Rockefeller family

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Rockefeller
EthnicityGerman American
Current regionNew York City, New York, Charleston, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Ohio, Houston, Texas, Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Place of originNeuwied, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Notable membersJohn Davison Rockefeller, Sr.
John Davison Rockefeller, Jr.
John Davison Rockefeller III
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller
David Rockefeller
John Davison Rockefeller IV
Winthrop Rockefeller
Winthrop Paul Rockefeller
Connected familiesMcCormick family
Dudley–Winthrop family
 
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Rockefeller
EthnicityGerman American
Current regionNew York City, New York, Charleston, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Ohio, Houston, Texas, Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Place of originNeuwied, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Notable membersJohn Davison Rockefeller, Sr.
John Davison Rockefeller, Jr.
John Davison Rockefeller III
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller
David Rockefeller
John Davison Rockefeller IV
Winthrop Rockefeller
Winthrop Paul Rockefeller
Connected familiesMcCormick family
Dudley–Winthrop family

The Rockefeller family /ˈrɒkɨfɛlər/ is an American industrial, political, and banking family that made one of the world's largest fortunes in the oil business during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with John D. Rockefeller and his brother William Rockefeller primarily through Standard Oil.[1] The family is also known for its long association with and control of Chase Manhattan Bank.[2] They are considered to be one of the most powerful families, if not the most powerful family,[3] in the history of the United States.

Real Estate and Institutions[edit]

30 Rockefeller Center, New York City, NY, U.S.
The Rockefeller Center and the RCA Building, December 1933

The family was heavily involved in numerous real estate construction projects in the U.S. during the 20th century.[4] Chief among them:

Conservation[edit]

Beginning with John Sr., the family has been a major force in land conservation.[11] Over the generations, it has created more than 20 national parks and open spaces, including the Cloisters, Acadia National Park, Forest Hill Park, the Nature Conservancy, the Rockefeller Forest in California's Humboldt Redwoods State Park (the largest stand of old-growth redwoods), and Grand Teton National Park, among many others. John Jr., and his son Laurance (and his son Laurance Jr. aka Larry) were particularly prominent in this area.

The family was honored for its conservation efforts in November, 2005, by the National Audubon Society, one of America's largest and oldest conservation organizations, at which over 30 family members attended. At the event, the society's president, John Flicker, notably stated: "Cumulatively, no other family in America has made the contribution to conservation that the Rockefeller family has made".[11]

International politics/finance/economics[edit]

The logo of Chase Manhattan Bank (1954-60), a financial institution traditionally controlled by the Rockefeller family.[12]
The logo of the Trilateral Commission, a non-partisan, non-governmental group initiating meetings across three continents.[13]
Kykuit, the landmark family home of the Rockefeller family, located in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

The family has been awarded the annual UNA-USA’s Global Leadership Award, along with other recipients over time, including Bill Clinton and Michael Bloomberg. Members of the Rockefeller family into the fourth generation (especially the prominent banker and philanthropist David Rockefeller, who is the present family patriarch) have been heavily involved in international politics, and have donated money, established or been involved in the following major international institutions:

The family archives[edit]

The Rockefeller Archive Center, an independent foundation that was until 2008 a division of Rockefeller University,[14] is a vast three-story underground bunker built below the Martha Baird Rockefeller Hillcrest mansion on the family estate at Pocantico (see Kykuit). Along forty-foot-long walls of shelves on rails, maintained by ten full-time archivists, is the entire repository of personal and official papers and correspondence of the complete family and its members, along with historical papers of its numerous foundations, as well as other non-family philanthropic institutions. These include: the Commonwealth Fund, Charles E. Culpeper Foundation, Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust, and the John and Mary R. Markle Foundation.

In total, it holds over 70 million pages of documents and contains the collections of forty-two scientific, cultural, educational and philanthropic organizations.

Only the expurgated records of deceased family members are publicly available to scholars and researchers; all records pertaining to living members are closed to historians. However, as Nelson Rockefeller's researcher, Cary Reich, discovered, in the case of Nelson's voluminous 3,247 cubic feet (91.9 m3) of papers, only about one-third of these files had been processed and released to researchers up to 1996. He reports that it will be many years before all the papers will be open to the public, despite Nelson having died in 1979.[15]

The Center maintains that this repository of records, covering 140-plus years of the records of the family, in addition to non-Rockefeller philanthropic collections, gives unique insights into United States and world issues and social developments in both the 19th and 20th centuries.

Records in the collection are only available up until the early 1960s, generally 1961. Major subjects in the collection include:

Family wealth[edit]

The combined wealth of the family – their total assets and investments plus the individual wealth of its members – has never been known with any precision. The records of the family archives relating to both the family and individual members' net worth is closed to researchers.[17]

From the outset, and even today, the family wealth has been under the complete control of the male members of the dynasty, through the family office. Despite strong-willed wives who had influence over their husbands' decisions—such as the pivotal female figure Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, wife of Junior—in all cases they received allowances only and were never given even partial responsibility for the family fortune.[18]

Much of the wealth has been locked up in the notable family trust of 1934 (which holds the bulk of the fortune and matures on the death of the fourth generation), and the trust of 1952, both administered by the Chase Manhattan Bank. These trusts have consisted of shares in the successor companies to Standard Oil and other diversified investments, as well as the family's considerable real estate holdings. They are administered by a powerful trust committee that oversees the fortune.

Management of this fortune today also rests with professional money managers who oversee the principal holding company, Rockefeller Financial Services, which controls all the family's investments, now that Rockefeller Center is no longer owned by the family. The present chairman is David Rockefeller, Jr.

In 1992, it had five main arms:

Family residences[edit]

Over the generations the family members have resided in some notable historic homes. A total of 81 Rockefeller homes are on the National Register of Historic Places.[20] Not including all homes owned by the five brothers, some of the more prominent of these are:

Legacy[edit]

A trademark of the dynasty over its 140-plus years has been the remarkable unity it has maintained, despite major divisions that developed in the late 1970s, and unlike other wealthy families such as the DuPonts and the Mellons. A primary reason has been the lifelong efforts of "Junior" to not only cleanse the name from the opprobrium stemming from the ruthless practices of Standard Oil, but his tireless efforts to forge family unity even as he allowed his five sons to operate independently. This was partly achieved by regular brothers and family meetings, but it was also because of the high value placed on family unity by first Nelson and John III, and later especially with David.[21]

Regarding achievements, in 1972, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of Andrew Carnegie's philanthropy, the Carnegie Corporation, which has had a long association with the family and its institutions, released a public statement on the influence of the family on not just philanthropy but encompassing a much wider field. Summing up a predominant view amongst the international philanthropic world, albeit one poorly grasped by the public, one sentence of this statement read: "The contributions of the Rockefeller family are staggering in their extraordinary range and in the scope of their contribution to humankind."[22]

John D. Rockefeller gave away US$540 million over his lifetime (in dollar terms of that time), and became the greatest lay benefactor of medicine in history.[23] His son, "Junior," also gave away over $537 million over his lifetime, bringing the total philanthropy of just two generations of the family to over $1 billion from 1860 to 1960.[24] Added to this, the New York Times declared in a report in November, 2006 that David Rockefeller's total charitable benefactions amount to about $900 million over his lifetime.[25]

The combined personal and social connections of the various family members are vast, both in America and throughout the world, including the most powerful politicians, royalty, public figures, and chief businessmen. Notable figures through Standard Oil alone have included Henry Flagler and Henry H. Rogers. Contemporary figures include Henry Kissinger, Nelson Mandela, Richard Parsons (Chairman and CEO of Time Warner), C. Fred Bergsten, Peter G. Peterson (Senior Chairman of the Blackstone Group), and Paul Volcker.

In 1991 the family was presented with the Honor Award from the National Building Museum for four generations worth of preserving and creating some of the U.S.'s most important buildings and places. David accepted the award on the family's behalf.[26] The ceremony coincided with an exhibition on the family's contributions to the built environment, including John Sr.'s preservation efforts for the Hudson River Palisades, the restoration of Williamsburg, Virginia, construction of Rockefeller Center, and Governor Nelson's efforts to construct low- and middle-income housing in New York state.[27]

The Rockefeller name is imprinted on numerous places throughout the United States, most notably in New York City, but also in Cleveland, where the family originates:

John Jr., through his son Nelson, purchased and then donated the land upon which sits the UN headquarters, in New York, in 1946. Earlier, in the 1920s, he had also donated a substantial amount towards the restoration and rehabilitation of major buildings in France after World War I, such as the Rheims Cathedral, the Fontainebleau Palace and the Palace of Versailles, for which he was later (1936) awarded France's highest decoration, the Grand Croix of the Legion d'Honneur (subsequently also awarded decades later to his son, David Rockefeller).

He also funded the notable excavations at Luxor in Egypt, as well as establishing a Classical Studies School in Athens. In addition, he provided the funding for the construction of the Palestine Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem - the Rockefeller Museum.[29]

Generational philanthropy[edit]

The members of the Rockefeller family are noted for their philanthropy; a Rockefeller Archive Center study in 2004 documents an incomplete list of 72 major institutions that the family has created and/or endowed up to the present day. Historically, the major focus of their benefactions have been in the educational, health and conservation areas.

Family leaders in both philanthropy and business have included John D. Sr., John D. Jr. ("Junior"), John D. III, Laurance, and David, who is the family's current patriarch. Several family members have held high public office, including Vice President of the United States (Nelson Rockefeller), United States Senator (Jay Rockefeller), state governor (Nelson, Jay, and Winthrop Rockefeller), and lieutenant governor (Winthrop Paul Rockefeller). Another noted family member was Michael Rockefeller, son of Nelson Rockefeller, an anthropologist who came to media attention after he was presumed killed in New Guinea in 1961.

The corporate, financial and personal affairs of the family - numbering around 150 blood relatives of John D. Rockefeller - are run from the family office, Room 5600, known officially as "Rockefeller Family and Associates". It comprises three floors of the GE Building in Rockefeller Center; all private family legal matters are handled by the family-associated New York law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. Room 5600 is also the base of the current family historian, Peter J. Johnson, who assisted with David Rockefeller's Memoirs, published in 2002.

To distinguish the generations and facilitate communication, the fourth generation is generically known as "The Cousins" (24 in all, with 21 still living) and the younger family members are known as the "Fifth/Sixth" generation. Many if not all of these family members are involved in institutionalised philanthropic pursuits. Family links are solidified through the practice of ritualised family meetings - which started with the regular "brothers' meetings" held in Room 5600 or in their respective private residences, beginning in 1945. Family get-togethers are held today at the "Playhouse", in the Westchester County family estate of Pocantico, in June (the "cousins weekend") and December of each year (see Kykuit).

Members of the Rockefeller family[edit]

Ancestors[edit]

Descendants of John Davison Rockefeller, Sr.[edit]

To the sixth-generation, with 21 still living in the fourth (the Cousins). The total number of blood relative descendants as of 2006 is about 150.

Descendants of William Avery Rockefeller, Jr.[edit]

An article in the New York Times in 1937 stated that William Rockefeller had, at that time, exactly 28 great-grandchildren.

Spouses[edit]

Select bibliography[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ World's largest private fortune - see Ron Chernow, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., London: Warner Books, 1998. (p.370)
  2. ^ The Political Economy of Third World Intervention: Mines, Money, and U.S. Policy in the Congo Crisis, David N. Gibbs, University of Chicago Press 1991, page 113
  3. ^ The Rockefeller inheritance, Alvin Moscow, Doubleday 1977, page 418
  4. ^ The Edifice Complex: The Architecture of Power, By Deyan Sudjic, Penguin, 7 Apr 2011, page 245-255
  5. ^ "Rockefeller Archive Center "Family, OMR"". Rockarch.org. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  6. ^ "John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and the Van Tassel Apartments, Rockefeller Archive Newsletter, Fall 1997" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  7. ^ The Morningside Heights housing project - see David Rockefeller, Memoirs, New York: Random House, 2002. (pp.385-87).
  8. ^ "UChicago.edu, "News, Nobel"". News.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  9. ^ Funded colleges and Ivy League universities - see Robert Shaplen, Toward the Well-Being of Mankind: Fifty Years of the Rockefeller Foundation, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964. (passim)
  10. ^ Google Books: Rockefeller and the Internationalization of Mathematics. Books.google.com. 2003-04-01. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  11. ^ a b Depalma, Anthony (November 15, 2005). "They Saved Land Like Rockefellers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  12. ^ The Political Economy of Third World Intervention: Mines, Money, and U.S. Policy in the Congo Crisis, David N. Gibbs, University of Chicago Press 1991, page 113
  13. ^ "David Rockefeller". Trilateral Commission. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Rockarch.org; see also "New Governance at the Rockefeller Archive Center," Rockefeller Archive Center Newsletter, 2008, p.3
  15. ^ Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) papers on Nelson not released - see Cary Reich, The Life of Nelson A. Rockefeller: Worlds to Conquer 1908-1958, New York: Doubleday, 1996.(pp.774-5) (Note: Reich died before completing the second volume of his life.)
  16. ^ "The Rockefeller Archive Center". Rockarch.org. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  17. ^ "Rockefeller Archive Center "Family, JDR"". Rockarch.org. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  18. ^ Women in the family with no control over the family fortune—see Bernice Kert, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller: The Woman in the Family. New York: Random House, 1993. (p.100)
  19. ^ Managing the family wealth, 1992 New York Times article Rockefeller Family Tries to Keep A Vast Fortune From Dissipating (see External Links). (Note: The names and nature of these departments may have changed since 1992.)
  20. ^ "Amazon Books: Forest Hill". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  21. ^ Family unity maintained over the decades - see John Ensor Harr and Peter J. Johnson, The Rockefeller Century: Three Generations of America's Greatest Family, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988. (pp.370-71, passim); David's unifying influence - see Memoirs (pp.346-7)
  22. ^ Carnegie.Org "Rockefellers"[dead link]
  23. ^ Greatest benefactor of medicine in history - see Ron Chernow, Titan: op.cit. (p.570)
  24. ^ "Rockefeller Archive Center "JDR Jr"". Rockarch.org. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  25. ^ New York Times, November 21, 2006
  26. ^ Barbara Gamarekian (1991-03-15). "Museum Honors All Rockefellers and Gifts". Washington Post. 
  27. ^ Jene Stonesifer (1991-03-14). "Rockefellers and Design". Washington Post. 
  28. ^ Cornell.Edu "Infobase" Retrieved 2007-01-30.
  29. ^ Restorations and constructions in France, Egypt, Greece and Jerusalem - see Memoirs, (pp.44-48).
  30. ^ Comins, Linda (September 15, 2007). "Rockefellers Welcome Their First Grandson". Wheeling News-Register. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]