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Ford Foundation records, International Division, Population Program, Office Files of Robert S. Wickham (FA570)

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert Saunderson Wickham was born on May 11, 1925. Mr. Wickham joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and served until 1946. Following the end of World War II and his service in the Army, Mr. Wickham enrolled at Haverford College. In 1950, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and as a member of the national honor society, Phi Beta Kappa. From 1950 to 1952, Mr. Wickham worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior as a management trainee and a foreign affairs analyst for the Division of International Activities. From 1952 to 1953, the U.S. Technical Cooperation Administration employed him as chief of their training branch and as a program and budget officer for activities in Tehran, Iran. From 1954 through the spring of 1956, Mr. Wickham was involved in highly classified work for the U.S. government.

Mr. Wickham joined the Ford Foundation's Overseas Development Division as a staff associate for the South and Southeast Asia region in April 1956. In October 1957, he transitioned into the role of Program Assistant for the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region. From 1958 to 1959, Mr. Wickham attended Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government where he earned a Master of Public Administration in economic development and, in October 1960, received a promotion to Program Associate of LAC. He became the Foundation's representative to Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru in September 1962, and in May 1965 his responsibilities expanded when he became Representative of Mexico, all of Central America, and Venezuela. The following year, in October 1966, Mr. Wickham rose to Associate Director of Latin America and the Caribbean, and, in September 1968, became the Program Officer for the Latin American region. Mr. Wickham transferred to the International Division's Population Office as its Program Officer in August 1971.

Mr. Wickham retired from the Foundation on June 27, 1983 and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Ford Foundation's Population Program was created in 1963 to provide improved support for research and to more efficiently handle grant proposals pertaining to the health and welfare of communities in the United States and abroad. In 1966, the Population program became a sub-division of the Foundation's International Division and remained so until 1981 when it again gained independent program status. Following a reorganization of the Foundation in 1992, the newly formed Reproductive Health and Population program absorbed the existing Population program. The ASSETS program (Asset Building and Community Development Program) was introduced in 1997 and included a subdivision focused on Human Development and Reproductive Health. Though the Human Development and Reproductive Health program was canceled in 2002, the Education, Creativity and Free Expression program restored the Foundation's work in population health in 2009 with the creation of a subdivision focused on Sexuality and Reproductive Health and Rights.

Biographical/Historical Note

Segment One: International Activities of the Ford Foundation: An Overview

The Foundation's aspiration to become a national and international philanthropy for the advancement of human welfare was first formally expressed in the seminal 1949 report of the Gaither Study Committee, Report of the Study for the Ford Foundation on Policy and Program (RAC Library, call letters 361.7 GAI ), which was commissioned by the Board of Trustees to chart the Foundation's future. Foundation Trustees launched Ford's international grantmaking activities in 1950 when they approved the committee's report and its embrace of peace, democracy, and freedom. Since then, the Foundation has tackled these goals using a variety of strategies and responding to changing contexts, from the Cold War to the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and beyond.

Toward the Foundation's aspiration‎al goal, "the establishment of peace", its international activities have comprised a wide range of conceptual approaches and focus areas. These include international affairs, international studies, international understanding, arms control and disarmament, international law, international economic concerns, and overseas development in nearly every region of the world. Three distinct periods emerge for the international grantmaking defined by external contextual changes and internal changes in Foundation leadership and structures: the expansion era of 1950-1965; the transition and restructuring years of 1966-1988; and the post-1989 shift away from Cold War dichotomies. During each of the distinct historical periods the consistent objectives were: 1) to ensure freedom and democracy in developed countries; 2) to foster education and international understanding in all countries; and 3) to contribute to the social, economic, and political development of less developed countries.

Biographical/Historical Note

Segment 2. Period Sketch - The Expansion Era 1950-1965

The Ford Foundation's expansion era (1950-1965) began when the Gaither Study Committee Report placed "peace" as the area of top priority for the Foundation and set the Ford Foundation on a global course. Board Chair Henry Ford II writing in the 1951 Annual Report of the Foundation, identified "the danger of war" as the "the prime threat to human welfare today." Under the leadership of the three Ford Foundation presidents in this period-- Paul Hoffman, H. Rowan Gaither and Henry Heald--and several key trustees, notably the two seriatim chairs, John J. McCloy and Julius A. Stratton, the Foundation programs were largely informed by the post-World War II desire to avoid nuclear war and promote greater understanding among the world's peoples, strengthening of the United Nations, and enhancing both private and public American participation in world affairs. The strong board presence of university presidents and former leaders of postwar reconstruction efforts in Europe also helped to inform Ford's approach to building the field of peace and international security in the United States and encouraged extensive overseas activities.

For example, the first three presidents of the expanded Foundation ranged from government and business leadership experience to academic and nonprofit: Paul Hoffman (at Ford, 1950-1953) ran the Marshall Plan in Europe; H. Rowan Gaither Staffer (1948-1953), President (1953-1956) and Trustee (1956-1958) had MIT and Rand experience; Henry Heald, former president, Illinois Institute of Technology and New York University, President (1956-1966). The trustees also ran the leadership gamut from government and nonprofits to academic: Trustee John J. McCloy (from 1953; chair, 1959-1965) was assistant Secretary of War during World War II and chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations; and Trustee Julius A. Stratton (Trustee from 1955; chair, 1966-1970) was president of MIT.

When Ford became an international foundation in 1950, it had a small staff and operated through separate funds. The expansive period in the 1950s and 1960s resulted in a large number of field offices, which increased Ford's global footprint. Support focused on a mix of US university-based programs for research and training; think-tanks for policy-oriented meetings and policy research; and action projects specifically in less developed countries. The Foundation's focus on peace, freedom, and democracy played out against the Cold War backdrop for scientific and military competition between the United States, the Soviet Union and China.

Under President Hoffman, the Foundation's work was organized by the areas identified in the Gaither Committee Report: Area One, the Establishment of Peace; Area Two, The Strengthening of Democracy; Area Three, The Strengthening of the Economy; Area Four, Education in a Democratic Society; and Area Five, Individual Behavior and Human Relations.

Program differentiation began in the Gaither era. When he began in 1953, he introduced the following programs, with international work under nearly all of them: International Programs, Public Affairs Programs, Program in Economic Development and Administration [mainly U.S. based], Education Program, The TV-Radio Workshop, and Behavioral Sciences Program. In 1954, the Foundation gave prominence to the international work explicitly through changing the program names and separating international affairs and overseas development. The 1954 program names were: The Advancement of Education, Education for Democracy, Increasing Knowledge of Foreign Areas, Economic Development and Administration, the Behavioral Sciences, and Overseas Development. In 1955, Increasing Knowledge of Foreign Areas became Increasing International Understanding. In 1956, the last year of the Gaither presidency, the program roster read: Education in the United States, The Behavioral Sciences, Public Affairs, Hospital Aid (only in the U.S.), Economic Development and Administration, International Understanding, and Overseas Development. Names changed but the program focus often remained the same.

President Heald maintained the areas of international interest of Hoffman and Gaither. The International Affairs program housed the programs based in the United States, Europe and Japan, with a few activities linking American and developing countries institutions. The Overseas Training and Research Program took over the efforts to increase American understanding of international issues. From 1957-1959, an International Legal Studies program, run from New York, helped build law programs in developing countries. Starting in 1959, the Overseas Development program comprised all the regional and country offices. In fiscal year 1964, Heald convinced the trustees to add a new focus on population, with grants both in the United States and overseas.

Biographical/Historical Note

Segment 2. Period Summary - The Expansion Era 1950-1965

With the ever-increasing budget and trustee willingness to invade capital, presidents Hoffman, Gaither and Heald oversaw vast growth in the Foundation's international activities in the United States, other developed countries and developing countries. Activities crossed disciplines, institutions, and national boundaries, although few crossed intra-foundation boundaries. Under the three presidents, Foundation staff in various domestic and international offices from New York interacted with the regional and country offices headed by representatives. Usually in this period, however, these offices in fact worked more closely with local governments than with New York staff, reinforcing the commitment to locally led social and economic development in less-developed countries.

The shared values of this early period reflected as much the continuing competition between the Communist and capitalist worlds as the concerns about maintaining peace. The Cold War provided the contextual continuity for grantmaking on the core themes of increasing American understanding of the rest of the world, building and strengthening connections not only with European and Asian democracies but also with Eastern European countries, the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba.

Biographical/Historical Note

Segment 3. Period Sketch - Transition and Restructuring 1966-1988

In the 1960s, the Ford Foundation Trustees began to rethink the role of the Foundation in the context of the era's dramatic political and cultural changes. For instance, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act created a domestic policy context in which the Foundation could more deeply engage with issues of rights and social justice. Events overseas starting in the late 1960s would extend the rights agenda to international affairs and development operations at the Foundation -- all advanced by the leadership of McGeorge Bundy (president, 1966-1979).

McGeorge Bundy was appointed president in 1966, following a significant career in national security and academic administration. During World War II, he worked with the Army's intelligence division, and in the early post-war years was a political analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations. Even without a postgraduate degree, at the age of thirty -four he became dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at Harvard University. In 1961, President Kennedy appointed Bundy to be Special Assistant to the President for National Security - a position he held for five years under both Kennedy and Johnson. Those significant years saw the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the beginnings of the Vietnam War.

When Bundy arrived at the Foundation, he initiated a restructuring that modeled government departments rather than the academic ones President Henry Heald had established in the 1950s. At the same time, he had to contend with serious financial constraints due to Ford's overspending in the prior periods and to economic downturns in the global economy. The Board of Trustees mandated an annual spending of over $100 million.

These economic constraints meant that Foundation programs had to be more selective across the range of its programs. Nonetheless, international activities remained prominent with the new president and trustees. President Bundy and key trustees such Eugene Black (1960-1968, former head of the World Bank) and Robert S. McNamara (1968-1986, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and then head of the World Bank, 1968-1981) reflected a commitment to the international activities. Bundy also added to the board in 1972 the first trustee from a developing country, the Indonesian activist and scholar, Dr. Soedjakmoto, the former Ambassador to the United States from his country and then Special Adviser on Social and Cultural Affairs to the Chairman of Indonesia's National Development Planning Agency.

To create economies of scale, Bundy unified US-based international and overseas activities under one division: the International Division (using the name for the first time). That division comprised Resources for Development (area studies, languages, and exchanges), Population, International Relations, Planning and Evaluation, and the country programs. David Bell, an economist and the first administrator of the US Agency for International Development (1962-1966), was named vice president and served in that capacity until the end of Bundy presidency.

In 1966, Bundy terminated the long-standing internationally oriented but domestically based International Training and Research Program. Several large domestic programs -- including support of centers of international studies - were phased out in the 1970s. Instead, Ford launched under its international affairs efforts a focused but robust program in security and arms control. Over Bundy's tenure, the overseas offices were reduced from twenty in 1966 to twelve in 1979, when he retired.

The Foundation increasingly turned its attention to different set of international issues including human rights and working in repressive societies, such as South Africa. The military coups in Latin America during the late 1960s and early 1970s led the Foundation to initiate in 1976 a human rights program housed in Vice President Bell's office.

In 1979, Franklin Thomas was named president of the Ford Foundation (1979-1996). In contrast to Bundy's international and defense policy background, Franklin Thomas brought to the Ford Foundation his experience in law, housing, and community development. Prior to joining the Foundation, Thomas, a lawyer, was a Foundation trustee. He chaired the Rockefeller Foundation-funded Study Commission on U.S. Policy towards South Africa and led the Ford-funded Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in New York from its beginning in 1966 until he left in 1979. Earlier, he had been deputy police commissioner of NYC.

In the first decade of Thomas' tenure, the international work was still framed using the post-war East-West dichotomy. Several trustees brought to the board active engagement in international issues: Donald F. McHenry (trustee over the period 1981-1993) had served as ambassador to the U.N. and was active in the anti-apartheid movement; and General Olusegun Obasanjo (trustee over the period 1987-1999) had been Nigerian head of state from 1976-1979, and was then president of the African leadership Forum. Along with McNamara and Soedjakmoto, Rodrigo Botero, an internationally renowned economist from Colombia and former Colombian Minister of Finance and Credit from 1974 to1976, remained on the board over the period 1978-1989.

During the early years of the Thomas presidency, the scope and strategies of the Foundation's activities were also influenced by economic and global pressures, leading to reduced assets and further financial stringencies. Thomas' board-mandated reductions resulted, for example, the firing of twenty senior staff at the same time. To achieve more effective and efficient programs, Thomas had a vision of Ford as one foundation, linking the domestic and overseas activities under new program themes: Urban Poverty, Rural Poverty and Resources, Human Rights and Social Justice, Governance and Public Policy, Education and Culture, and International Affairs.

The restructured Foundation comprised two programmatic divisions led by vice presidents: U.S. and International Affairs Programs (USIAP) headed by Susan Berresford; and Developing Countries Program (DCP), headed by William Carmichael. Berresford had been at the Foundation since 1970, coming from the U.S. Manpower Career Development Agency. She served in the National Affairs area, first as program assistant and then program officer (1972-1980), becoming head of women's programs in 1980. The main international efforts under USIAP were housed in Rural Poverty and Resources, Human Rights and Governance, and International Affairs. The other programs - Urban Poverty, Education and Culture, and Program-Related Investments - also addressed a scattering of international issues related to their main themes.

Carmichael had joined the Foundation in 1968 as Representative in Brazil. In July 1971, he was named Head of the Office of Latin America and the Caribbean, and in September of 1977, he became Head of the Middle East and Africa Office. The DCP program was responsible for all the Field Offices: Andean and the Southern Cone, Brazil, Mexico and Central America, Bangladesh, India, Southeast Asia, West Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa, and Middle East and North Africa.

When the Foundation initiated a Human Rights and Governance program (HR&G) in 1981, it was the first instance of a Ford program explicitly entitled "human rights," despite the fact that human rights grantmaking that had started officially in 1976. International Affairs remained separate from HR&G. In 1987, however, the Board conceptually linked three programs, creating a Trustee committee called Human Rights, Governance, and International Affairs, which existed until 1992. Operationally, however, the programs relating to these fields did not often work together.

International governance remained a commitment under Thomas. The Foundation, for example, had a long-established relationship with the United Nations: from 1951 until 1988, the United Nations received ninety grants from the Foundation (it received another 198 over the period 1989-2009).

In these early years of the Thomas presidency, dramatic changes were occurring in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Under President Mikhail Gorbachev's leadership since 1985, the USSR was opening up to the international community, the rule of law in society was taking prominence there, and press freedoms were spreading. The foundation developed new programs in the region, drawing on the $60 million already spent to promote human rights and free expression and increase Western understanding of developments there.

Given the continuing economic constraints facing the Foundation and rising debt in developing countries, the Foundation shifted support under DCP to smaller scale community-based initiatives in the field offices. Thomas was also charged by the Board to increase the diversity of grantees, especially to favor populations "most affected" by the problems of concern to the Ford Foundation. The Foundation built on earlier efforts and sharpened its focus on women's issues throughout the world, including shifting the focus of the population program to women' reproductive health and child survival.

In the 1980s, Carmichael and others, with strong support from Thomas and the board, continued the 1970s' support of South African grantees for training large numbers of black lawyers and litigating sensitive cases in the South African legal system. Recognizing the multifaceted nature of discrimination in South Africa, the Foundation not only advanced the rule of law, but also strengthened civic organizations, women's groups, and educational institutions. Further, it supported a number of activist organizations in the United States that were energetically advocating US governmental sanctions against South Africa and for private disinvestment. The Foundation also played a role in shaping US policy on apartheid through the role Thomas played from 1985 to 1987 chairing the US Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on South Africa.

The Foundation's overseas staff also sought to improve the economic situation in poor, marginalized communities through targeted loan programs particularly to women head of households, beginning with the innovative work in Bangladesh of Professor Mohammed Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank. The results led the way to establish the field of microfinance with the aim of empowering women living in poverty conditions, such as through a microfinance network in Latin America starting 1980 and a global lending program for women starting in 1987.

Thomas encouraged staff to share results at worldwide meetings. During those meetings, Ford staff in the country offices and in New York tried to follow the mandate to work as "one foundation." The persistent challenge toward meeting that goal, however, was that initiatives emerging from the New York-based programs, or indeed any program developed in one country, were not always adaptable, relevant or acceptable in other countries or regions. It remained a challenge to develop a unified program, despite the commitment at the highest level of foundation leadership.

Biographical/Historical Note

Segment 3. Period Summary - Transition and Restructuring 1966-1988

During this era, the Foundation's earlier interest in business and the economy evolved into a commitment to improving conditions for people living on the margins of society. The Ford Foundation promoted advancements in women's rights around the globe and introduced micro-lending into grantmaking. At the same time, the economic issues that were shaping program strategies also affected the Foundation's assets. Severe cuts resulted in a significant restructuring of country programs and reduced budgets across all programs.

Even with the cuts in country offices, in the 1970s Ford grantees in developing countries received approximately 80% of the International Division budget. The remaining fifth went to Population, Development Studies, and International Affairs. Although representing a much smaller piece, the International Security and Arms Control program from 1973 was the Foundation's most concerted effort to make meaningful inroads in disarmament and nuclear issues - those challenges most directly linked to the Foundation's historic concern for peace. By 1979, the Ford Foundation was the biggest funder of arms control as a field, both in the U.S. and overseas.

Biographical/Historical Note

Segment One: Population Activities of the Ford Foundation: An Overview

The historical arc of the Ford Foundation's work in population covers the scientific, public health, social, cultural, economic, and policy issues associated with population growth, contraceptives, family planning, women's reproductive health, women's rights, gender rights, and related national policies and programs. Gradually, in response to changes internal and external to the Foundation, the program involved women in the research and policy aspects and of informing public debate and understanding.

In sum, the Foundation's broad swath of activities related to population and human reproduction represents a significant area of continuous attention from the 1950s until the present time. (It is important to note, however, that some aspects, such as the focus in in the 1960s on population-related scientific research, was an outlier in terms of the Foundation's overall emphasis.) Despite all the changes in leadership at the Foundation and consequent reorganizations, changes in local and global contexts, and changes in understanding of what constitutes effective work in population, the Ford Foundation has maintained a commitment to this field directly related to the health and well-being of women, their families, and their communities.

Biographical/Historical Note

Segment Two: Ford Foundation Population Activities, 1952-1963: The Early Years

The Ford Foundation's first grant in support of population was made in July 1952 to the Washington, D.C.-based Population Reference Bureau. The justification was the impact of population growth on increasing food shortages and on threatening world peace, the Foundation's top priority at that time. In October 1952, Ford Foundation president, Paul Hoffman, supported Waldemar Nielsen to prepare a feasibility study about developing a full-fledged population program. [Hoffman had been Nielsen's boss at the Marshall Plan, when Nielsen was director for its European information division.] Other early grants included support to the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.

Starting in 1954, the Ford Foundation began to support the Population Council for research, training, and action programs in population control and family planning. Over the period 1954-1993, Ford Foundation provided $88 million in support of the Population Council.

These early grants also relate to the Foundation's work on the behavioral sciences conducted under the auspices of that program area and its lead officer Bernard Berelson (Berelson had a PhD from the Graduate Library school, University of Chicago; following postdoctoral training at Columbia University, he became a recognized expert on public opinion studies). In 1951, Hoffman had hired Berelson to run the Human Behavior Program. When that program was terminated at the Ford Foundation in 1957, the work on population became part of the program on Economic Development and Administration. Berelson joined the Population Council in 1962 and served as its president from 1968 to 1974.

When Berelson left, Oscar (Bud) Harkavy was assigned responsibility for the grants related to population. Harkavy, a member of the faculty at Syracuse University College of Business Administration, had joined the Foundation in 1953 to work on economics and business education under the program of Economic Development and Administration. He had no background in any of the fields related to population. Nonetheless, he was able to build on prior grants and the work of other foundations to develop the program. As noted by Harkavy, following the grant to the Population Council in 1959, the Board of Trustees began to take more seriously the question of population growth and soon family planning. Population issues had become a more prominent concern for other foundations and international organizations, as well as the newly independent developing countries. As a result, the Ford Foundation created a new overarching Population Program to handle more efficiently the varied grant proposals and activities ranging from biomedical research to field-based family planning activities in the United States and abroad.

Biographical/Historical Note

Segment Three: Ford Foundation Population Activities, 1963-1981: The Population Program

In 1963, then-Foundation president Henry Heald appointed Harkavy as the first director of the newly configured Population Program. Under varying titles, Harkavy remained responsible for heading the work in population under three presidents, until 1989. Harkavy and his program colleagues, many of whom went on to lead significant programs in other organizations, oversaw the expansion of the program and guided it through various restructurings under different foundation presidents and vice presidents.

Harkavy and his team were responsible for the grantmaking originating from the Ford Foundation headquarters in New York. In addition, they worked closely with the country and regional programs, where the program directors took responsibility for the country-specific initiatives. During this period, country programs, for example, in India, Pakistan, and Indonesia early on invested in the area of population with particular emphasis on family planning. The attention to population soon spread to other Foundation offices, with considerable efforts in Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, and Mexico, as well. Harkavy was also responsible for initiating and sustaining collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation, the Population Council, the Mellon Foundation, and various other entities.

In 1966, McGeorge Bundy became president of the Foundation and reorganized the grants programs into two divisions: National Affairs and International Division. The Population Program was placed as a separate program in the latter division, with Harkavy continuing as "program officer in charge," the new title for directors. He reported to Vice President David Bell for the next fifteen years.

Under Bundy, the Foundation began to support work on refugees and immigrants, noted as a theme related to population and population movements. Work on this theme continued as an integral part of human rights, both domestically and internationally, into the 2000s.

Ford staff estimated that between 1959 and 1979 the Foundation spent $225 million in the population field. Of that amount, from 1960 to 1979, the Foundation spent more than $100 million in support of biomedical research related to contraception and fertility as well as human reproduction. Support also included research and development grants toward developing more effective contraceptives. For example, Foundation grants led to the development and testing of the intrauterine device, the IUD. It also funded work at the Population Council and the World Health Organization on contraceptive research; it provided overall support for the World Health Organization's Special Program on Human Reproduction. Through these programs, the Foundation supported the strengthening of scientific research around the world. The work on family planning also included support of the International Committee in the Management of Population Programs and helped establish a network of institutions that focused on improving the delivery of population programs through research and training.

In the United States, Foundation grants enabled the Alan Guttmacher Institute, for example, to conduct research on population problems. Those grants included training for specialists on population communications, promoting school population education, and preparing family planning publications and materials.

In addition to the basic biomedical research on contraception and fertility, the Foundation also supported social science research related to population and family planning. While international population conferences held under UN auspices started in 1954, it was the one organized in Bucharest in 1974 (and subsequent ones in 1984 and 1994) that attracted Ford population staff members' attention. These meetings introduced new ideas about the relationship of population growth to social and economic conditions, highlighting new issues, such as fertility and education, marriage, income, land tenure, and the status of women. The Ford Foundation reoriented some of its grantmaking to include these themes. Like the biomedical science research, the social science and behavioral research from the beginning included support for nongovernmental, national, and intergovernmental organizations in the United States and around the world.

Starting in the late 1950s, training linked to research was a core program strategy to build capacity in the biomedical sciences, demography, and social sciences. Grants supported, for example: the University of Michigan's Population Study Center, Princeton University's Office of Population Research, and the Brown University Population Study Center. The Foundation also provided support to twenty-five population study centers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Other examples of training and research programs include: a Latin American program of population studies linking social science research institutions; a Southeast Asia population research award program; and a worldwide research competition on population and development cosponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Population Council. Over more than twenty years, with Harkavy at the helm for the Ford Foundation, these three partners funders worked together to strengthen the field of demography and promote interdisciplinary research and training across the social sciences, as well as linking social scientists with demographers and other population researchers.

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