Document 5: Board of Trustees minutes,
22 April 18501

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Following Mrs. Burke's dismissal, the Oberlin College Board of Trustees was met with a number of petitions expressing sympathy for her plight and concern over the possible damage to her reputation. The Board also faced a wave of offers of resignations from various members of the Ladies Board who threatened to leave the school permanently should the Board of Trustees not express full confidence in their judgment in the case. The following are the relevant minutes from a meeting of the Oberlin College Board of Trustees on 22 April 1850, in which they reviewed the various petitions and resignation letters.

Ultimately, the Board of Trustees, faced with the prospect of the resignation of a large number of members of the Ladies Board, expressed their confidence in the ability of the resigning members and refused the resignations. Due to the poor quality of the scans from which the following excerpt was transcribed, along with the antiquated handwriting, some words or phrases were illegible. These sections have been labeled accordingly.

Document Text:

April 22, 1850
Monday Morning, 11 o'clock 22nd April 1850.
The Board met, present as on Saturday.
After prayer

Resolved that the filling up of the vacancy in the Board by the resignation of Josiah B. Hall2 be postponed until the next meeting of the Board.

Several students appeared being bearers of petitions from some of the inhabitants as well as from some of the students praying that the case of Mrs. E.P. Burke late principal in the female department be enquired into.

Resolved that said petitions be accepted.

Resolved that William Dawes3, Isaac Jennings4, + P.P. Pease5 be required to confer with Mrs. Burke as to the best made adju[dg?]ment.

The Secretary Presented a communication from Mrs. Mahan6, Mrs. Cowles7, Mrs. Dascomb8 + Mrs. Hill, wherein they resigned their offices as members of the Ladies Board whereupon, the following resolution was found.

Resolved that the Board of Trustees of Oberlin College in view of the resignation of a faction of the Ladies Board, hereby express their entire confidence in the ability, integrity, + sound discretion of all the members + do hereby request that said resignation may be withdrawn.

The Secretary now withdrew on the part of the Ladies Board the resignation re[ferred?] to in the last resolution.

Mrs. Pelton9 was now introduced who presented a plan of her own for the endowment of the female department of this Inst. by her own efforts. After she had been fully heard It was

Resolved that the Board look with approbation upon the plan for the endowment of the female department proposed by Mrs. Pelton, and that the Resident Trustees of the prudential committee be authorized to perfect an agreement with Mrs. Pelton in regard to it, if upon full consultation they shall think it advisable.

Resolved that the Pres., Comm., & the Faculty be referred to the resolution passed of the last meeting of the Board relative to the endowment of the College + that they be urged to immediate action.

Resolved that the correction of the minutes be committed to M.E. Strieby10 + the Secretary.

Adjourned sine die11
Hamilton Hill,12 Secretary

[1] Transcribed by Cecelia Scheele.

[2] Deacon Josiah B. Hall performed home missionary work in the Oberlin area for years before he moved with his family to Percival, Iowa in the spring of 1850.

[3] William Dawes, a member of the Board of Trustees, traveled to England along with John Keep from 1839-40 to raise funds for Oberlin College.

[4] Isaac Jennings was mayor of Oberlin in 1849.

[5] Peter Pindar Pease, a pioneer in settling the Western Reserve of Ohio, was one of the first settlers of Oberlin.

[6] Mary Hartwell Mahan was the wife of Rev. Asa Mahan, President of the College 1835-50 and Professor of intellectual and moral philosophy.

[7] Alice W. Cowles was on the Ladies' Board of Managers of Oberlin College.

[8] Marianne Parker Dascomb was Principal of Oberlin's Female Department, 1835-36 and 1852-70, and served on the Women's Board of Managers, 1836-79. She was the wife of James Dascomb, MD, Professor of chemistry, botany and physiology.

[9] Thirza Pelton was the wife of Brewster Pelton, who, in 1833, constructed a log cabin where strangers could stay for the night. The Oberlin Inn now stands in its place. Mrs. Pelton was enrolled in the College, 1844-46.

[10] Michael Epaphras Strieby was a member of the American Missionary Association and Trustee of the College.

[11] "Sine die" is from the Latin "without day." To adjourn a meeting sine die is to adjourn it without setting the next meeting period.

[12] Hamilton Hill was Treasurer of Oberlin College, 1841-65.