Biography and History

Raymond Blaine Fosdick was born in Buffalo, New York on June 9, 1883 to the parents of Frank and Amie (Weaver). Fosdick graduated from Princeton University in 1905. He continued his course of study at New York Law School where he obtained his LL.B. in 1908.

Fosdick's professional life was devoted to public service. From 1910 to 1913, Fosdick was appointed Commissioner of Accounts for the city of New York. He investigated city and county government in an effort to rid New York of corrupt politicians and corporations participating in illegal activities.

On January 1, 1913 he was retained by the Bureau of Social Hygiene, funded by John D. Rockefeller, Sr. to make a comprehensive study of all aspects of police administration and work in Europe. He spent 1913 in Europe and later wrote European Police Systems, published in February 1915. From 1915 to 1916, Fosdick was a member of the New York City Board of Education, an organization that concentrated on the development of educational facilities. Concurrently, Fosdick was a member of the General Board of Education and the International Education Board.

Upon the United States″ entry into World War I, Mr. Fosdick was released by the Bureau to take the Chairmanship of the Commission on Training Camp Activities of the Army and Navy Department. The goal of this department was to keep morale high among soldiers stationed at home and abroad. It sponsored activities that promoted health, athletics, and recreation in order to “conserve the vitality of the men”. Various rules and regulations were established by the Department that prohibited prostitution, gambling, and alcohol.

During part of this period he served also as a Special Representative of the War Department in France, and as a Civilian Aide to General Pershing during the Paris Peace Conference. In 1919 and 1920, Fosdick served as Under Secretary General for the League of Nations until it became clear that the United States was not going to ratify the League of Nations covenant. He returned to the Bureau of Social Hygiene and resumed his work on American police systems. In 1933 he served on the Liquor Study Committee and later wrote the book Toward Liquor Control, published in 1933.

From 1920 through 1936, Fosdick was a member of the Curtis, Fosdick, and Belknap law firm. He was elected president of the Rockefeller Foundation and assumed the position on July 1, 1936. Fosdick worked at the Rockefeller Foundation until his retirement in 1948. He died in Newtown, Connecticut on July 19, 1972.

Source: From the finding aid for MC055