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ERIC Number: EJ1143592
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 16
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1535-0584
Ford's Fund for the Republic: A 1950s-Era Foundation as Educator
Walton, Andrea
American Educational History Journal, v42 n1 p111-126 2015
Historians have recently opened up a reconsideration of the 1950s. Long characterized as a time of stolid conformity and Cold War conservatism, the era is increasingly seen in more variegated terms. Studies exploring a range of institutions, causes, and activities have illuminated ways the intellectual and social soil of postwar America gave root to both vocal challenges to illiberal views and censorship as well as to modes of "quiet activism" that paved the way for later full blown protests against entrenched racial and gender-based injustices. The tension between competing ideals and values played out in nearly every sphere and institution of American life. The foundation world was targeted as un-American and attacked. According to critics, foundations--the product of private enterprise--had either knowingly or unwittingly served the interests of enemies of the American way of life and capitalism. This essay considers foundation activity as an element of the intellectual and political ferment that historians have discerned in the Cold War 1950s. It focuses on the history of the Ford Foundation's Fund for the Republic (FFR), a short-lived enterprise established by the Ford Foundation in 1952. In the period from 1952 to 1959, FFR's relatively small but targeted grantmaking and the leverage afforded by its political supporters helped to defend free thought and expression in what were perilous times. Largely overshadowed in the history of US foundations by its gigantic parent, the better known Ford Foundation, which in the 1950s towered as the largest foundation in the country (and, indeed, likely in the world at the time), the FFR--a defender of values deeply rooted in US tradition and history (civil liberties, religious liberty, and academic freedom, prominently among them) has received little attention in scholarly writings in both the fields of philanthropic studies and educational history. Such an oversight is unfortunate, because the history of the FFR enriches our understanding of the context in which both philanthropic foundations, colleges and universities, as well as other intellectual enterprises functioned in the 1950s. Under the fiery leadership of former university educator Robert M. Hutchins, FFR became an ally not only to the academy but to all institutions that promoted free thought. As such, Hutchins's FFR conceptualized and embodied the role of foundation as educator.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A