A further project involved David Rockefeller in a major middle-income housing development when he was elected in 1947 as chairman of Morningside Heights, Inc., in Manhattan by fourteen major institutions that were based in the area, including Columbia University. The result, in 1951, was the six-building apartment complex known as Morningside Gardens.
In the 1920s, the International Education Board granted important fellowships to pathbreakers in modern mathematics, such as Stefan Banach, Bartel Leendert van der Waerden, and André Weil, which was a formative part of the gradual shift of world mathematics to the US over this period.
To help promote cooperation between physics and mathematics Rockefeller funds also supported the erection of the new Mathematical Institute at the University of Göttingen between 1926 and 1929
The rise of probability and mathematical statistics owes much to the creation of the Institut Henri Poincaré in Paris, partly by the Rockefellers' finances, also around this time.
Beginning with John Sr., the family has been a major force in land conservation. 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".
The logo of Chase Manhattan Bank (1954-60), a financial institution traditionally controlled by the Rockefeller family.
The logo of the Trilateral Commission, a non-partisan, non-governmental group initiating meetings across three continents.
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 to, established or been involved in the following major international institutions:
The Council on Foreign Relations - David, David Jr., Nelson, John D. 3rd, John D. IV (Jay), Peggy Dulany, Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
The Rockefeller Archive Center, an independent foundation that was until 2008 a division of Rockefeller University, is a vast three-story underground bunker built below the Martha Baird RockefellerHillcrest 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's having died in 1979.
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 available up until only the early 1960s, generally 1961. Major subjects in the collection include:
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.
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.
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:
Rockefeller & Co. (Money management: Universities have invested some of their endowments in this company);
Rockefeller Trust Company (Manages hundreds of family trusts);
Rockefeller Insurance Company (Manages liability insurance for family members);
Acadia Risk Management (Insurance Broker: Contracts out policies for the family's vast art collections, real estate and private planes.)
In September 2014, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced it will divest its investments in fossil fuel companies.
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. Not including all homes owned by the five brothers, some of the more prominent of these are:
Kykuit - The landmark six-story home on the vast Westchester County family estate, home to four generations of the family;
Bassett Hall - The house at Colonial Williamsburg bought by Junior in 1927 and renovated by 1936, it was the favorite residence of both Junior and Abby and is now a house museum at the family-restored Colonial Revival town;
The Eyrie - A sprawling 100-room summer holiday home on Mount Desert Island in Maine, demolished by family members in 1962;
Forest Hill - The family's country estate and summer home in Cleveland for four decades. Built and occupied by Senior, it burned down in 1917;
Golf House at Lakewood, New Jersey - The former three-story clubhouse for the elite Ocean County Hunt and Country Club, which Senior bought in 1902 to play golf on its golf course;
The Casements - A three-story house at Ormond Beach in Florida, where Senior spent his last winters, from 1919 until his death;
10 West Fifty-fourth Street - A nine-story single family home, the former residence of Junior before he shifted to 740 Park Avenue, and the largest residence in New York City at the time, it was the home for the five young brothers. It was later given by Junior to the Museum of Modern Art;
One Beekman Place - The residence of Laurance in New York City;
740 Park Avenue - Junior and Abby's famed 40-room triplex apartment in the luxury apartment building, which was later sold for a record price;
The JY Ranch - The landmark ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the holiday resort home built by Junior and later owned by Laurance, it was used by all members of the family and had many prominent visitors, including presidents, until Laurance donated it to the federal government in 2001.
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 Du Ponts 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.
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."
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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
The Rockefeller name is imprinted in numerous places throughout the United States, most notably in New York City, but also in Cleveland, where the family originates:
The Rockefeller Center - A landmark 19-building 22-acre (89,000 m2) complex in the center of Manhattan established by Junior: Older section constructed from 1930–1939; Newer section constructed during the 1960s-1970s;
The Rockefeller University - Renamed in 1965, this is the distinguished Nobel prize-winning graduate/postgraduate medical school (formerly the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, established by Senior in 1901);
The Rockefeller Foundation - Founded in 1913, this is the famous philanthropic organization set up by Senior and Junior;
The Rockefeller Family Fund - Founded in 1967 by members of the family's fourth-generation;
The Rockefeller Group - A private family-run real estate development company based in New York that originally owned, constructed and managed Rockefeller Center, it is now wholly owned by Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd;
The Rockefeller Research Laboratories Building - A major research center into cancer that was established in 1986 and named after Laurance, this is situated at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center;
The Rockefeller Center - Home of the International Student Services office and department of philosophy, politics and law at the State University of New York at Binghamton;
The Rockefeller Hall - Established by Senior and completed in 1906, this building houses the Cornell University Physics Department;
The Rockefeller Hall - Established by Senior in 1887, who granted Vassar College a $100,000 ($2.34 million in 2006 dollars) allowance to build additional, much needed lecture space. The final cost of the facility was $99,998.75. It now houses multi-purpose classrooms and departmental offices for political science, philosophy and math;
The Rockefeller Hall - Established by Senior and completed in 1886, this is the oldest building on the campus of Spelman College;
The Michael C. Rockefeller Collection and the Department of Primitive Art - Completed in 1982 after being initiated by Nelson, this is a wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art;
The David and Peggy Rockefeller Building - A tribute to David's wife, Peggy Rockefeller, this is a new (completed in 2004) six-story building housing the main collection and temporary exhibition galleries of the family's Museum of Modern Art;
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden - Completed in 1949 by David, this is a major outdoor feature of the Museum of Modern Art;
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum - Opened in 1957 by Junior, this is a leading folk art museum within the complex of Junior's Colonial Williamsburg;
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Hall - The freshman residence hall on the campus of Spelman College;
The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Building - Completed in 1918, it is among other things a student residence hall at Spelman College, after the wife of Senior and after whom the College was named;
The Rockefeller State Park Preserve - Part of the 3,400-acre (14 km2) family estate in Westchester County, this 1,233-acre (5 km2) preserve was officially handed over to New York State in 1983, although it had previously always been open to the public;
The Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park - Established as a historical museum of conservation by Laurance during the 1990s.
Rockefeller Park, a scenic park featuring gardens dedicated to several world nations along Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. between University Circle and Lake Erie in Cleveland.
The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute of the University of Arkansas System was established in 2005 with a grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. The educational center with conference and lodging facilities is located on Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton, Arkansas, on the original grounds of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller’s model cattle farm.
The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University.
The Rockefeller Quad at the Loomis Chaffee School
The Rockefeller Complex library at Nørrebro in Denmark
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.
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).
Rockefeller, John D. Random Reminiscences of Men and Events. New York: Doubleday, 1908; London: W. Heinemann. 1909; Sleepy Hollow Press and Rockefeller Archive Center, (Reprint) 1984.
Roussel, Christine. The Art of Rockefeller Center. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2006.
Scheiffarth, Engelbert. Der New Yorker Gouverneur Nelson A. Rockefeller und die Rockenfeller im Neuwieder Raum Genealogisches Jahrbuch, Vol 9, 1969, p16-41.
Sealander, Judith. Private Wealth and Public Life: Foundation Philanthropy and the Reshaping of American Social Policy, from the Progressive Era to the New Deal. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
Siegmund-Schultze, Reinhard. Rockefeller and the Internationalization of Mathematics Between the Two World Wars: Documents and Studies for the Social History of Mathematics in the 20th Century. Boston: Birkhauser Verlag, 2001.
Stasz, Clarice. The Rockefeller Women: Dynasty of Piety, Privacy, and Service. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995.
Tarbell, Ida M. The History of the Standard Oil Company. New York: Phillips & Company, 1904.
Winks, Robin W. Laurance S. Rockefeller: Catalyst for Conservation, Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1997.
^Rockarch.org; see also "New Governance at the Rockefeller Archive Center," Rockefeller Archive Center Newsletter, 2008, p.3
^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.)
^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)
^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.)
^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)