William Gay Ballantine
Fourth President of Oberlin College
William Gay Ballantine (1848-1937) served as Oberlin’s fourth president from 1891 to 1896. Ballantine began his career at Oberlin in 1878 when he served as a Professor of Greek and Hebrew Exegesis, and later as Professor of Old Testament Language and Literature. In 1889, Ballantine was named chairman of the general faculty, and in January 1891, the Board of Trustees, on the unanimous recommendation of the faculty, elected Ballantine president.
Upon Ballantine’s retirement in 1896, the chairman of the Oberlin College faculty reported “they [the faculty] have admired his public expressions, his careful scholarship, and above all his earnest embodiment, in his own convictions and endeavors …” (Annual Report of the Chairman of the Faculty, 1896). Ballantine continued teaching and writing on various Christian scholarly topics for the rest of his life until his death in 1937.
For more information concerning the life and career of William Gay Ballantine, see the finding guide for the Presidential Records of William Gay Ballantine (2/4).
John Henry Barrows
Fifh President of Oberlin College
The fifth president of Oberlin College, John Henry Barrows (1847-1902), was the son of two Oberlin alumni—John Manning (d. 1891) and Catherine (Moore) Barrows (d. 1893), graduates of the classes of 1838 and 1839 respectively.
Barrows gained widespread recognition in 1893 as president of the World's Parliament of Religions, which brought together representatives of the world's historic religions for discussion. Stimulated by the event, Barrows published numerous works on religion. In 1898, he traveled to India and the Orient to present a series of lectures on Christianity under the auspices of the Haskell Foundation.
Barrows served as the fifth president of Oberlin College from January 1899 until his death in June 1902. During his brief tenure, the college added $600,000 to its endowment; Warner Gymnasium and Severance Chemical Laboratory were built; and Oberlin achieved new prominence in the world of higher education. In his tribute to Barrows, Oberlin College Professor Albert H. Currier (1837-1927) wrote, ”He gave to Oberlin a new abounding life, and thus started it upon a new era of vigorous expansion" (Oberlin Review, June 12, 1902).
For more information concerning the life and career of John Henry Barrows, see the finding guide for the Presidential Records of John Henry Barrows (2/5).
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."
Online exhibit feature: Gilford Scientific Instruments, assembled by KSU graduate intern Erica Noble.
Website feature: The Oberlin College Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) Community History Project