Oberlin College Archives




The alumni records retained in the Oberlin College Archives represents only the files of deceased graduates and former students. Current files on living alumni are held by the Alumni Information Service and are housed in the basement of Bosworth Hall. Faculty, staff and trustee files mainly are comprised of deceased or retired individuals.

The alumni records in the Oberlin College Archives are arranged in five series: 1. Non-graduates who died prior to July 1, 1960; 2. Non-graduates who died prior to July 1, 1960 (not integrated with record series 1); 3. Graduates and non-graduates who died after July 1, 1960; 4. Faculty, staff and trustees; and 5. Presidents.

The first three series represent the files of graduates and non-graduates of all divisions and programs. The individual files contained in records series one and two document non-graduates who died prior to 1960. The records are organized into two series based upon the date received. The second series was received after the first one had been assembled, and was appended as a second series rather than being integrated into the existing series. Series three contains individual files of both graduates and non-graduates. In this series, files of graduates date from the founding to the present. Files of non-graduates represented in this series date from July 1, 1960, the cut-off date for the first two series.

The records in these first three series include questionnaires completed for the catalogues as well as clippings and articles relating to the individual. Address changes, excerpts from class letters, obituaries, and occasional photographs and autobiographical material comprise the files. The first two series generally contain less material than the third series. Information on non-graduates was not actively sought until preparation was underway for a 75th anniversary catalog to be published in 1908. For this reason, as well as others, there is less material available on these students. Often the file merely contains an address or correspondence returned to sender.

The third series is the richest by far in terms of biographical and genealogical information. To be expected the twentieth century records are far more complete than the nineteenth century documentation. Included are excerpts from the Alumni Magazine, press releases and other publicity. In the case of famous alumni such as Robert Maynard Hutchins (1899-1977, Honorary War Member 1919, L.L.D., 1929), Charles Martin Hall (18633-1914, A.B. 1885, A.M.1893, honorary degree 1910), and Anna Julia Cooper (1859-1964, A.B. 1884, A.M. 1888), the files contain extensive documentation, including articles written by and about the individual, photographs and correspondence.

The faculty, staff, and trustee records filed in series four contain records of instructors, professors, staff, and trustees from 1833 to 1991. The bulk of the files consist of records of individuals who retired or died prior to July 1, 1983. The material represents an administrative function and consist of routine carbon correspondence of appointment letters, salary changes, and notices of meetings. Informational forms, resumes and vitas provide biographical information while articles and clippings offer background information. under the classification system files for Conservatory of Music faculty members, from 1940 to 1987, exist in a separate series in the record group assigned to the Conservatory of Music (10).

The final series contains files on the presidents of Oberlin College from Asa Mahan through Emil Danenberg. The records of the early administrations primarily contain secondary articles and clippings. The twentieth century administrations include correspondence, both incoming and outgoing as well as speeches, memoranda, articles and other miscellaneous documentation. More extensive documentation on the presidents can be found in their individual collections in record group (2).

Owing to the fact that many Oberlin College students went on to serve the college as faculty, staff, and trustees, separate files on these individuals can be found in series one through three as well as in series four. For example, files on President Henry Churchill King can be found in both series three and five.


Series 1. Non-graduates who died prior to July 1, 1960, 1833-1960 (115 linear feet)

Contains records of students who attended Oberlin between 1833 and 1960 who did not graduate. The files are arranged alphabetically, with married women filed by married name. Records include biographical forms, correspondence, articles and clippings.

Series 2. Non-graduates who died prior to July 1, 1960 (not integrated into record series 1), 1833-1960 (24 linear feet)

Consists of records arriving to late to be integrated into series 1. The content is the same as series 1, and is arranged alphabetically with married women filed under their married name.

Series 3. Graduates and non-graduates who died after July 1, 1960, 1833-1991 (432 linear feet)

Includes biographical documentation on graduates of all years, and non-graduates who died after July 1, 1960. Provides a more complete record than in either series 1 or series 2. Contains biographical forms, correspondence, news releases, articles and writings, and photographs. Arranged alphabetically, with married women filed under their married name.

Series 4. Faculty, staff, and trustees, 1833-1990 (49 linear feet)

Files of employees, faculty and trustees, arranged in one alphabetical sequence. Includes, correspondence, vitas, articles, and some photographs.

Series 5. Presidents, 1833-1982 (1.6 linear feet)

Consists of files compiled on Oberlin College presidents. Records of the early presidents contains secondary articles and clippings. Later presidents include correspondence, articles and speeches. Arranged by order of presidency.


Additional faculty files can be found in the records of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, inactive faculty files (9/1/3); Conservatory faculty can be found in faculty files (10/6); and trustee files can be found in records of the Board of Trustees (1) and the Office of the Secretary (5). The Office of Communications (Public Relations) records (9/11) also include personnel files and faculty files.

Student information can be found in the necrology files (28/2); and class files (0/2).

Additional photographs of students, staff, faculty, trustees, and presidents can be found in (32).

Several personal papers collections in record group (30) provide more extensive documentation than what is found in record group (28).


The bulk of the records in the first three series were received in 1968 and 1974 from Alumni Records with annual accumulations added. Records have arrived in a steady flow since 1988. The bulk of the records in series four and five arrived in 1984 in a transfer from Alumni Records Office.

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This page is maintained by the Oberlin College Archives
Last updated: 7 February 1996