Oberlin PC-560 - History

Oberlin PC-560 - History

Oberlin
(PC-560: dp. 350,1. 173', b. 23', dr. 8', s. 20 k., cpl. 46, a. 2 3", 2 20mm., 2 act.; cl. PC-461)

Oberlin (PC-560), one of 36 submarine chasers in her series, was laid down by Jeffersonville Boat Co., Jeffersonville, Ind., 25 November 1941; launched 17 November 1942 sponsored by Mrs L. C. Holm, and commissioned 17 June.

The new submarine chaser proceeded to Key West, Fla. for fitting out and shakedown, which she completed 25 July. She then served as a training craft at the Submarine Chaser Training Center, Key West, until ordered to the Panama Canal Zone in December 1943. Oberlin operated out of Coco Solo, Canal Zone through the end of World War II, escorting convoys and serving as anti submarine and harbor entrance patrol craft. In December 1945 she was assigned Reserve Training duty out of New Orleans.

Placed out of commission' in reserve 28 January 1947, she berthed at Green Cove Sprmgs, Fla. for the next ten years. She was struck from the Naval Register 5 September 1957 and sold to F. and A. Transportation of N.J., Ine., New York City.


What did your Oberlin ancestors do for a living?

In 1940, Farmer and Stenographer were the top reported jobs for men and women in the US named Oberlin. 20% of Oberlin men worked as a Farmer and 17% of Oberlin women worked as a Stenographer. Some less common occupations for Americans named Oberlin were Truck Driver and Bookkeeper .

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations in 1940

Top Female Occupations in 1940


Oberlin PC-560 - History

Oberlin students of the late 1850's (courtesy Oberlin College Archives)

Beyond Coeducation:
Oberlin College and Women's History
Postings in Honor of Women's History Month 1998

Oberlin College pioneered "the joint education of the sexes," enrolling women students beside men from its opening in 1833. As Philo P. Stewart wrote, the Oberlin Collegiate Institute held as one of its primary objectives:

the elevation of the female character, bringing within the reach of the misjudge and neglected sex, all the instructive privileges which hitherto have unreasonably distinguished the leading sex from theirs.

While the first women took classes with men, they pursued diplomas from the Ladies Course. In 1837, four women, Mary Kellogg, Mary Caroline Rudd, Mary Hosford and Elizabeth Prall, enrolled in the Collegiate Department, and in 1841, all but Kellogg graduated. Kellogg, who had left school for lack of funds, later returned to Oberlin after marrying James Harris Fairchild, future Oberlin College president.

Oberlin fused its commitment to coeducation with its support for the education of African Americans. So, in 1862, Oberlin graduated Mary Jane Patterson, the first African American woman to earn a college degree. Oberlin also enrolled Margru, also known as Sarah Kinson, who, as an African child, had been among the Amistad captives Kinson was probably the first African woman to participate in American higher education.

Antoinette Brown Blackwell

Throughout its history, Oberlin has graduated remarkable women of passion, commitment, and achievement. Among the most famous nineteenth-century women were:

For Women's History Month 1998, we share some information about other remarkable women graduates:

Ruth Anna Fisher (1886-1975) was born in nearby Lorain, Ohio, and graduated from Oberlin in 1906. Fisher taught at the Tuskegee Institute, and in schools in Lorain, Ohio and in Indianapolis, before undertaking graduate work at the London School of Economics. When she returned, she began working for J. Franklin Jameson, the first editor of the American Historical Review and a central figure in the professionalization of History. Racism impeded her ability to move freely within the historical profession she nonetheless maintained an appreciation for Jameson, and coedited a tribute to him in 1965.

Georgia Douglas Johnson (1877-1966) completed her studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1906. Born in Atlanta in 1886, she had previously studied at Atlanta University. Under the influence of Harlem Renaissance figures, Johnson turned to literature, publishing The Heart of A Woman (1918), Bronze (1922), and An Autumn Love Cycle (1928). Later works included A Sunday Morning in the South , an anti lynching play, and historical dramas including Frederick Douglass and William and Ellen Craft..

Edmonia Lewis

Edmonia Lewis (1843-?) attended Oberlin College 1859-1862, before moving to Boston to begin work as a sculptor, then to Rome in 1865. She is known today especially for her works drawing on themes of African American slavery and emancipation.

Early Women Doctors from Oberlin College:

Lillian Gertrude Towslee (1859-1918) graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1882, and taught music while studying medicine at the College of Wooster. Later, she also became a successful real estate speculator

Martha Ann Robinson Canfield (1845-1916) graduated from the Collegiate Course in 1868. She became the second president of the Women's and Children's Free Medical Dispensary in Cleveland.

Women Reformers from Oberlin College

Harriet Keeler (1846-1921) graduated from Oberlin in 1870. She became the first female Superintendent of Schools in Cleveland, Ohio. She was also the biographer of Oberlin's first woman professor, Adelia Field Johnston.

Elizabeth Stewart Magee (1889-1972) graduated from Oberlin College in 1911. She served as the executive secretary of the Consumers League of Ohio, and organized women industrial workers.

Belle Sherwin (1868-1955) received an honorary degree from Oberlin College. Sherwin organized Cleveland's Women's City Club, and, after an active career in suffrage, served as President of the League of Women Voters.

Anna V. Brown (1914-1985), an 1938 graduate of the college, served the Cleveland community in her work for the Phyllis Wheatley Association she was particularly active on issues of aging.

Interested in learning more about women and their history at Oberlin College? The Oberlin College Archives has published a guide to its rich collection of primary documents:

Pamela Kirwin Adams, Alexandra Weil, and Roland M. Baumann, Compilers,Roland M. Baumann, Editor, Guide to the Women's History Sources in the Oberlin College Archives .

You can access this on the web through the link provided.

Other publications of interest include:

Blodgett, Geoffrey T., "John Mercer Langston and the Case of Edmonia Lewis: Oberlin, 1862," Journal of Negro History , 52 (July, 1968), 201-18.

Diepenbrock, David, "Black Women And Oberlin College In The Age Of Jim Crow," UCLA Historical Journal, 13(1993): 27-59.

Fletcher, Robert S. and Ernest H. Wilkins, "The Beginning of College Education for Women and of Coeducation on the College Level," Bulletin of Oberlin College , March 20, 1937.

Fletcher, Robert. A History of Oberlin College From its Foundation Through the Civil War . 2 vols., Oberlin,1943.

Ginzberg, Lori D., "Women in an Evangelical Community: Oberlin 1835-1850," Ohio History , 89(Winter 1980), 78-88.

Haddad, Gladys., "Women's Work at Oberlin College," The Western Reserve Magazine , 8(September/October 1981), 43-47.

Henle, Ellen and Marlene Merrill, "Antebellum black coeds at Oberlin College," Oberlin Alumni Magazine , 75 (January/February 1980), 18-21.

Hogeland, Ronald W., "Coeducation of the Sexes at Oberlin College A Study of Social Ideas in Mid-Nineteenth-Century America," Journal of Social History , 6 (Winter 1972-73), 160-76.

Hosford, Frances J., Father Shipherd's Magna Charta a Century of Coeducation in Oberlin College .Boston, Marshall Jones Co., 1937.

Lasser, Carol, & Katherine Linehan, "'For Coeducation we've come': five alumnae look back," Oberlin Alumni Magazine , 79 (Winter 1983), 3-7, 25.

Lasser, Carol, & Marlene Deahl Merrill, eds. Soul Mates: The Oberlin Correspondence of Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown 1846-1850 .Oberlin: Oberlin College, 1983.

Lasser, Carol, & Marlene Deahl Merrill, eds., Friends and Sisters: Letters between Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 1846- 93 . Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987.

Lasser, Carol, ed., Educating men and women together: Coeducation in a Changing World 1833-1908. Urbana and Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 1987.

Lawson, Ellen NicKenzie, with Marlene D. Merrill, The Three Sarahs: Documents Of Antebellum Black College Women. Studies in Women and Religion , Vol. 13, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1984.

Merrill, Marlene D. "Daughters Of America Rejoice: The Oberlin Experiment," Timeline 4 (1987): 12-21.

Merrill, Marlene D., "Justice, Simple Justice: Women at Oberlin 1837-1987," Oberlin Alumni Magazine 83 (Fall 1987), 11-16.

Nickenzie, Ellen and Marlene D. Merrill, "The Antebellum 'Talented Thousandth': Black College Students at Oberlin Before the Civil War," Journal of Negro History (Spring 1983).

Rokicky, Catherine M. "Lydia Finney And Evangelical Womanhood," Ohio History , 103(Summer 1994 ): 170-189.

Weisenfeld, Judith "'Who Is Sufficient For These Things?' Sara G.Stanley And The American Missionary Association, 1864-1868," Church History 60(1991 ): 493-507.

Two reference works deserve mention. An excellent article on Oberlin and fine essays on several significant Oberlin women graduates appear in:

Darlene Clark Hine, Elsa Barkley Brown and Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, eds., Black Women in American: An Historical Encyclopedia . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

Many Oberlin graduates are also featured in:

Edward T. James, Janet Wilson James and Paul S. Boyer, eds., Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1971 and Barbara Sicherman and Carol Hurt Green, eds., Notable American Women: The Modern Period . Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1980.

I welcome your comments or suggestions so that we can continue this collaborative effort in women's history.


A Short History

Give or take fifteen years, Oberlin can be defined as a twentieth-century college campus surrounded by a nineteenth-century Ohio village. Hardly any physical trace remains of the campus buildings that existed during Oberlin's first half century. The built environment of the college as it looked as late as 1885 has almost wholly disappeared. The fortunate exception is First Church the grand old orange brick meetinghouse which rose from 1842 to 1844, based on plans from Boston architect Richard Bond as modified by the majority rule of the congregation. Donald Love, College Secretary from 1926 to 1962, once remarked that the fact that Oberlin College did not own First Church is no doubt the main reason for its survival.

The transformation of the rest of the campus has been a relentless if often planless process. One summer after the Civil War, a travelling artist from Chicago named C.W. Ruger stopped in Oberlin and executed a bird's-eye view of the town as it appeared in 1867. If we had a set of such views, one for every five years since Oberlin's founding, and if we could flash them in time-lapse photographic sequence, what we would see is a vast deal of commotion in the middle, and relatively placid, low-visibility change all around. The raising up and ripping down of college buildings in the middle of a comparatively static midwestern village has been the main theme in the environmental history of Oberlin.

Oberlin's settlers were a plain and thrifty lot. The college was the only reason for their presence here, and despite decades of earnest effort by local merchant boomers, Oberlin never acquired a commercial base autonomous from the college. Therefore the town itself produced a rather modest architectural deposit. Oberlin contrasts vividly in this regard to nearby towns like Wellington, Milan, Hudson and Norwalk, each of which celebrated commercial success through the medium of architecture.

In early Oberlin, architecture was not much on people's minds. The founders' primary cultural virtues -- that tough streak of Christian moral frugality, that constant concern for missionary causes whose boundaries lay far beyond the limits of the village -- combined with economic necessity to discourage local aesthetic flourishes. While Oberlinians shared in the stylistic changes of passing decades, they did so in a muted, sober way. The nineteenth-century Oberlin vernacular, like that of the New England Puritan villages from which it descended, was very plain.

The college regarded its earliest buildings with little sentiment or historical veneration. Even the most substantial of them, such as Tappan Hall near the center of the square, were looked upon as expedient and expendable solutions to the problems of early privation. When affluence hit the college in the 1880s, and fresh expansion got under way, new buildings replaced the old with few tears shed for the past. Oberlin regarded its physical past, distinct from its moral past, as something to be discarded and transcended.

Oberlin was not alone among American colleges in lacking firm plans for campus growth. Those which did evolve according to a preconceived design include Union College in Schenectady, New York, whose Federal plans were provided by the Frenchman Joseph Jacques Ramée, Thomas Jefferson's Neo-Classical University of Virginia, and the Gothic Revival campus of Ohio's Kenyon College, launched a few years before Oberlin. These are exceptions, not the rule.

Still, the peculiar circumstances of Oberlin's early growth -- the narrow economizing of the first thirty years, followed by sudden affluence in the Gilded Age -- meant that when the time and money for expansion came, there was no cumulative local architectural tradition to build on. No perceived line of local continuity existed to distinguish Oberlin from any other place in MidAmerica, or to guide its physical growth.

Therefore, as the contracts went out in the 1880s, contemporary, cosmopolitan architectural enthusiasms flourished unhindered. Current national taste rather than any local vocabulary defined the appearance of the new buildings. Each as it went up was a separate, celebrated event, often architecturally irrelevant to what had gone before or what would come next.

One can cite other local habits which help explain the peculiar appearance of the campus: the Oberlin genius for strong-willed individualism a certain otherworldly impracticality that flashes among us every now and then a longstanding insistence on grass-roots decision making which has sometimes resulted in architectural choices being shaped by local committees rather than architectural experts and finally a certain brooding, anti-elitist mistrust for trained authority or deference to tradition. All these combined to produce a college campus whose architectural cohesion is at best elusive.

The casual, free-wheeling eclecticism of Oberlin today is the result. You can stand on the plaque at the center of Tappan Square, turn on your toes through a 360-degree arc, and almost box the compass of the architectural history of the Western world. If something is missing or redundant, it has sometimes seemed that all you had to do was wait.

Still it is possible to detect some order in the variety. One can identify at least four distinct themes in the chronology of our architecture, each overlapping the next across the past century.

The Oberlin Stone Age (ca. 1885 - 1910)

The Oberlin Stone Age lasted for a quarter-century after 1885. It is represented by Peters Hall, Talcott Hall (1887), Baldwin Cottage (1887), Severance Chemical Laboratory (1900), Warner Gymnasium (1900), Carnegie Library (1908), Rice Memorial Hall (1910), and Wilder Hall (1911). These are all thick, chunky, aggressively solid buildings, made of heavy blocks of rough-textured buff Ohio sandstone. Six miles north of Oberlin is the huge Amherst hole from which many of them came.

The Stone Age can be divided into two modulations. The earlier examples enforce patterns of organic irregularity popularized by the work of America's greatest nineteenth-century architect, Henry Hobson Richardson, a style which acquired the label, Richardsonian Romanesque. They look a little like Richardson himself who was a massive, bulging man. Those that went up before the depression of the 1890s -- Peters Hall , Talcott Hall , Baldwin Cottage and the old Conservatory of Music -- were marked by much surface and interior complexity and by a decisive vertical thrust. They burst in a bold profusion of towers and bays and tall punched windows. Those that survive came from the drawing boards of an Akron architectural firm, Weary & Kramer, who described themselves as "specialists in court house, jail and prison architecture." Affable practitioners, they offered several versions of the Peters tower and invited the college to choose among them. Weary & Kramer's interior spaces- Peters Court,Talcott's elegant parlors, and the nook-and-cranny arrangements of Baldwin-have proved very adaptable over the years, gathering warm memories from generations of undergraduates.

The college resumed its building program shortly after the depression ended in 1897. Beginning with Warner Gym , a calmer mood sets in. Succeeding buildings were more crisp, oblong, and horizontal in their lines. Rectangularity, predictable fenestration, and shallow-pitched red tile roofs characterized their appearance. The turn of the century ushered in less swagger and more repose.

Although the buildings of the Stone Age acquired many loyal friends, they are regarded by some as the old gray elephants of the campus, and their careers have been punctuated by periodic demands for their demolition. American architectural technology and popular definitions of beauty and function have come a long way since Richardson and his local interpreters. It is hard to recapture the profound faith in progress that these buildings vindicated for those who watched them go up. For that generation, they were the promise of a modern future. President William Ballantine said at the dedication of one of them:

The elms are mostly gone now, but the buildings they rivaled remain. One hopes that their preservation will help to sustain some sense of connection back to that robust nineteenth-century pride in achievement among those who built them.

The Cass Gilbert Age (1908 - 1931)

The second stage of structural evolution can be called the Cass Gilbert era, stretching from the opening of Finney Chapel in 1908 to the completion of the quadrangle for the Graduate School of Theology in 1931. In the interim, as consulting architect to the college, Gilbert designed Cox Administration Building (1915), Allen Memorial Art Museum (1917), and Allen Memorial Hospital (1925). Cass Gilbert was one of the first-line building artists of the early twentieth century, although his reputation has been shadowed by his more daring contemporaries, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. Gilbert was a sound, conservative, academic architect, a close student of historical styles and their adaption to modern purposes. Whatever you wanted, Gilbert could do it for you, and do it well. Examples of this versatility include the Neo-Classical state capitol of Minnesota in St. Paul, the Woolworth Building in New York City (a soaring Neo-Gothic skyscraper), the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson, and the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington.

For Oberlin he chose historical models from twelfth-century Southern France to fifteenth-century Northern Italy, a stylistic reach from medieval Romanesque to Renaissance Classicism. His Oberlin buildings were mostly dressed in warm, rubbed tan sandstone, trimmed with red sandstone, and roofed in red tile. They lent a certain Mediterranean aspect to an otherwise solemn, Protestant Ohio campus. And, in Gilbert's mind at least, they related well to Warner Gymnasium, which he regarded as the best of the Stone Age structures.

Gilbert's architectural conservatism was matched by the formalism of his long-range campus landscape plan, which he worked up in collaboration with President Henry Churchill King and the Olmsted Brothers of Boston, sons and successors of America's greatest landscape architect. The arrangement they blocked out was a highly rectilinear plan, taking off from the square angles of Tappan Square. Its primary axis ran from the designated site of Hall Auditorium across the Square through J.L. Silsbee's Memorial Arch (1903) to climax in a tall campanile or bell tower which Gilbert envisioned rising into the Ohio sky west of Peters Hall. Peters was the main obstacle to his scheme, and he began urging its demolition as early as 1912. His grand design was reminiscent of Frederick Law Olmsted's plan for Stanford University, the Daniel Burnham plan for downtown Cleveland, and the McMillan plan for the Mall in Washington-monumental in scope with long formal sight lines and impressive vistas. His plan was never realized, but it tantalized trustees and other planners for long decades. It continued to define the terms of local architectural debate down through the early 1970s. In the controversy over the siting of Mudd Learning Center, Gilbert's vision was revived, and its frustration narrowly averted the disappearance of both Peters Hall and Warner Gymnasium.

Inter-War Era (ca.1918 - 1942)

The third phase in our building history spanned the years between the two world wars. This was a time of relatively slow growth, for several reasons. One was the long presidency of the aging Henry Churchill King, which seemed to lose some of its drive after the remarkably vigorous pre-war years. King was followed by Ernest Hatch Wilkins, who for all his other virtues was not much interested in buildings. Finally the disruptive impact of the wars bracketing this era, and the Great Depression in the middle of it, did not encourage building expansion.

The era witnessed three significant initiatives, each of which fell short of fulfillment. The first was a decision reached by the Board of Trustees in 1928 to build a residential campus for men on the quadrangle running north from West Lorain Street to the athletic fields. This would be Oberlin's modest analogue to the residential clusters launched in these years at Harvard and Yale. Its purpose was to gather Oberlin's male students from their scattered locations in private rooming houses all over town, and endow the male social life of the college with more cohesion and vitality. This reflected a long-standing concern to which the college had first addressed itself in the construction of Men's Building (later renamed Wilder Hall) in 1911. In 1928 the trustees resolved:

These are quaint words, especially to the students who live on the North Campus today in chummy co-educational contentment. Only one building of the new men's campus, Noah Hall (1932), went up before World War II intervened. The college met vast difficulties in financing the construction of Noah during the bleakest years of the depression.

The second impulse of the inter-war era was a move toward building in a Neo-Georgian style. This caught the current popular taste for things colonial which was pervasive nationally in the 1920s and 1930s. The most influential inspiration for this cult was the Rockefeller-financed restoration of colonial Williamsburg, which got underway in the late 1920s. The best Oberlin example of Neo-Georgian architecture is the President House on Forest Street, designed by Clarence Ward for Physics Professor S.R. Williams in 1920 and acquired by the college for President Wilkins in 1927. Executed in red brick, it bears a resemblance to the best loved of all American colonial homes, the wood-frame Craigie-Longfellow house on Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The new men's campus was to be Neo-Georgian in mood. Noah Hall is faithful to its colonial prototypes, Massachusetts Hall at Harvard and Connecticut Hall at Yale. Burton Hall, completed just after World War II, seems more reminiscent of Tidewater Virginia plantation architecture, although the proportions of the central block between its flankers are distended to accommodate more bedrooms. Burton proved to be the last gasp of the Neo-Georgian impulse.

The third inter-war initiative was a plan to build a science quadrangle along West Lorain just south of the men's campus. Severance Chemistry Lab was to be the southeast anchor for this complex. A leading proponent of the idea was W.H. Brown, a young architect in the Art Department who introduced the modern international style to Oberlin in his designs for several private homes. Wright Physics Laboratory (1942) was barely completed before war intervened. Its anomalous red brick wall patches indicate anticipated points of future junction for the thwarted science complex. As it is, Wright stands as Oberlin's last expression of the round-arched style launched in Warner Gymnasium four decades before.

The Modern Era (ca. 1946 - 1974)

The end of World War II punctuated the beginning of the fourth phase of Oberlin architecture. Almost half the buildings on the campus have gone up since 1946. When William Stevenson assumed the College presidency that year, he found a badly antiquated physical plant. Zoology was taught in a converted church Humanities classes met in an abandoned high school converted wooden homes housed Botany, Geology and Geography, as well as hundreds of student roomers Carnegie Library overflowed with books theatrical productions wandered about town like orphans in search of a stage. Stevenson promptly launched a modern building program which continued through the years of his successor, Robert Carr, and on into the 1970s. In this construction drive, two rival trends are discernible. The first is an expedient conversion to bland cereal-box functionalism in postwar dormitory construction. The fraternal twins of 1956, Dascomb and Barrows, are characteristic examples. These flat, anonymous slabs of sleeping space, aptly dubbed "motel modern," may be understood as an unimaginative vernacular version of the Bauhaus style which Walter Gropius helped translate into American collegiate architecture in his Harvard Graduate Center of 1949. The merits of this twentieth-century Oberlin plain-style, elaborated in the gigantism of Kettering Hall (1961) and South Hall (1964), are more economic than architectural. The new plain-style met a need for inexpensive interior space at a time of steady inflation in building costs, and the necessity after 1955 to conform to the guidelines of federal subsidy programs. Bearing in mind the dozens of aging wood-frame houses demolished to make room for new dormitories, one can define them as Oberlin's campus version of urban renewal.

As antidotes to this homogeneous sprawl, we have been blessed (outraged? entertained?) with a sequence of striking, theatrical architectural statements by building artists of national renown. These include Wallace Harrison's melodramatic but curiously functional Hall Auditorium (1954) -- the seventh and final version of a project forty years in the making Minoru Yamasaki's pretty white Conservatory and King Building (1962-66), controversial exercises in machine-molded Neo-Gothic formalism Hugh Stubbins' vast, handsome Philips Gymnasium (1971), which remained a subject of contention right up to the day it began to be used and the Mudd Learning Center (1974), by Warner, Burns, Toan & Lundy, which, owing to its central location and long construction process, provoked more sustained debate about its size, appearance and propriety than perhaps any building in Oberlin's history. The monumental scale and doubtful neighborliness of its facade turned out to contrast vividly with its bright, lavish, and accessible interiors, and while the debate sputtered out, Oberlin's students quietly took possession of Mudd and made it theirs.

No sooner was Mudd completed than attention swung to the other side of Tappan Square, where Robert Venturi's addition to Allen Art Museum gave the community's talent for aesthetic polemics a climactic test. Venturi is a thoughtful iconoclast of modern design convention and a self-conscious architectural populist. He met the "impossible task" of expanding a contained Renaissance palace with a purposeful collision between Gilbert's palace and his own checkered billboard. While the setbacks of his addition defer to the older building and related nicely to the nearby appendages of Hall Auditorium, the Venturi entry on the Oberlin scene easily achieves its own identity. With its staccato surprises at every turn it is, like each of its important predecessors, an insistent demand for personal attention. A trip through Venturi's spaces is a challenging and sometimes puzzling adventure. It is pleasant in the end to walk away from the excitement, returning to the quiet pleasures of Tappan Square.

Since the mid-1970s, the demolition and construction dust has blown away. Preservation, recycling, and a careful landscaping program now govern Oberlin's campus development. Its bracing non-conformity constantly refreshes: strolling around the campus, one never fails to discover something new to ponder, depending on the season, weather, time of day, or one's own mood.

Geoffrey Blodgett is Professor of History at Oberlin College and a 1953 graduate of the College. He is the author of Oberlin Architecture, College and Town: A Guide to Its Social History (Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio, 1985). This guide is an updated excerpt from his article which appeared in the Oberlin Alumni Magazine, May/June 1979.

Note on the use of images:

The photographs and drawings provided by the Oberlin College Archives for the EOG website may be downloaded for educational use in the Oberlin School District classrooms. For other use of Archives photographs--including reproduction in a brochure, scholarly article or book, or other publication--please seek permission from Oberlin College Archives , 420 Mudd Center, Oberlin, Ohio, 44074. Images from the Oberlin College Archives are protected by copyright laws. For use of other images in this website, please write to the EOG webmaster . Photographic images and other images provided by Geoffrey Blodgett are protected under copyright laws and cannot be reproduced without permission. Click here to return to the mainpage of historical preservation in Oberlin.


Transfer of Credit

Students seeking to transfer credit toward the History Major for classes not taken at Oberlin must consult with their advisors and/or the chair of the History Department in advance, and gain written preliminary approval for courses they wish to take elsewhere.

Students may be eligible to transfer toward the major credit for a maximum of two full courses completed outside Oberlin. Other courses may be transferred for general credit toward graduation. Normally, the History Department does not accept toward the major any courses completed at two-year institutions after a student has declared a major in History at Oberlin.


Oberlin, Ohio - History - Abolitionism

Towards the middle of the 19th century, Oberlin became a major focus of the abolitionist movement in the United States. The town was conceived as an integrated community and blacks attended Oberlin College from 1835, when brothers Gideon Quarles and Charles Henry Langston were admitted. Their younger brother John Mercer Langston, who became the first black elected to the United States Congress from Virginia in 1888, also graduated from Oberlin. Many Oberlin College graduates were dedicated abolitionists, who traveled throughout the South working to help slaves escape to the north.

In 1834, in response to a series of slavery debates at Lane Theological Seminary, the trustees of the Cincinnati, Ohio school voted to prohibit antislavery agitation among its students and faculty. As a result, the "Lane Rebels", a group of about 50 students, trustee Asa Mahan, and professor John Morgan, left the school. Arthur Tappan, financial agent of the Oberlin Collegiate Institute, and co-founder John Shipherd, saw an opportunity to solve Oberlin's financial problems by inviting the rebels (including Mahan and Morgan) to come to Oberlin. The rebels agreed under three conditions: that Oberlin accept students regardless of color, that Oberlin respect students' freedom of speech, and that Oberlin not "interfere with the internal regulation of the school." In the fall of 1835, Oberlin opened a new theology school with Asa Mahan as President, Charles Finney as Professor of theology, and the Lane Rebels among the first theology students.

By 1852, the town of Oberlin was an active terminus on the underground railroad, and thousands had already passed through it on their way to freedom. This effort was assisted by an Ohio law that allowed fugitive slaves to apply for a writ of habeas corpus, which protected them from extradition back to the southern states from which they had escaped. In 1858, a newly elected Democratic state legislature repealed this law, making fugitives around Oberlin vulnerable to enforcement of the Federal Fugitive Slave Law, which allowed southern slave-catchers to target and extradite them back to the South.

This situation came to a head with the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, a pivotal event described in Nat Brandt's book The Town That Started the Civil War. On September 13, 1858, a fugitive named John Price was captured by federal officials and held in neighboring Wellington, Ohio. A large group of Oberlin residents, consisting of both white and black townspeople, students, and faculty, set out for Wellington to release Price from captivity.

The men took Price back from the arresting US Marshal, and eventually smuggled him to Canada, but the authorities were not content to let the matter rest. United States President James Buchanan personally requested prosecution of the group (now referred to by sympathetic parties as "the Rescuers"), and 37 of them were indicted. Twelve of those were free blacks, including Charles H. Langston. State authorities arrested the US Marshal who had captured Price. In negotiation, the state agreed to free the arresters, and the federal officials agreed to free all but two of those indicted. Simeon M. Bushnell, a white man, and Charles H. Langston were both tried and convicted by an all-Democrat jury. Langston's eloquent speech against slavery and injustice persuaded the judge to give them light sentences. They appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus, but on May 30, 1859, their petition was denied.

The political ferment resulting from the case led to a number of major protests throughout the northern part of the state, and an unprecedented boost to the anti-slavery Republican party in the 1860 State elections. The governor of Ohio wrote to the new Republican President Abraham Lincoln urging him to repeal the Fugitive Slave Law. Though in point of fact, Lincoln declined this request, his decision did little to prevent a number of Southern states from seceding, and America was soon embroiled in the Civil War.


Peculiar good

The town of Oberlin had been founded by John Jay Shipherd (1802–1844) and Philo P. Stewart (1798–1868) who bought land in Ohio to establish a utopian society “peculiar in that which is good.” The members of Oberlin Colony, a mixture of New England Congregationalists and revivalist Presbyterians, believed a school that would promote “earnest and living piety among the students” would help students grow in holiness and spread social reform ideals. In the fall of 1833, the Oberlin Collegiate Institute published its vision:

At the heart of the Oberlin Institute was the belief that authentic Christianity is not only a set of beliefs but a commitment to action. As a result, from the beginning, the institute committed to social reform as the true expression of the gospel. Evangelist Charles Finney (1792–1875) served as a professor at Oberlin from 1835 on and as president from 1851 to 1866. His thinking, regularly expressed in the Oberlin Evangelist, articulated the institute’s understanding of the church’s vocation in the world:

Oberlin Institute leaders tried to create a space where future Christian leaders could practice holiness and piety individually and communally so that when they went out into the world they could produce the “greatest amount of moral influence.” As a result they championed various social reform movements (coeducation, advocacy for Native Americans, the peace movement, temperance, and dietary reforms) but are perhaps most well known for an early and serious commitment to abolition, a position that solidified following an uprising at another Ohio school.

Lane Seminary in Cincinnati, founded by Presby­terians in 1829, envisioned itself a “great central theological institution” in the West. But when in 1834 the school tried to stop students from abolitionist activities, the bulk of the student body resigned en masse. These students, along with professors John Morgan and trustee Asa Mahan, became known as the Lane Rebels. They had financial support from wealthy New York businessmen Arthur (1786–1865) and Lewis Tappan (1788–1863), but no school to call their home.

Shipherd, sensing an opportunity, invited the group to join the Oberlin Institute, and they agreed. The arrival of these students and their advocates, with their commitment to abolition and equality, had an immediate and long-lasting influence on the school’s ethos. John Morgan was invited to become a professor at Oberlin Institute, Asa Mahan (1799–1889) became the institute’s first president, and the Tappan brothers gave their financial assistance to the institute. In addition to this, the Tappans encouraged Finney to join the faculty of Oberlin’s theological department.


Oberlin College: A History of Cults

Двести Лет Вместе June 25, 2018 at 11:26 am

Dent bubble explosion cannot come soon enough

Once again – illusion wreckers! Oberlin was long a name mentioned with reverence in my circles principally due to their world class music school (wonder how well they have resisted the craziness?) and the heritage of being anti-slavery first movers in the 19C, etc. Antioch College (now defunct) is likely a close cousin institution in that regard.

Very interesting how the history of prohibition as a progressive movement has been entirely obscured in the last 50 years – thousands died as the US Gov poisoned home distilled spirits with wood alcohol … and now, I have met 20-somethings who are totally unaware that there even was a period of prohibition in the US.

I had not heard of Rev Finney – could be material for a very interesting parallel lives treatment with RW Emerson whose years are about the same.

I would guess your 50K per year tuition figure is likely out-dated – 60k+ would not surprise me.

Finally, here is a recent piece on the plight of higher ed and its frightening future.

Author reports Fall 2020 freshmen class size at many US colleges and universities was down by as much as 30% over just a year earlier – those are apocalyptic numbers!

Not eat Mexican food? Seriously? I live in far west Texas, where eating Mexican food (which I love, BTW) is almost “mandatory” (Bwahahahahahahahahah) and if I ever refused to make a load of enchiladas for the monthly church dinner (usually in fall) the church goers would have a conniption over it! That’s one thing I love about Hispanics out here: they mostly believe Anglos and Hispanics are created equal (yes there are a few Hispanics crying wolf out here, but I wouldn’t call them Aztlans or LULACS, not yet anyway).

And who came up with this “cultural appropriation” crapola in the first place?

So black Jimi Hendrix couldn’t play rock music? So white Eminem couldn’t do rap music? So a woman can’t do plumbing? So a man can’t sew? So an Asian can’t sing opera? So an African can’t play at a Philharmonic? So a white Aussie can’t play a didguridu (spelling?)? So a white Christian missionary can’t learn to click-speak to evangelize Bushmen? I could go on and on…

Anything you can’t figure out through your own erudition college is unlikely to teach you – STEM included.


History of Asian Stereotypes Sheds Light on Recent Violence

The recent surge in attacks on Asians in America, including the tragic killing of eight people — mostly Asian women — in Atlanta this week signals that we are in dangerous and alarming times. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the normalization of bigotry against Asians and are now experiencing and witnessing its tragic consequences.

In our world of 24-hour news, social media, and shrinking attention spans, it may seem like this violence is new, and that Asians — seen as “model” minorities unaffected by racism (with “proximity to whiteness”) — are suddenly in its crosshairs. In my Asian American History class this semester, students are learning up close how these events represent a continuation of a long legacy of discrimination and stereotyping. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Asian immigrants were a uniquely alienated group in American life. Chinese — called “heathens,” “cheap labor,” and targets of vigilante violence — were barred from immigrating on the basis of race and nationality. In the 1910s and 1920s, the technically race-neutral category “aliens ineligible to citizenship” was deployed by state and federal legislators as a cudgel to further disfranchise Asians — Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Asian Indians, and eventually Filipinos — on the grounds that they were variously unassimilable, undesirable, and a threat to American society and values.

The image of the high-achieving, professional, and law-abiding Asian American “model minority” entered the mainstream consciousness during the early Cold War years, revolving in part around Japanese Americans’ impressive socioeconomic trajectory after the ordeal of wartime internment. There was an insidious side to this “positive” stereotype, as Asian Americans were extolled not just for their achievements but also for their political quiescence. The framework implicitly divided people of color by sorting “model minorities” from “bad minorities” and punishing Asian Americans who did not fit the mold. And perhaps most pernicious, it upheld the fallacy that systemic racism in America had been eradicated: for how else could a model minority arise?

In the 1950s and 1960s, another stereotype about Asians emerged out of U.S. military interventions in Korea and Vietnam: the “gook.” The gook was a nameless and faceless enemy, the foil to the heroic American solider. Or to quote General William Westmoreland about Vietnamese people in 1974, “The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does the Westerner. … Life is plentiful, life is cheap in the Orient.” This attitude allowed for and encouraged hatred. It explains why the casualty rates Asians suffered in U.S. military engagements far exceed those of Americans do not register as particularly notable or tragic.

This brief history of ideas about Asians in America also tells us something about today’s social and cultural landscape and how we find ourselves in the present situation. They tell us something about why in 2021 a sheriff will instinctively identify with and extend his empathy to a white mass murderer of Asian victims. They also tell us something about why, as a student once told me a few years ago, it was acceptable at Oberlin to make fun of Asian people because there are rarely any consequences for doing so. What these ideas do not tell us is about the lives of Asians in America, the people who were attacked, and the histories they belong to. Atlanta, GA, is home to one of the fastest growing Asian American communities. The third most spoken language in the state of Georgia is Korean. The state’s transformation over the last few decades as a result of new immigration, as well as the internal migration from other states, partly helps to explain why – thanks to the efforts of Stacey Abrams – Asian Americans were such a pivotal vote in turning Georgia blue in 2020.

In a powerful op-ed in The New York Times , Princeton professor Anne Anlin Cheng critiqued the current discourse of racial politics, saying “ Racial justice is often couched in arcane, moralistic terms rather than understood as an ethical given in democratic participation.” Moreover, it can feel “crazily naïve to suggest that we ought to learn, value and want to know about all of our countrymen.”

In these attention- and resource-scarce times, when it feels like everything is at stake all at once, simply learning, valuing, and wanting to know about one another does seem both a hopelessly naïve and insurmountably tall order. But this may also be our only way forward.


An Acorn blooms

Acorn was a Cambridge-based firm that started in 1979 after developing computer systems originally designed to run fruit machines—we call them slot machines—then turning them into small hobbyist computer systems based on 6502 processors. That was the same CPU family used in the Apple II, Atari 2600, and Commodore 64 computers, among many others. This CPU's design will become important later, so, you know, don't forget about it.

Further Reading

The BBC's demanding list of features ensured the resulting machine would be quite powerful for the era, though not quite as powerful as Acorn's original Atom-successor design. That Atom successor would have featured two CPUs, a tried-and-true 6502 and an as-yet undecided 16-bit CPU.

Acorn later dropped that CPU but kept an interface system, called the Tube, that would allow for additional CPUs to be connected to the machine. (This too will become more important later.)

The engineering of the BBC Micro really pushed Acorn's limits, as it was a pretty state-of-the-art machine for the era. This resulted in some fascinatingly half-ass but workable engineering decisions, like having to replicate the placement of an engineer's finger on the motherboard with a resistor pack in order to get the machine to work.

Nobody ever really figured out why the machine only worked when a finger was placed on a certain point on the motherboard, but once they were able to emulate the finger touch with resistors, they were just satisfied it worked, and moved on.

Here, listen to one of the key engineers tell you himself:

The BBC Micro proved to be a big success for Acorn, becoming the dominant educational computer in the UK in the 1980s.

Further Reading

Acorn saw these developments happening and realized they would need something more powerful than the aging but reliable 6502 to power their future machines if they wanted to compete. Acorn had been experimenting with a lot of 16-bit CPUs: the 65816, the 16-bit variant of the 6502, the Motorola 68000 that powered the Apple Macintosh, and the comparatively rare National Semiconductor 32016.

None of these were really doing the job, though, and Acorn reached out to Intel to see about implementing the Intel 80286 CPUs into their new architecture.


Watch the video: Oberlin Smash Combo Video