April 20, 1914

The Ludlow Massacre. At least 24 miners die, among them two women and 11 children, in a 14-hour confrontation between miners and the National Guard. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., denies any responsibility.

April 30, 1914

President Wilson sends federal troops to curb an outbreak of violence in tent camps in Colorado.

August 1914

World War I begins. The Rockefellers donate millions to international relief agencies.

Protestors label Rockefeller a murderer

Protestors label Rockefeller a murderer
December 1914

The United Mine Workers union agrees to call off its strike without having achieved its goals.

January 25, 1915

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., testifies before the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations. He softens his position on labor unions and vows to improve the situation at Ludlow.

March 1915

Laura ("Cettie") Spelman Rockefeller dies at age 75.

August 1915

Abby gives birth to David.

September 1915

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and his advisor MacKenzie King tour Ludlow and meet the miners in a well-publicized visit.

John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
Rockefeller Archive Center

John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

John D. Rockefeller, Sr., begins to transfer his wealth. His son John D. Rockefeller, Jr., will be the main beneficiary.


President Wilson sets aside Mount Desert Island, Maine, as a national park. Over the next decade, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., will donate 11,000 acres to what will eventually become Acadia National Park.


Edith returns to the United States after an eight-year stay in Switzerland.


John D. Rockefeller, Jr., checks in to Kellogg Battle Creek Sanitarium, complaining of exhaustion and migraines.


John D. Rockefeller, Jr., offers to purchase the Barnard Cloisters, a medieval museum in upper Manhattan, for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


John D. Rockefeller, Jr., launches the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg.

October 1929

The stock market crashes. The crash cripples the national economy and wipes out more than half of the Rockefeller fortune.

November 1929

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) opens in New York City. Abby is one of its co-founders, with friends Lillie P. Bliss and Mary Quinn Sullivan.


After six years of construction, Riverside Church, underwritten with $26 million of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.'s, money, opens in New York City.

Nelson marries Mary Todhunter Clark, just a few days after graduating from Dartmouth College.

Rockefeller Center
Jean-Pierre Lescourret/CORBIS

Rockefeller Center

Construction of the 14-building Rockefeller Center complex begins during the Great Depression. Over the next eight years, the massive project will provide employment for 75,000 workers.


Charles Lindbergh's son is kidnapped. The case makes America's wealthy families especially security conscious.

Edith dies of cancer at age 60. Two thousand people gather outside her mansion to pay their respects.

Diego Rivera at work in Rockefeller Center
Smith College, Sophia Smith Collection

Diego Rivera at work in Rockefeller Center

Mexican artist Diego Rivera, hired to paint a mural for Rockefeller Center, is dismissed after refusing to replace the face of Lenin. Despite protests, his mural will be destroyed less than a year later.


John D. Rockefeller, Sr., dies, three years short of his goal of 100 years. A simple funeral is held at Riverside Church. At offices, refineries and companies that had once comprised Standard Oil, work stops for five minutes.

Nelson Rockefeller
Rockefeller Archive Center

Nelson Rockefeller

Nelson is named president of Rockefeller Center.


World War II begins.


President Franklin Roosevelt names Nelson Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, to stem Nazi influence in Latin America.

Pearl Harbor
National Archives

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is bombed. The U.S. enters the war.


President Roosevelt signs a proclamation establishing Jackson Hole National Monument in the Grand Tetons, Wyoming, following two decades of behind-the-scenes lobbying by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.


Winthrop, who had enlisted in the Army in 1941, survives a Japanese kamikaze bombing of his troop transport ship.


After the war, the Rockefeller brothers of the third generation (John D. III, Nelson, Laurance, Winthrop, and David) return to the family office at Rockefeller Center, eager to define their individual roles.

The Rockefellers offer the United Nations a tract of land on their Pocantico estate as a site for its headquarters. When that plan falls through, Nelson persuades John D. Rockefeller, Jr., to purchase land on New York City's East River and donate it to the United Nations.

Winthrop and Bobo Sears
Rhode Island Historical Society

Winthrop and Bobo Sears

Winthrop marries a divorcée, Barbara "Bobo" Sears. The couple will divorce two years later.

Abby dies at age 74.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., sells Rockefeller Center to his sons.


John D. Rockefeller, Jr., marries Martha Baird Allen, the widow of an old friend and college classmate.

The Pocantico family estate
Rockefeller Archive Center

The Pocantico family estate

Winthrop moves to Arkansas, one of the poorest states in the country.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., sells the Pocantico family estate to his sons and begins the final disposition of his fortune, giving $73 million to charity and $57 million to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Eisenhower is elected. A few months later, Nelson joins his administration.


Nelson plays a pivotal role in the Eisenhower-Khrushchev summit in Geneva. Along with Henry Kissinger, he orchestrates the proposal for mutual aerial inspection of Soviet and U.S. military establishments, dubbed "open skies."

Nelson resigns from the Eisenhower administration and returns to assume chairmanship of Rockefeller Center.

Nelson is sworn in as New York's governor
Rockefeller Archive Center

Nelson is sworn in as New York's governor

Nelson enters New York's gubernatorial campaign as a Republican. He runs a dynamic campaign and beats the Democratic opponent by more than 500,000 votes.


Lincoln Center groundbreaking. John D. Rockefeller III is the leading fundraiser for the construction of New York's ambitious new complex of facilities for the performing arts.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., dies at age 86.

Nelson embarks on a brief run for the Republican Party nomination for president, but loses to Richard M. Nixon.

Michael Rockefeller
Rockefeller Archive Center

Michael Rockefeller

Nelson announces that he is divorcing his wife of 30 years. Two days later, he receives news that his son Michael has disappeared in New Guinea while conducting anthropological research. Michael's body will never be found.


Nelson is easily re-elected to a second term as governor of New York.

After his defeat in the California gubernatorial campaign, Nixon announces that he is withdrawing from politics.

May 1963

Nelson marries Margaretta "Happy" Murphy, the former wife of a family friend. The wedding jeopardizes his presidential aspirations.

November 1963

President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.

Nelson decides to run for president.

Barry Goldwater
Hulton-Deutch Collection/CORBIS

Barry Goldwater

Construction begins on the South Mall in Albany, New York, a billion-dollar government complex for the State Capitol.

The spring Republican Party primaries pit Barry Goldwater against Nelson, resulting in a combative campaign.

June 1964

Happy gives birth to the couple's first son on the eve of the decisive California primary. Goldwater defeats Nelson by a slim margin.

November 1964

Lyndon Baines Johnson is elected president, defeating Goldwater with 61 percent of the popular vote.


Nelson is re-elected to a third term as governor of New York.

Winthrop is elected governor of Arkansas. He will serve two terms.

April 1968

Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated

On the 30th, after President Johnson's withdrawal from the race, Nelson decides to enter the Republican primaries. He will lose the nomination to Nixon.

June 1968

Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated.


Nelson is re-elected to a fourth term as governor of New York.

Nelson Rockefeller at work
Rockefeller Archive Center

Nelson Rockefeller at work
September 1971

Nelson refuses to negotiate with the inmates during a prisoners' revolt at the maximum-security Attica State Penitentiary in upstate New York. The incident culminates in a major assault by the state police, resulting in the death of 10 hostages and 29 inmates.


Nelson proposes harsh drug laws to the New York State legislature that call for lengthy prison sentences for petty crimes.

Winthrop dies of cancer at age 60.

Nelson announces his resignation from the governorship.


In the wake of Watergate, President Nixon is forced to resign. President Gerald Ford nominates Nelson to be vice president. After grueling confirmation hearings that focus on the Rockefellers' wealth, Vice President Rockefeller is sworn in.

President Ford and Nelson Rockefeller
Rockefeller Archive Center

President Ford and Nelson Rockefeller

President Ford chooses Bob Dole over Nelson as running mate.


David Horowitz and Peter Collier publish The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty. The book airs the fourth generation's grievances, causing a split in the family.

"Babs" dies of cancer at age 72.

Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate, is designated a National Historic Landmark. It will open to the public in 1994.


John D. III dies in a car accident at age 72.

January 1979

Nelson dies of a massive heart attack at age 70 under scandalous circumstances, while in the company of a young female assistant.


Rockefeller Center is designated a National Historic Landmark.

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