Document 1: Oberlin Female Moral Reform Society
Meeting Minutes, 22 June 1841-12 May 18421

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This transcription selection continues with the meeting minutes, this time over the course of two years. With so few entries, it seems that the Society did not meet frequently. Papers were read aloud and discussions were held on topics such as "impropriety of dress in both ladies and gentlemen." This reflects the Society's belief that moral standards should be enforced for both genders, not simply women.

Document Text:

June 22nd 1841 Held Our 5th Annual Meeting

  1. Meeting Opened with prayer by Miss More.
  2. Annual Report read by secretary.
  3. An address read by Miss Hofrey.
  4. Remarks by Mrs Cowles followed by Mrs. Cambell, Mahan, Carrier, Hunter upon various topics connected with this subject of impropriety of dress both in ladies and gentlemen. Miss Hosford offered the following meeting, which were discussed and adopted.

    Resolved - that in our attempts to advance the course of virtue and chastity, we do not confine our exertions within the limits of our own sex, but as far as possible are to use our influence in the promotion of purity of deposition and character in the other sex - and in light of this

    Resolved - That we do all in our power to discard not only all indecent, but all unbecoming fashions among them as being great incentives to crime.

    The following ladies were chosen by soc' to act as officers for the coming year.

President - Mrs. Cambell
Vice President - Miss Rudd2
Sec and Tres - Mrs. Gillett
Mrs. Dascomb3
Miss F. Messenger
Miss M. Hosford.
Meeting was with prayer by Mrs Cowles.

There was held a Meeting in Jan 7, 1842

  1. Meeting opened by prayer
  2. The appointment of a committee to circulate petitions to be presented to the legislature4 for the suppression of licentiousness.
  3. Remarks by Mrs. Cowles5 on the treatment of the subjects for marriage and engagement. Mrs C was followed by several others.
  4. Meeting closed by prayer.

One meeting held between Jan and the Annual meeting, but - sec6 being absent - the record of proceedings was lost.

May 12th 1842 Held our 5th annual meeting

  1. Meeting opened with prayer by Mrs. Dascomb
  2. Second article of the Constitution read
  3. Officers chosen
  4. A resolution offered to invite President Mahan to address the society. It carried.
  5. A committee chosen to appoint the hours and present the request to Pres. Mahan The following ladies were chosen by soc' to act as officers for the coming year.

President - Mrs Allen
Vice Pres - Mrs E Hosford
Sec & Tres Miss H Grannis
Mrs Burnett
Mrs Gibbs
Miss Wheat

[1] Transcribed by Sophie Hess

[2] Caroline Mary Rudd Allen (d. 1892), one of the first women to graduate from Oberlin College. Marianne Parker Dascomb (1810-1879).

[3] Marianne Parker Dascomb (1810-1879).

[4] It is unclear what legislature is being referred to here - it could allude to anything from the administration of Oberlin College to a higher state or national political body. The cryptic nature of this word raises questions as to the extent of the Society's political influence.

[5] Alice Welch Cowles (1804-1843) would later become the Vice President of the national Female Moral Reform Society. (Lori D. Ginzberg, "The 'Joint Education of the Sexes': Oberlin's Original Vision," in Educating Men and Women Together, ed. Carol Lasser, (Urbana and Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 1987), 72.)

[6] Common abbreviation for secretary

[7] Caroline Mary Rudd Allen. In 1841 she married Professor George Nelson Allen. (Carol Lasser, "How Did Oberlin Women Students Draw on Their College Experience to Participate in Antebellum Social Movements, 1831-1861?" in Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000.