The Atlantic Philanthropies Archives at Cornell University
The Atlantic Philanthropies Archives are housed at Cornell University, Atlantic founder Chuck Feeney’s alma mater, in the Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC). Comprised of the paper and digital records primarily from Atlantic’s offices in New York, Ithaca, Bermuda, Dublin, Belfast, London, and Johannesburg, the Archives are a rich resource for gaining insight into Atlantic’s work over three decades: decisions made, lessons learned, and the people impacted by Chuck Feeney’s generosity. In the Archives, researchers can find the following types of records:
Corporate records covering the foundation’s grantmaking and operational strategies; decisions to emerge from anonymity and limit its lifespan in keeping with Chuck Feeney’s belief in Giving While Living; and steps taken to wind down the foundation’s work.
Grantmaking records spanning $8+ billion directed primarily to 8 regions around the world. Records document the entire life cycle of 6,500 grants to nearly 2,500 grantees from proposals to final reports, supplemented by files of its executives and program officers.
Stories of impact, evaluations and lessons learned captured in reports, case studies, and a wide range of print, video and visual formats.
While portions of the collection remain restricted, researchers may currently access all grant and grant-related files kept by Atlantic’s program staff.
Columbia University Atlantic Philanthropies oral history project
The Oral History Research Office at Columbia University began work on Phase I of the Atlantic Philanthropies Oral History Project in 2005. Interviewees include Atlantic Philanthropies executives, business associates of Chuck Feeney, institutional partners, and grantees. Chuck Feeney himself was interviewed during this phase. Interviews were focused on documenting Feeney’s life, with particular focus on the creation of Duty Free Shoppers, the establishment of Atlantic Philanthropies, and Feeney’s philosophy of “Giving While Living”. Upon its completion in 2008, the first phase contained over 560 hours of testimony given by 138 different narrators.
In 2014, the Columbia Center for Oral History Research at INCITE (formerly OHRO) received a grant from Atlantic Philanthropies to conduct a second set of interviews. Interviews for Phase II were taken between 2014 and 2016, with the focus on documenting the last years of Atlantic’s existence, particularly the changes in its grantmaking, as well as the challenges inherent in becoming a spend-down foundation. Phase II contains 142 oral history sessions with 84 narrators totaling 220 recorded hours.
In 2018, Columbia sent digital copies of the recordings and their transcripts to Cornell University’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.