Schomburg Collection, New York Public Library

The RBF supported the New York Public Library (NYPL) with annual grants as early as 1952. In 1968, it made a special $25,000 gift toward the preservation of the Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature and History, which had deteriorated severely. The collection, compiled by Arthur A. Schomburg in the early 20th century, is one of the world’s most important repositories of African and African American history. The Carnegie Corporation purchased the collection in 1926 and donated it to the NYPL. By the late 1960s, the collection’s decay had drawn charges of neglect from scholars and the Harlem community. The Fund’s gift helped prompt support from the federal government and other private sources. The RBF increased its general support to the NYPL throughout the 1970s, as the Library began to face serious deficit problems. RBF President William Dietel joined the NYPL board to help with long-term strategy, and the RBF subsequently underwrote several professional feasibility studies. In 1979, the Fund gave $1 million toward the renovation of the main building’s gallery and an endowment for programs.

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Browse the major events in the Rockefeller Brothers Fund's history