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Julius Rosenwald Fund (1917-1948) | Amistad Research Center

Name: Julius Rosenwald Fund (1917-1948)

Historical Note:

The Julius Rosenwald Fund was chartered by Sears, Roebuck and Company magnate Julius Rosenwald (1862-1932) in 1917 "for the well-being of mankind." The fund concentrated on the equalization of opportunities among Americans, including the funding of schools for African Americans in the rural South. Unlike other philanthropic organizations, the fund was not designed to last in perpetuity. During its existence, the Julius Rosenwald Fund provided over 70 million dollars in funding to a variety of college and universities, Jewish charities, and African American schools before its funds were exhausted in 1948.

Julius Rosenwald was introduced to Booker T. Washington by Paul J. Sachs and was asked to serve on the Board of Directors of the Tuskegee Institute in 1912. Guided by Washington, Rosenwald supported the growth of public education for rural southern Blacks by assisting Washington on a program administered by the Tuskegee Institute from 1913 to 1920 for the construction of school facilities for African American children in the South.  One of the largest programs administered by the Rosenwald Fund was the rural school building program, which provided money for toward the construction of over 5000 schools and teachers' homes, which became known as "Rosenwald Schools."

Apart from funding educational opportunities, the Rosenwald Fund also provided monies to improve the health of African Americans, improvements in U.S. agriculture, and toward fellowships to African Americans. From 1917 until 1928, the fund remained largely under the personal control of Julius Rosenwald. The Fund was reorganized on January 1, 1928, when Edwin Rogers Embree (1883-1950) became president of the Fund and a newly created Board of Directors was created with full-time staff headquartered in Chicago.

From 1928 to 1948, the Fund's Fellowship Program awarded grants to hundreds of African American writers, educators, artists and scholars, as well as southern Whites with interests in race relations. Rosenwald Fellows included many of the leading artists and writers of the day. Having expended over $22 million dollars in funding, the Julius Rosenwald fund was dissolved in 1948.

Sources: Finding aid for Julius Rosenwald Fund archives
Note Author: Christopher Harter

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