Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Records, 1905-1979

Summary Information


Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT), founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 with a dual mission of a teacher pension fund and an educational research center, played a prominent role in research and development of educational standards. The collection contains records from the "New York" (1904-1980) period of the Foundation's activities.

At a Glance

Call No.: Ms Coll\CFAT,CC#0003
Bib ID 4079752 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching ; Butler, Nicholas Murray, 1862-1947
Title Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Records, 1905-1979
Physical Description 250 linear feet
Language(s) English .

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.



Annual reports, bulletins, minutes, cash books and ledgers are arranged chronologically. Publications of both Carnegie Commission on Higher Education and Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education are arranged alphabetically by title. Arranged in 10 series.


Scope and Content

The collection consists of correspondence, memoranda, documents, minutes, reports, manuscripts, cashbooks, ledgers, photographs and printed materials. The correspondence and memoranda are of board members, officers, staff, teachers, educational administrators and researchers. It documents administrative matters; institutions' applications for admission into a teachers pension plan (the precursor of today's TIAA/CREF) and the CFAT-sponsored research and publications. The pension plan files include detailed information about the standards and policies of many American higher education institutions between 1905 and 1930, when CFAT established and then administered the pension system.

The research and publications files document establishment of the Educational Testing Service, development of the Graduate Record Examination, and numerous reports and studies conducted or sponsored by the CFAT's Division of Educational Enquiry (founded in 1913), or by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education (organized in 1967) and its successor the Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education.

The documents include the CFAT's charter, Acts of Incorporation, By-laws, and minutes, which record meetings of the Board of Trustees, the Executive Committee, the Finance and Administration Committee, the Presidential Search Committee, the Investment Committee, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education and the Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education. The cashbooks and ledgers cover the years 1920 through 1979. The photographs are mainly of early board members, officers and staff. The printed materials include newspaper clippings as well as pamphlets, bulletins and books published by the CFAT and the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

This collection is closely linked with another archival collection, the Carnegie Corporation of New York Records. Since the founding of Carnegie Corporation of New York in 1911, the organizations shared the office space, administration, and staff. Specifically, the CCNY Records contain an entire series (VI.B), comprised of the CFAT records from 1932-1965. This time period is insufficiently covered by the CFAT Records, so the researchers of this period are strongly advised to consult both collections. The CCNY Records series VI.C contain materials on the Corporation's founding and support for the TIAA. In addition, numerous grants from Carnegie Corporation to the Carnegie Foundation are documented in CCNY Records Series III.A (grant files), boxes 75-78, 467, 467A and 1108.

  • Series I: Administration, 1905-1980

    Series I contains a mixture of manuscript, typewritten and printed documents on the CFAT administration. The series includes meeting materials for the Board of Trustees and its Committees, financial documents, and internal correspondence files. The records are incomplete, but can be partially supplemented by the Carnegie Corporation of New York Records Series VI.B (CFAT, 1932-1965).

    Since the Foundation was for many decades financially and administratively tied to Carnegie Corporation, it is advisable to check the corresponding files in both collections. This is particularly true for financial arrangements. For example, the CFAT never had a separate investment office. After the TIAA was established, Pritchett, as president of both the CFAT and the TIAA (and also 1921-23 president of Carnegie Corporation of New York) worked out a cooperative arrangement among the three organizations. Sam Hall of the TIAA staff was made a part-time assistant treasurer of the CFAT in order to watch over its investments. Incidentally, Hall also advised Pritchett on his personal investments. A joint investment office for the CFAT, Carnegie Corporation, TIAA, Carnegie Institution of Washington and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was established early in 1936, with each organization paying a share of the costs. It was reorganized in 1939 as the Cooperative Investment office. Carnegie Corporation withdrew at that time; the CFAT withdrew in 1948.

    Originally there were separate "minutes" and "subject" folders created for each Committee. In 1978 Florence Anderson destroyed all the pre-1960 executive committee folders, and put the material she considered "worth keeping" into the Minutes, Trustees files, or Internal files.

    Letters to trustees regarding committee membership are in the Trustee Correspondence file.

  • Series II: Staff and Trustee Files, 1900-1980

    The series consists of materials pertaining to the founder, Andrew Carnegie; chronological board of trustees' correspondence, and files on selected individual trustees, containing their biographical information, related news items. Many trustees have also been active in other Carnegie charities, so the trustee/staff files in the related collections (particularly Carnegie Corporation of New York Records, Series I.E) can be consulted for additional information.

  • Series III: External Correspondence, 1875-1989

    Series contains external correspondence of the Foundation. Some prominent correspondents (organizations or individuals) are filed in separate folders under their respective names; the rest were just filed alphabetically. In addition, the series contains several correspondence files organized by subject.

  • Series IV: Teachers' Retirement, 1905-1984

    The series documents CFAT activities as teacher's retirement fund, including the collection of data, and the administering the payments. In addition to surveys and lists of educational institutions, and correspondence documenting the first-ever teachers pension plan, the series contains index cards with data on thousands of eligible professors. Once it became clear, that the non-participatory plan is financially untenable, the "Commission on Insurance and Annuities" was formed to consider the plan for what became TIAA. It consisted of six CFAT trustees, 2 members appointed by American Association of University Professors, and one each from the Association of American Universities, National Association of State Universities, and Association of American Colleges. TIAA was officially created in 1917, but the financial obligations to retired teachers and their surviving spouses, incurred by the CFAT in the first dozen years of its existence, continued to require financial and administrative input well into the second half of the twentieth century. More information on the on Foundation's pension payments and research, and creation of TIAA can be found in CCNY Records Series VI.B (CFAT) and VI.C (TIAA), as well as grant files for Carnegie Foundation and for TIAA in series III.A.

  • Series V: Projects, 1909-1976

    Series documents educational research sponsored or administered by CFAT over the years. A major Studies in Higher Education project, administered by Clark Kerr in the 1960s and 1970 is described as a separate series. This series deals with grants-in-aid and early projects and studies, such as founding of the Educational Testing Service, introduction of Graduate Record Examination and College Achievement Tests, Symposia on Academic Disciplines, 1960s surveys on student values and activism, and others. For additional materials on these research projects see the meetings and correspondence series, and Series VI.B of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Records.

  • Series VI: Studies in Higher Education, 1959-1981

    By 1966 the Foundation's future was uncertain, and there was a discussion about its possible merger into Carnegie Corporation of New York. The trustees of both organizations decided that it was important to have foundation devoted exclusively to higher education, provided that it could undertake a truly significant project. Thus, the CFAT trustees made a proposal to the Carnegie Corporation for a grant to study the financing of higher education, approved in January 1967. Clark Kerr - then the president of the University of California - agreed to chair the special commission. The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education consisted of 19 people including the chairman. Over the course of their existence, the Commission and its successor organization the Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education (since 1973) assembled a wealth of data and published 163 influential monographs, and dozens of pamphlets and brochures. One of the Carnegie Commission's lasting achievements was a classification scheme that differentiated colleges and universities along the dimensions that were most relevant to the Commission's analytical work. The classification, made public in 1973, was quickly accepted in the research community as the major way researchers identify groups of roughly comparable institutions. The Carnegie Corporation of New York made annual grants to the CFAT starting in 1967 to cover the expenses of the project. Additional information can be found in the CCNY Records, such as CCNY grant files to the CFAT (CCNY Records, series III.A).

  • Series VII: Related Organizations, 1911-1980

    Series contains files of two organizations related to CFAT: National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC) and International Examinations Enquiry Committee (IEEC). It is not clear how papers ended up in CFAT files, but the organizations were actively collaborating for many years.

  • Series VIII: Printed Materials, 1906-1980

    Series contains printed materials produced by or relating to CFAT, such as its constitution, by-laws and various pension regulations, annual reports, bulletins, publications of Commission and Council on Higher Education, and other miscellaneous brochures and monographs. Some printed material can also be found in other series of this collection, such as Internal Files (I.C) or Related Organizations (VII). Most printed materials exist in two copies, with one copy shelved in the Carnegie Curator's office, and the other one boxes and stored off site.

  • Series IX: Educational Legislation, 1912-1913

    Correspondence and printed materials concerning bills to define education in DC, introduced by Senator Jacob Harold Gallinger, including drafts and copies of several bills, has been added to this collection in 2009 from the Teachers College library. These files have been a gift to the Teachers College from Florence Anderson (a long-time executive of Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching) in 1979.

  • Series X: Photographs, 1904-1975

    This one-box series contains photographs of individual staff and trustee members, several group photos of CCHE and CFAT board of trustees, and published photographs of Carnegie family. Accompanying correspondence and documents are filed with photographs.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Records. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Columbia University Libraries. [Box Number].

Related Collections:

Carnegie Corporation of New York Records, CC#0003 Columbia University Libraries.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Entered in AMC 01/30/91.

This collection was processed by Jane Gorjevsky, Benjamin Heller, CC2009, Sam Daly CC2009, Jude Webre GSAS2010. The finding aid was written by Jane Gorjevsky in March 2009. Jennifer S. Comins converted and corrected content for EAD conversion of legacy finding aid, 6/12/2014

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

2014-06-14 Jennifer S. Comins converted and corrected content for EAD conversion of legacy finding aid.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Academic freedom Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
African Americans -- Education Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
African Americans -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Carmichael, Oliver C. (Oliver Cromwell), 1891-1966 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Carnegie Commission on Higher Education Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Carnegie Corporation of New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Carnegie, Andrew, 1835-1919 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Charitable uses, trusts, and foundations Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College presidents Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College sports Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College students -- Political activity Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College teachers -- Pensions -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Division of Educational Enquiry Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Education -- Canada Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Education -- Great Britain Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Education -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Educational Testing Service Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Educational tests and measurements Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Endowment of research Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Endowments -- Officials and employees Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Endowments -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Flexner, Abraham, 1866-1959 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gifted children Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Graduate Record Examination Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Higher education and state -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Jessup, Walter A (Walter Albert), 1877-1944 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kerr, Clark, 1911-2003 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Learned, William S Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Medical education Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pensions -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Philanthropists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Pritchett, Henry S (Henry Smith), 1857-1939 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Professional education Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Psychology -- Research Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Suzzallo, Henry, 1875-1933 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Teachers -- Pensions -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Teaching -- Aims and objectives Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States -- Social policy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Universities and colleges -- United States -- Administration Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Women -- Education Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

Carnegie Foundation is a philanthropic trust set up by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 as a pension fund for college teachers. In 1906 it was renamed the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT) and its mission was expanded to include educational studies, many of which have profoundly influenced American educational standards and policies.

For the first few years of the Foundation's existence, its principal function was in selecting eligible institutions and establishing rules for receiving retirement allowances. The resulting financial obligations ended up being greatly in excess of the CFAT resources. By 1917 the CFAT trustees concluded, after an extensive study, that a pension system paid out of income at no cost to beneficiary is expensive beyond all estimates and anticipation. In 1917-1918, under an arrangement negotiated by Andrew Carnegie and the CFAT the Carnegie Corporation of New York gave $1 million to found the Teachers Insurance Annuity Association of America (now TIAA-CREF), an occupation-wide contributory plan, believed by some to embody more closely Carnegie's original vision of the teachers' pension plan.

The second purpose of the foundation, educational inquiry, was furthered by its efforts in surveying professional education and fostering professional standards in medicine (Flexner, 1910), law (Reed, 1921), engineering (Mann, 1918), teaching, and other disciplines.

The CFAT was controlled by a self-perpetuating board of 25 trustees, chiefly presidents of colleges and universities. When Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY) was founded in 1911, it shared office space with the Foundation; it was written in its constitution that the CFAT president would always hold one of the CCNY trustee seats. Henry Smith Pritchett was the first CFAT president, followed by Henry Suzzallo (1930-1933), Walter A. Jessup (1933-1944), and Oliver Carmichael (1945–1953). Since 1955, the CCNY president John W. Gardner and then Alan Pifer served as "part-time" CFAT presidents, shouldering the administrative responsibilities, while Clark Kerr was responsible for program.

Throughout the late sixties and seventies, the Carnegie Foundation enjoyed renewed prominence due to the timely policy studies by the Carnegie Commission of Higher Education (and the subsequent Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education) both directed by Clark Kerr and funded by the CCNY. The CFAT was closely affiliated with Carnegie Corporation of New York until the early 1980s, when it moved to new separate headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey. Since 1997, the Carnegie Foundation has been located in California.