Little Bits of History

Think Tank

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 8, 2014
Robert S. Brookings

Robert S. Brookings

December 8, 1927: The Brookings Institution is formed. Robert S. Brookings was born in 1850 in Maryland. He and his brother were successful businessmen running a wholesale company dealing in household goods. In 1895, Robert left the running of the company to his brother, Harry, while he turned his attentions to philanthropic issues. By 1917, US President Woodrow Wilson appointed Brookings to the War Industries Board and later to the Price Fixing Committee where he worked as a liaison between the government and different industries. In 1916 he had founded the Institute for Government Research (IGR) whose mission was to analyze public policy issues at the national level. He then began the Institute of Economics and the Robert Brookings Graduate School affiliated with the Washington University of St. Louis.

On this date, he merged the three entities into one, the Brookings Institution. It remains as one of the United States’ oldest think tanks. Robert Brookings died in 1932 in Washington, D.C. at the age of 82. During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt commission the Institution to study the underlying causes of the depression. Brookings and others of the time eventually led a fight against Roosevelt’s proposed New Deal policies since they felt they would impede economic recovery. When the country entered World War II, the research turned to issues concerned with mobilization of troops. In 1948, Brookings was called upon to submit a plan for administration of the European Recovery Program.

By the 1980s, Brookings was faced with a more competitive environment as well as an ideologically polarized one. One of the major problems facing the nations was a need to reduce the federal budget deficit and another issue was national security. On top of this was government inefficiency. Brookings met the challenges and helped create a unifying set of policies. By the end of the century, they were faced with urban decay and ways to rectify the issues within major metropolitan areas. As the new millennium arrived, so did new problems and dealing with issues in the Middle East became a focus.

Today, Strobe Talbott is president of The Brookings Institution (the sixth to hold that position) with headquarters located in Washington, D.C. Their motto is Quility. Independence. Impact. They have a yearly budget of $90 million. The Brookings Institution Press publishes books and journals from their own research as well as giving a voice to authors outside the organization. They have several different divisions dealing with problems from around the globe and the effects these have on all our lives.

The deep and universal respect which the Brookings Institution richly deserves and enjoys would make your recommendations of tremendous value. – Arthur Vandenburg

Half a century ago nine men from business, law, and banking met to chart a course for an Institute for Government Research here in Washington, D.C. Their goals were beyond reproach, but also unlikely to propel other men to the barricades. They sought, in their words, knowledge of the best methods of administrative organization to be obtained by means of thorough scientific study, so that it may be possible to conduct governmental activities with maximum effectiveness and minimum waste. – Lyndon B. Johnson

I’ll tell you. Robert S. Brookings can give you that information. He’s got all the facts at his fingertips. He is a most interesting man, by the way, and is doing a wonderful work for the Government, but so quietly and unostentatiously that it is not attracting the attention that it deserves.  – Frank Scott

Father died when I was three years old, leaving mother with several children and very little money. Through careful management, mother succeeded in giving us a fairly good education. – Robert Brookings

Also on this day: John is Dead – In 1980, John Lennon was murdered.
Library – In 1609, the first continental European public library opened.
Da Bears – In 1940, the Bears and Redskins played football.
Women’s Work – In 1660, Othello opened with a woman playing the part of Desdemona, the first time that happened.

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