Jerome Davis Research Award

The Jerome Davis Research Award comes from the Jerome Davis Research Fund. This fund was established in 1924 to support Oberlin students who “worked with labor” to facilitate “mutual understanding and cooperation in the field of industry.” 

Students were expected to publish the results of such fieldwork. Later in the 20th century, Dr. Jerome Davis agreed to expand the terms of the fund to make available study grants to “Honors and other well-qualified students in the social sciences at Oberlin to assist them in doing fieldwork in a community as part of their academic programs. In awarding the grants, consideration will be given to financial needs.”

The Jerome Davis Research Award Committee is chaired by a faculty member of the Oberlin College sociology department and includes faculty representatives from the departments of anthropology, economics, history, politics, and psychology.

Every fall and spring term, the Jerome Davis Research Award Committee invites high-quality applicants from Oberlin College Honors and other advanced students (except Senior Scholars). The award helps defray research costs for well-defined fieldwork projects that focus on and benefit or have some implications for a community (broadly defined).

Students can apply for reimbursement for research already undertaken but need to submit itemized receipts with payment method showing, along with the application. Awards do not exceed $750 and may be used for expenses related to travel to and from a research site, interviewing, supplies, equipment rental, and so on. These funds are not for the purchase of equipment, such as iPods, etc., nor does it fund the photocopying of honors theses. The field work should result in a research paper.

Along with your application, you must have a faculty letter of support completed by your project advisor; it will not be considered without it.

Faculty Letter of Support

Obtain application forms online or from the following departments:

Department of Sociology, King 205
Department of Anthropology, King 223
Department of Economics, Rice 233
Department of Psychology, Severance 105
Department of History, Rice 316 
Department of Politics, Rice 216
Department of Africana Studies, Rice 29
Environmental Studies Program, AJLC 211

Further information may be obtained from the chair of the Jerome Davis Research Fund Committee, Rick Baldoz .

Jerome Davis was born on December 2, 1891 in Kioto, Japan, where his parents were missionaries. Jerome spent his early childhood in Japan, as his father had helped to found Doshisha University and was a teacher there.

He came to the United States in 1904, to attend Oberlin Academy and, later, Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. He was an active member of the debating team and president of the Young Men’s Christian Association. After graduation in 1913, he decided he wanted to enter a service occupation. He worked for a year with the Minneapolis Civic and Commerce Association.

Among his other accomplishments, he was able to get a half holiday for workers in some of the larger factories in Minneapolis. In 1914, Davis decided to study for the ministry and also obtain a doctorate. He began studying at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University simultaneously. Davis did not return to school that fall [1915]. Instead, he volunteered to go to Europe and work with prisoners of war.

When the United States entered the war, he was put in charge of all YMCA work in Russia. At the request of the U.S. government, he directed the distribution of over a million copies of President Wilson’s “14 Points” message to soldiers in the German army. Davis opposed the United States invasion of Russia because he felt more could be accomplished by recognizing the Soviet Union and trying to work with that country than by going to war

After completing his work at Union Theological Seminary in 1920 and obtaining a PhD at Columbia University in 1922, Davis became an assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth College. At Dartmouth, he aided the labor movement by investigating a strike at the Amoskeag plant in Manchester, New Hampshire, and publishing his findings. The Federal Coal Commission asked him to investigate the labor situation in the coal mines of West Virginia. 

Many of his findings were incorporated in the Federal Coal Commission report. During this period, he also served as chair of the Social Service Commission of the Congregational Church. His work in social service brought him an in invitation, in 1924, to occupy the Gilbert L. Stark Chair of Practical Philanthropy at Yale University.

During his time at Yale, he organized monthly labor forums for the New Haven Trades Council; formulated a statement of social ideals regarding labor, which was adopted by the Congregational and Christian Churches of America; and served as chair of the Social Service Commission of all the Protestant churches in Connecticut.

He also served as chair of the Legislative Commission on Jails of the State of Connecticut for 12 years.

Some of Davis’ stands, particularly on organized labor, were unpopular with various members of the Yale Board of Directors. This hampered his career at Yale and eventually cost him his job. The case generated considerable publicity in 1936, and investigations were conducted by the National Education Association, the American Federation of Labor, and the American Association of University Professors.

Davis was elected president of the American Federation of Teachers in 1936, and served in that capacity for three years. In 1940, he was a delegate from Connecticut to the Democratic National Convention.

He was a visiting professor at various colleges and universities but never again held a full‑time teaching position.

During World War II, he headed the YMCA prisoner of war work in Canada and served as a correspondent in Russia in 1943 and 1944. In 1949 he headed a peace mission to Europe and in 1952, became the executive director of Promoting Enduring Peace, Inc…

Davis has written numerous articles and more than 20 books. He died  on October 19, 1979.

From a description of the Papers of Jerome Davis at:

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library
4079 Albany Post Road
Hyde Park, New York 12538

Spring 2018

  • Eli Silverman-Lloyd — “Developing a Novel Measure of College Students’ Attitudes Toward Sexual Misconduct”
  • Juliet Flam-Ross — “Chilled Out or Out of a Job? Effects of Alcohol Prohibition on Wages in India”

Fall 2017

  • Joshua Ashkinaze — “Hot Tempers & Cold Turkeys: The Effect of Political Polarization on Thanksgiving Travel”
  • Zurisiday Gutierrez-Avila — “Higher Education Responses to Undocumented Students”
  • Hannah Kim — “Forget-Me-Not: Memoirs of Genocide, the Armenian American Lobby, and U.S. Foreign Policy”
  • Ramzy Lakos — “Kinship and Cognition”
  • Xin Luan — “Kinship Cognition: the Psychological Effects of Kinship Classification in Chinese and English”
  • Liam McLean — “The Production and Circulation of Counterterrorist Discourse In Academic Institutions”
  • Rebecca Primoff — “Demand Elasticity and Market Power in the Legal Marijuana Industry”
  • Ari Rosenblum — “Gender Nonconformity and the Stereotype Content Model”
  • Charis Stanek — “Mental Health Discourses at Oberlin College: Stigmas and Help-Seeking”
  • Eric Thompson — “Investigating the Effects of Varying Payoff Structures on Strategies in a Repeated Stag Hunt Game”
  • Angie: Vaaler — “Make Proud Choices!: The formation of sexual citizenship in the Minneapolis”

The Comfort Starr Prize

The Starr Prize was established in July 1902, by gift of $2,500 from Merritt Starr of Chicago, Illinois, to which was added his gift of $2,000 to the Endowment and Building Fund of 1923.

By direction of the donor, interest is to be added to the principal of the fund until it reaches the sum of $10,000. The income is to be used:

  • first—to pay term bills and college charges of every kind, other than those for board and lodging of the children of Merritt Starr in any department of Oberlin College;
  • second—to pay for the education of deserving scholars in the college department in the studies of civics, economics, political history, and kindred subjects, as a reward for excellence in such studies.

  • Brian Cabral
  • Lujza Demuthova
  • Sylvie Florman
  • Zurisaday Gutierrez-Avila
  • Erin Lassner
  • Mai Miyagaki
  • Maria Roussos
  • Charis Stanek

  • Maurice Cohn
  • Ian Gilchrist
  • James Miller
  • Nathaniel Sher