Oberlin College Archives


RECORDS, 1887-1920, 1952(1966-80)-1980


The Schauffler College of Religious and Social Work was founded in 1886 in Cleveland, Ohio as a school for immigrant home missionaries to Bohemian, Polish, and Slovak populations. The school evolved into an institution of collegiate grade for young women of American and foreign origin in training for religious, educational, and social leadership. The school's founder was the Rev. Henry Albert Schauffler, D.D. (1837-1905), a former Protestant missionary in Turkey and Bohemia who came to Cleveland at the invitation of Charles T. Collins, pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, to work with the Czech community. In October 1883, the Congregational Home Missionary Society appointed Schauffler to the newly created post of Superintendent of Slavic Missions in the United States under the auspices of the Bohemian Mission Board of Cleveland.

Henry Schauffler recognized the need to establish a training program for young Slavic women aspiring to become missionaries. He persuaded his future wife, Miss Clara Hobart (d. 1942), a teacher with long experience in the Slavic community, to establish a school for this purpose. The school began in the home of Clara Hobart's parents on 23 January 1886. In 1890, the Bohemian Bible Readers' School, as it was then called, moved into its own building; it now began to accept women of all nationalities. After Dr. Schauffler's death in February 1905, the school was renamed the Schauffler Missionary Training School. The Schauffler school and the Slavic Department (1886-1921) of Oberlin Theological Seminary supplied the young men and women who advanced the work of Henry Schauffler for the Bohemian Mission Board of Cleveland.

During the administration of Dr. Raymond G. Clapp, Principal from 1924-41, the school changed from a three-year training school to a four-year college. In 1943, Schauffler College was recognized by the American Association of Schools of Social Work, and in 1953, men were admitted. Under the leadership of George P. Michaelides (1892-63), the school transferred in 1954 to the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology where it became known as the Schauffler Division of Christian Education. The last students graduated in 1957. When the School of Theology moved to Vanderbilt University in 1966, the Schauffler assets reverted to the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ. An agreement between the Ohio Conference and Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio arranged for the Schauffler College to move there in 1967. Operation of the Schauffler programs rests with the faculty and staff of Defiance College, who work closely with the Ohio Conference, issuing regular reports to the Conference's Board of Trustees and meeting annually to discuss long-range programs. The teaching of Christian education under the Schauffler Program for Christian Education and Social Work continues today.

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Last updated: 18 March 1996