Home | FAQs | Links | E-Mail

Collection guides are documents that describe and map archival material held at a particular institution. Researchers use collection guides to find and identify archival holdings that may be pertinent to their research.

Most collection guides include background information on the person or institution responsible for the creation of the records; a description of the contents, strengths, and weaknesses of the collection; as well as information on how the collection is arranged, how it has been managed, and how researchers can access and use it.

Collection guides are only pointers to archival material. They describe the collection and its arrangement, but rarely the individual items contained within it. In many cases it is only by examining a file that one can know its exact contents. Most archival material at the RAC is not digitized and must be consulted on site. Researchers are invited to schedule an appointment to examine our holdings.

You can search across the RAC’s archival materials, books, DVDs, VHS and microfilm holdings from the home page or the Advanced Search page. You can search within an archival collection by selecting that collection and then using the "search within this collection" in the navigation bar.

An asterisk - * - will find from one to many characters within a word: hist* will retrieve history, histories, and historians, coo*tion will find cooperation and coordination

A question mark - ? - will find only one character within a word: america? will retrieve american and americas, wom?n will retrieve woman, women, and womyn

To search for an exact string, place quotation marks around the string: "south africa" will find south africa, but not south african

Search queries are not case sensitive. Except for the above examples, punctuation is ignored.


Refining your search

On every search results screen you will see a box titled "Refine Search." It contains categories called facets, and you can discover relevant resources by browsing the contents of the facets. By selecting one or more facets (1) you can further narrow your initial search. In order to remove a facet and expand your search click on the [x] next to the search term (2) in the navigation bar. When you see a facet under "Refine Search" that is of interest to you, you can also dig in deeper by clicking the "more" link (3) to see additional terms.

Get notified when we update the site

When you see this icon rss feed it means there is an RSS feed for this search. You can click on it to subscribe to see the most recent changes and additions in that search in your favorite feed reader.

Archival holdings are generally comprised of original, unpublished material of enduring value created by a person, family, or organization. This material often includes primary source records and firsthand accounts of events and transactions. Archival material may include a variety of media or formats such as correspondence, memos, reports, bound diaries, scrapbooks, maps, blueprints, photographic negatives and prints, films, VHS or audio tapes, or electronic records.

The Rockefeller Archive Center holdings encompass the records of the Rockefeller family and their wide-ranging philanthropic endeavors (including the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller University). Today, the Center's growing holdings include materials from numerous non-Rockefeller foundations and nonprofit organizations, making it a premier center for research on philanthropy and civil society. It is also a major repository for the personal papers of leaders of the philanthropic community, Nobel Prize laureates, and world-renowned investigators in science and medicine.

John D. Rockefeller, Sr. handing out dimes

DIMES is an acronym for Digital Information Management Engine for Searching. It's also a reference to John D. Rockefeller Sr.'s ritual practice of dispensing dimes to reward services exceptionally rendered, deliver a brief sermon on the virtues of frugality, and engage with the public in a way that did not involve signing autographs (a practice he hated).

"I think it is easier," he said "to remember a lesson when we have some token to recall it by, something we can look at which reminds us of the idea."



archival collectionsArchival Collections

library materialsLibrary Materials

digital materialsDigital Materials


We are still in the process of adding collections information to DIMES. Some large collections, like those of the Ford Foundation, Population Council, and Rockefeller University, are only partially represented; other smaller collections, including some collections of personal papers and grant records for the Ford Foundation, are not yet represented at all. Please contact archival staff for further information.

These digitized collections are presented for purposes of education and research. We have indicated what we know about copyright. Due to the nature of archival collections, we are not always able to identify this information. Upon request from potential rights owners, we will remove material from public view while we address any outstanding rights issues.

Our finding aids and library records are licensed under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) dedication. This means that you can copy, modify and distribute our descriptive metadata in any way you want without asking us for permission. The CC0 license is explained in full on the Creative Commons website. If you have questions about this data please contact us.

This license includes

This license does not include

What can you do with our description

Anything! Please use this data for your own research or projects. We would love to be surprised by what you create with this data. If you build or discover something interesting, let us know.

However, we ask that you adhere to the following guidelines: