Oberlin College Archives

OFFICE OF CAREER DEVELOPMENT AND PLACEMENT

RECORDS, 1887(1937-70)-1991


SCOPE AND CONTENT

The records of the Office of Career Development and Placement, due to their functional nature, are organized as an autonomous record group outside of the Office of the Dean of Student Life and Services. Records document the record-keeping and placement functions of two predecessor offices, the Bureau of Appointments (1905-62) and the Office of Placement and Graduate Counseling (1962-74). Administrative files, covering mainly the years 1937-74, offer modest research potential. Files documenting the past eighteen years of operations at the Office of Career Development and Placement are still held by the office.

Records are divided into two subgroups: Subgroup I, Administrative Files and Subgroup II, Oberlin College Student Placement Files. Within Subgroup I, records series are: Series 1. Annual Reports; 2. Budgetary Files; 3. Forms and Form Letters; 4. Recruitment Program and Vocational Guidance Files; and 5. Occupational Choice: Studies and Statistical Files. Within Subgroup II, records series are: Series 1. Placement Files, Classes 1906-16, 1918-21; 2. Placement Files, Classes 1896-1973; 3. Placement Files, Classes 1887-1935; and 4. Placement Files, Classes 1936-69. In Subgroup I, records are typically arranged alphabetically by subject or by type of material and chronologically thereunder. In Subgroup II, placement files are maintained in the order in which they were received, in four overlapping chronological periods of graduating classes. Within each chronological period, files are arranged alphabetically by student name.

Noticeably absent from the Administrative Files of Subgroup I is a separate series of executive correspondence. Administrative correspondence of the first Secretary of the Bureau of Appointments, William F. Bohn (1878-1947), is located in record group 3/1. The correspondence of Director Dorothy M. Smith(b. 1908; Acting Director 1947-52; Director 1952-74) includes nineteen file copies of letters (1954-61) to Secretary Donald M. Love (1894-1974), Treasurer William Potter Davis (1893-1975), and Assistant Secretary Robert Barr (1908-62) concerning budgetary and personnel matters documented by portions of the financial records of the office (1956/57-1959/60, 19663/64-1970/71). This correspondence, originally dispersed among the budgetary files, is brought together and housed in Series 2, Budgetary Files. Additional correspondence (1949-55) between Smith and Oberlin alumni, housed in Series 4, relates to alumni placement activities on behalf of Oberlin graduates and to plans for career conferences (1949-61).

Annual reports exist for the years 1956/57-1973/74 but are missing for the years 1926/27-1930/31; 1932/33-1939/40; 1941/42-1944/45; and 1946/47-1955/56. Gaps existing in Series 1 may be filled by consulting the annual reports of the secretaries and directors of the Bureau of Appointments which are housed in the records of the Office of the Secretary. From 1928 to 1933, annual reports for the Bureau of Appointments were produced by J. Anthony Humphreys (b. 1894), Director of the Personnel Service. Annual reports were not regularly written until 1946.

Additional administrative files date largely from the tenures of two directors of the Bureau of Appointments: William Harlow Seaman (1902-48; Acting Director 1938-40; Director 1940-48) and Dorothy M. Smith (b. 1908; Acting Director 1947-52; Director 1952-74). Included are a comprehensive run of forms and form letters (1913-70) used by both the Bureau of Appointments and by the Office of Placement and Graduate Counseling to communicate with students, faculty, and alumni; files documenting various recruitment programs sponsored by the office (1939-73); printed materials publicizing career conferences for men and women (1937-66, 1975); job notices (1955-64); occupational reference files (1940-69); and three files documenting President Robert Kenneth Carr's suspension of recruitment activity at Oberlin from May to November 1968. Of interest for evaluatingtrends in student employment following graduation are numerous statistical files and studies (1926-70) relating to vocational choice. These were maintained by the office for use in annual reports and in advising students. In general, statisticsapply solely to graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences, but some take account of vocational distributions among graduates of the Conservatory of Music.

The bulk of the records of the Office of Career Development and Placement and its predecessor offices consists of around 11,800 placement files for individual students. These files, housed in Subgroup II, offer evidence of the record-keeping functions of the office while supplying information on students from the classes of 1887 to 1969 who registered with the office. Series 1, Placement Files, Classes 1906-16, 1918-21, includes the first data forms to be used by the Bureau of Appointments. These forms not only provide data on students of the period 1906-21 but also offer an opportunity to analyze the requirements then governing student entry into teaching and related professions. Forms supply student name, home and Oberlin addresses, names of parents, high school name, church affiliation, academic specialty, brief opinions of teachers on the student's character ("independent," "very nervous," "excellent girl") and scholastic performance appraisals. Each form bears a photograph of the student, and many forms are accompanied by letters of reference. Series 2, 3, and 4 contain placement files for students of the classes of 1896-73; 1887-1935; and 1936-69, respectively.

SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Subgroup I. Administrative Files, 1913(1938-70)-1974 3.2 l.f.

Subgroup I consists of records created and received by the Office of Career Development and Placement and its predecessor bodies in the course of administering the office and its various recruitment and vocational guidance programs. Records are divided into five records series: Series 1. Annual Reports; Series 2. Budgetary Files; Series 3. Forms and Form Letters; Series 4. Recruitment Program and Vocational Guidance Files; and Series 5. Occupational Choice: Studies and Statistical Files.

Subgroup II. Oberlin College Student Placement Files, 1896-1973 120 l.f.

Subgroup II consists of 11,800 files maintained by the Bureau of Appointments and Office of Placement and Graduate Counseling which contain information on students used during the placement process. Files typically include a data sheet providing name, sex, place of birth, parents' names and occupations, academic major, and fields of interest. Supporting documentation may include letters of recommendation, confidential credentials, employment history, correspondence between students and office staff, and photographs.

Files are arranged into four records series. Series 1 includes data forms for the classes of 1906-16, 1918-21 which were received in a set of fifteen leather binders. Series 2 through 4 follow the chronological divisions by groups of classes established by the Office of Career Development in its effort to manage volume. (In responding to alumni requests, the office frequently retained for current use the files of alumni long-since graduated, or retrieved stored files for reactivation. As a result, considerable overlapping of dates occurs between Series 1, 2, and 3.) In Series 1, boxes are numbered 1 to 11. In Series 2 through 4, boxes are numbered consecutively, boxes 1 to 105.

No longer housed within this record group are the placement files of graduates of the Oberlin Kindergarten-Primary Training School, Classes of 1928-33. These files are housed with the records of the school in Record Group 33.

PROVENANCE

The records of the Office of Career Development and Placement were transferred to the Oberlin College Archives in two separate accessions in 1976 and 1979.

RELATED MATERIALS

For additional annual reports from the Bureau of Appointments and Office of Placement and Graduate Counseling, consult the records of the Office of the Secretary (5). The administrative correspondence (1909-13) of William Frederick Bohn (1878-1947), Secretary of the Bureau of Appointments (1906-15), is located in the papers of Assistant to the President William F. Bohn (3/1). A small amount of material on the Office of Placement and Graduate Counseling is available in the records of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (9).

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Last updated: 17 April 1996