Archival Collections
Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Carnegie Corporation of New York records, circa 1872-2015 

Carnegie Corporation of New York
Phys. Desc: 
3000 linear feet (2400 boxes, 400 volumes, 112 microfilm reels)
Call Number: 
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Biographical Note

Carnegie Corporation of New York, which was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 "to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding" is one of the oldest, largest and most influential of American foundations. Since its inception it has provided grants for research and educational studies in the United States and, to a lesser degree, in other parts of the English-speaking world outside of the United Kingdom. Carnegie Corporation has contributed to the expansion of higher education and adult education; the research on learning and cognitive development; the promotion of educational and public interest broadcasting; and the advancement of minorities. It has funded the writing of books and studies, as well as the organization of conferences and international exchanges, radio shows, legal proceedings and other activities. Over the century of its existence, the Corporation has helped establish or endowed a variety of institutions, including thousands of Carnegie libraries, TIAA-CREF, the National Research Council, National Bureau of Economic Research, Brookings Institution, American Law Institute, American Association for Adult Education, Russian Research Center and other research institutes in Harvard University, Children's Defense Fund, National Assessment of Educational Progress, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the Children's Television Workshop, and many others. In the 1980s and 1990s, it helped heighten public understanding of the education and health needs of children and adolescents, as well as brought to public attention the risks of superpower confrontation, nuclear war, and ethnic and civil strife. For many years Carnegie Corporation provided financial support to Carnegie's other philanthropic organizations. Through its activities the Corporation has had a significant influence on public discourse and policy. In the Corporation's early years, Carnegie himself was president and a trustee. James Bertram, his private secretary, and Robert A. Franks, his financial agent, were also trustees and, respectively, secretary and treasurer of the Corporation. These three comprised the first executive committee and made most of the funding decisions. The other seats on the board were held ex-officio by the presidents of the five previously established Carnegie organizations in the United States-Carnegie Institute (of Pittsburgh) (est. 1896), Carnegie Institution of Washington (est. 1902), Carnegie Hero Fund Commission (est. 1904), Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (est. 1905), and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (est. 1910). Shortly after Carnegie's death in 1919, the trustees elected a full-time, salaried president as chief executive officer of the Corporation and made him an ex officio member of the board. The presidents since Andrew Carnegie have been: Elihu Root (1919-1920), James R. Angell (1920-1921), Henry S. Pritchett (1921-1923, acting), Frederick P. Keppel (1923-1941), Walter A. Jessup (1941-1944), Devereux C. Josephs (1945-1948), Charles Dollard (1948-1955), John W. Gardner (1955-1967), Alan Pifer (1967-1982, acting 1965-1967), David A. Hamburg (1982-1997), Vartan Gregorian (1997-present).

Scope and Contents

Minutes, correspondence, annual reports, press releases, financial records, photographs, memorabilia, audiovisual, digital and printed materials document the philanthropic activities and administration of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The collection is actively growing, primarily through regular document transfers from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Andrew Carnegie's biographical information and personal philanthropic activity can be found in Series VII. In addition, his pre-1911 gifts, most notably his donations for libraries and church organs, can be found on microfilm (Series II), in the Home Trust Company Records (VI.A), and Financial Record Books (I.C.1). Grant files (Series III.A), which comprise the bulk of the collection) provide information on projects and institutions founded, endowed or supported by the Corporation. The Special Initiatives series (Series IV) contains the records of task forces, commissions and councils, formed by the Corporation mostly during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s to address specific issues. The Corporation's records include those of other Carnegie philanthropic organizations (Series VI), including the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Home Trust Company, both of which shared staff, officers, and office space with the Corporation for a period of time.