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Records of the Public Relations Department (Group 18)
[21] Records of the Centennial of Coeducation, 1936-37, 2 ft. 7 in.

Historical Note

Oberlin was the first coeducational college in the United States, and it celebrated a century of coeducation in 1937. Many academic and political dignitaries gathered at Oberlin to honor the College and the four women students—Mary Hosford (1821-1884), Mary Fletcher Kellogg (1817-1890), Elizabeth Smith Prall (1816-1868) and Caroline Mary Rudd (1820-1892)—who were the first to enroll in the College Course. Former Dean of Women Mildred McAfee (b. 1900) gave the keynote address. The public relations department worked closely with President Ernest H. Wilkins(1880-1966) and his assistant to ensure the event was appropriately covered. Oberlin received national attention as NBC radio covered the events.

Scope and Content

Among the correspondence in the collection are letters of greetings and congratulations from officials at numerous educational institutions, as well as their responses to invitations. Both President Wilkins and Dr. William F. Bohn (1878-1947) communicated extensively with various people concerning preparations for the centennial event. They attempted to persuade Mdm. H. H. Kung, wife of the Chinese minister of finance and an Oberlin graduate, who in her own right was an important figure in the Chinese government, to attend. The college also invited Mdm. Kung’s sisters, Mdms. Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, to participate in the centennial events. The public relations department gathered lists of coeducational schools and information pertinent to coeducation. Included in this file are printed materials, addresses, radio scripts, news releases, photographs of the event, a list of delegates, and all the articles printed about Oberlin and coeducation during that year.

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