A Guide to the John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Collection, 1808-
John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) was born in Richford, New York to William Avery Rockefeller and Eliza Davison. In 1853, he moved with his family to Cleveland, Ohio where he studied bookkeeping. With partner Maurice B. Clark, Rockefeller built an oil refinery in 1863 and bought out his partner two years later. In 1864, he married Laura Celestia “Cettie” Spelman, with whom he had four children. Two years later, Rockefeller joined his brother William to establish Rockefeller, Andrews, & Flagler, which was at that time the largest oil refinery in the world. In 1870, Rockefeller’s company was renamed Standard Oil, and incorporated numerous competing oil competitors throughout the 1870s. In order to more efficiently manage his growing business interests, Rockefeller became the founder, chairman and major shareholder of Standard Oil Trust, a conglomerate of forty-one separate companies. Standard Oil’s nearly complete control of oil refining and marketing by the end of the 1870s resulted in accusations of monopoly and the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission and Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.
Rockefeller was an active philanthropist, who gave regularly causes relating to higher education, including the establishment of Spelman College and the University of Chicago; medical science; and the Northern Baptist Church. In 1913, he created the Rockefeller Foundation, a private philanthropic organization.
Source: John D. Rockefeller Biography. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Accessed August 1, 2011.http://www.notablebiographies.com/Pu-Ro/Rockefeller-John-D.html.
Correspondence, telegrams, and photographs comprise the John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Collection, 1908-1923, documenting Rockefeller’s correspondence with Henry S. Davis, a long-time acquaintance and perhaps an early employee of Standard Oil. Letters concern the death of Rockefeller’s wife Cettie in 1915, Rockefeller’s birthday (1916 and 1922), the death of his brother William in 1922, and the destruction of Rockefeller’s Cleveland home in 1917. Additionally, the collection includes a secretarial letter to Davis (1908), two telegrams to the Davis family (1923), and three photographs of Davis.
Also included are two leases and a stock agreement made between the Central Association and Fairfield McCray and Co., Petroleum Center, PA, signed by Rockefeller as president of the Central Association of Refiners, an organization of leading refiners formed in 1875.
This collection is open for research use.
John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Collection, 1875, 1908-1923, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Evan Usler, August 2011.Revised by Stefanie Lapka, January 2013.
Detailed Description of the Papers