When Andrew Carnegie established Carnegie Corporation of New York in 1911, he sought to address two issues of paramount importance: international peace and the advancement of education and knowledge. In the early part of the 20th century, the foundation supported the development of scientific expertise in the United States by funding numerous centers working in the natural and social sciences, including our sister organization the Carnegie Institution for Science. In this context, the Corporation made grants in the field of genetics, which at that time often included research in eugenics.
The Corporation’s philanthropic grantmaking to date totals almost $4 billion, including $18.8 million in grants to the Carnegie Institution for Science, originally founded in 1902 as the Carnegie Institution of Washington (CIW). The Corporation made its first grant to CIW in 1916 for general support, followed by $10 million toward its endowment. This was in keeping with Andrew Carnegie’s intention that the Corporation support the family of institutions he had created, among them the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.
Grants from Carnegie Corporation of New York supported a wide range of scientific inquiry at the CIW, resulting in breakthroughs like the development of hybrid corn, radar, and genetic mapping, as well as important contributions from the astronomer Edwin Hubble, the physicist Charles Richter, and three Nobel Prize winners. Corporation funding regrettably included eugenics research. Now widely condemned as scientifically flawed, eugenics has been used as justification for racist beliefs and horrifying policies. The Carnegie Institution of Washington ended its involvement in eugenics-related research by 1944.
Today, we stand with the leadership of the Carnegie Institution for Science in their recognition of the ways in which eugenics research furthered society’s systemic racism. We support them in their commitment to becoming a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization and in their dedication to ensuring the integrity of the broader scientific community.
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Read the statement from the Carnegie Institution for Science.