Photo courtesy of the Rockefeller Archive Center.
Even among institutions sustained by the Rockefeller philanthropies and family, Spelman College has held a special place. Established as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, it was incorporated in 1888 as Spelman College, in honor of Laura Spelman Rockefeller, wife of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and her parents, who had been abolitionists. By 1972, the Rockefeller family and related philanthropies had given approximately $27 million to the Atlanta University Center (AUC), a consortium including Spelman and other historically black colleges. In 1961, when the RBF received half of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s estate as a gift, it designated $1 million for Spelman and AUC, which enabled the construction of a new Fine Arts Building at Spelman and land acquisition for Clark, Morehouse, and Morris Brown colleges. In the 1970s, the RBF gave an additional $1 million to Spelman’s capital campaign, and recognized the AUC as having “favored nation” status as the Fund’s principal vehicle for supporting African American higher education.