Oberlin College Archives

ALUMNI RECORDS

1833-1991


ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

From its founding in 1833 Oberlin College ("Oberlin Collegiate Institute" prior to 1850) maintained records of its alumni who enrolled in the College's main divisions and affiliated degree granting programs. Records include files of students (graduates and non-graduates) who attended the College of Arts and Science ("College Department" 1833-1875, "Department of Philosophy and Arts" 1875-1893 and "The College" 1893-1906), Graduate School of Theology ("Theological Seminary" 1833-1916), Conservatory of Music, and affiliated programs such as the Preparatory Department (1833-1892), Academy (1892-1916), Oberlin Kindergarten Primary Training School (1894-1933), and the Schauffler College of Religious and Social Work (1885-1954).

Beginning in 1842 the College began to issue catalogues of graduates at three year intervals. The catalog was included as part of the general bulletin, and listed only addresses. In 1857 the catalogue listing was expanded to include teachers and administrative officers. The 1883 Semi-Centennial Register contained biographical information about graduates, including occupational information. The publication moved to five year intervals beginning in 1889. A corresponding increase in the extent of coverage accompanied the increased interval between publication. Beginning with the 1889 Triennial Catalog, an editor was appointed to gather and compile information on graduates.

The 1908 Seventy-Fifth Anniversary General Catalogue was the most comprehensive effort to date. It marked the first time non-graduates were included. Work on the catalog was authorized by the Prudential Committee in 1906. Four bulletins of inquiry concerning non-graduates were distributed covering students enrolled between 1833 and 1895. The inquiries included reporting blanks which requested biographical information, such as date of birth, parent's name, children, years attended, and positions held since leaving Oberlin. The same information was asked of graduates.

The returned inquiries became the basis of the informational file maintained on alumni. To the file were added address changes, news notes, reports of achievements, correspondence, occasional photographs and autobiographies, and obituaries. The biographical reporting forms were sent out again in 1916, 1926, 1936 and 1948. The most comprehensive catalog appeared in 1960 and covered every known graduate and non-graduate living and dead.

The responsibility for compiling and recording the alumni information was held by the Office of the Secretary. Under the secretary the responsibility was handled by the alumni records office. The last catalog supervised under the auspices of the secretary was the 1960 volume. During the implementation of large-scale administrative restructuring in the 1960s the function was transferred to the Alumni Information Service under the administrative direction of the Office of Development.

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Last updated: 7 February 1996