175th Anniversary of Oberlin College and the City of Oberlin: 1833 - 2008

Did You Know?

Freedom and Education

While the narrative of the revolt on the slave ship Amistad has been widely described in film and books, there remains a rarely told story: One of the schooner’s surviving passengers attended Oberlin College and became the first female international student in America.

Horsecows, Manti Fly High on the Field

While football has dominated the Oberlin College sports scene since its kickoff season in 1891 and later led by legendary coach John W. Heisman, more than three-quarters of a century later, a flashy new sport had taken the College—and the country—by storm.

An Arch of Understanding

First Church

The Memorial Arch that graces the main entrance on the western side of campus is dedicated to a group of Oberlin missionaries who died during the Boxer Rebellion in China.

First Church in OberlinFirst Church

The first place of organized worship in Oberlin, called the meetinghouse, was at one time the largest auditorium west of the Alleghenies with a seating capacity of 1,800?

Patience, Patent Pay Off for Young ChemistLife Magazine cover, 1970

The science behind today’s such manufactured aluminum products as soda cans, food containers, and aircraft hulls that was discovered in an East College Street woodshed by an up-and-coming Oberlin chemistry student, risked never being credited.

An Intimate Campus RevolutionLife Magazine cover, 1970

Oberlin College was a pioneer in the coed dorm movement, a “revolution in campus living,” as a national general interest magazine called it in 1970.

Allen HospitalsAllen Hospital

The dedication of Oberlin’s citizens and the generosity of a prominent Oberlin family built the foundation for modern medical care that the College and the community have shared for more than 100 years.

Nutritional CrusadeSylvester Graham

Sylvester Graham was a Presbyterian minister and reformer, best known for creating the Graham cracker? Regarded as a temperance minister, he promoted the benefits of moderation and believed that certain foods and behaviors are detrimental to both physical and spiritual health. These theories made him a central figure in the health reform movement of the 1800s. And some of his ideas made their way to Oberlin College.

Oberlin-Wellington Rescue

owrHundreds of Oberlin and Wellington, Ohio, residents joined forces to rescue l8-year-old fugitive slave John Price from U.S. marshals on September 13, 1858. This courageous move involving Oberlin College students, faculty, and Oberlin and Wellington citizens who opposed the institution of slavery would come to be known as the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue.

John Dube

Oberlin College played a significant role in nurturing John Dube, a writer and civil rights leader who worked against the oppressive apartheid system in his native South Africa. In later years, many would compare Dube to his mentor, the oratorical powerhouse and educator Booker T. Washington.

Wilder Hall

The Oberlin College student union, Wilder Hall, is actually named for a Boston paper manufacturer, not the famed novelist Thornton Wilder. The anonymous donor provided funds for its construction.

The Wright Sister

If you enter the lobby of the Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland you will see an extensive display in the International Women’s Air and Space Museum (IWASM) devoted to Katharine Wright Haskell.

Oberlin Review

The Oberlin Review is among the nation’s longest publishing student newspapers. It also is one of the oldest student newspapers published by an Ohio college or university. The Review joined the ranks of student-run newspapers in 1874.

Little Red Schoolhouse

When Oberlin College opened its doors for learning in 1833, it wasn’t too long after that town and college leaders collaborated yet again for an educational goal: to build a school for their children. In 1837, the townspeople opened a one-room schoolhouse on the northeast corner of Main and Lorain streets.

The Philosophical Math Man

The groundbreaking work of world-renowned philosopher and mathematician Willard Van Orman Quine continues to resonate today. The 1930 Oberlin College graduate, who died December 25, 2000, conducted work in mathematical logic, set theory, philosophy of language, and ontology.

Oberlin Rocks

It’s been reported in Oberlin history that 39 members of the class of 1898 pulled a seven-ton glacial rock out of Plum Creek and rolled it to campus to present it as a class gift. The rock remains on what is now Tappan Square.

John Mercer Langston

John Mercer Langston, Class of 1849, ranks as one of the most compelling figures in Oberlin’s 175-year history. A graduate of the College and an Oberlin resident for 15 years, he was a leader of conviction and influence, a visionary reformer, and an accomplished statesman and lawyer.

Celebrating Freedom

The Oberlin community and College legacy celebrates a shared commitment to social justice and activism, a dedication to artistic and academic excellence, and a willingness to challenge social conventions. From its beginnings, Oberlin opposed slavery and embraced freedom for all who chose to live, learn, and labor in the community. The annual Juneteenth Celebration in Oberlin recognizes this commitment.

A Rose by Any Other Name

When the college opened Finney Chapel in 1908, it didn’t have the rose window that architect Cass Gilbert wanted to include largely because of an unsettled dispute and no money. It would be more than 65 years before the college completed the chapel’s original design.

The Tappans

Massachusetts-born benefactors Arthur and Lewis Tappan put up the majority of the money needed to open and sustain Oberlin College. The Tappans, who acquired their wealth in dry goods, silk importing, and business investments; however, had a few stipulations that were initially met with opposition. One of them was an open admissions policy.

Oberlin City, School District, and College Partnership

The mutual legacy of high academic standards has played out in Oberlin’s history many times over. An open admission policy adopted by the founders and first trustee board some 170 years ago manifests itself today through several joint programs designed to encourage more young men and women to pursue the academic excellence and educational opportunities that Oberlin College provides. The Oberlin Public Schools-Oberlin College Partnership is one such example.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. presented several talks as well as the 1965 Commencement address during visits to the city and College at the time of the civil rights movement. So, while the nation observed the 40th anniversary of the assassination of King on Friday, April 4, 2008, it was a special time of reflection for the city and College to consider the history made with the man who had a dream.