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Max F. Millikan papers

Identifier: MC-0188

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The original accession of the Max F. Millikan papers is organized in two series. Series 1, 1946-1952, documents a period in Millikan's career before he assumed the directorship of the Center for International Studies (CIS) in 1952. Series 2, 1950-1964, covers a major portion of the period in which he served as CIS director, including pertinent pre-1952 material. Aside from Millikan, Series 2 contains considerable material on the activities of other members of the CIS, especially Walt Whitman Rostow. The collection does not contain any material on his service as assistant director of the Central Intelligence Agency (1951-1952) or on the last five years of his life (1965-1969). Papers received in 1995, boxes 14-15, include correspondence, course notes, and general writings which document Millikan's early career as a student and faculty member at Yale University, 1933-1949, and his activities as an administrator in the federal government during World War II.


  • 1928 - 1967


Access note

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Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.


Max Franklin Millikan was born in Chicago on December 12, 1913, the son of Robert Andrews Millikan, the Nobel laureate in physics, and Greta (Blanchard) Millikan. He attended Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, 1929-1931. In 1931 he entered the California Institute of Technology, where he remained for two years before transferring to Yale University in 1933. He received the B.S. in physics at Yale in 1935. For the next year he studied economics under J. N. Hicks at Cambridge University. Following his return to the United States in 1936, he began doctoral work in economics at Yale. His dissertation, "The Framework of a Theory of Producer's Sales Policy with Special Reference to Duopoly," explored aspects of the decision-making process in industry. He received the Ph.D. in 1941. While a graduate student, he married Jeanne MacBeath Thomson. The Millikans had three children: Jane Andrews (b. 1941), Nicholas Thomson (b. 1943), and Abigail (b. 1949).

Millikan served as instructor in economics at Yale, 1938-1941; assistant professor of economics, 1941-1942; and research associate (with rank of associate professor), 1942-1949. The latter appointment marked a shift in his career during World War II from straight teaching and research to greater involvement in the public sector. He took a leave of absence from Yale, 1942-1946, to work in Washington as a consultant and senior business specialist, Office of Price Administration, 1942; principal economist, War Shipping Administration, 1942-1944; assistant director, Division of Ship Requirements, War Shipping Administration, 1944-1946; and chief, Economic Intelligence Branch, Division of Research for Europe, January-June 1946. After his return to Yale in 1946, he continued to be active in government circles, serving as assistant secretary, President's Committee on Foreign Aid, 1947; transportation consultant, U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Foreign Aid, 1947; and consultant, Economic Cooperation Administration, beginning in 1948. He also served on a number of advisory committees, including the Air Force's Human Resources Professional Advisory Committee. One of his major projects during this period was a broadly inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional study of national policy problems relating to income stabilization, employment, and ways in which the management of the public debt affects investment and the money market. The project involved participation by leaders in government, international relations, the academic world, and the banking industry in a series of seminars held at Yale University beginning in 1947. As organizer of the series, Millikan edited and compiled the seminar papers for publication under the title Income Stabilization in a Developing Democracy (Yale University Press, 1953).

In 1949 Millikan was appointed associate professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He took a leave of absence in 1951-1952 to serve as assistant director of the Central Intelligence Agency. On his return to MIT in 1952 he was promoted to professor of economics and appointed director of the Center for International Studies (CIS). The Center was a new MIT program begun as a follow-up to Project TROY—a study group (of which Millikan was a member) contracted by the Department of State in 1950 to explore international information and communication patterns, especially in and into the Soviet Union. The Center, established in January 1952, continued the contract work undertaken for the government under Project TROY and at the same time broadened its aim and function to include "research in the social sciences on international affairs [that] would contribute both to our basic understanding of human behavior and to the solution of some of the long-term problems of international policy which confront decision makers in government and private life." Millikan assumed the directorship on February 1, 1952, and continued in the post and as professor of economics at MIT until his death on December 14, 1969.

During his tenure at MIT, Millikan was a member of several Institute-wide committees, including the Committee on the Future of the Graduate School, the Faculty Committee on the Joint (Harvard-MIT) Center for Urban Studies, the Committee on the Social Sciences, the Centennial Conference Committee, and the Committee for the Compton Lectureship. As director of the CIS, he was instrumental in framing the Center's research program—with its focus on economic and political development, international communications, communism, and military and foreign policy—and in developing and maintaining the program with the support and collaboration of a number of private organizations and government agencies. The research undertaken by members of the Center involved contractual studies for government agencies and committees, notably the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; projects supported by grants from private foundations such as the Ford Foundation; collaborative studies with companies like General Electric; and discussion groups and other kinds of consultation with foundation officers and members of governments world-wide. Under Millikan the Center became a clearinghouse for a variety of information on foreign affairs. Though never the major focus, educational programs initiated under Millikan's direction included seminar and lecture series, undergraduate courses, and in 1962 a graduate program leading to advanced degrees in political science. Several MIT faculty members were involved in the work of the CIS. One of the most active was Walt Whitman Rostow, professor of economic history, who left MIT in 1961 to serve as national security affairs advisor to President Kennedy and chair of the policy planning council of the Department of State.

Millikan's outside professional activities included membership on a number of committees, boards, and panels, including the Universities Advisory Committee of the Economic Development Institute, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Social Science Panel, Scientific Advisory Board, U.S. Air Force; Board of Trustees, Volunteers for International Development; Slavic Visiting Committee, Harvard University; Professional Committee, Institute for Defense Analyses; Committee on Foreign Aid, President's Science Advisory Committee; Board of Directors, Hudson Institute; and Advisory Committee, International Relations Program, Rockefeller Foundation. He was a regular guest lecturer at the National War College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He served as a consultant to the Transportation Division, Mutual Security Agency; Research Development Board, Department of Defense; and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy Planning, Department of State. He was president of the World Peace Foundation, 1956-1969, and trustee of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, 1964-1969.

Millikan held membership in several professional societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Economic Association (where he was also on the Committee on Research and Publication), the American Statistical Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Econometric Society, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and the Royal Economic Society. He contributed to a wide range of scholarly journals and policy publications in the fields of economics and international relations. Among his major books were (with W. W. Rostow) A Proposal: Key to an Effective Foreign Policy, 1957; and (with D. L. M. Blackmer) The Emerging Nations: Their Growth and United States Policy, 1961.


14.3 Cubic Feet (14 record cartons, 1 manuscript box)

Language of Materials



The collection documents the work of Max F. Millikan as an economic and foreign policy consultant to various government agencies and as director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A professor of economics, Millikan was a member of the MIT faculty from 1949 until his death in 1969. The materials include reports and correspondence regarding projects on arms control, economic underdevelopment, international communications, communism, and United States military and foreign policy. Also included is an extensive collection of writings by Millikan and others, particularly W. W. Rostow.


Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Source of Acquisiton

Unknown; additional material was given to the Department of Distinctive Collections (formerly the Institute Archives and Special Collections) by the Millikan family in 1995.

Appraisal note

Needs review.

Related Materials in the Institute Archives and Special Collections

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for International Studies, records of the Summer Study on Increasing Agricultural Productivity in Underdeveloped Countries (AC 140)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for International Studies records (AC 236)

Separated Materials note

Approximately 1 cubic foot of material relating to the activities of the Advisory Committee, International Relations Program, Rockefeller Foundation, 1961, was removed from the collection and transferred to the Rockefeller Archive Center, Pocantico Hills, New York.

Cross References

see: Agency for International Development
"American Issues"
see: "How Shall America Confront Communism?"
Arden House
see: Post War World Council
Atomic Power Institute
see: New Hampshire Council on World Affairs
Brookings Institution
see also: US Congress. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. CIS Contracts
Brussels Fair Theme Committee
see: Cambridge Study Group for the Brussels Universal and International Exhibition
Capital Formation and Economic Growth
see: "Some General Reflections on Capital Formation and Economic Growth"
Center for International Studies. Advisory Board
see also: Center for International Studies. Visiting Committee
Council for International Progress in Management
see: National Management Council
Draper Committee
see: President's Committee to Study the United States Military Assistance Program
see: Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East
Ford Foundation
see: Inter-University Project
Foreign Operations Administration
see also: International Cooperation Administration
Foreign Operations Review Subcommittee
see: Chamber of Commerce. Foreign Policy Committee
Foreign Policy Committee
see: Chamber of Commerce. Foreign Policy Committee
French Operations Research Society
see: Société Française de Recherche Operationelle
Harper's Magazine
see: Harper and Brothers
International Cooperation Administration
see also: Foreign Operations Administration
Karl Taylor Compton Lectureship Committee
see: Committee for the Compton Lectureship
MIT Graduate Center [School] Committee
see: MIT Committee on the Future of the Graduate School
Mid-European Studies Center
see: Free Europe Committee
Monroney Alternative
see: "The Alternative to Senator Monroney's Proposal"
Moscow Speech
see: "The Stages of Economic Growth and the Problems of Peaceful Co-existence"
see: North American Newspaper Alliance
see: "A Proposal for the Communique of the NATO Meeting, December 1957"
Oriental Economist
see: Economist
Oxford University Press
see: Clarendon Press, Oxford
see: Economist
"Proposal for a New United States Foreign Policy"
see also: Time, Inc.
"Slow-Moving Crisis Grips Soviet Union"
see: "Communism: Wave of the Past?"
Technology Review
see: Technology Press
South Asia Studies
see: Far Eastern Association. Committee on South Asia
Time, Inc.
see also: "Proposal for a New United States Foreign Policy"
Tufts Broadcast Series
see: "How Shall America Confront Communism?"
US Congress. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
see also: US Congress. Senate Special Committee to Study the Foreign Aid Program
Washington Evening Star
see: Evening Star
World Brotherhood, Inc.
see: Council on World Tensions
World Perspectives
see: Harper and Brothers


The following boxes have been partially screened:

-Box 1 (CT, 10/27/2016)

The following boxes have been screened: -Box 10 - open -Box 11 - open -Box 12 - open -Box 13 - open

Processing Information note

Some collection descriptions are based on legacy data and may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies. Description may change pending verification. Please contact the MIT Department of Distinctive Collections if you notice any errors or discrepancies.

Preliminary Inventory to the Papers of Max F. Millikan
Data Entry In Progress
Philip Alexander
Copyright 1985
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023 March 10: Revised by processing archivist Chris Tanguay in March 2023 to update access notes and enhance description.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US