Collection ID: FA114

Collection context


Rockefeller Foundation. China Medical Board and Rockefeller Foundation
36.64 Cubic Feet and 96 document cases and 2 film cans.
English .


Scope and Content:

Primarily documents appropriations, with a small selection of financial records and audiovisual materials.

Important subjects include: missions and missionary societies, Chinese political situation, World War I, economy, exchange, Boxer indemnity, Chinese education-secondary, premedical and medical, public health, epidemics, famine, floods, union universities, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, agriculture, trade schools, student unrest, labor problems, anti-Christian and antiforeign feeling, opium, Japanese earthquake, x-ray, real estate, vivisection, textbook translation, Sino-Japanese relations.

Among the correspondents are: Paul Monroe, Alan Gregg, Alfred S. K. Sze, W. W. Peter, George Heber Jones, Starr Murphy, John R. Mott, Francis W. Peabody, Wickliffe Rose, Frederick T. Gates, Harry Pratt Judson, John D. Rockefeller Jr., Robert E. Speer, Henry S. Houghton, Roger S. Greene, Wallace Buttrick, Amos P. Wilder, Edward H. Hume, Simon Flexner, Walter H. Page, Cecil Davenport, Franklin C. McLean, N. Gist Gee, Paul Reinsch, Chang Poling, Wellington Koo, Sidney Gulick, L. C. Goodrich, Ernest D. Burton, William W. Cadbury, John B. Grant, William Welch, Barry Smith, Hans Zissner, G. E. DeSchweinitz, Frank Mason North, Arthur T. Brown, Stanley White, John W. Wood, Stephen Corey, William E. Strong, James L. Barton, F. H. Hawkins, Thomas Cochrane, T. B. Ray, D. Duncan Main, A. M. Dunlap, Archibald P. Chien, W. S. Carter, Lucy W. Peabody, Anson Phelps Stokes, Palmer Bevis, H. C. Mao.

The Foundation's archives include:

Projects General Correspondence Administration, Program and Policy China Medical Board International Health Board/Division Field Offices Treasurer's Office Comptroller Personnel Fellowships Information Services Diaries Oral Histories Counsel Secretary Minutes and Officers Actions Dockets Declinations (100F) Non-textual Materials Communications Office

Biographical / Historical:

The China Medical Board was established in November, 1914 as a division of The Rockefeller Foundation for the purpose of developing modern medicine in China. Its program was based on the recommendations of the China Medical Commission which consisted of Harry Pratt Judson, Roger S. Greene and Francis W. Peabody. The group traveled to China, the Philippines and Japan in the spring of 1914 visiting medical schools, mission hospitals and colleges and universities. The plan which was adopted was to develop two medical schools, strengthen mission and other hospitals and provide scholarships for Chinese and foreign doctors and nurses.

Wallace Buttrick was Director from 1914-1918, while Roger Greene was the Resident Director in China. On Mr. Buttrick's retirement, George E. Vincent became Director. In 1922 Dr. Vincent became General Director while Mr. Green became Director and Henry S. Houghton assumed the position of Acting Resident Director. Mr. Green became General Director in 1925 and N. Gist Gee joined the staff in 1926 as advisor in premedical education.

Peking and Shanghai were chosen as sites of support because two relatively strong medical schools already existed there. In the autumn of 1951 Wallace Buttrick, William H. Welch, Simon Flexner and Frederick L. Gates traveled to China to develop a program for the Peking school. The Union Medical College of Peking was supported by several missionary boards, hence the word union. It was purchased by the China Medical Board in 1915 and chartered by the Regents of the State of New York in 1916. Franklin C. McLean was elected Head of the College. Trustees represented both The Rockefeller Foundation and the missionary boards. A construction program was started in 1916, premedical classes began in 1917 and the College opened in 1919. Buildings were dedicated in 1921.

The same type of program was assumed for the Harvard Medical School in Shanghai, and trustees were incorporated in 1917 under a charter of the University of the State of New York. However, building was delayed until the completion of the Peking complex. Because the war increased the difficulties of getting materials to China and because of exchange and price spiral, the Peking construction program was lengthened and costs became prohibitive. In [1917] plans for the Shanghai school were dropped.

The functions of the China Medical Board were transferred in 1927 to the Division of Medical Education of The Rockefeller Foundation and in November, 1928, the land and buildings of the Peking Union Medical College were transferred to the China Medical Board, Incorporated, an independent organization.

The Rockefeller Foundation:

The Rockefeller Foundation was established by act of the New York State Legislature approved by the Governor on May 14, 1913, "to promote the well-being of mankind throughout the world." Between 1913 and 1928 the China Medical Board, the International Health Board, and the Division of Medical Education functioned as divisions of the Foundation, concentrating on the administration of programs in public health and medical education. A Division of Studies was created in 1923 to handle projects outside the medical field. These early years were experimental as the new foundation studied the methods of philanthropy and explored its relationships with other Rockefeller boards.

Although the Rockefeller Foundation is the largest and best known philanthropy founded by the Rockefeller family, it was neither the first nor the last to be established. The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (1901), the General Education Board (1902), the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease (1909), and the Bureau of Social Hygiene (1911) all existed earlier. When the Foundation was created, the Sanitary Commission was disbanded. After the establishment of the Foundation, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial (1918) and the International Education Board (1923) were created.

The Rockefeller boards and their programs were reconsidered and reorganized in 1927-1928 in order to avoid overlapping programs. The International Health Board of the Foundation was disbanded and an International Health Division was organized. The China Medical Board, Inc., was established as a separately incorporated institution, and the China Medical Board of the Foundation ceased to exist. The Division of Studies was dropped and the Division of Medical Education was phased out. The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial was combined with the Foundation and the Spelman Fund of New York was chartered to continue activities of the LSRM that were not absorbed by the Foundation. The International Education Board was disbanded.

As a result of this reorganization, the Foundation adopted a program which included public health work (administered by the IHD), the advancement of knowledge in the medical and natural sciences (in part taken over from the IEB), the social sciences (formerly the field of the LSRM), and the humanities and arts (shared with the GEB). The Rockefeller Institute and the Bureau of Social Hygiene were not affected by the reorganization. The program adopted by the Foundation at this time remained basically the same for the next twenty years.

As its files accumulated, the Foundation maintained a card index recording the names of institutional and individual grantees and correspondents. A microfilm copy of this index is available at the Archive Center.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Online content



Open for research. Brittle or damaged items are available at the discretion of RAC. Researchers interested in accessing digital media (floppy disks, CDs, DVDs, etc.) or audiovisual material (audio cassettes, VHS, etc.) in this collection must use an access surrogate. The original items may not be accessed because of preservation concerns. To request an access surrogate be made, or if you are unsure if there is an access surrogate, please contact an archivist.


Rockefeller Foundation has title, copyright, and literary rights in the collection, in so far as it holds them. Rockefeller Archive Center has authority to grant permission to cite and publish archival material from the collection.

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