their role in the liberty loan program. In its first decade, the Corporation made a series of donations to schools for Black children; including a 1913 donation to Mary McCleod Bethune’s Industrial Training School for Negro Girls. Following WWI, in 1918, the Corporation began its Americanization Study, focusing on immigrants in the United States. The study was completed in 1920 and was accompanied by the publication of pamphlets such as "Schooling of the Immigrant" by Frank V. Thompson. In 1919 Andrew Carnegie died, indelibly changing the nature of the Corporation. Following his death, his wife Mrs. Louise W. Carnegie took his seat on the Board, and Elihu Root became the President of the Corporation. In 1920 the Presidency was given to Dr. James Roland Angell. While the Corporation continued to fund libraries in the latter half of the 1910s, the scope of their gifts expanded. Additionally, a number of states prohibited construction on libraries and other structures during the war.


In 1921, Dr. Angell resigned from the Presidency, terminating his short tenure; Dr. Henry S. Pritchett was in turn named the acting President of the Corporation. By 1922 Dr. Frederick P. Keppel was elected the President. That same year, the Board was extended to include no more than fifteen people; board memberships were modified to no longer include compensation. During the 1920s the Corporation grappled with its expenditures, recognizing that many of its contributions to free libraries were write-offs. Although the Corporation funded the construction of fewer libraries, they continued to prioritize libraries as institutions. In 1926 they developed a program in Library Services. Throughout the decade the Corporation continued to dutifully fund its own organizations such as the Carnegie Institute of Technology, the Carnegie Institute of Washington, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. In these years the Corporation continued to focus on education in the United States. In 1924 the Corporation began a study of adult education. During the 1920s the Corporation also began to focus on the arts, setting up a number of fellowships and buying arts equipment for American primary and secondary schools. In the latter half of the 1920s the Corporation shifted its focus to Africa, beginning “The Africa Program.” This program included a series of grants and research fellowships, as well as the introduction of the “Poor Whites Study” in 1928.


At the start of the 1930s, the Carnegie Corporation attempted to assist Americans facing financial hardship during the Great Depression through donations to organizations such as the Emergency Employment Association and the Emergency Unemployment Relief Committee. The Corporation continued to fund the arts and music, sending art and music sets to a number of primary and secondary schools as well as universities. They also continued to fund the Africa Program, and showed a larger interest in funding a number of organizations and institutions in the British dominions and colonies. This allocation of funding is separated into a “British Dominions and Colonies Fund” and includes money towards exchange visits for scholars to and from the British colonies. During the 1930s a number of trustees to the Corporation died, including John J. Carty, WJ Holland, Henry Suzzallo, James Bertram, John Albert Poynton, and Elihu Root. Elihu Root’s seat was ultimately given to his son, Elihu Root Jr. These deaths left a number of vacancies on the Board of Trustees. In 1935 Mrs. Roswell Carnegie Miller joined the Board of Trustees, making her the second woman to ever join the Board (the first being her mother). Although the Corporation attempted to distance itself from the Teacher’s Insurance and Annuity Association throughout the 1930s, they continued to heavily fund the association. In 1938 the Corporation funded a "Comprehensive Study of the Negro in America," the findings of this report were published in 1940.


The Corporation’s experience of the 1940s was heavily influenced by the Second World War, which the minutes consistently refer to as “the National emergency.” Even before the US entered the war effort, the Corporation began giving grants-in-aid to displaced European scholars. Throughout the decade the Corporation would donate to organizations related to the war, such as the Red Cross and the War Fund of Greater New York. In 1941, Dr. Frederick P. Keppel took a leave of absence from the presidency to assist the government with the war effort. This leave was extended due to health problems and Keppel died in 1943. Devereux C. Josephs was appointed President of the Carnegie Corporation two years later, although he resigned in 1948. He was replaced by Charles Dollard. As in the 1930s, the makeup of the Board shifted during these years as members resigned or passed away. In addition to their emphasis on the war, Corporate donations during the 1940s often prioritized Black institutions such as the United Negro College Fund. During this decade the Corporation also began to fund different regional studies programs such as general education courses on Asiatic civilization at Columbia University. The Corporation also donated large sums to technological institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during these years.


In the 1950s the Corporation continued to fund programs in regional studies, and they helped build institutions such as the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Michigan. The Corporation also funded studies on education in the American South. Additionally, during these years the Corporation made a series of gifts to organizations and studies focused on mental health. In 1953 President Dollard took a substantial leave of absence, he was formally replaced by John W. Gardner in 1955. Although the Corporation dissolved the British Dominions and Commonwealth Fund in the 1940s, during the 1950s the Corporation continued to donate to institutions in the British colonies; they funded the construction of libraries as well as the exchange of visits for a number of scholars. As decolonization occurred, the Corporation continued to donate to these areas. In 1959, the Corporation donated to the Federal Government of Nigeria for a study of post-secondary educational requirements in Nigeria– this is the first time the Corporation provided a gift to a foreign government. In the United States, the Corporation focused on Higher Education and programs for “superior high school students.” In the aftermath of WWII, the Corporation emphasized international relations and national security. Starting in the mid-1950s the Corporation began to fund studies on the Soviet Union. In 1958 the Corporation donated half a million dollars to the Juilliard School of Music to provide scholarships and other assistance to young artists in launching their professional careers.


During the 1960s the Corporation heavily promoted standardized testing, contributing $1,500,000 to the College Entrance Examination Board to establish a national system of college level examinations– what we now recognize as the SATs. In these years the Corporation continued to donate to the United Negro College Fund and other institutions promoting higher education for Black Americans. The Corporation also began to look at the nature of, what they called, “de facto segregation” in US schools. During the second half of the 1960s the Corporation began to donate to public broadcasting stations, promoting television programs such as Sesame Street. These donations would continue through the 1970s. In 1967 the Corporation began negotiations with the Smithsonian to turn Carnegie House into the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. That same year Alan Pifer was elected President of the Carnegie Corporation, filling the seat left open by John W. Gardner’s resignation. In 1970 Mrs. John D. Gordan was elected to the Board of Trustees, she is the first woman to serve on the Board who is not a relative of Andrew Carnegie. Her first name is never included in the meeting minutes.


In this decade the Corporation focused on childhood education, founding the Carnegie Commission on Children in 1971. This commission would grow throughout the decade. Their work culminated in the publication of their book “Small Futures: Children, Inequality, and the Limits of Liberal Reform” in 1979. During these years the Corporation continued to provide donations to organizations related to the experiences of Black Americans, such as the NAACP and the Council on Interracial Books for Children. In the 1970s the Corporation also donated to various universities in Africa, prompting the Board of Trustees to examine their history of donating to the formerly colonized world. In 1974 a committee was formed to discuss if and how the Corporation should continue to operate in the postcolonial world. There were additional conversations related to South Africa; in 1978 the Corporation showed concern over their policies with Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York– who at the time provided loans to the South African government. During the 1970s the Corporation continued to donate to public broadcasting, creating the Carnegie Task Force on Public Broadcasting in 1977. Throughout the 1970s more women were added to the Board of Trustees, representing a large demographic shift in the makeup of the Board.


In 1982 David A. Hamburg was elected President of the Carnegie Corporation. While the Corporation had promoted higher education for decades, in 1982 they founded the Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education. This Corporation’s interests during this decade were heavily informed by the Cold War. A number of grants were made to institutions and studies interested in the prevention of nuclear war, as well as work being completed on US-Soviet relations. In 1989 they created the Carnegie Corporation’s “Avoiding Nuclear War Program.” In November 1989 the Carnegie Corporation even sponsored a conference in Moscow that explored new opportunities for U.S-Soviet cooperation. During the 1980s the Corporation also emphasized work in developing countries, starting a program which studied human resources in developing countries. Throughout the decade the Corporation showed an interest in US-Mexican relations and migration across the border. The Carnegie Corporation also focused on the political situation in South Africa. In 1986 the Finance and Administration Committee implemented a policy of "selective divestment" in stocks of companies that did business in South Africa; by 1990 the Corporation began the Carnegie Inquiry into the Emergence of Democracy in Southern Africa. Although the Carnegie Corporation had focused on childhood education for a number of years, during the 1980s they shifted their emphasis to adolescent education which they conceived of as a turning point in childhood education. In 1990 they started their Middle Grade Schools State Policy Initiative, which featured a number of grants to state departments of education. During the 1980s the Corporation also made a series of gifts to programs focused on childhood and adolescent development, as well as teen pregnancy prevention.


While the Corporation’s activities in the 1980s were informed by the Cold War, their efforts in the 1990s were heavily influenced by the fall of the Soviet Union. For instance, in 1991 the Avoiding Nuclear War Program was renamed the Program on Cooperative Security, and it focused on reducing the proliferation of nuclear weapons as well as the Gulf War. In 1994 the Corporation founded the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict. During these years the Corporation focused on Eastern Europe, which it considered post-totalitarian. The Corporation continued to focus on teen pregnancy prevention programs, but in the 1990s they shifted their focus to maternal care, especially in Africa. The Carnegie Corporation also contributed to organizations and studies interested in drug prevention during these years. Throughout the decade the Carnegie Corporation continued to focus on childhood education through both its Middle Grade Schools State Policy Initiative and the Carnegie Task Force on Meeting the Needs of Young Children. In 1997 Vartan Gregorian was appointed President of the Carnegie Corporation, although David Hamburg was named president emeritus and soon began research and writing in the areas of conflict resolution, education and health of children and youth for the Corporation. From the start, Gregorian emphasized that the Board wanted the Corporation to focus its efforts for maximum impact, to do fewer things and to do them better, with more emphasis on program change than on continuity. The Board was divided into a number of sub-committees: education, international peace and security, international development, and democracy/special projects. At the end of the century, the Corporation made a series of donations to libraries, bringing the Corporation’s work full circle. In 2000 the Corporation began to focus on the 21st century, enacting their “21st Century Fund.”


The Carnegie Corporation’s activities in the first decade of the 21st century were seriously impacted by the terrorist acts on September 11th and the subsequent invasion of Iraq in 2003. Throughout this decade the Corporation received a number of large anonymous donations that were to fund contributions made to hundreds of organizations in New York City. These contributions were labeled September 11th Recovery Grants. Gregorian also ensured that the Corporation focused on Islam in the years following 9/11 and the US invasion of Iraq. The Islam Program began with Gregorian’s own essay “Islam: A Mosaic, Not A Monolith." During these years the Corporation also took note of changes made to American education as a result of national programs such as No Child Left Behind. In 2001 the Carnegie Corporation began their Schools for a New Society Initiative and in 2002 they started Teachers for a New Era; a Corporation initiative which focused on how teachers are trained. Other prominent initiatives during these years focused on leadership and journalism. In the early 2000s the Corporation responded to a number of natural disasters and allocated money to rehabilitate New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. During the early 2000s the Corporation also began its scholars program, funding hundreds of scholars who work on a range of projects. In the early years of the scholars program, the Corporation prioritized work which focused on Islam.

Prepared by Evelyn Ann MacPherson in March 2023 after completing the review of the minutes.