TWO NOTED WOMEN IN HISTORY OF OBERLIN
Mrs. Marianne P. Dascomb and Madam Johnston Outstanding
In the long history of the college two women stand out as leaders of their sex in higher education in Oberlin. The first of these, Mrs. Marianne P. Dascomb, was the wife of Dr. Dascomb and with her husband came to Oberlin in the pioneer days. She was principal of the female department of the college in 1835-36 and again in 1852-70. She was a woman of fine personality and keen mind. Her help was apparent in the successful carrying of heavy burdens by her husband Dr. Dascomb in the early days. That Mrs. Dascomb did her own thinking is evidenced by the fact that in 1870 she was leader of a band of 140 married women of the county who filed a protest against the movement then underway for equal suffrage.
Of equal, if not of greater, fame in the history of the college and community was Mrs. Adelia A. F. Johnston, known as Madam Johnston. Mrs. Johnston was made principal of the woman’s department on the retirement of Mrs. Dascomb in 1870. From the period from 1870 to 1894 Mrs. Johnston held this title and was made the first dean of the women’s department in 1894, serving for six years. She had the distinction of being the first woman elected to the board of trustees in the college, serving in that capacity in 1901-02. Mrs. Johnston was gracious but firm in the administration of discipline and had the profound respect of her associates on the faculty and of students who came under her care from year to year. Her wit and her knowledge of the ways of young people have become a tradition in college and community.
Always interested in the village as well as the college, Mrs. Johnston’s most outstanding contribution to Oberlin was the founding of the Village Improvement Society, at the head of which she served for many years. This, of course, has gone forward after her death and improvements particularly along Plum Creek within the corporation limits may be ascribed largely to her influence and to her love of beauty. In and address delivered at the annual meeting of the Oberlin Board of Commerce in 1898 Mrs. Johnston said: "There is no prosperity for college or town that does not grow out of a happy union of the two. I congratulate you that the college is here and I congratulate the college that you are here."
Mrs. Johnston died in 1910. At her funeral Reverend Henry M. Tenney, pastor for many years of Second Church, said of her: "She was a great administrator as well as one of the world’s great teachers. The indebtedness of Oberlin College to her is beyond the power of words to express, and our Oberlin community, how greatly is it indebted to her! She has always loved it, and has had its welfare and the interests of all is people upon her heart."