On the occasion of the Hewlett Foundation’s 50th anniversary symposium, we commissioned two historians — Benjamin Soskis of George Mason University and Stanley N. Katz of Princeton University — to take a look at the evolution of philanthropy in America in the last 50 years. Soskis and Katz, co-editors of the HistPhil blog, examine the sector’s practices and trends, including growth and increasing diversity over time, philanthropy’s changing relationship with the state, and new “entrepreneurial variants” such as venture philanthropy and philanthrocapitalism.

“The idea to generate original research for the conference flowed naturally from our purpose and desire to take a fresh look at the sector’s past and future,” said Hewlett Foundation president Larry Kramer.