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Records of the Presidents (Group 2)
[2] Papers of Charles G. Finney, 1817-1875, 4 ft. 6 in.

Biographical Note

Charles G. Finney (1792-1875), a key figure in the Second Great Awakening, and his wives, Lydia R. Andrews (1804-1847, m.1824), Elizabeth Ford Atkinson (1801-1863, m. 1848) and Rebecca A. Rayl (1824-1907, m. 1865), helped to expand the religious role of women during the 19th century. After his emotional conversion, Finney abandoned a career in law and committed his life to awakening others spiritually through his revivals, teachings, and writings on “Oberlin Perfectionism.”

Finney’s evangelical methods inadvertently led to women taking a leadership role in religious life. During his popular revivals he encouraged women to pray and exhort while in the company of men. Women’s groups, organized by Finney’s wives, often sustained these successful but controversial revivals. Finney not only employed these methods during the 1820s in his major revivals throughout the New England and middle Atlantic states, but he also continued to support the role of women after assuming the pastoral responsibilities of the Chatham Street Chapel (1832-1835) in New York City.

After his health failed, and with the urging of Arthur Tappan (1786-1865) and Lewis Tappan (1788-1873), Finney took up residency in Oberlin, first as pastor of the Congregational Church in Oberlin (1835-1872) and professor of theology (1835-1851), and later as the second president of Oberlin College (1851-1866) and member of the Oberlin board of trustees (1846-1866). Many students came to Oberlin to study under Finney, but they were disappointed‹he was away from Oberlin for long periods of time because of his revivals, held in both the United States and England. However, he was present while Antoinette Brown Blackwell (1825-1921) attended classes at the Oberlin Theology Department and, unlike many of his colleagues, allowed her to recite and to share her religious experiences in his classes. Such practices made Finney a controversial figure.

All three of Finney’s wives were active in various women’s organizations in Oberlin. Lydia, and after Lydia’s death, Elizabeth, reported on the religious state of communities through their correspondence. All three led the Maternal Association, the Infant School, and the Oberlin Female Moral Reform Society. Lydia was involved in the formation of five organizations, including the Ohio Ladies Anti-Slavery Society. Even before her marriage to Finney, Rebecca contributed to the education of female students, serving as assistant principal of the Ladies Department at Oberlin between 1856 and 1865. Rebecca aided Finney with his writings, especially on the subject of antimasonry. Among Finney’s publications are Lectures on Systematlc Theology (1846); Memoirs of Rev. Charles G. Finney, Written byHimself (1876); and The Character, Claims, and Practical Working of Freemasonry (1869): along with many pubished sermons on various topics such as prayer meetings and views of sanctification.

Scope and Content

Divided into two main groups—personal papers and family business papers—the Finney collection spans six decades of the family’s activities. It contains no institutional records. This collection is calendared in two volumes and an index. The personal papers (1817-1875) contain correspondence and manuscripts. The correspondence, arranged in chronological order, is mainly addressed to Charles G. Finney or his wives, although Elizabeth and Lydia are also correspondents. Female writers discussed revival activities, child rearing, antimasonry, and the state of their own spiritual lives, and they engaged Finney in religious debates. Included among the family’s correspondents are Catherine Beecher (1800-1878); Mr. and Mrs. Edwin damson; Alice and James Barlow; and Theodore Weld (1803-1895). In addition to the correspondence, the personal papers contain manuscripts of Finney’s memoirs and articles, as well as the outlines of numerous sermons. Finney’s family and business papers (1833-1875) consist of receipts (1840-1875), an expense account book (1844-1847); deeds of land, copyright agreements, and a record of money owed (1833-1871); and marriage licenses, Lorain County (1839-1875).

[3] Papers of James Harris Fairchild, 1835-1903, 12 ft. 3 in.

Biographical Note

James Harris Fairchild (1817-1902) received the A.B. degree in 1838 and the B.D. degree in 1841 from Oberlin College. In 1841 he married Mary Fletcher Kellogg (1819-1890), one of the first four women to enter the College Course at Oberlin College. They lived in Oberlin where Fairchild was a College professor from 1842 to 1858. During Charles Finney’s tenure as president (1851-1866), Fairchild assumed most of the administrative duties of the presidency. Upon Finney’s resignation in 1866 Fairchild was elected the third president of Oberlin College, serving until 1889. After his retirement, Fairchild remained involved with the College. He was acting president and a member of the board of trustees.

Throughout his career, Fairchild was a national leader in the coeducation movement, and he directly influenced a number of colleges and universities in their decision to become coeducational Although an abolitionist, Fairchild was very much opposed to women’s suffrage. He was one of Oberlin’s earliest historians, writing Oberlin: The Colony and College in 1883. Other publications in the files include pamphlets titled “Coeducation of the Sexes” (1868) and “Women’s Right to the Ballots” (1870), along with two lectures, “Woman’s Rights and Duties” (1849) and “Joint Education of the Sexes” (1852).

Scope and Content

The collection includes annual reports, writings, trip diaries (1870-71, 1884), and correspondence (1852-1903 and undated). The calendared correspondence (mostly incoming) is arranged chronologically. Correspondents frequently focused on issues of coeducation including the physical condition of college women, the status of women in a coeducational school, the interaction between the sexes, the necessity of special courses or cultural events for women, the effect of coeducation on students’ scholarship, the composition of literary societies (single sex or combined), and the rules governing students. Fairchild’s opinion on coeducation was sought by many institutions of higher education. Editors of publications, including The Advance, requested Fairchild to write articles on coeducation and suffrage. His correspondents included Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) and Lucy Stone (1818-1893). The most extensive correspondence (1838-1841), however, is between Mary Kellogg and James Fairchild. (Typescript is available.) Subjects covered are social life at Oberlin, Mary Hosford, and Charles G. Finney. Among Fairchild’s manuscripts are “Oberlin College and Colony,” “College Governance,” “Relations of the Pastor to the Women of his Church and Congregation,” “The Disturbing Forces of Home Life,” and “Our College Social Life.”

[4] Papers of Henry Churchill King, 1897-1934, 58 ft. 2 in.

Biographical Note

Henry Churchill King (1858-1934) received his undergraduate education at Oberlin College (A.B. 1879, B.D. 1882). Except for the time he studied at Harvard University (A.M. 1883) and in Berlin (1893-94), King taught mathematics, philosophy, or theology at Oberlin from 1879 until 1902. King was a nationally known educator when he was appointed president of Oberlin College in 1902; he held that position until 1927. While president, King’s idealistic moral philosophy contributed to his role as an international academic statesman. His most notable contribution came at the end of World War 1, when he served on the Inter-Allied or King-Crane Commission in Europe and the Near East (1919). This commission studied the question of what to do with the people of Syria and Turkey and the lands of the former Ottoman Empire, and it made recommendations to the Peace Conference. One of the many organizations chaired by King was the American Missionary Association. In recognition of his career as an educator, theologian, and administrator; King received nine honorary degrees .

Scope and Content

The collection is arranged in four categories: calendared correspondence (1897-1927); topical (1903-1934), filed alphabetically by name of organization or subject; uncalendared correspondence (1902-1927); and transcripts, notes, and manuscripts of King’s travels, lectures, class notes, and writings. The correspondence covers various topics: sororities, temperance, tobacco, women’s suffrage, student living conditions, and Oberlin’s participation in the war effort. Among those who corresponded with King were Katharine Wright Haskell (1874-1929), Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954), Kathryn Newell Adams (1876- 1966), and Frances T. Densmore (1867-1957). Although there are letters from such notable educators as Jane Addams(1860-1935), Ellen Pendleton (1864-1936), Mary Woolley (]863-1947), M.L. Burton (1874-1925), and Charles Beard (1874-1948), the correspondence mainly concerns arranging visits and speeches of dignitaries, as well as conferring honorary degrees. The topical file covers a wide range of subjects from departmental budget requests (1927-28) to Oberlin’s tobacco legislation (1918-1923). King’s manuscripts and notes relating to women are “The College and the Thoughtful Man” (an address King gave at the inauguration of Ellen Pendleton as president of Wellesley College in 1911); “Womanhood” (1914); “The Opportunity and Obligations of Friendship” (1915); and “Mothers and Sons” (1915).

[5] Papers of Ernest Hatch Wilkins, 1927(1927-46) -1953, 70ft. 4in.

Biographical Note

Ernest Hatch Wilkins (1880-1966) was educated at Amherst College (B.A.1900, M.A.1903) and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1910). While establishing himself as an authority on the works of Dante and Petrarch, he became professor of romance languages at the University of Chicago (1912-1927). He was president of Oberlin College from 1927 to 1946, one of Oberlin’s greatest periods of development, and he steered the College through the Depression and recruited foreign students. After retiring from Oberlin, Wilkens, the consummate academician, returned to teaching and writing with an appointment as a visiting lecturer at Harvard University (1947-1950).

Scope and Content

This collection is arranged in three categories: a general file (1927-1946) with subseries; a faculty file (1927-1953); and a war service correspondence (1941-1946). The general file is organized around the following nine series: 1) alphabetical correspondence; 2) special matters, Oberlin, 1928-1941, and elsewhere, 1928-1945; 3) miscellaneous, 1936-1946; 4) Peace Institute, 1936-1937; 5) Commission on the Coordination of Efforts for Peace, 1928-1933; 6) appointment books; 7) talks and writings; 8) old buildings files, 1926- 1943; 9) building files; and Peace Organizations, printed materials 1914-1947. Included in the 85 boxes of incoming and outgoing correspondence are letters from and about the following individuals and organizations: Kathryn Newell Adams (1876-1966), Florence Snell (1861-1949), Mildred McAfee (b. 1900), the American Association of University Women, and American Social Hygiene Association. Among the topics covered are scholarships, questionnaires, organizational reports, coeducation, and smoking. Institutional papers include memoranda concerning the building of the women’s gymnasium (Hales); the General Faculty’s revision of rules for women; confidential reports to Wilkins from various members of the College community, and curriculum reviews. The War Service Correspondence contains incoming and outgoing letters between Wilkins and men and women in the armed services; this correspondence discusses education, peace, and other world events.

[6] Papers of William E. Stevenson, 1926 (1946-59) -1960, 48 ft. 3 in.

Biographical Note

William E. Stevenson (1900-1985)—Olympic gold medalist, lawyer, public servant, diplomat, and educator—was the eighth president of Oberlin College. A Rhodes Scholar, Stevenson received his education at Princeton University (A.B. 1922) and Oxford University (M.A. 1925), and he received three honorary degrees. From 1925 until World War II, Stevenson practiced law in New York state. Stevenson and his wife, Eleanor Bumstead Stevenson (1902-1987), received the U.S. Army’s Bronze Star medal for organizing Red Cross operations in England and North Africa during World War II. As a result of her war experiences, Mrs. Stevenson wrote I Knew Your Soldier (1946).

Stevenson’s administration at Oberlin College (1946-1959) was marked by the return of the Department of Religion in the college, the enlargement of the faculty of the Graduate School of Theology, and the establishment of vesper services (which Stevenson led). The student cooperative dining halls and dormitories, still in existence today, were started while Stevenson was president. During this period, Mrs. Stevenson was actively involved in the civil rights movement and served on the board of the Fund for the Republic. She gave the first nationally broadcast speech on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

In 1961 Stevenson was appointed ambassador to the Philippines, a post he held until 1964. During the late Sixties he headed the Aspen Institute of Humanistic Studies, and Mrs. Stevenson served on the Music Associates of Aspen Committee.

Scope and Content

The collection is divided into four sections, consisting of a subject file (boxes 1-69); alphabetical file (boxes 70-92); personal file (boxes 93-98); and an administrative file (boxes 98-104). Included in the subject and alphabetical files are letters from and about Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954), the League of Women Voters (1952-1958), and the American Association of University Women (1947-1959). Stevenson’s papers contain annual reports (1954-1959); records of appointments (1944-1958); and records of promotions and salaries (1931-1959). The collection includes compiled lists of assembly speakers, the titles of speeches (1937-1958), and honorary degree recipients (1928- 1957). The building of women’s dormitories and women students’ opinions on housing are also documented (1947-1950).

[7] Papers of Robert K. Carr, 1925 (1960-70) -1977, 27 ft. 1 in.

Biographical Note

Robert K. Carr (1908-1979) received his education at Dartmouth College (A.B. 1929) and Harvard University (A.M. 1930, Ph D. 1935). While teaching political science at the University of Oklahoma and Dartmouth College, he became a recognized authority on civil liberties.

Carr was inaugurated as the ninth president of Oberlin College in 1960. The decade of the Sixties at Oberlin was an era of capital fund raising, educational experimentation, new construction (15 buildings were added), revision of student rules, and governance reorganization. New administrative positions created during the Sixties included the dean of students, provost, director of financial aid, director of administrative services, personnel officer, and publications director. Functions of other offices were also redefined, transferred, or eliminated (e.g., Office of the Secretary, Business Manager, and the Prudential Committee of the board of trustees). One of the major changes was the closing of the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology, which merged with the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University in 1966. During the Vietnam War years, Carr clashed with students as he tried to provide an “institutional definition of the proper role and tactics of social protest and dissent in the academic community.” After his resignation in 1970, Carr was named a board member of the American Council on Education (1970-1975).

Scope and Content

This collection is arranged around three major accessions: a general file with three sections, 1932 (1960-1970) 1975, each arranged alphabetically; the personnel file (1960-1970), arranged alphabetically; and the administrative file (1937-1977), arranged chronologically and alphabetically. Reports and lists to and from the president include annual reports (1958-1968); budgets (1960-1967); faculty salary scales (1949-1965); the Report by the Subcommittee on Dorms and Housing (1968); suggested recipients of honorary degrees (1959-1964); and a list of faculty members (1951-52; 1954-1956; 1960-1966; 1968-69). The work of faculty committees, which led to the changes in women’s regulations, marriage rules, and housing, is well documented. Documentation also exists on the student demonstrations in the 1960s, which caused Carr to issue policy statements, design strategies, and correspond with parents, alumni, and friends of the College. Carr’s correspondence with leaders of various civil rights organizations, including Oberlin Action for Civil Rights and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, also is included.

[8] Papers of Robert W. Fuller, 1970-1974, 11 ft. 2 in.

Biographical Note

Robert W. Fuller (b. 1936) attended Oberlin (1952-1955) and Princeton University (M.A. 1959, Ph.D. 1961), and he received an honorary degree from Oberlin (A.B. 1971). Before assuming the presidency of Oberlin, Fuller was assistant professor of physics at Columbia University and Barnard College, a fellow at the Center of Advanced Studies at Princeton and the Battelle Seattle Research Center, and dean and faculty member at Trinity College.

Fuller’s presidency (1970-1974) fostered a greater awareness of issues affecting blacks and women. This was exemplified by the formation of various ad hoc committees, such as the Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of Women and the Education Commission. Greater emphasis also was placed on theater and dance, resulting in the formation of a new academic program. During Fuller’s administration the curriculum and the governance of the college were evaluated. His views on these matters ultimately led to his resignation in 1974.

Ann L. Fuller (b. 1936), the wife of President Fuller, was also involved in the women’s movement at Oberlin. She worked to redefine the role of faculty wives, and she also was active in the Oberlin’s Women’s Group and the Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of Women . She was an assistant professor of mathematics at Oberlin in 1972-73.

Since his resignation from Oberlin College, Fuller has been a self-employed consultant and a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute. He also has been involved in building television space bridges between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of general and personal files of Robert Fuller. Included are preliminary reports, progress reports, and recommendations from the Education Commission and its subcommittees, 1971, covering student life, female faculty, and equal opportunity. Contained among the Governance Commission papers are the minutes (1971-1973) and four progress reports (1972-73). Other series include personnel actions, 1968-1974; development,1970-1973, and budget, 1971-1973. Also in the collection is a 1972 paper (typescript) titled “Liberating the Administrator’s Wife,” given to the American Council on Education by Ann L. Fuller.

 
 
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