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Records of Student Life (Group 19)
[22] Records of the Oberlin Band of Student Volunteers for Foreign Missions, c. 1886-1927, 2 in.

Historical Note

The Oberlin Band of Student Volunteers was one of several Oberlin student organizations that supported Protestant missionary endeavors at home and abroad. T his coed organization, sponsored by the YMCA and YWCA, prepared its members for missionary work and spread the missionary zeal among others for over three decades. At meetings, members listened to missionaries tell of their efforts and of the lands where they labored, heard missionaries’ letters read, discussed the work of the various missions, and gave support by donating money. Young women who became Oberlin missionaries included Rowena Bird (d. 1900, Lit. 1890, A.B. 1895), Tinnie D’Etta Hewett (Thompson, d. 1899, A.B. 1888), Alice Moon Williams, Lydia Lord Davis, and Alice Cowles Little.

Scope and Content

The collection, consisting of three volumes and two folders, includes minutes and deputation committee records, plus personal information that student members supplied about their own backgrounds. These completed questionnaires also report on parents’ names and addresses. Membership lists contain not only the name of each member, but also his or her mission location and date of withdrawal from the organization. A scrapbook from the 1920s contains photographs and clippings from Oberlin and abroad.

[23] Records of the Young Women’s Missionary Society, 1879-1894, 2 in.

Historical Note

Organized in 1879 as the Young Ladies Missionary Society, the Young Women’s Missionary Society was one of several Oberlin student organizations that supported Protestant missionary endeavors at home and abroad. Its activities included educating members, financing designated missions, and sending missionaries and helpers into the field. This group supported mission work among the Slavic immigrants of Cleveland. After finishing college, quite a number of the society’s members became missionaries.

Scope and Content

The collection, consisting of four volumes and one folder, includes minutes (two volumes) and financial and membership information (two volumes). The group’s focus on women missionaries is illustrated by the secretary’s report on letters from, information about, and talks by female missionaries. A folder holds documents from several women missionaries: a letter dated l888 from Luella Miner (A.B. 1884), who was working in China, and two letters (c. 1890) regarding Josephine Barnaby’s work with American Indians in North Dakota.

[24] Records of the Ladies’ Literary Society, 1850 (1904-52)-1952, 1 ft. 2 in.

Historical Note

In 1835 nine women founded the Young Ladies’ Association of the Oberlin Collegiate Institute. The first literary society for women in the United States, its purpose was to improve the “intellectual and moral” character of its members through “the promotion of Literature and Religion.” At meetings women practiced public speaking and mastered parliamentary procedures. Membership in the association especially benefited several early members who later achieved public prominence, including Lucy Stone (1818-1893), Antoinette Brown Blackwell (1825-1921), Josephine Penfield Bateham (1829-1901), and Mary Sheldon (1825-1887). Soon after Stone’s graduation in 1847, the association went into decline. Lucy Stanton (1831-1910) responded by reorganizing the association, renaming it the Young Ladies’ Literary Society, and giving it a new objective. By focusing on “Writing, Speaking, and Discussion,” the association once again attracted young women.

Although the name of the literary organization changed throughout the second half of the 19th century, the content of meetings remained the same. By 1852 the size of the organization promoted differences among the women. The more progressive women withdrew that year and formed the Young Ladies Lyceum (later called the Aelioian). In keeping with their liberal views, they made the oration a regular part of their program. The conservative Young Ladies’ Literary Society maintained the more feminine essays. In 1867 the original organization once again changed its name to the Ladies Literary Society (LLS). By 1878 LLS members considered the name too old fashioned, and LLS came to mean Litterae laborum solanem. Women still presented papers and debated topics that reflected their interests. In the early years essays and debates focused on religion and women’s role in the religious sphere. The antislavery movement was another popular topic before the Civil War. Throughout the group’s history, lighter debates were also conducted (e.g., “Resolved: that two little trunks are preferable to one large one”). In the late 19th century, the LLS theme was Victorian authors. The study of contemporary authors continued into the 20th century until topics of national and international scope became popular.

The LLS alumnae in New York formed a permanent organization in 1903 to “renew old ties, (and) to become acquainted with the younger graduates.” Additional alumnae groups were formed in other cities, resulting in the establishment of a national LLS Alumnae Association.

The LLS and the Aelioian continued to be integral parts of the Oberlin community until World War I. At that time, when so many male students were committed to the war effort, women faced new responsibilities and opportunities and were unable to devote time to literary societies. After the war LLS once again attracted women’s interest. By 1948, with membership declining, the Aelioian and the LLS were forced to merge. In the following year the alumnae organizations of these groups also united. This new union lasted only four years. In 1952, at separate meetings, the student and alumnae organizations of the LLS-Aelioian dissolved, declaring that “the purposes for which the literary societies were created have been fulfilled; their work is done.”

Scope and Content

This collection contains records of the activities of the LLS. Most materials prior to 1850 were lost in a fire. Included are minutes of student meetings, 1904-1948, and alumnae meetings, 1907-1952. Three volumes contain the recording secretary’s book, 1846-1948; corresponding secretary’s book, 1875-1905; and a list of members. Reports were written by the president, 1935 and 1937; the secretary, 1908 and 1909; and treasurer, 1874-l910. The director’s book summarizes events for the years 1911 to 1934. The alumnae correspondence, 1919-1949, covers sexual discrimination, the Equal Rights Amendment, research in China, and reminiscences of a meeting with Antoinette Brown Blackwell. There are completed questionnaires concerning the activities of the alumnae fellows during and after their studies. Lists of student and alumnae members, 1907-1941, also exist. Among the printed materials are programs of events for the years 1850 to 1935 and various constitutions and bylaws, 1874 and 1940. The photograph series contains organization pictures, 1893-1936, and photographs of individuals, including Adelia A. Field Johnston.

The Aelioian collection contains the constitutions, bylaws, and lists of members, 1883; 1886; and 1890. There are programs for the inclusive years of 1856-1907.

[25] Records of the Women’s Center, 1971-1987, 10 in.

Historical Note

The Student Senate chartered the Women’s Center in February 1971 to act as a liaison between the different groups and committees on campus concerned with women. The center, which is governed by volunteer officers, is open to all women. Students’ activity fees support the center. On April 26, 1989, the Student Life Committee changed the name from the Women’s Center to the Women’s Information and Resource Center.

The center presently operates as a clearinghouse of information on women’s concerns on the campus, in the community, and at the national level. The center maintains its own library; it subscribes to various women’s magazines and newspapers, purchases books, and collects pamphlets.

In its capacity as liaison, the center handles publicity for women’s events and provides a meeting place. It also sponsors and cosponsors workshops, conferences, seminars, lectures, and a film series on women’s issues.

Scope and Content

This collection, consisting of eight record series, documents the role of the Women’s Center as a liaison and library for the Oberlin College campus. Included are a charter and a statement of purpose, 1971 and 1988; minutes, 1982-1984; correspondence, 1974-1987 inclusively; financial records, 1974-75, 1978-79, and logbooks or notebooks, 1976-1983; information on campus events, 1973, 1975, 1981, n.d.; surveys and questionnaires, 1976, 1985, which cover the results of the survey on rape and sexual harassment; and a general file which contains information on a variety of activities on campus, locally and nationally.

[26] Records of the Oberlin Association of Women Students, 1958-1966, 2 in.

Historical Note

The Oberlin Association of Women Students (OAWS), a governing body for women, emerged in 1958 after a review by the Women’s Self-Government League the previous year. The OAWS remained the primary women’s governing body until 1965, when the Student Life Committee reorganized student government.

In forming the OAWS it was assumed that women students were mature enough to make and to abide by their own rules. The membership of the OAWS, which included all women students of Oberlin College, elected 12 representatives to the legislature. Beside serving in one of the other branches (executive or judicial), the representatives also served on various subcommittees, including the Nominations Committee and Standing Committee. Three OAWS members served on the Joint Subcommittee.

The campus wide governance of women was handled by the legislature of the OAWS, while dormitory governance was under the control of individual house councils. Passing legislation was a two-step process; both the student representatives and the faculty Women’s Board had to approve all legislation. During the tenure of the OAWS, representatives and house council officers addressed issues concerning social changes. The most popular topic was visitation privileges.

Scope and Content

This collection documents the governance of women at Oberlin College from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s. The constitution file contains the constitutions of the Women’s Self-Government League and the OAWS. The minutes of the Women’s Board, the OAWS legislature, the Judicial Board, and the subcommittees of the OAWS are incomplete for the years 1958-1965. Among the reports is one by the OAWS chairman for 1961 and reports of various subcommittees and the ad hoc Student Council Committee. The correspondence deals mainly with the structure of the OAWS, 1961, and State Day, which Oberlin hosted in 1961. The financial reports consist of fiscal records of the subcommittees, the Women’s Self-Government League, and the OAWS; the dates are inclusive, 1958-1965. The questionnaire of 1958, the bulk of the series, addressed concerns such as noise, late minutes, and participation in house councils. The proposals primarily address women’s concerns with visiting hours. The compiled lists document the members of the women’s government for various years between 1958 and 1965.

[27] Records of the Oberlin Peace Society, 1930-1940, 8 in.

Historical Note

The students, faculty, and administration organized the Oberlin Peace Society in the fall of 1930. Membership was open to all members of the Oberlin community who agreed with the aims of the society. The goals of the society were fourfold: to encourage members to take a public stand for peace; to demonstrate on behalf of peace; to participate in a scientific investigation concerning the real causes of war and the means for its removal; and to use Oberlin opinion as an agent to promote public goodwill.

The organization sponsored activities related to the peace movement. In addition to lectures and study groups, the organization sent delegates to conventions and conducted its own peace assemblies. The society corresponded with politicians and with representatives from other peace organizations. By the end of the first year, 750 people (including such women as Barbara Wells, Kay Hunt, and Joy Coombs) had joined the society and participated in its activities. President Ernest H. Wilkins, who was active in the international peace community, was among the society’s members and regular speakers. Finally, in cooperation with other campus groups, the society published the Peace Society Bulletin.

The society merged in the spring of 1940 with the Public Affairs Society to form the Peace and Public Affairs Forum. The purpose of the forum, which was established to eliminate “the conflict and inefficiency which resulted from the separation of the two organizations,” was to provide Oberlin students the opportunity to discuss current national and international affairs.

Scope and Content

The records of the Oberlin Peace Society document the group’s efforts to achieve peace in the world. The minutes of the executive board were recorded between October 1935 and March 1940. The secretary’s recording notebook includes newspaper clippings concerning the society. Correspondence with congressmen and other officers of peace organizations covers various peace-related topics. Manuscripts of society speeches cover such topics as “Students against War” and “The U.S. Senate’s Reservations to the World Court Protocol.” Membership lists are arranged alphabetically within class year. Printed materials include bibliographies complied by the Oberlin Peace Society and articles about the society, 1931-1937. Programs document the various events in which the society participated, 1931-1940.

[28] Scrapbooks and Diaries—Papers, 1864-1936, 9 ft. 2 in.

Administrative Note

The Oberlin College Archives has acquired scrapbooks and diaries from students since 1966.

Scope and Content

This collection, consisting of 56 diaries and scrapbooks, captures student life at Oberlin from 1853 to 1937. Some students created class scrapbooks with different memorabilia, photographs, and printed material from their senior year. Both daughters of’ Henry Schauffler (1837-1905)—Grace (1894-1982) and Margaret (b. 1896)—wrote memory books for their classes, 1915 and 1918, respectively. Individuals also kept records of their own activities. Elizabeth Patchin Moyer (b. 1895?) kept an excellent “memory book” (1914-15) about her activities as a freshman woman. The scrapbook includes numerous pictures of friends and activities. Programs documenting campus events—including recitals, dances, football games, and afternoon socials—are also in the files. Maida J. Buckley Franke (b. 1898) compiled a memory book (1916-1918) with Conservatory programs and comments upon the recitals. Others memory books worth noting include Ruth Bullock Boynton, Class of 1908; Martha A. Ely Doolittle, 1905-1907; and Martha Jeannette Nichols Phillips, for 1875.

[29] Student Notes—Papers, 1860-1907, 2 ft. 6 in.

Scope and Content

Oberlin students’ notes cover various topics, from science courses to art courses. In the files are 30 sets of notes taken by Charlotte Allen Jeffers (1843-1908), Class of 1865, on Dr. James Dascomb’s chemistry lectures. Other records include notes taken in 1905 by Elizabeth Rodhouse Creglow (1882-1970) on Dr. Charles H.A. Wager’s course, “Quotes on the Theory of Poetry by Dr. Wager”; and notes taken during the 1870s and 1880s by Grace (1857-1893) and James T. Fairchild (1862-1947), including notes from classes in art and chemistry. Students’ notes from lectures on the history of painting given by Adelia A. Field Johnston (1837-1910) also exist.

[30] Records of the Mock Conventions, 1936-1968, 10 ft.

Historical Note

The purpose of the Oberlin mock convention was to educate students on the intricacies of political life and campaigns. Students prepared themselves to make informed and intelligent decisions on the platform and about the candidates every four years by participating in various activities for the convention.

The first mock convention was held in 1860. The conventions were managed by the men’s literary societies from 1860 through 1908. After 1916 the convention was supervised by the Men’s Senate and the Student Council. The traditional parade was started in 1904 and became an important part of the planned events. The mock convention did not support women’s suffrage until 1908.

Women students were not allowed to participate until 1872, when the Ladies’ Board finally agreed to allow women to “sit modestly in the gallery.” In 1916 women held their own convention, at which they advocated a liberal platform, including women’s suffrage and minimum-wage laws for women. In the 1920 convention 75 women participated as delegates. By the 1928 convention, over half the delegates were women. Over the years the women and men shared similar views on the platform and candidates.

Scope and Content

These records consist of files created by students as part of the mock convention activities. The great bulk of the files date from 1948. Included are the records of convention committees and state delegations; platform planks; correspondence with political figures; fund-raising records; and photographs. The records also document actions of subcommittees and their results through minutes, reports, correspondence, platform decisions, and transcripts of speeches. For example, records include executive committee minutes and progress reports of the different subcommittees, including public relations. The final reports of the various subcommittees document their responsibilities and actions. The convention organizers corresponded with various politicians and dignitaries, including U.S. Senator Wayne L. Morse of Oregon (1900-1974) , U.S. Senator Irving M. Ives of New York (1896-1964), and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harold H. Burton (1888-1964). Among the speakers and permanent chairmen were James Roosevelt (b. 1907), and former President Gerald Ford (b. 1913). Many of the speeches given during the conventions were transcribed.

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