The spring issue’s notice of the death of Mary Culhane made me think of my high school reunion and how several of us realized how little there was for women in sports.
Miss Culhane was truly a pioneer of note!
Sarah Greenleaf ’60
Estes Park, Colo.
Editor’s note: Culhane’s three decades of service, beginning in 1956, included coaching track and field and volleyball, and serving as women’s athletic director.
William Goldman’s first novel bore the title The Temple of Gold and was published in 1957 (Winter 2009-10). The setting was a thinly disguised Oberlin, and several of the characters were based on real-life Oberlin professors. Sample sentence: "It is a sort of constant battle between the two, the college and the swamp, to see which is going to swallow up the other."
Great fun for Oberlinians of my generation!
Charles A. Ryerson ’55
Tappan Square plays an obviously focal role for both the city and the campus of Oberlin College. When I was a student, nearly 50 years ago, no one ever explained how the square got its name. Do they now?
Preparing to teach a course in American history last fall, I chanced upon both Arthur and Lewis Tappan. The two founded the Journal of Commerce, and Lewis founded the Mercantile Agency, which eventually became Dun and Bradstreet. With their fortune, they became early supporters of both Oberlin and Kenyon colleges and staunch advocates of the abolition movement. Tappan Square rightly honors their commitment to the freedom of slaves in America.
There is more to the story. The Tappan brothers also helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, and by 1840, Arthur Tappan served as its president. But he objected to its leader, William Lloyd Garrison, when the latter attempted to add advocacy for equal rights for women to the society’s agenda. Arthur Tappan resigned and established the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, which deliberately was closed to female membership.
I have always been proud to declare myself an alumnus of Oberlin College, the first institution of higher education to admit women. So, it disturbs me that the central open space of the city is dedicated to the memory of a man who exhibited such intentional misogyny. This aspect of the square’s history opposes everything that I understand the college to stand for.
No one should want to change the name of the square. What the Tappans did for Oberlin College and for freedom is, indeed, worthy of a memorial. But it seems also appropriate to honor the women they deliberately shunned. I propose that the Oberlin Alumni Association undertake the project of designing, funding, and implementing a monument to the women the Tappans omitted—Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and the women of Oberlin and Wellington who, at risk of life and reputation, made the Underground Railroad run effectively through northern Ohio. Such a monument could be placed on the square, perhaps near the intersection of Main and College streets, and would serve as a fitting balance for the bias that the Tappans displayed in their organizational choices. It is time to rectify a long-standing act of omission and prejudice; it is time to take some action.
Rabbi Kenneth D. Roseman, Ph.D., ’61
Corpus Christi, Texas
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I’m an art history major at Oberlin College and an Ohio Humanities Council intern at the Oberlin Heritage Center. I’m working on a project that documents buildings in Oberlin that have been lost, either through demolition or other means, with a particular focus on dorms and boarding houses. I’ve been fortunate to use resources provided by the Oberlin College Archives and the Oberlin Heritage Center, however I’m still missing photos of many dorms and boarding houses that are no longer here. If you have photos of a dorm or boarding house that you lived in up until the 1950s, the Oberlin Heritage Center would be interested in having a copy for use in this project. We are also interested to know what you recall about living there. If you have stories or photos (exterior or interior) you would be willing to share, please contact us at 440-774-1700 or email@example.com. Thank you.
Rachel Luczkowski ’12
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