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Oberlinia Online

“There’s a story behind every object here,” says Roland Baumann, Oberlin archivist and adjunct professor of history, while opening an engraved metal box lined with blue velvet.

“These replicas of aluminum pellets commemorate Charles Martin Hall’s discovery. And this spade and handle is engraved with every class date from 1887 to 1932. Oberlin seniors used it to plant ivy each year.”

The box and shovel are just two of 233 “nuggets of collegiate heritage” that came under custody of the Archives’ office in 1966. Until recently, the artifacts, which span 165 years, were stored for safekeeping and viewed upon request—which was infrequent, as most researchers were unaware of their existence. In March, however, the collection became fully accessible to anyone with an Internet connection: each commemorative shovel, lapel pin, chalice, and beanie now appears with a description on the Archive’s new digital catalogue at

One of Baumann’s tasks as a keeper of the past is finding ways to connect the Archives to a wider constituency. Items in the digital catalogue—which should appeal to researchers or alumni wandering down memory lane—can be used for illustrative purposes or for source material. Eventually, Baumann hopes to include feature stories on certain items to highlight the value of the collection and invite viewer interest.

“I strip bulletin boards, collect posters, and squirrel things away to continue the collection of memory and experience at Oberlin,” says Baumann. But the task of history collecting isn’t as easy as it seems— Baumann admits to having trouble finding materials that document current campus life, referencing such staples as lapel pins, yearbooks, scrapbooks, and items used in annual rituals (a hint to recent grads).

Great Performances

Photo by Janette Beckman

In the 125 years since pianist Mme. Rivé-King performed in the inaugural season of the Artist Recital Series, more than 1,000 of the world’s most accomplished musical artists have graced the Finney Chapel stage.

As one of the oldest continuing concert series in the United States, the series has drawn such classical music masters as Eugene Ysaÿe, Yo-Yo Ma, Vladimir Horowitz, Isaac Stern, George Szell, Jascha Heifetz, Glenn Gould, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Denyce Graves ’85. Next season’s lineup includes the following:

Artist Recital Series 2004-05

October 14, 2004, 8 p.m.

November 14, 2004, 3 p.m.

December 14, 2004, 8 p.m

February 11, 2005, 8 p.m.

February 24, 2005, 8 p.m.

March 22, 2005, 8 p.m.

Olivier Latry, organ
April 13, 2005, 8 p.m.

April 16, 2005, 8 p.m.

For ticketing information, call Central Ticket Service (CTS) at (440) 775-8169. Visit for more information.

ExCo Mania

Oberlin’s Experimental College (ExCo) debuted in 1968 with a whopping 600 students enrolled in 23 courses. Organized and operated by students, the program was hailed by participants for its nontraditional approach to education and presentation-style classes taught in lounges, seminar rooms, and private dwellings. Although critics have taken potshots at ExCo’s offerings over the years—most notably a course on actress Drew Barrymore—the program continues to thrive. Choosing from 120 courses this past year, students, faculty, staff, and townspeople beat feet to the most popular:

Salsa ExCo—73
International Cricket 101—55
Sex and the City—48
English as a Second Language Tutoring—31
Classical Music of North India—31
Students for Students—30
Beginning Modern American
Intermediate Belly Dance—26
Steel Drum Ensemble—26

(List supplied by ExCo co-chair Eric Bell '04.)

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