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History of the Archives

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Founded on May 1, 1966, the Oberlin College Archives is an administrative unit authorized by the Board of Trustees of Oberlin College. The Archivist reported to one of the senior administrative offices and outside of the Library until June 30, 2008. Beginning on July 1, 2008, the Oberlin College Archives was placed as a department in the Oberlin College Library, and the College Archivist reports to the Director of Libraries.

Over time the holdings of the College Archives have been housed in three locations: Cox Administration Building, up to 1967; Bosworth Hall, 1967-1973; and the Mudd Center, 1974 to present. During the 1990s the College Archives also occupied ancillary storage space on the fourth floor of the Carnegie Library Building.

Between 1899 and the early 1960s Oberlin's Corporate Secretary served as the "unofficial" archivist and was responsible for maintaining and servicing institutional records. Non-institutional records, often referred to as "Oberliniana," were kept by the College Library. George Morris Jones, 1899-1938, and Donald M. Love, 1938-1962, served as secretary and archivist before a professional archivist was employed. William E. Bigglestone served as the first Archivist (May 1, 1966-July 31, 1986). He was succeeded by Roland M. Baumann on January 1, 1987. Baumann presided over the Archives from 1987 until his retirement in September, 2008. Kenneth M. Grossi succeeded him as College Archivist in 2009 after a year as Acting College Archivist in 2008-09.

For additional details on the movement to establish an Archives and on the tenures of Bigglestone and Baumann, respectively, readers should consult the Archives' annual reports, 1966 to 2008, and two written pieces: Roland M. Baumann, "Oberlin College and the Movement to Establish an Archives, 1920-1966," The Midwestern Archivist, 13 (1988): 27-38; and Lisa Hicks, "The Development of the Oberlin College Archives, [1966-1986]," which was a paper submitted to the Kent State University School of Library Science in fulfillment of Ms. Hicks' 1991 M.L.S. Degree. This unpublished paper is filed in the "Oberlin File" (RG 21).