James Harris Fairchild (1817-1902) served as Oberlin’s third president from 1866-89. As a defender of old Oberlin with its evangelical tradition and commitment, abolitionist Fairchild’s sense of moral duty led him to harbor runaway slave John Price following his rescue in the town of Wellington on September 13, 1858—150 years ago.
President Fairchild presided over Oberlin’s Jubilee celebration of 1883. For it he remembered the past by writing about the struggles and triumphs of the colony and the college. He wrote one of the first histories of the Underground Railroad in Ohio. For these writings and others, Fairchild can rightfully be called Oberlin’s first historian.
His 68 years of service as an alumnus (in the second graduating class), faculty member, president and trustee to his college stands as a record. He married Mary Fletcher Kellogg (d. 1890), the only female that enrolled in 1837 who did not complete the A.B. degree in 1841. Though many important issues concerning the college curriculum and administration were not fully resolved during his long presidency, Fairchild served as the bridge between individualistic evangelism and Oberlin progressivism that emerged in the early years of the twentieth century.
His only biographer is Albert T. Swing, James Harris Fairchild, (New York, 1907). For more information concerning the life and career of James H. Fairchild, see the finding guide for the Presidential Records of James H. Fairchild (2/3).
James Harris Fairchild
Third President of Oberlin College
Beginning in January 2008, the Oberlin College Archives website will feature each month one of the fourteen presidents of Oberlin College (The Oberlin Collegiate Institute from 1833-1850). For the complete listing of the presidents and the finding guides to their presidential records, see the following link: www.oberlin.edu/archive/holdings/finding/index.html.
Announcements and Other Information
The College Archives' 2006-07 Annual Report is now available for viewing online.
OC Archives is in the news! See article, "Oberlin History Goes Digital."
New online exhibit featured: Gilford Scientific Instruments, assembled by KSU graduate intern Erica Noble.
New website featured: The Oberlin College Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) Community History Project