Last updated: July 26, 2012
What was your college experience like? Was it a period of exploration? Did you join a club or organization that surprised others? Did your classmates give you a funny nickname?
John D. Rockefeller, Jr. entered Brown University in September of 1893. He was extremely aware that, as the only son and heir, he would soon assume the responsibilities of the family name and fortune. Still, his time at college was one of personal exploration and growth. For the first time in his life, he went to the theater. He joined football games and was named manager of the football team. To the horror of his mother, he learned to dance.
Some aspects of his personality did not change. He remained extremely scrupulous with money, and wrote down all his expenses in a ledger. He was frugal to the point of mending his own clothes and washing them over a Bunsen burner in his room.
At his 50th Class Reunion, Rockefeller recalled his period at Brown:
"Only here on the campus did I enjoy a completely independent personality. With you fellows I was hailed as 'Johnny Rock,' just one of a hundred others, but at least one who stood on his own feet. ... There has been nothing in my life since then quite like this kind of comradeship. That's why I like to come back to the campus from time to time, and particularly to these reunions where we all meet on the old-tine footing and where again, to you, I'm only 'Johnny Rock.'"
Mitchell, Martha. Encyclopedia Brunoniana. Providence: Brown University Library, 1993
Newhall, Nancy. "A Contribution to the Heritage of Every American." New York: Alfred Knopf, 1982.
The Rockefellers. Directed by Elizabeth Deane and Adriana Bosch. 2000. PBS Home Video, 2000. DVD.