Oberlin College

The Oberlin College Archives has submitted material from 4 archival collections and 2 online projects examining different aspects of civil rights and student activism back to the 1840s. The Oberlin materials provide a unique voice to the project, reflective of its progressive nature as a college historically committed to diversity and inclusiveness. Examples include: the Mary Church Terrell Papers (1884-1953), documenting the life of an educator and activist dedicated to the fight against discrimination on the basis of race and sex; records of the Oberlin Peace Society Collection (1930-1947), documenting the community’s commitment to the study of peace within the international community; and The Oberlin Sanctuary Project, an online project which examines activities at Oberlin related to the Underground Railroad, WWII, and the Kent State shootings, exploring what it means to be a sanctuary campus and community.

featured collection: the Oberlin and Civil Rights Digital Collection


Image: Midwest Asian American Student Conference, 1988

Dates: 1950s-1980s

Description: The Oberlin College Archives, in collaboration with Oberlin College students of the 1950s and 1960s and the staff of the Alumni Magazine, is collecting materials to document Oberlin and Activism in this online collection. Included here are materials that relate to student involvement in the Civil Rights movement, newspaper articles from the Oberlin Review, and materials created or collected by Carl T. Rowan, Oberlin College Class of 1947 and journalist, for his research and writing of articles and books concerning Civil Rights. This collection will also hold materials on anti-slavery and anti-war activities by Oberlinians. Begun in 2013, this collection is in progress.

Other Featured Collections

The Mary Church Terrell Papers document her life and achievements as a writer, educator, and activist whose work contributed greatly to the fight against discrimination on the basis of race and sex. The collection consists of biographical information, a modest amount of correspondence, documents associated with organizations in which Terrell was involved, legal and financial documents, diaries, printed matter, speeches, and writings”

The Oberlin Sanctuary Project provides a forum for research, reflection, and discussion of what it means to be a sanctuary campus or community. The idea of creating a resource to document Oberlin’s history of providing a safe haven or help for humankind arose in 2016 when conversation about immigration dominated national headlines. The stories featured in the project illustrate Oberlin’s commitment and ongoing efforts to help the less fortunate or those in need of comfort or a safe space to live, learn, and work.

Primary contact: Ken Grossi (bio)