The lineage of the Alumni Association may be traced to the first alumni organization, the Association of Alumni of the Oberlin Collegiate Institute.
This predecessor organization was formed in 1839
"to cultivate and strengthen friendly feeling among its members ... to perpetuate the purity and prosperity of the Institution from which they have graduated ..."
and listed 48 men and women eligible for membership at the time of formation. Since 1878, six positions on the Oberlin College Board of Trustees have been set aside for members elected by the alumni body.
All graduates and former students, currently over 40,000, who attended the College of Arts and Sciences, the Conservatory of Music, the Oberlin College Graduate School of Theology, or the Kindergarten Primary Training School, are members of the Alumni Association.
The purpose of the Alumni Association is to foster the interests and continuing excellence of Oberlin College, and to foster communication between the college and its alumni.