The following are prefaces to most of the Oral History interviews in the collection of the Oberlin Heritage Center. Series I consists of two groups of interviews acquired by the Oberlin Heritage Center: 1) interviews conducted in 1979 for the Youth Services, Inc. Oral History Project and 2) interviews conducted from 1982 to 1988 for a project of the City of Oberlin Historic Preservation Commission. Series II consists of interviews conducted by the Oral History Committee of the Oberlin Heritage Center.
The Oberlin Heritage Center is the owner and repository of the tapes, digital recordings and transcripts of the oral history interviews, which are available to the public by appointment/inquiry. The Oberlin Heritage Center is not responsible for the factual accuracy of the interviews nor the opinions expressed therein.
The transcripts may be read, quoted, and cited. However, use of material in the transcripts must be cited as "Oberlin Oral History Project, Oberlin Heritage Center, Oberlin, Ohio." Transcripts may not be reproduced in the whole or in part by any means, electronic or mechanical, without written permission of the Oberlin Heritage Center, P.O. Box 455, Oberlin, Ohio 44074. A processing fee may be required for reproductions.
An interview of Ellen Adams conducted by Priscilla S. Steinberg on 2 November 2006 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Mary Moroney.
Ellen Adams was born on 17 April 1915. This 11-page interview covers her family background and growing up in Oberlin. Her parents, Oberlin graduates, taught music at the Oberlin Conservatory. Her first cousin was Congressman Charles Mosher. She describes growing up in Oberlin on Reamer Place in a house built by her father. She talks about her friends on Reamer Place and in the Oberlin Schools, African-American friends, and the downtown businesses of the period. She attended Oberlin College, and after further study got a job in Boston at the New England Deaconess Hospital where she spent 33 years. She returned to Oberlin when Kendal at Oberlin opened up in the fall of 1993. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Henry (Hank) C. Annable
An interview of Henry (Hank) C. Annable conducted at 37 South Cedar Street by Nancy Gray on 20 January 2010 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Henry (Hank) Annable was born at 232 Elm St. in Oberlin on 28 June 1929, the son of John B. and Irene Annable. His father was born in England, came to the U.S. as cabin crew on the Cunard Lines, and built many homes in Oberlin as a carpenter. After graduating from Oberlin High School in 1947, Hank attended Michigan State University, dropping out after a year to go to Alaska. In the interview, Hank talks about his youth in Oberlin, a 1945 cross-country trip in a Model A Ford with several friends, his time in Alaska, his interests in canoeing, animal trapping and the outdoors, his army service in Germany during the Korean War, and his children and grandchildren. Hank describes his early work history but not his work as a carpenter for Oberlin College. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Paul Beaver Arnold
An interview of Paul Beaver Arnold conducted in his studio by Ellen Enslow on 21 March 1986, for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Nancy Schwarzwalder.
Paul Arnold was born to missionary parents in China on 18 Feb 1918 and died in Oberlin on 2 July 2012. He first came to Oberlin as a child in 1929 and then returned in 1936 as a student at Oberlin College. He began teaching studio art in 1941 and continued until his retirement. The interview deals almost exclusively with Paul Arnold’s involvement with the Oberlin College Art Department and the Allen Memorial Art Museum. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Mildred (Millie) Haulk Arthrell
An interview of Mildred Haulk Arthrell conducted by Laura Orleans on 21 February and 7, 19 March 1985 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Mildred Haulk Arthrell was born in Pittsfield Township on 6 January 1913 and died in Tulsa, Oklahoma on 22 Dec 2010. She lived in Wellington until 1932. She attended Oberlin Business College and then worked there and other places in the area as a secretary. She moved to Elyria after her marriage in 1939 but returned to Oberlin in the mid 1940s and remained here for most of her life.
There is a great deal of information about life on a farm during the Depression, life during World War II while her husband was in the army, the Oberlin business college, teaching in the Oberlin schools and the formation of the Oral History Project. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Gabriella “Ella” Keresztes Bachnika
An interview of Gabriella “Ella” Keresztes Bachnika conducted at Welcome Nursing Home by W. Jeanne McKibben and Marianne Cochrane on 5 July 2016 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Gabriella “Ella” Keresztes Bachnika was born to a Hungarian family in Romania on 4 July 1925. With the re-drawing of the borders of Hungary and Romania under the German Third Reich in 1940, her family was forced to leave everything behind and flee into Hungary. Unable to establish themselves they became refugees on the Austrian border. For five years they sought asylum in the United States. In 1950 Ella Bachinika made her way to Elyria to join her sister, and was followed by other members of her family.
After working as a maid for the Klein family of Lorain she married and arrived in Oberlin in 1953. She was hired by John A. Cochrane of the Ben Franklin store and worked there for forty-six years, becoming well-known as “The Plant Lady.”
In the interviw she recounts her life as a refugee and how she came to the United States. She also touches on how she was hired at Ben Franklin and some of her activities there. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Charles "Chuck" Bailey
An interview of Charles "Chuck" Bailey conducted by Nancy Gray on 31 May 2012 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Chuck Bailey moved to Oberlin in 1947 and joined the Oberlin Fire Department in 1951. He has researched the history of the Fire Department extensively, starting with measures that were taken in 1836 for fire protection. He consults historical records several times in the interview while sharing information about changes in the fire department over the years. He also discusses firefighting as a profession, changes in diversity and training, different kinds of equipment, and various fires over the history of Oberlin. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Charlotte Owens Baker
An interview of Charlotte Baker conducted at her home at 50 Thomas Street, Oberlin, by Nancy Gray on 8 October 2008 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Charlotte Baker was an African American woman born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, in 1926 to Elmer and Rosanna Reed Owens. Her grandfather, William Owens, moved to Lorain County after the Civil War and her father, Elmer, moved to Oberlin before 1900. Although Charlotte was born in Pennsylvania (home of her mother’s family), she was a life-long resident of Oberlin.
Her father died when Charlotte was quite young and her mother raised her seven children alone. When Charlotte was 20 she married Norman Baker, who was very supportive of Charlotte’s causes. Charlotte talks about her work as a “Rosie the Riveter” and other attempts to find employment at a time when discrimination was widespread in Oberlin. She also talks of her involvement in community organizations and boards. She speaks favorably of Bill Long, Saul Gilford and many friends in Oberlin. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Dorothy Mae Smith Baker
An interview of Dorothy Baker conducted at her home, 12550 North Professor Street, Oberlin, by Carl Jacobson on 5 and 11 July 2017 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Eileen Telegdy.
Dorothy (Smith) Baker was born 9 March 1924 in Pittsburgh, PA. During World War II, at age eighteen, she went to Washington DC where she secured employment as a secretary in the War Department at the Pentagon with the help of social activist Dorothy Height. She met her husband, Stahl Baker, then a soldier, when she took the last open seat on the train taking her to Pittsburgh for her nineteenth birthday. Stahl was headed to Oberlin to spend a furlough with his family. Dorothy moved to Oberlin after they were married.
She describes her family upbringing and education, her reactions to living in DC, and how and by whom she was welcomed into the Oberlin community with particular reference to Mt. Zion Baptist Church and Sacred Heart at Groveland and S. Pleasant Sts. She describes how she secured employment at Eastwood School where she served first as an office aide and then secretary from 1958 to 1987. She discusses Eastwood personnel, administration, educational policies, and changes in the students and society over time. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Clifford Berry and Evan Nord
An interview of Clifford Berry with a few interjections by Evan Nord conducted by Martha Pickrell on 22 August 2002 at the home of Clifford Berry in Elyria, Ohio, for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Clifford Berry was born in Lorain on 25 June 1915 and died in Elyria on 27 January 2010. He lived in Lorain as a boy, moved to Amherst when a young man, and retired to Elyria. The main and essentially only topic covered is his 43 years working for U.S. Automatic in Amherst that was owned by the Nord family. He was a turret lathe operator. (The only connection with Oberlin is that Walter Nord, the company founder and his son, Eric, lived in Oberlin.) Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Sigrid North Boe
An interview of Sigrid North Boe conducted at 30 Colony Drive by Priscilla S. Steinberg on 22 January 2010 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Sigrid North was born in Nieder-Weisel, Germany on 20 August 1938 and moved to Frankfurt at the age of thirteen. She attended the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt and then studied voice at a music school. In 1961, Sigrid married David Boe, a Fulbright scholar, whom she had met in Frankfurt. The couple moved to Oberlin in 1962. The majority of the interview is about Boe’s efforts to beautify and improve the city of Oberlin, which included street sweeping and clean-up teams, saving the Upground Reservoir, building the bike path, helping with school levies and developing various community focus groups. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Laurine Mack Bongiorno
An interview of Laurine Mack Bongiorno conducted by Ellen Enslow, an Oberlin College student, on 22 April 1986 and transcribed by Marlene D. Merrill for the Oral History Project.
Laurine Mack Bongiorno was born in Lima, Ohio on 17 April 1903 and died in Oberlin on 17 January 1988. She moved to Oberlin in 1918 when her father became a professor of English at the college. She attended Oberlin High School and College majoring in Art History then went on to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard in Art History and teach at Wellesley College. The interview’s main focus is on her connections with the Art Department and the Allen Art Museum in the mid 1920s and then again after her return to Oberlin in 1944 with minimal information about other parts of her life. She married Andrew Bongiorno, professor of English at Oberlin College, in 1933. Oral Histories Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Laura Boos conducted by Rita Pickens on 2 July 1983 and transcribed by Nancy Schwarzwalder for the Oral History Project.
Laura Boos was born in Oberlin on 31 Aug 1951. There is some information on school events, downtown stores, and family life. This is a short tape. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Foster and Edith Johnson Bows
An interview of Foster and Edith Johnson Bows conducted at their home by Betty Thomas on 6 November 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Foster Bows was born in Oberlin on 13 April 1906 and died on 15 May 1992. He lived in Oberlin all his life. He married Edith Johnson (born 1912) on 14 April 1941. She died on 18 September 1987. Foster Bows worked as a truck driver at Oberlin College. Edith Bows came from Columbus, Ohio in 1937 to work for Dr. Carl Wittke at Oberlin College. There is a great deal about childhood games, travel to surrounding towns, Oberlin in the ‘20s and ‘30s, schools, and their family included in this interview, as well as stories about church picnics at Luna Park in Cleveland.
Another interview of Foster and Edith Johnson Bows conducted at 18 Edison Street by Marvyl Fields on 5 April 1979 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Foster Bows was born in Oberlin on 13 April 1906 and died on 15 May 1992. He lived here in Oberlin his life. He married Edith Johnson (Born 1912) on 14 April 1941. She died on 18 September 1987. Foster Bows worked as a truck driver at Oberlin College. He was very active in Mt. Zion Baptist Church. The interview includes information about Mt. Zion Church’s construction, its ministers, and his family’s involvement with it. Also covered in the interview are black-white relations, changes in downtown Oberlin, holidays, and the Depression. Edith Bows came from Columbus, Ohio in 1937 to work for Dr. Carl Wittke at Oberlin College and tells about various Mr. Zion church clubs and general life in Oberlin for a young single black woman and then a married woman with children. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Dorothy Stark Boyers
An interview of Dorothy Stark Boyers conducted at her apartment at 143 East College by Betty Ulmer on 18, 25, and 27 January 1988 for the Oberlin Oral History Project. Dorothy Stark Boyers was born in 1904 and died on 28 March 1987. She came to Oberlin in 1928 when her husband, William Hayden Boyers (b. 1901) came to teach French at Oberlin College. She discusses her husband’s fight against alcoholism and their activities with drama and Gilbert and Sullivan productions at Oberlin College and in the summers on Cape Cod. She also talks about bringing up an adopted son and the effects of World War II on Oberlin. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Mabel Brown conducted at her apartment, 189 East College Street, by Millie Arthrell on 17 and 18 April 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Mabel Brown was born in Pittsfield Township on 8 April 1902 and died in Oberlin on 14 December 1989. She attended the Kindergarten Primary Training School in Oberlin from 1920 to 1922, later received a Bachelor's degree from Kent (Normal School) in 1939 and taught in various elementary schools in the county. She retired in 1961. She enjoyed writing poetry and gave the chaplain's invocation at meetings of Oberlin area retired teachers.
She describes life on a farm, making maple syrup, teaching in rural schools, involvement with Pittsfield and Elyria churches, the Pittsfield tornado of 1965 and quite a lot of family history. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Corwin Burrer conducted by Betty Spurlock on 2 June 1984 and transcribed by Nancy Schwarzwalder for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Corwin Burrer was born on 15 February 1905 and died in Oberlin on 10 June 1991. In the interview, Corwin Burrer and Betty Spurlock talked about politics, government, the Civil War, World War I, and farming. It is quite short because of problems with the tape; side I was completely blank. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Jeanne Beattie Butts
An interview of Jeanne Beattie Butts conducted by her granddaughter, Joanna Butts Clark, throughout the summer of 1990 and published as a bound booklet by the family. The booklet is titled, “Jeanne Elizabeth Beattie Butts Remembers 1904-1997.” There are no tapes to accompany this interview.
Jeanne Butts was born on 27 June 1904 and died in Oberlin on 21 February 1997. The interview covers a great many subjects relating to Jeanne’s long and productive life as social worker in New York City and Cleveland and as a mother. She discusses topics of Civil Rights, life during World War II, the starting of boys and girls clubs, and her lifelong wisdom. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Delores Carter conducted by Andrew Kinsey on 24, 26 January 1987 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Delores Carter was an African-American woman who was born in Milwaukee on 27 October 1919 and died in Oberlin on 26 August 1993.
The first three sides of tape cover her years in Milwaukee where she was educated through college. The last three include her time in Cleveland where she was a schoolteacher and finally her arrival in Oberlin in 1948. She taught in the Midview School District and was a member of the Oberlin Board of Education for 12 years. There is much information about school issues in Oberlin primarily during the 1960s and 1970s as well as discourses about town/gown relations and the role of the college in town affairs. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Mervin Lymoin Champe
An interview of Mervin Lymoin Champe conducted at Monroe House 73 ½ South Professor Street by Carl Jacobson, Jean Foggo Simon and Amanda Manahan on March 5, 2019.
Mervin Champe was born 18 October 1938 and lived at 178 Groveland Street in Oberlin. The interview includes his childhood recollections of family and friends, education in the Oberlin schools, service in the US Marines, being the first African American to integrate the Elyria Fire Department, and his participation and leadership of the Masonic Central Star Lodge #73 in Oberlin. He also recollects some of Oberlin’s African American businesses and businessmen. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Gladys Champney conducted by Kristi Hempel on 25 and 27 January 1987 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Gladys Champney was born in Axtel, Ohio on 8 August 1896 and died in Oberlin on 19 December 1991. She graduated from the Oberlin schools and from Oberlin College in 1918 with majors in English and Art and taught art for many years in Cleveland. After retiring from teaching she taught art therapy and gave children's classes at Wilder Hall on the college campus. She describes life in the Oberlin public schools, at the college, and in her family. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Lee Champney conducted by his wife, Kathlyn Brooks Champney, at their home 364 South Professor Street, on 19 July 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Mr. Champney was born 17 September 1913 and died in Oberlin on 28 February 1987. He graduated from the Oberlin schools, the Oberlin Business College and attended Ohio Wesleyan University. He describes his school days, working at various businesses in town, locations of stores and restaurants, public transportation systems, and some adventures in the family's 1913 Buick Touring car. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Mildred Locke Chapin
An interview of Mildred Chapin conducted at 348 East College Street by Betty Thomas on 17, 24 and 31 July 1986 and transcribed by Nancy Schwarzwalder for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Mildred Locke Chapin was born on Union Street in Oberlin on 3 June 1914 and died on 28 September 1999. She graduated from the Oberlin public schools and the Oberlin Kindergarten Primary Training School, married Almon Chapin in 1934 in Los Angeles, and moved several times until settling in Oberlin in the early 1940s. There is a lot of information about her family and her various hobbies including driving from the age of 13, ham radio operation, piloting a plane, and many other things. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Christ Church and Women Priests / Marjorie (Midge) Wood Brittingham
An interview of Midge Brittingham conducted at her home at 151 Forest Street, Oberlin by Ann L. Fuller on 8 December 2016. This interview focuses on the period in the 1970s when Peter Beebe was Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, and the church was involved in the struggle to ordain women.
Midge Wood was born in Ramsey, New Jersey and came to Oberlin College as a freshman in the fall of 1956. She married classmate Smith R. Brittingham, III in 1960 and, after leaving Oberlin and returning, they have lived here since 1969. She was the Secretary of Christ Episcopal Church and Clerk of the Vestry during the controversy over the ordination of women.
The interview covers the arrival of Rector Peter Beebe and family in Oberlin, how the controversy arose, its divisive effect on the congregation, the Church proceedings concerning Rev. Beebe, his ultimate departure from the Church and Oberlin, and the reconciliation of members of the congregation thereafter. It also discusses the impact of the events on the Episcopal Church as a whole. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of David Clark conducted at 58 Kendal Drive by Dina Schoonmaker on 8 September 2008 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
David Clark was born on 7 December 1931. He came to Oberlin in 1950 to study Greek at Oberlin College. He married Ricky in 1954 and they left Oberlin for graduate school in 1955. In 1963, Clark returned to Oberlin as a development officer for Oberlin College. In this interview, Clark discusses his involvement with the Oberlin Heritage Center and his role in the formation of Kendal at Oberlin. There is a great deal of information about how Kendal at Oberlin began as well as the people who made it possible. Clark also discusses his association with the Hallock Foundation and the Oberlin organizations that it has supported. Lastly, Clark talks about how things have changed over the years in Oberlin: the non-profit community, the role of First Church, and the relationship between Oberlin College and the community. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Marianne Cochrane conducted in Oberlin by Priscilla S. Steinberg on 20 November 2003 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Marianne Cochrane was born in Oberlin on 16 January 1937 and graduated from Oberlin High School in 1955 and Grinnell College in 1959. Her father owned the Ben Franklin store in Oberlin which she managed for about 40 years beginning in 1961. There is information about growing up and going to school in Oberlin, some of the problems of running a small town business, and the effect of malls on the town. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
C. Lea Comings
An interview of Lea Comings conducted at 254 Oak Street by Priscilla S. Steinberg on 30 October 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Program.
Charles Lea Comings was born in Oberlin on 23 May 1907 and died on 7 March 1999. He attended Oberlin schools, Oberlin College for three years and Oberlin Business College for one year. His grandfather started a bookstore in town and Lea helped to run it from 1928 to 1959 when it was sold to the Oberlin Co-op. His reminiscences include comments about running the bookstore, public transportation and a little about race relations. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Magdalene Jackson Cox
An interview of Magdalene Jackson Cox conducted in Schenectady, New York by Betty Thomas on 14 November 1982 and transcribed by a Kent State University volunteer for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Magdalene Jackson Cox was born in Pittsfield Township on 8 September 1906 and died in New York State on 14 September 1988. She graduated from Oberlin High School in 1925, attended Oberlin Business College for one year and married Lafayette Cox in 1928. As she left Oberlin after her marriage the interview focuses on her early life and schooling. There is a lot of information about Pittsfield's one room schoolhouse, the new Oberlin High School on South Main Street, and life for a black family on a farm. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Dan Cunningham, conducted at the Monroe House by Liz Schultz and Carl Jacobson 21 February 2019 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Dan Cunningham was born in 1948 in Cincinnati. He graduated from high school and began his career working for the Cincinnati Post Office during the years of the Vietnam draft. After three years there, in 1969, he married his wife Susan. He took a test for air traffic control and had begun learning how to fly an airplane. He was hired in Oberlin and trained in Oklahoma City for the position in the spring of 1970. There was a strike during his training, but all employees maintained their jobs.
During this interview, Dan discusses the particulars of his job as an air traffic controller and its unique challenges and stresses. He also discusses how some of those challenges were the reasons for previous slow-downs and the strike of 1981. He details some of his opinions about PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) and the strike, including his negative opinions about requests for a higher salary as opposed to safety concerns, and how the strike affected himself and his family. During the 1981 strike his home became a contact point and his role was to facilitate communication between the local union HQ in Sheffield and the Oberlin picket line, as well as between strikers and their family members. He also monitored local concerns, such as coffee and press coverage. He comments on how optimism shifted over the course of the strike and how that was impacted by rhetoric coming from HQ. He also discusses the firing by President Reagan and how that impacted air traffic control practices, individual lives and job prospects, and government unions in the nation. He expresses surprise that many of his fired coworkers rejoined government service through positions with the Post Office.
After the strike, Dan took odd jobs from neighbors and took courses at the Lorain County Joint Vocational School. He worked for Oberlin College as custodial staff and eventually moved into an electrician position. He decided to move into management when the Oberlin College unionized and eventually retired after 25 years at the College. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Mary Anne Cunningham
An interview of Mary Anne Cunningham conducted at the Monroe House of the Oberlin Heritage Center 11 June 2018 by Liz Schultz; transcribed by Eileen Telegdy.
Mary Anne Cunningham was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on January 18, 1957. Her family moved to Illinois when she was quite young, then to Holmes County, Ohio. She earned her BA in history from Kenyon College and MA in Gerontology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Prior to coming to the Oberlin Heritage Center she worked in Philadelphia, at the College of Wooster, and at the Renaissance Retirement Community. While working there she met her husband-to-be, Donald. They moved to Oberlin in June 1993 and she began working part-time at O.H.I.O, now OHC.
She covers the range of her twenty-five years with OHC, beginning with her job interview with Board President Marianne Cochrane and Treasurer Cathe Radabaugh. She recalls working closely with former OHC Executive Director Pat Murphy. She talks about some of the early volunteers and board members, including Dick and Norma Gilbert, Glenn and Lillian Hobbs, Jim and Andre Underwood, Scott and Ellen Broadwell, Roberta Garcia, Jim White, Pat Holsworth and Walt Edling. She describes how Winter Term students helped to clear out and organize Jewett House, making it possible to use it as a museum. She recalls the growth of OHC's human resources, including staff, students, and museum fellows.
She recounts the challenges the organization faced and the development of OHC programs, including the growth of the membership from a dozen to seven hundred, docent training, the Gingerbread Extravaganza, fashion shows at the Inn, annual meetings, state bicentennial events, obtaining Historic Landmark status for the Wilson Bruce Evans House, changes with computers and publications, and the creation of the website. Challenges included finding grants and other forms of support and relocating organizations that were in a building OHC owned on Main Street. She describes the role of The Nord Family Foundation and Evan Nord. She recalls the creation of the endowments with assistance from Jeptha Carrell of The Community Foundation of Lorain County Community and David Clark of Oberlin College. She also recalls earning accreditation from the American Association of Museums. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
John Henry Denny
An interview of John Henry Denny conducted at 270 North Pleasant Street by Betty Spurlock on 4 April 1985 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by a Kent State University volunteer. (There is a second interview of John Denny conducted by Stanley Garfinkel of Kent State University, with no date but presumably done in 1984.)
Mr. Denny was born on 25 December 1895 in Kentucky and died on 1 October 1988. He moved to Oberlin in 1943 because a daughter and her husband lived here. He went to work at Western Automatic in Elyria. There is not much about Oberlin in either interview. He was very proud that he recited Lincoln's Gettysburg Address at many Memorial Day celebrations. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Emma Kathryn "Kitty" Denny-Smith, conducted at her home at 65 East College Street, Apartment 205 by Carl Jacobson and Jean Foggo Simon on 29 October 2018 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Kitty Denny-Smith was born in Jasmine County, Kentucky to Kathryn Maude Chinn Denny and John H. Denny. They lived on Kathryn’s father’s farm and John worked as a sharecropper. Her father began working at Western Automatic in Elyria and a year later in 1944 the rest of the family followed him to Oberlin. Her mother became a housekeeper and Kitty attended Oberlin High School until her graduation in 1949. Kitty later graduated from the Oberlin Business College and moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the Veterans Administration for two years. She left for another government job at the Cleveland Navy Finance Center, which she commuted to from Oberlin via Greyhound. She married in 1952 to a man she had attended school with in Oberlin. They had one son, Blane, who was born in Mississippi when Kitty moved to be with her husband, who was in the military.
During the interview she discusses stories from her childhood, her sister Gigi, attending Oberlin High School, friends in Oberlin, her divorce, her artwork, and racism she experienced as a young black girl and a black woman traveling in the south with her husband. She details the various jobs she held, including her government positions, a secretarial position with a black attorney in Oberlin, Oberlin Conservatory, and the Air Traffic Control Center, where she ultimately retired. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Stella Mallory Dickerman
An interview of Stella Mallory Dickerman conducted at 230 Hollywood Street by Susan Carnahan on 17, 23 January 1987 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Stella Mallory Dickerman was born on 30 August 1908 in Oberlin and died in New Hampshire on 15 September 1991. She attended Oberlin public schools and graduated from the college in 1929 with a major in art. She taught in various places, married in 1931, and had 3 children. Her family ran a boarding house for students in the early ‘20s after her father died in the 1918 flu epidemic and there is some amusing material about these houses. She also describes pranks children played on their public school teachers. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Theresa J. Dietz
An interview of Theresa J. Dietz conducted at her home at 43 East Vine Street by Michael Naragon on 16 January 1987 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Theresa Dietz was born in New York City on 18 June 1896 and died in Oberlin on 10 March 1992 at the age of 95. She came with her family to Oberlin at the age of 10 when a brother was appointed as the first Catholic priest in Oberlin. It is a quite disjointed interview with much contradictory information but some interesting sidelights on being one of the few Catholics in Oberlin in the early part of the 20th Century. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
James "Jim" Donovan
An interview of James "Jim" Donovan, conducted at Charles Dial’s home in North Olmsted by Charles Dial on 8 June 2018 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
James Donovan’s wife, Linda, worked at Gilford Instrument Laboratories from 1964-2009. Together Donovan and Dial detail the history of the company, Saul Gilford’s career, and the managerial style of the company. After Saul’s untimely death in a plane accident in 1979, the company was sold to Corning Glass Works and subsequent corporations, which led to the eventual closing of the Oberlin facility. Donovan describes changes that occurred as the company transferred ownership over the years. Dial and Donovan both recount experiences growing up in the 1950s, as Oberlin College students, and later reflections as it related to Gilford and otherwise.
This transcript has been broken into two different parts to reflect topical content.
Part 1: Focus on Gilford Instrument Laboratories, the social context of the 1950s, and some personal reminiscences
Part 2: Opinions on the current financial state, Chuck Dial and Sally Kerr's involvement with the Oberlin Heritage Center, recent projects at First Church, changes in churches in general, and Berea College in Kentucky. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Corinne Durand Dudley
An interview of Corinne Durand Dudley conducted at her home at 43 East Vine Street by Millie Arthrell on 9 December 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Corinne Durand Dudley was born in Oberlin on 28 December 1895 and died on 3 February 1995. She graduated from Oberlin High School in 1914 and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1919. She then went on to attend Lakeside School of Nursing, and graduated in 1921. She was a nurse at the Oberlin College Infirmary, belonged to the First Church in Oberlin, and was active in women’s organizations such as the Lakeside Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The interview covers her family background, memories of Christmas, going to school in Oberlin, her brief time at the Oberlin Conservatory, her love of her time as a nurse, her friendship with Mrs. Haulk of the Haulk Nursing Home, and her club affiliations. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Lorna Marion Dudley
An interview of Lorna Marion Dudley conducted at her home at 43 East Vine Street by Moira Bucciarelli on 23 January 1987 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Lorna Marion Dudley was born in Henrietta Township, Ohio on 13 August 1896 and died in Oberlin on 8 December 1987. She graduated from Oberlin High School in 1913, attended Oberlin College, and worked as a teacher.
The interview covers transportation in Oberlin, going to church, great, descriptive stories about growing up on a farm, Marion’s school years, a brief discussion of race relations, her time at Oberlin College, teaching in Idaho, Henrietta Township, and New Jersey, WWI, comparisons between Oberlin College when she went there and today, improvements in the road systems, politics, and differences in generations. This interview covers a lot of ground and has many wonderful details. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Richard (Dick) Dunn
An interview of Richard (Dick) Dunn conducted at his home by Marlene D. Merrill with Nancy Gray on 16 February 2005 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Dick Dunn was born in Hamden, Connecticut on 16 June 1929. This 36-page candid interview covers Dunn’s work as Oberlin City Manager (1958-63), as Vice-President and President of Gilford Instruments (1968-?), as Oberlin College Associate Director and Director of Development (1983-93), and on various boards. While covering the City Manager period, he talks about the Fair Housing law and the establishment of the Oberlin Improvement and Development Corporation. He gives vignettes of some of the people with whom he interacted, e.g., Bill Long, David Clark, Fred Starr, and Saul Gilford. His later involvement in the disposition of the Co-Op Bookstore and Allen Memorial Hospital and participation on the boards of Zion C.D.C., Kendal at Oberlin, Kendal at Home, and F.A.V.A. is also discussed. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Walter “Walt” Edling
An interview of Walter “Walt” Edling, conducted at the Oberlin Heritage Center Monroe House by Carl Jacobson, Liz Schultz, and Jean Simon on 18 February 2019 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Walt Edling was born March 20, 1938 in Chicago to Polish parents, Emma, from near Warsaw and Henry, from Michalken, Poland. Emma arrived in Chicago at age 20 after Russians took over her family’s farm during World War I. Henry served in the Polish Army before deserting and joining the German Army instead. Eventually Henry resettled in Vermilion, Ohio, but then moved to Chicago to work. Henry and Emma met in Chicago and moved to Oberlin together in 1940 to operate the dairy farm where Walt spent his childhood.
Walt gained an interest in technical things watching the farm machinery. He attended the Oberlin public schools. Working his way through his BS, MS and Ph.D. in engineering, he joined the faculty of what was then the Lorain School of Technology and played a major role as it developed into Lorain County Community College. He became the Academic Vice President and was responsible for developing the innovative Robotics Center. After retirement in 1990 he became Vice President for Academic Affairs at The Center for Occupational Research and Development, and, among other things, was responsible for developing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) materials. On his return to Oberlin he became active in the Oberlin Heritage Center, becoming the President. In that capacity he guided OHC’s acquisition, restoration and development of the Vineway Building. The remainder of the interview he spends discussing details of his personal life, projects, and family. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Manuel Espinoza conducted on 29 March 2014 by Marlene Merrill at her house on Fairway Drive for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Manuel Espinoza was born in 1944 and moved north with his family of ten in the 1950s. His family initially lived as migrant workers and moved to the outskirts of Adrian, Michigan to work on a potato farm. The family then moved to other towns in Michigan and Ohio. From third grade until his high school graduation, Espinoza lived in Henry County, Ohio and attended the Florida and Napoleon school districts. Espinoza discusses teachers who influenced him, as well as instances of racism and prejudice he experienced as a Mexican American, despite being an exceptional student.
Espinoza talks about having tuberculosis and how having spent time in a tuberculosis hospital entitled him to funds for vocational training. He completed barber school and moved to Oberlin in 1964 to finish his apprenticeship at Perry Walls' barbershop, which he eventually bought. He talks about his impressions of Oberlin, hobbies, working with his former wife, and some of his customers, including Oberlin college presidents and students. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Marvyl Berry Fields
An interview of Marvyl Berry Fields conducted by Betty Thomas on 10 November 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Marvyl Berry Fields was born in Athens, Ohio on 10 May 1895 and died on 14 February 1988. She married George Leroy Fields in 1913 and had four children. The interview covers early life in Oberlin, school in Oberlin, changes in Oberlin over the years, her children, Oberlin businesses, and doctors in Oberlin. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Mary Wright Fisk
An interview of Mary Wright Fisk conducted by Mildred Chapin on 21 July 1986 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Mary Wright Fisk was born in Oberlin on 12 March 1907 and died on 13 February 2006. She graduated from Oberlin High School in 1924, Oberlin College in 1928, and the University of Pittsburgh in 1929. In 1930 she married Ernest Fisk.
It appears in this interview that Mary was given a list of questions, which she answered in narrative form. There is little interaction between Mary and the interviewer. The narrative covers information about local merchants and stores in Oberlin, Mary’s family background, Oberlin during WWI, her school years, her time at Oberlin College, local entertainment, transportation & streetcars, race relations, and descriptions of Mary’s family. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Arthur Menzel Fowls
An interview of Arthur Menzel Fowls conducted by Ellen Enslow on 29 April 1986 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Arthur Menzel Fowls was born on 19 July 1919 and died on 3 June 1995. He was a lifelong resident of Oberlin. He graduated from Oberlin High School in 1937, attended Oberlin College between 1938 and 1939, and served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1950 and received his master’s degree from Kent State University in 1952. He then taught in the Rochester, Ohio Local Schools and was a principal from 1950-1951. He worked at the Allen Memorial Art Museum for 21 years as an administrative assistant and building manager and retired in 1987.
The interview covers information regarding his time in the military, his post-secondary education, an interesting discussion of his time teaching in a small school in Rochester, his work at the Allen Art Museum, and discussions of particular exhibits put on throughout the years at the museum. The bulk of the interview is about the museum. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Booker Carver Peek
An interview of Booker Peek conducted at the home of his daughter and son-in-law on Spruce Drive by Liz Schultz, Jean Simon and Prue Richards on 3 August 2016 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Eileen Telegdy.
Booker Peek was born on 22 May 1940 in Jacksonville, Florida. He first came to Oberlin in the fall of 1964 as a student in the MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) program in 1964 and left discouraged. He was contacted by professors Frank Laycock and Ira Steinberg and persuaded to return the next year. He joined the faculty of Oberlin College where he served as Associate Professor of Black Studies for many years.
He describes growing up in the blackness of the Jacksonville ghetto, the segregation of it, and how it seemed to him to be entirely normal. He attended what he described as ghetto schools, became interested in French, married classmate Annette Jones, and attended Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University (Florida A&M) majoring in French.
At Florida A&M he got involved in student activism and volunteered in a summer program for black youth that formed his inspiration for the WAVE (Words Are Very Empowering) program that he has run at Oberlin College for many years.
He discusses the Obama Presidency, the role of color in black society, the power of education, and the role of wealth in our society. He also references the development of Africana Studies at Oberlin College. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Blanche Pettiford Fox
Two interviews of Blanche Pettiford Fox conducted by Peter Way on 25 February 1979 and by Thelma Q. Smith and Roger Smith on 7 November 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Blanche Pettiford Fox was born on 6 May 1890 and died on 5 April 1982. She was a life-long resident of the Wakeman area. She was married to Oscar Fox, who owned a barbershop in Oberlin.
The interview by Peter Way covers discussion of the Pettiford Family, post Civil War family, housing, and life during the early 1900s.
The interview by Thelma Q. Smith and Roger Smith covers discussion of the Pettiford family, race relations, methods of travel, and Oberlin businesses. The majority is about the Pettiford family. It is short and the transcript is only four pages long. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Harold Dana Gibson
An interview of Harold Dana Gibson conducted by Ann Quinn on 31 January 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Harold Dana Gibson was born on 26 March 1922. He worked at Gibson’s for eighteen years. The interview covers Harold’s family, his education, the houses he lived in, Oberlin during WWII, businesses, an interesting story about sports at Oberlin College and Oberlin High School, Oberlin during the Great Depression, growing up around the college, and race relations. The original interview was edited and changed by Harold Gibson. This document represents the edited version. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Linda (Young) Gilmore
An interview of Linda (Young) Gilmore conducted at the home of Jean Foggo Simon by Carl Jacobson and Jean Foggo Simon on 20 May 2018 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Linda Gilmore was born and raised in Oberlin, Ohio. She attended school in Oberlin and at the Lorain County Community College before beginning her early career in education. She worked for Head Start and the YMCA in the Oberlin and Cleveland areas. She enlisted in the Air Force, which relocated her to Delaware, Okinawa, and California. Later she lived in Washington state and worked in prison security. She returned to Oberlin with her daughter and subsequently worked for the FAA, Oberlin College, and the Heritage Center, as well as various security positions in the Cleveland area. Her interview details her family, feelings about Oberlin, and her career choices and experiences. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Lillian Adora Fields Godette
An interview of Lillian Adora Fields Godette conducted by Nadia Malinovich on 29 January 1988 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Lillian Adora Fields Godette was born on 18 February 1917 and died while visiting her daughter in Maryland on 24 November 1990. She was a lifetime resident of the Oberlin area and graduated from Oberlin High School in 1933. She received her bachelor’s degree from Kent State University, and held a master’s degree in special education. She taught in the Oberlin elementary schools until her retirement in 1978. She married Rodman Douglas in 1934, divorced, and was married to Rowland Godette in 1949.
The interview is long and detailed, and covers among other things: her possible relation to Thomas Jefferson, schools in Oberlin, her racially mixed identity and family, transportation, recreation, the Depression, her education at Kent State, race relations, businesses in Oberlin, churches and religion, her experiences as a teacher, WWII, politics, and social change in the 1960s. This interview contains many detailed, interesting stories. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Maynard Lee Gott
An interview of Maynard Lee Gott conducted by Mildred Chapin on 23 June and 1 July 1986 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Maynard Lee Gott was born in Penfield Township on 29 July 1906 and died on 1 May 1997. He lived in the Oberlin area all his life. He worked various custodial jobs and then worked as a railway clerk for Penn Central for 30 years, retiring in 1971. He married Ruth Winter in 1930.
The interview covers Maynard’s job at the railroad, race relations in Oberlin and Elyria, the Depression, Leisure activities, transportation, Oberlin Public Schools, the Lorain tornado of 1924, Oberlin stores and merchants, and Maynard’s ancestors. The interview contains some interesting details and stories. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Bernice Gore Grant
An interview of Bernice Gore Grant conducted by Charles Startup on 3 October 1985 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Bernice Gore Grant was born on 9 November 1912 and died in Elyria on 22 April 2005. She moved from Missouri to Oberlin in 1948 when she married Franklin Grant who was from Oberlin. The Interview covers Bernice’s move to Oberlin, the Grant family, church in Oberlin, diversity in Oberlin, transportation, and race relations. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Esther Brown Gutman
An interview of Esther Brown Gutman conducted by Mildred Chapin and Jean Forsyth on 24 October 1986 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Esther Brown Gutman was born in Pittsfield Township on 11 January 1898 and died on 21 September 1993. She graduated from Oberlin High School in 1917, and was married to Paul William Gutman in 1935. She worked as a nurse’s aide at the Allen Memorial Hospital, and also worked for Tressie’s Nursing Home.
The interview covers Esther’s ancestors, her school years and games played at school, leisure activities, her time as a matron at a children’s home, church in Oberlin, transportation, her early life, discussions of daily life before electricity and other technological innovations, and her time as a nurse. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Kinzer Habecker conducted by Dina Schoonmaker at 270 East College Street on 6 November 2003 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Kinzer Habecker was born in Norwalk, Ohio on 12 December 1937, moved to Oberlin as an infant, graduated from Oberlin High School and worked at a local clothing store. The interview is mainly about his time on City Council in the 1970s and some of the issues in which he was involved, including a proposal for a swimming pool, new city hall, the May 8th incident, the ward system for electing council, planned unit developments, and extending utility lines outside city limits and others. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Mildred Morris Haines
An interview of Mildred Morris Haines conducted by Millie Arthrell on 22, 23, and 29 November 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Mildred Morris Haines was born in Russia Township on 5 January 1899 and died on 17 February 1998 at the age of 99. She graduated from Oberlin High School in 1916, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Oberlin College in 1920. She received her master’s degree in 1921 from the University of Chicago, and married Curtis Haines in 1931. She taught at Wellington High School, Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, Oberlin High School, and was dean of girls at Shaker Heights Junior High School. She was active in local historical societies.
The interview is long and detailed. Among the subjects covered are Mildred’s family background, her early, Oberlin schools, her study of the classics and languages at Oberlin College and the University of Chicago, holidays, WWI, and her teaching career. The interview contains interesting stories and details. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Ruby May Van Ausdale Hall
An interview of Ruby May Van Ausdale Hall conducted by Mildred Chapin on 12 August 1986 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Ruby May Van Ausdale Hall was born in Oberlin on 31 December 1905 and died on 24 March 1996. She graduated from Oberlin High School in 1925, and married Raymond Hall that same year. She was a lifelong resident of the Oberlin area, working as a clerk at the Ben Franklin store, and at the Oberlin College library where she retired as head of the loan reader service department.
The interview covers her family, childhood pastimes, transportation, daily life in Oberlin, church in Oberlin, the Depression, and Oberlin businesses. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Mrs. Richard Hallock (nee Myriam Johnston)
An interview of Mrs. Richard Hallock (nee Myriam Johnston) conducted at the Monroe House of the Oberlin Heritage Center by Catherine Gabe on 10-17 May 2005 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Linda Diaz.
Myriam Johnston Hallock was born in Fremont, Ohio 3 June 1920. She came to Oberlin in 1927 as a child. She came with her mother, a native of France, who was the Director of French House then at 135 West College Street. She mentions Paul Arnold who was a waiter there. She remembers and describes some of the Oberlin College professors and their families. She mentions some of the College buildings and recalls The Varsity Restaurant, Yocum’s clothing store, Ohly’s Drug Store, Murphy’s Shoe Store, Isaly’s Ice Cream, the Campus Restaurant, Rawdon’s Tea Room, Comings Bookstore, Nellie’s Beauty Salon, and the dentist Dr. Carrick. She attended Prospect School and Oberlin High School and remembers some of her schoolmates and teachers. She recalls the mock conventions and Illumination. She graduated from Oberlin College in 1941.
Soon thereafter she became a stewardess for Canadian Colonial Airlines serving on DC-3’s. She then qualified for the Foreign Service (USIS) and served in Vietnam beginning in 1955. She was posted to Paris, France and returned to Vietnam in 1969, then to Africa and Bangladesh. In 1990 she met Richard Hallock, a classmate at Oberlin. He had had a career in the military, then the Rand Corporation, and then established his own company doing military research and analysis. She describes his life story in some detail. They moved to Kendal at Oberlin and they became involved with the Oberlin Heritage Center. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Aaron Hamlin was conducted by Peter Way on July 9, 1979 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Aaron Hamlin was born in Urbana, Champaign County, Ohio, on 21 January 1897, the same year, he notes, that a local African-American man was lynched by a white mob in the Urbana town square. Aaron Hamlin died on 14 February 1983 in Oberlin, Ohio.
The interview centers on his myriad of work experiences as an African-American in Ohio – early in life in Urbana, working as a young man in the Cleveland area and as an adult in the Oberlin area. Aaron, along with the majority of his ten siblings and his mother Mildred Legge Hamlin, moved to Oberlin in the early 1920s. Conditions of work experiences in the town and the college are described in detail. The interviewer focuses many questions related to race relations and discrimination within the town and college. Many Oberlin businesses and their owners are mentioned. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Grace Martin Harlow
An interview of Grace Martin Harlow conducted by Marlene D. Merrill and Ann Quinn on 10 January 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Grace Martin Harlow was born in Oberlin on 26 September 1900 and died on 3 August 1995. She graduated from Oberlin High School in 1916, attended the Cleveland Art School, Oberlin Kindergarten Training School, taught school for a year in Cleveland, and married George Harlow II in 1924.
The interview covers Grace’s early memories of living in Martin’s Inn, the restaurant and hotel run by her family (she includes wonderful details about how the restaurant was run, including menus), other businesses and merchants in Oberlin, her time at the Cleveland Arts School, her time teaching in what she deemed a “terrible neighborhood” in Cleveland, her husband George’s work on war projects, social activities in Oberlin, finding a job after her husband’s death in 1951, her decision to come back to Oberlin to care for her mother, and buy a flower shop (Carlyle’s) in Oberlin and discussions of running a business in Oberlin. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Elmer Garfield Harris
An interview of Elmer Garfield Harris conducted by Betty Spurlock on 8 June 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Elmer Garfield Harris was born in Oberlin on 4 August 1915 and died in Oberlin on 24 June 1992. He graduated from Oberlin High School in 1934. He was a dairy farmer for many years, and starting from 1964 until his retirement in 1976 he was a maintenance repairman for the State Highway Patrol in Elyria. He was active in many area organizations including the South Amherst First United Methodist Church, the Lorain County Camps of Gideon Society, and the Lorain County Banjo Band.
The interview covers Elmer’s ancestors, life on the farm, going to school in Oberlin, transportation, businesses in Oberlin, the Depression, entertainment while growing up on the farm, politicians he’s admired, and his life philosophy: “work like you’re never gonna die, and live like you’re gonna die tomorrow.” Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Margaret Green Haylor
An interview of Margaret Green Haylor conducted by Barbara Wilson during summer 1985 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Margaret Green Haylor was born in Cincinnati on 3 April 1897 and died in Maine on 30 September 1991. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1919 with a degree in home economics, and came to Oberlin to teach sewing. In 1922 she married Randall Haylor, who ran Haylor’s bookstore until 1959. She remained in Oberlin until 1988 when she moved to Maine.
The interview describes her first impressions of Oberlin, purchasing the Oberlin bookstore, other Oberlin merchants, social life in Oberlin, Oberlin charities, the Depression, her involvement in the 19th century Club and Daughters of the American Revolution, the people she rented out an apartment to, transportation, traveling to Maine, and the Oberlin Schools. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Karl Florien Heiser
An interview of Karl Florien Heiser conducted by Laura Orleans on 23, 30 April and 7 May 1985 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Karl Florien Heiser was born 30 June 1904 and died in Oberlin on 22 July 1991. He earned an A.B. (1926) and M.A. (1927) in psychology from Oberlin College and a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1932. He taught at Yale, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Michigan, and served as a health and welfare specialist in Vienna, Austria at the end of World War II. In 1948 he became the associate executive secretary of the American Psychological Association, and conducted research in the area of emotionally disturbed children.
The interview covers his education at Oberlin College, how his career started after graduation, meeting his first wife Jennie, memories of WWII, the Depression, race relations in Oberlin, Town and Gown relations, social life in Oberlin dormitories, and riding motorcycles. The interview is extremely detailed and includes many names. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Hope Hibbard conducted by Margaret Witlock on 24 January 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Hope Hibbard was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania on 18 December 1893 and died in Oberlin on 12 May 1988. She received her A.B. degree in 1916 and A.M. degree in 1918 from the University of Missouri and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College in 1921. She taught zoology at Elmira College in New York between 1921 and 1925. She was then granted a fellowship to study for three years in Paris and received a Doctor of Science degree from the Sorbonne in 1928. She taught at Oberlin College beginning in 1928 and went on to chair the departments for four years between 1954 and 1958. She was active in the League of Women Voters, and Oberlin Meals on Wheels.
The interview covers Hope’s childhood, her education, her time teaching zoology at Oberlin College, her living arrangements in Oberlin including a discussion of having a house built, and her involvement in establishing Oberlin’s League of Women Voters in 1928. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Glenn I. Hobbs
An interview of Glenn I. Hobbs conducted by Fran Baumann on 9, 16 August 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Glenn Hobbs was born on 18 September 1924 and died on 21 June 1999. He was a lifelong resident of Oberlin. He graduated from Oberlin High School in 1942. He served in the fifth armored division during World War II, taking part in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. Back in Oberlin, he was a self-employed contractor and was in charge of the restoration of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home in 1969, and was also instrumental in the preservation of the Oberlin Heritage Center buildings. He was also a trustee of the Oberlin Heritage Center, and a dedicated volunteer to numerous community causes in Oberlin and was named Oberlinian of the year for 1993.
The interview covers Glenn’s early life on a farm, the Depression, going to school in Oberlin, the East Oberlin Community Church, city and township government, Oberlin city services, Oberlin stores and merchants, social life during high school, social activities in Oberlin, and racial issues. There are great details about the cooperative nature of life on a farm and about his early schooling. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Arthur Holbrook conducted by Dina Schoonmaker on 2 August 2012 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Melissa Clifford.
Arthur Holbrook was born in 1943 in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1951 his family moved to Oberlin, where he attended third grade and stayed through an MAT degree at Oberlin College. In this interview he discusses events and decisions leading up to his move to Canada during the Vietnam War. Topics include discussing the war with his father, Dr. Clyde Holbrook, head of the religion department at Oberlin College, his short-lived teaching career, race relations and housing practices, the draft, marriage and marriage difficulties, military training, changing awareness of the Vietnam War, and seeking citizenship in Canada. He received dual citizenship and became a photographer and a naturalist and pursued a career as a documentary film maker. He discusses how his life experiences impact his documentary work. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Minnie Rucker, Marguerite King, & Herman Hudnell
An interview of Minnie Taylor Rucker conducted at 93 East Vine St. by Betty Thomas on 8 March 1983 for the Oberlin Oral History Project. Mrs. Rucker’s relatives, Marguerite Huston King and Herman Hudnell, were also interviewed.
Minnie Louise Taylor Rucker, an African-American woman, was born in Oberlin on 15 May 1909 and died on 14 December 1986. Miss Frances Hosford for whom her mother worked until her death in 1918 provided her with money for clothes, etc., until Minnie’s marriage. She talked about working after school as a cook for faculty families and about playing baseball for recreation. She seems to have married George Rucker around 1926. During World War II and after, she worked at General Industries in Elyria as a plastic molder. Many family members are mentioned in a disjointed way. There is minimum information about Marguerite King and Herman Hudnell. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Donald (Don) Illig conducted at Kendal by Dina Schoonmaker on 14 January 2010 at for the Oberlin Heritage Center Oral History Project.
Donald Illig was born in 13 October 1925 in Rochester, New York. He had been associated with the Eastman School of Music and came to Oberlin in 1942 to be part of the music program. Bill Seaman, Admissions Director at Oberlin had coaxed Illig to come to Oberlin not only for music, but for its potential naval unit, known as the V-12 Unit. The interview is mainly about Illig’s military experiences in Oberlin and the Cleveland area, as well as his continued education at Oberlin College, the University of Michigan, the University of Rochester, and the University of Pittsburgh. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Lewis Ives conducted at 100 King Street by Millie Arthrell on 28 July and 2 August 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Lewis Ives was born in Belden, Ohio in 1893 and died in Oberlin on 29 March 1984. He had osteomyelitis, which prevented him from getting out as a child. He talks about his Irish mother, home remedies for illnesses, games played, early job at Tobin's pharmacy, stores in town, becoming a pharmacist, the Depression and buying and remodeling his own pharmacy. In the second tape he talks about schooling and chores he had at Westervelt, carriages and autos, and unpaved streets. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Maurice Ives conducted at 105 North Pleasant Street by Sheila Ives on 20, 21, and 23 February and 27 March 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Maurice Ives was born in Oberlin on 12 June 1896 and died in Lorain on 14 July 1991. He describes the foods they ate, hunting, doctors, drug stores, prejudice against Irish Catholics, race relations, quitting school to make money, work he did - at the quarry, at various industrial plants, with the WPA and at the post office from which he retired, trains, games played as children, and various businesses in town. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Gertrude Jacob conducted in the Oberlin College Archives by William Bigglestone on 5 June 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Nancy Schwarzwalder.
Gertrude Jacob was born in Pennsylvania on 21 January 1908 and died in Oberlin on 26 August 1989. She came to Oberlin to enroll as a freshman in 1925, graduated in 1929, and returned in 1937 as secretary to the National Youth Administration. She continued working in various capacities at the College and Graduate School of Theology, retiring in 1975 as secretary to the Archivist. This interview is entirely about the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology, some of the faculty members who taught there, and its move to Vanderbilt University. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Gertrude Jacob conducted at 143 East College Street, Apt. 104 by Ann Elder on 17 or 18 December 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Nancy Schwarzwalder.
Gertrude Jacob was born in Pennsylvania on 21 January 1908 and died in Oberlin on 26 August 1989. She came to Oberlin to enroll as a freshman in 1925, graduated in 1929, and returned in 1937 as a secretary to the National Youth Administration. She continued working in various capacities at the College and Graduate School of Theology, retiring in 1975 as secretary to the Archivist. She talked about town/gown and racial issues, experiences as a student in the ‘20s and then as a woman working for the college, the School of Theology and the politics of its move to Vanderbilt University in 1966. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Douglas (Doug) Johnson
An interview of Douglas (Doug) Johnson conducted on West College Street by Dina Schoonmaker on 4 June 2003 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Doug Johnson was born in Minnesota on 1 July 1917 and died in Oberlin on 24 July 2009. He moved with his wife, Shirley, to Oberlin in 1947. He describes the conservative attitude of the town when they came, his work as a construction supervisor on various projects outside Oberlin and at the Gilford Instrument Company in Oberlin, service on City council, building scattered site public housing, working with Bill Long at the co-op grocery and bookstore, why the Co-op Bookstore went bankrupt, town-gown relations, and the move of the Public Library to downtown. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Douglas (Doug) Johnson and His Architecture
An interview of Douglas (Doug) Johnson (with Shirley Johnson) conducted on West College Street and in a car by Hans Petersen and Maria Surovy on 25 February 2004 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Doug Johnson was born in Minnesota on 1 July 1917 and died in Oberlin on 24 July 2009. He moved with his wife, Shirley, to Oberlin in 1947. The conversation is primarily about architecture, the houses he designed and some of the challenges faced. The second part takes place driving around town and looking at some of these houses. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Helen Davidson Johnson
An interview of Helen Davidson Johnson conducted and transcribed by Dina Schoonmaker on 18 June 2008 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Helen Davidson Johnson was born on 17 January 1915 and died in Oberlin on 18 April 2013. This 10-page interview covers some of her childhood and her life after she returned to live in Oberlin. Helen grew up in Oberlin but attended school in Camden Township. Upon graduation, she attended the Oberlin School of Commerce and then worked at Firestone. Helen and her husband, Stephen Johnson, lived in Elyria for a year and then moved to Oberlin. She talks about her relationship with the Oberlin College staff and her African-American friends. She discusses her husband’s involvement with O.H.I.O, as well as the moving of the Monroe House. She remembers her twenty-five years spent as treasurer of the Women’s Auxiliary for the hospital, including her part in opening the gift shop and the annual Hospital Bazaar for fundraising. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Marjorie Witt Johnson
An interview of Marjorie Witt Johnson conducted at 195 North Professor Street by Betty Thomas on 15, 22 July and 5 August 1986 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Marjorie Witt Johnson was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where her father was in the army, on 18 March 1910. She died on 24 Jul 2007. She came to Oberlin College in 1930 as a freshman and tells of her experiences with racism in the dining room and elsewhere, of not being believed in English class, meeting a blind colored student, studying sociology, becoming friends with a German girl in her class, how she learned to dance and loved it, and going to Karamu House in Cleveland to teach and act. The rest of the interview is about her life after Oberlin in Cleveland, Chicago and elsewhere. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Shirley Reinwald Johnson
An interview of Shirley Reinwald Johnson conducted at 366 West College Street by Dina Schoonmaker on 28 May and 18, 25 June 2003 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Shirley Reinwald Johnson was born in Chicago on 15 July 1917 and died in Oberlin on 17 January 2013. She moved to Oberlin in 1947 with her husband, Doug Johnson, who, with his business partner, Max Ratner, was co-director of a self-help housing project for steel workers in the City of Lorain. The Johnsons chose Oberlin because they wanted to live in a community where they could be enriched and also contribute in some way.
Mrs. Johnson described her first impressions of the town as a bedrock of conservatism and not very liberal in comparison to what they were used to or Oberlin College's reputation. She spoke about her involvement in many things, including early City Council meetings, racism in the school system, their involvement in the beginning of public housing, Oberlin’s open housing resolution, and the Oberlin Chapter of the ACLU, formed in the early 1950s. She became known as “Mrs. Oberlin Civil Liberties” in the town as well as in Lorain County. Mrs. Johnson also discussed her interest in open meetings, open government, and citizen participation.
She spent a considerable amount of time talking about the Oberlin Public Schools, including former superintendents, the school board, administrative oversight, changes in education, and her teaching career. Her focus then moved to the Lorain County Commissioner’s meetings, as related to possible violations of the Sunshine Law (open meeting law) and how she assisted in small politics in welcoming citizen participation.
She discussed the public library board, fund-raising, and finances, including donations from the Oberlin Co-op. She also discussed the library's move from the Carnegie Building to the present day location on South Main Street. Johnson raised questions about the move in terms of financial obligation on the part of the college and the benefits of moving the public library completely out of the college's supervision.
She went on to describe town/gown relations and their improvement over the years since the late ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, which she described as a “reform era” in Oberlin. She spoke about college professors’ participation on commissions/committees in town. She also discussed race relations in town, including segregated housing, the Open Housing Ordinance that was written to include codes and zoning improvements, efforts made to employ African-American teachers and administrators in the public schools, and the overall improvement of relations. She also remarked that there are areas for improvement.
She mentioned efforts to bring employment to town, including building the Industrial Park and the FAA. She shared some memories of Congressman Don Pease (Democrat), Congressman Charles Mosher (Republican), and various other active Oberlinians. She concludes with her concerns about public participation and civic responsibility. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Stephen Johnson III
An interview of Stephen Johnson III, conducted at the Oberlin Heritage Center by Carl Jacobson and Jean Foggo Simon on 21 May 2018 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Stephen Johnson III was born in 1950 in Oberlin to Helen Elizabeth Davidson and Stephen Johnson II. His parents met while working at Bendix Westinghouse, Stephen as an engineer and Helen as his secretary. He grew up on Oak Street in Oberlin in a neighborhood with many other children with whom he frequently played. He attended Oberlin public schools and developed an interest in music, starting first with piano, but later switching to the trombone, which he played in the school band. After attending the Cleveland Orchestra at Finney Chapel, he realized he wanted to be a school band director. After graduation from Oberlin High School in 1968, he spent two years at Ohio State University and then transferred to Eastern Kentucky University which had a smaller music department and was where he earned a BME in 1972 and a MME in 1973.
Following his graduation in 1973, he worked in Massillon as one of four band directors for two years. He was unhappy in his position and enlisted in the army until 1977 when the Oberlin High School and Middle School band director position opened. Stephen discusses his twenty-five years as band director in the Oberlin public schools. Toward the end of his career, he felt that arts were not prioritized with the rise of testing. He retired in 2002, the year his daughter graduated high school, during a buyout program the school offered for retirements. The end of the interview focuses on Stephen and his father’s involvement with the Oberlin Heritage Center and Stephen’s marriage to Mary Ann Youngless. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Geneva "Gigi" Jones
An interview of Geneva "Gigi" Denny Jones, conducted at her home at 98 East Vine Street by Liz Schultz and Jean Simon on 7 December 2016 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Gigi Jones grew up in Kentucky and came to Oberlin with her parents in the 1940s. She ran barber shops in Elyria and Oberlin. The interview covers her family and early life, her high school years in Oberlin, taking in youth boarders, and her career as a black woman business owner. After her retirement she traveled extensively and met many prominent people, including Maya Angelou. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
George Jones, Betty Thomas, Robert Thomas et al.
An interview of George Jones, Betty Thomas and Bob Thomas (with comments by Betty Spurlock, Maurice Ives, and Millie Arthrell) conducted by Allan Patterson on 17 November 1984 at the Community Center for the Oberlin Oral History Project. Only the information given by George Jones is summarized in this preface.
George Jones was born in Oberlin on 27 August 1897 and died in Oberlin on 3 March 1998. He graduated from Oberlin College and after getting a Master’s Degree from the University of Nebraska became a professor of Botany at Oberlin College. He talked about Tappan Square over the years, the 1933 celebration of Oberlin's centennial, transportation, driving a car on unpaved roads, and the Depression. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Robert K. (BJ) Jones
An interview of Robert K. (BJ) Jones conducted at the Monroe House of the Oberlin Heritage Center by Liz Schultz and Linda Diaz on 5 April 2017 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Linda Diaz.
Robert K. Jones was born on 18 March 1939 in Sharpsburg, Kentucky. He first came to Oberlin at the invitation of relatives and attended Oberlin High School for part of his freshman year, then returned to Kentucky. At age 16 he joined the military and served three years in Germany. After the service, relatives Jackson and Betty Thomas invited him to Oberlin to look for employment. With difficulty he found several jobs in Oberlin and Avon and married in Oberlin. He served on a sub-committee of the Oberlin City Human Relations Commission where he looked into police relations with the community. This led to his joining the Oberlin Police Department in 1966 as a dispatcher, then a patrol officer, then detective, sergeant, and, in 1980, Police Chief. He attended Lorain County Community College and the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. After his retirement as Police Chief, he was hired as Director of the Oberlin College Office of Safety and Security and again retired after eight years. He now lives in Lorain.
BJ discusses his youth as the son of a sharecropper in Kentucky, the difficulties he encountered trying to find employment and working his way up as a black man, racial prejudice in Oberlin, his police and FBI work in Oberlin and Cleveland, and his work with the Oberlin City Government and with Oberlin College. He touches on college and community relations, issues with students, and with area police forces. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Mary Hobbs Joy
An interview of Mary Hobbs Joy conducted at 46984 West Hamilton St. by Scott Skiles on 28, 29 January 1987 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Mary Hobbs Joy was born on Hallauer Road outside Oberlin on 18 April 1923 and died in Oberlin on 15 January 1999. In the interview, she described childhood games, going to a one room school until 6th grade, and then Oberlin schools from 7th to 12th grades, racial interactions, social activities through the church, chores, helping with canning, food rationing during the war, marriage to William Joy, work at a foundry and doctor’s office, involvement with Head Start, experience as Clerk of Township, and pride in her family. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Marion Bradley Kelly
An interview of Marion Bradley Kelly conducted by Ed Trager on 19 January 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Nancy Schwarzwalder.
Marion Bradley Kelly was born in Cleveland in 1917, grew up in Cleveland and Detroit, and died in Oberlin in 1993. She moved to Oberlin for a short time in the early ‘40s with a small child and worked in Cleveland commuting on the train. She describes games played with cousins in Oberlin before the war. She moved to Oberlin permanently after her second husband died in 1959 and raised five children here. She talked about the difficulty of bringing up kids as a single mother, race relations, the Civil Rights movement, close connections between Oberlin and the Cleveland Plain Dealer because many reporters had Oberlin roots, and anti-Catholic sentiment. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Carl Wade Kinney, Jr. and Rebecca N. Kinney
An interview of Carl and Rebecca Nicodemus Kinney at 283 West College Street conducted by Dan Jagendorf on 18, 24 and 25 January 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Carl Kinney was born in Oberlin on 19 September 1910 and died in Oberlin on 25 July 1999. Rebecca Nicodemus Kinney was born in Van Wert, Ohio on 7 May 1909 and died in Oberlin in 1998 on 4 August 1998. Together they ran a printing company and at various times two newspapers in Oberlin. There is a lot of information about these topics. They also talked about their connections with the college and alumni whom they knew through printing the Oberlin Review, Carl’s memories of school days, transportation, working in his father’s printing company, and the Depression. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Sarah "Sally" MacLennan Kerr
An interview of Sarah "Sally" MacLennan Kerr, conducted by Liz Schultz on 20 July 2016 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Sally Kerr was born June 18, 1940 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil when her father was serving there as a doctor and researcher for the Rockefeller Foundation. She discusses the places her family lived, including Oberlin, California, New York, Sardinia, India, Maryland, and Brazil, and her life with her parents and brother in each place her father was stationed. She attended schools in different countries and was also homeschooled by her mother throughout her childhood. She graduated from Chevy Chase Senior High School in Bethesda, Maryland and left to attend Oberlin College, where she lived in Dascomb, Shurtleff, and Fairchild dormitories during her student years. During her senior year at Oberlin, she began dating Bob Myers, the Assistant Dean of Men, whom she met through her campus job and later married. Later in life, they divorced amicably. Sally and Chuck Dial, who is also present during this interview, later became partners.
Bob and Sally left Oberlin together to attend Stanford, where Sally earned a Masters in Latin American Studies, and then moved to Chicago to attend further graduate school. She describes their life in the South Side of Chicago, Bob’s field placement in Peru during his graduate studies, the birth of their daughters Melanie and Camille, her second masters in geography, and her return to Peru for her field work on language shift in Lima, which led to her securing an editorial position with the American Geographical Society. She worked off and on with the AGS, as executive director and copy editor, from 1972 to 2013. When she moved back to Oberlin, she purchased a house and became involved with the Oberlin Heritage Center and First Church. She and Chuck reminisced about their Oberlin College reunion memories and meeting each other. Near the end of the interview she talks more about her family. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Magdalen "Jean" (Adams) Kohut
An interview of Magdalen "Jean" (Adams) Kohut, conducted at her home at 243 Lorain Street by Eugenia “Geni” Vanek and John Vanek on 27 November 2015 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Jean Kohut came to Oberlin in 1946 as a WWII war bride. She grew up in a village near Bristol, England. This interview covers her life in Bristol during WWII, when she lived near a secret hospital set up for D-Day casualties, moving to America and subsequently to Oberlin, and her experiences as one of sixteen war brides in Lorain County. She describes war-time life in England, where she endured strict rationing and German bombing raids, and her first meeting and relationship with her husband, Joe. In Oberlin, she describes the many people who helped her and the other war brides adjust to a new country and the relationships she formed with other women and families. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Louise Phillips Kolb
An interview of Louise Phillips Kolb conducted by Eva Schlesinger on 9 April 1985 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Louise Phillips Kolb was born in Columbus, Georgia on 20 August 1922 and died in Oberlin on 4 August 2000. She moved many times in her life until she settled in Oberlin in 1968. The only reference to Oberlin is that they fixed up a house on North Main Street. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Marvin Luther Kolb
An interview of Marvin Luther Kolb conducted by his great niece Deborah Kolb beginning in January of 1979 for the Oberlin Oral History Project. This interview is a highly edited account based on five 90 minute tapes.
Kolb was born in Crenshaw County, Alabama on 8 July 1916 and died in Oberlin on 13 November 1982. He moved to Oberlin, Ohio in 1967. In this interview, Kolb talks about growing up in the South. He talks about his memories of his father and mother, who died of cancer when he was nine. He explains how he felt growing up without a mother and how this influenced his choice to run away from home several times and to begin “hoboing” on freight trains at the age of 13. He also talks about how the family lived during the Great Depression. A large portion of the interview deals with race relations in the South. Kolb describes the differences in housing for blacks and whites, riots, and lynch mobs. He vividly details several events including his best friend being killed by the police, and his own interactions with whites. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
George Langeler and Walt Edling
An interview with George Langeler and Walt Edling conducted at Kendal at Oberlin by Dina Schoonmaker on 6 November 2013 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Linda Gates.
George Langeler and Walt Edling, both longtime residents of Oberlin, were closely involved in the early years of Lorain County Community College. Mr. Langeler came to Oberlin in 1959 from the University of Michigan to work as the Acting Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College. Mr. Edling came to Oberlin in 1940 and graduated from engineering school in 1959. He worked at General Motors in Elyria before taking a teaching position at the Lorain School of Technology, which eventually became part of the Lorain County Community College. At LCCC, he worked as a teacher and later became a Division Director. For the last fifteen years prior to his retirement in 1990, he served as Dean of Instruction (now known as Academic Vice-President). In their interview, Langeler and Edling discuss the inception of the Lorain County Community College, including the planning committees, consultants, and board members involved in its initial stages. They also discuss the various locations of LCCC in its infancy and the reasoning behind ultimately choosing the Abbe Road location to build its main campus. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Alice E. Lawson
An interview of Alice Lawson conducted at the John Frederick Oberlin apartment building on South Main Street, where Mrs. Lawson resided, by Sheila Ives on 15 June 1987 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Alice Lawson was born in Attica, Ohio, where her father was a farmer, on 7 July 1889. She died in Oberlin on 12 December 1988. She and her husband moved to Oberlin where his cousins, the Gibsons, lived when he could no longer run his own farm in the early 1920s. He first worked for the Gibsons in their bakery and then got a job with an insurance company in Elyria. Alice worked in the kitchen of Allen Memorial Hospital. There is a little information on the Episcopal Church, transportation and stores but most of it pertains to Attica and not Oberlin. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Marie Lehti conducted at 182 E. College Street by Elizabeth Siess on 18 January 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Marie Lehti was born to Finnish immigrants in Leadville, Colorado in 1904 and died in Elyria on 22 November 1987. In 1923 she came to Oberlin College bringing her parents with her from their ranch in Idaho. During her college years she lived with various families in town such as the Caskeys as an all purpose handywoman and also served as a health assistant to elderly widows. Most of the information is about these families and the difficulties her parents had surviving in Oberlin. She left Oberlin in 1928 and didn’t return until the late 1960s. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Bert Locke conducted at 85 Parkwood Lane by Nancy Gray on 5 March 2008 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Dina Schoonmaker.
Bert Locke was born 18 November 1945 in Oberlin and is a third generation lifelong Oberlin resident. He attended Michigan State’s landscape management program and, in the second year of attending this program, married Penny Stevens. The interview deals with Locke’s childhood in Oberlin and his interaction with other Oberlin residents and area businesses that have come and gone. The interview also discusses his involvement with his father’s business, Locke’s Garden Center, which Locke eventually took over until his retirement in the fall of 2007. The interview concludes with his thoughts on Oberlin’s future. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Frank Locke conducted by Anita Sherman on 25 January 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Nancy Schwarzwalder.
Frank Locke was born in Oberlin on 3 October 1910 to a long time Oberlin family and died in Oberlin on 7 September 1984. He lived here all his life except for service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was a graduate of Oberlin College. His family owned a grocery store that he ran for several years after his father’s death and later opened a Garden Center that remains to this day. He was a civic leader and amateur historian and instrumental in compiling and publishing a pictorial history of Oberlin in 1976. There is good information about Oberlin schools, the college and its relations with the city, local businesses, and his family history. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
James F. “Bill” Long
A series of interviews of Bill Long conducted at the Co-op Bookstore primarily by Allan Patterson with Betty Kennedy from 27 June to 29 August 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by a Kent State University volunteer.
There is a lot of very important and valuable information about Oberlin from 1949 until 1982 as Bill Long was arguably the most influential and far seeing activist in the city during those years.
Bill Long was born in Baltimore 7 January 1913 and died in Oberlin on 19 December 1991. He came to Oberlin in 1949. The first 21 pages of the interview concern his early years in Baltimore, at Heidelberg College, and in the Army during World War II. He came to Oberlin to work for the Co-op Food and Bookstore and many pages of transcript relate to the history of this venture. Also covered in depth are his years on City Council, history of the downtown, politics, fights over selling off city utilities, creation of the Industrial Park, improvements in economic and living conditions for minorities, fair housing and many other topics. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Norman G. Long
An interview of Norman G. Long conducted at 329 North Main Street by Rita Pickens on 29 November 1983 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by a Kent State University volunteer.
Norman Long was born in Atlanta, Georgia on 15 February 1908 and died in Oberlin on 5 April 1994. He graduated from Morehouse College and the Graduate School of Theology at Oberlin College in the 1930s and served in the military as a chaplain, administrator and counselor. Upon his retirement in 1968 he returned to Oberlin from where his wife’s family came. There is information about race relations, problems for a black man trying to build a house, and prejudice in Oberlin. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Richard (Dick) Lothrop conducted by Fran Baumann with Jeanne McKibben on 13 November 2006 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Mary Moroney.
Richard Lothrop was born in 1925 in Washington D.C., and then came to live in Oberlin at three months old. He lived with his father, mother, and younger sister. His father was a chemistry professor at Oberlin College. After graduating from Oberlin High School, Richard attended the College of Wooster and then worked in various college administration positions until taking a teaching job at Fairview High School. During this interview, Richard shares his memories of his school years, including anecdotes about his teachers and friends, and the jobs he held while in school including working as an auxiliary firefighter. He also talks about his family life and the many dogs that he has owned. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview with James G. Lubetkin (Jim) conducted at the Oberlin Public Library by Dina Schoonmaker on 5 October 2012 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Linda Gates.
Jim Lubetkin was born in 1942 in New York City. He lived in New York until he left to attend Oberlin College. He graduated from Oberlin in 1964 and continued his education at Columbia University, obtaining Masters Degrees in Business and Journalism. He returned to Oberlin in 1971 to serve as the head of Public Relations at Oberlin College. He resided in Oberlin until moving to Cleveland in 1984.
In his interview, Mr. Lubetkin discusses his decision to serve in the military during the Vietnam War, his assignment in Vietnam, and his return to Oberlin College. He reflects on his relationships with the three college presidents under whom he served and issues he faced as head of Public Relations, most significantly his role on the College Investment Advisory Committee which dealt with college investments in South Africa during apartheid. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Molly R. Ludwig conducted at 56 Shipherd Circle by Carla Poindexter on 19 January 1987 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Molly Ludwig was born in Amherst, Ohio on 24 June 1911 and died in Oberlin on 2 May 2000. She graduated from Amherst schools and the Oberlin Business College and worked as general manager and ticket taker at the Apollo Theater from 1931 until her retirement in 1974. There is information about the Depression, Mock Conventions at the College, and an interesting episode when she was accused of discrimination against blacks to whom she refused admission to the movies in the 1960s. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Charles B. Mayle
An interview of Charles B. Mayle conducted at 63 Spring Street by Marcia Peters on 31 January 1987 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Charles Mayle was born Mount Vernon, Ohio on 18 January 1909 in and died in Oberlin on 9 December 2008. He lived in Toledo and Cleveland before moving to Oberlin in 1947. He had a transforming religious experience and studied for the ministry. Earlier he had worked as a laborer in Euclid and was active in the union. The interview is fairly disjointed with some interesting incidents, but without a framework to know where they fitted into his life or when or where they occurred. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Mary Beth Hartson McCalla
An interview of Mary Beth Hartson McCalla conducted by Priscilla S. Steinberg on 31 October 2006 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Mary Beth Hartson McCalla was born in Grinnell, Iowa in 1922. This 10-page interview covers her life growing up in Oberlin and her life after graduating from Oberlin College. Her family moved to Oberlin in 1924 when her father became a professor of psychology at Oberlin College. She discusses her grade school experiences in Oberlin and her time in a German boarding school during seventh grade when her father took a sabbatical leave. She also talks about the other children she played with growing up, her family’s relationship with the business people of Oberlin, and the effects of the Depression during her childhood. She spends some time going over her social activities at Oberlin College where she majored in history. She then completed a certificate program at Radcliffe called the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in personnel administration. Next, she worked at Halle Brothers in Cleveland for a year and then joined the Red Cross shortly after the war in Europe had ended. She discusses her time working for the Red Cross in Europe where she met both of her husbands, had her daughter in an army hospital, and moved to various places in other countries and the United States. She returned to Oberlin to live at Kendal. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Otis McKee conducted at the Elyria Methodist Home by Anne Elder on 24 June 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by a Kent State University volunteer.
Otis McKee was born in Oberlin on 1 July 1882 and died at the Elyria Methodist Home in June 1983 at the age of 100. He lived in Oberlin almost his entire life. He had to leave school after his sophomore year to work in a grocery store, later returned but still didn’t finish before being hired by a bank in town with which he remained for 45 years, retiring as Vice President and chief operating officer. Information contained in the interview is about the schools, stores, recreational facilities, homes, and running a boarding house for girls in Oberlin. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Anna Schmidt Melcher
An interview of Anna Schmidt Melcher conducted by Laura Orleans on 14 February 1985 in Oberlin for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Chris Tomazic.
Anna Schmidt Melcher was born on 15 February 1909 and died in Oberlin on 1 April 2005. She came to Oberlin at the age of 19 in 1928 to attend the Oberlin Conservatory, graduated in 1932 and a few years later married Robert Melcher who got a job at the Oberlin Conservatory. The most interesting part of the interview is her description of the Clean City Campaign of 1969-70 launched by the Oberlin Women’s Club. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Marlene (Marly) Deahl Merrill
An interview of Marlene (Marly) Deahl Merrill conducted at 115 Woodhaven Pl. by Ann L. Fuller and Priscilla S. Steinberg on 22 May 2010 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Marlene Deahl Merrill was born in South Bend, Indiana on 4 January 1933. She graduated from Vassar College with a major in Child Development. She moved to Oberlin in 1962 when her husband, Daniel Merrill, accepted a teaching job at Oberlin College. This interview covers Marly’s role in establishing and directing the Head Start Program in Oberlin. As a member of the League of Women Voters, Marly participated in a project to study of how many Oberlin preschool children were being cared for by their grandmothers and the implications of this for kindergarten readiness. This study led to an application for funding to establish a Head Start Program in Oberlin. In the Summer of 1964, the first session for two classes of 15 children each, ages 4-6,was held at Eastwood School. 1965-66 was the first full school-year program now under county administration as part of the new national Poverty Program. Marly worked in the Head Start program until 1968, serving as Director in 1967-68. She resigned in the spring of '68 when the responsibilities became daunting and racial issues began to surface with the understanding that Hattie Scott and Jeanne McElya would become co-directors. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Charles Adams Mosher
An interview of Charles Adams Mosher conducted in the King Building, Oberlin College by Alfred MacKay in the winter of 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Nancy Schwarzwalder.
Charles Adams Mosher was born in Illinois on 7 May 1906 and died in Oberlin on 16 November 1984. The interview is specifically about Mr. Mosher’s experience in the U. S. House of Representatives on the Science and Technology Committee including his view of various persons associated with that committee. Mr. MacKay was seeking information to help his brother, Buddy MacKay, who had recently been elected to Congress from Florida. There is no Oberlin related material at all. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Charles Adams and Harriet Johnson Mosher
An interview of Charles Adams and Harriet Johnson Mosher conducted at 143 East College Street by Marlene D. Merrill on 9, 10 May 1983 for the Oberlin Oral History Project. It was transcribed by Nancy Schwarzwalder and corrected by Harriet Mosher.
Charles Adams Mosher was born in Illinois on 7 May 1906 and died in Oberlin on 16 November 1984. Harriet Johnson Mosher was born in Iowa on 27 May 1905 and died in Oberlin on 26 February 2000. Both of them graduated from Oberlin College in 1927 and 1928 respectively. Charles was editor of the Oberlin News Tribune, a State senator and from 1961 to 1977 served as the 13th District congressman. They lived in Oberlin from 1940 until their deaths with the exception of the years he served in Congress. About half of this valuable interview deals with their life at Oberlin College in the ‘20s, and the rest includes information about newspaper work in the ‘40s and ‘50s, his service on City Council, race relations in the city and comments on important city leaders. There is very little about Harriet Mosher. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Pat Murphy conducted at 73 1/2 Professor Street (The Monroe House) in Oberlin, Ohio by Dina Schoonmaker on 4 February 2011 for the Oberlin Oral History Project. The purpose of the interview was primarily to document the history of O.H.I.O. (the Oberlin Historical and Improvement Organization) before and shortly after Murphy's arrival.
Pat Murphy, Executive Director of the Oberlin Heritage Center from 1993 to 2015, was born 4 December 1954 in Columbus, Ohio. The family soon moved to Minnesota where she grew up. After earning degrees in History and French at Grinnell College in Iowa, Murphy spent a year teaching in France. Upon return, she earned a Master of Architectural History degree from the University of Virginia. She subsequently worked in the historic preservation and museum fields in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Los Angeles. In 1987, she moved with her husband to Cleveland, Ohio. In her interview, Murphy reflects on the path that brought her to O.H.I.O. and Oberlin in 1993, including her initial impressions, the interview process for her position at O.H.I.O., and her early days with the organization. She continues to briefly discuss the transformation of O.H.I.O. and the Oberlin Heritage Center through the years, including the accreditation of OHC by the American Association of Museums in 2005. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Eric Thomas Nord
An interview of Eric Thomas Nord conducted by Marlene D. Merrill on 21 May 2002 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Morgan Franck. It was reviewed by Eric Nord who added comments found in footnotes.
Eric Thomas Nord was born on 8 November 1917 and died in Oberlin on 19 June 2008. He moved to Oberlin in 1943 as a young man in his 20s. He was a very important and influential citizen serving as Chair of City Council and on the School Board in the 1950s to 1970s. The Nord Family Foundation contributed to many projects in the city. His comments include among other topics some of the issues he confronted on City Council and School Board, the move of the public library to Main street, the formation of the Community Foundation of Lorain County, the building of the Community Services headquarters and Splash Zone, and his service as an Oberlin College Trustee. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Evan and Eric Nord
An interview of Eric and Evan Nord conducted in Oberlin by Martha Pickrell on 23 August 2002 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Martha Pickrell.
This interview was done to supplement research done by Martha Pickrell, author of “Investing in Community: the History and Legacy of the Nord Family of Ohio.” This book was published by the Oberlin Historical and Improvement Organization (now Oberlin Heritage Center) in 2004.
Eric Thomas Nord was born on 8 November 1917 and died in Oberlin on 19 June 2008. Evan Walter Nord was born on 22 June 1919 and died in Columbia, South Carolina on 21 June 2004. The information in the interview covers Nord family history (including Eric’s trip to Norway in 1938), their grandparents’ home in Denmark, Ohio, their Nord uncles and aunts and their mother’s Grieve family. Also mentioned is the Sears pre-fabricated house built by Walter and Virginia Nord in Amherst, Ohio, Walter’s work in the Cleveland Quarries and the Walter Nord family relocating to Oberlin, Ohio. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Jane Baker Nord
An interview of Jane Baker Nord conducted at 23 Hawthorne Drive by Marlene D. Merrill on 21 May 2003 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Jane Baker Nord was born on 19 September 1920. She moved to Oberlin in 1949 when she married Eric Nord. She talks about being a housewife and mother, volunteering at Christ Church, her art work, the formation of the Friday Night Music Club and FAVA, travels and family responsibilities. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Marjorie Peabody Parker
An interview of Marjorie Peabody Parker conducted at 37 Morgan Street by Peggy Orenstein on 11 April 1983 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Kent State University volunteers.
Marjorie Peabody Parker was born in 1905 and died in Oberlin on 27 June 1990. She was born on a farm three miles north of town, finished Oberlin High School, attended Oberlin Business College and married in 1924. There is a little information about growing up on a farm, schooling in Oberlin, hard times during the Depression, silent movies and opening a jewelry business but, unfortunately, the interview is pretty disjointed and the sound of the tape not very good so there are many blanks. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
A very short interview of Allan Patterson conducted by Stanley Garfinkel on an unknown date in 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Allan Patterson was born on 15 March 1944. The interview is about the origins of the Oral History project, started by members of the Historic Preservation Commission in Oberlin in 1981 with interviews commencing in 1982. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Allan Patterson conducted on June 29, 2013 by Ann Fuller, Dina Schoonmaker and Priscilla Steinberg for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Born into a Mennonite farming family in Plain City, Ohio, Allan Patterson attended Bluffton College and received his MA in history at Miami University. A conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, after two years’ alternative service as a teacher in Newfoundland, he was hired by the Oberlin schools in 1969 and soon was teaching middle school social studies.
Developing an intense interest in Oberlin’s history, Patterson was a key driving force among a group of volunteers who began recording oral histories of long-time residents in the early 1970s, thus playing an instrumental role in the creation of the Oberlin Oral History Project. Describing the development of the project from inception into the late 1980s, he mentions a host of individuals with whom he worked. Because his comments are set in the context of the school system, he also touches on its personnel and its educational priorites during the 1970s ad 1980s. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Carrie D. Pease
Two interviews of Carrie D. Pease conducted at the Elyria Methodist Home by Fran Bauman on 17 August 1982 and 12 March 1983 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Kent State University volunteers.
Carrie D. Pease was born on a farm in Huntington, Ohio on 12 July 1893 and died in Elyria on 22 March 1994. She moved to Pittsfield at the age of one, and then to Wellington at 16. The interview includes information about the condition of country roads, typhoid fever that killed her father in 1909, and her move to Oberlin with her mother. She attended a one room school of which her father was ‘director’, Wellington High School and Ohio University, taught in Wellington and elsewhere, became a 4th grade teacher in Oberlin in 1918, returned to Ohio University and completed her degree in 1925. She went on to teach for 33 years in Oberlin. She also talked about race relations and a typical school day. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Jeanne Wendt Pease
An interview of Jeanne Wendt Pease conducted at 143 E. College Street by Fran Baumann on 8 August 2007 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Jeanne Wendt Pease was born in 7 December 1932. This 11-page interview covers high school in Toledo, meeting Don Pease, attending college at the University of Toledo and Ohio University, and working as a dorm parent at OU and Oberlin College. Most of the interview is about her life as the wife of Don Pease, who was a Fulbright Scholar, became editor and co-publisher of the Oberlin News-Tribune, and held local, state, and national political office. Don Pease served in the Ohio Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives. She also talks about her volunteer experience. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Wallace Pettiford conducted at 114 Groveland Street by Thelma Q. Smith on 7 November 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Kent State University volunteers.
Wallace Pettiford, an African-American man, was born in Oberlin on 23 April 1920 and died in Oberlin on 18 March 1997 at the age of 76. He graduated from the Oberlin schools and Fenn Business College in Cleveland and ran the family bakery until 1988. There are only two pages of transcript mainly covering other African-American businesses in Oberlin in the first half of the 20th century. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Plum Creek Greenway: Scott Broadwell
An interview of Interview of Scott Broadwell, conducted at Spring Street Park on April 21, 2017 by Rachael Hood, for the Oberlin College Community Engagement Project.
Scott Broadwell was born and raised in Oberlin and has lived here for most of his life. He recalls spending time playiing in and around the creek with his friends as a child. Although the creek has been cleaned up, it has lost much of its accessibility. Paths have been let go and brush has made it harder to approach, so it is not used as much as it was. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Plum Creek Greenway: Linda Gilmore
This is an interview of Linda Gilmore by Rachael Hood on March 17, 2017 at the Oberlin Heritage Center.
Linda Gilmore was born and raised in Oberlin. She left when she was about 24 for service in the Air Force and came back in 1998.
Plum Creek was never the center of her childhood memories. She remembers that Plum Creek wasn't as clean looking as it is now. People threw their cans, bottles and papers into the water; even bicycles and shopping carts. Her father, who was born in 1908, said when he was growing up everybody threw garbage into the creek and he thought probably sewage was there as well. Crossing the creek after school Linda noticed that even though it had a lot of junk in it, you could see fish, crawdads and minnows, which you no longer see now. She enjoyed walking on the trail by the Creek. She regrets that it seems overgrown and hopes it can be maintained once again. She wonders why no fish can be seen there now. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Plum Creek Greenway: John Elder
An interview of John D. Elder on April 5, 2017 by Rachael Hood and Haley Johnson at the Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Oberlin College.
John was introduced to Oberlin from an early age because of family visits. He attended Oberlin College from 1949 to 1953, and was back on campus in 1956 -1957. He was Pastor of First Church from 1973 to 1991, and moved back to Kendal in 2007. John remembers the Morgan Street waterworks as functional and a place where he would roll down the grassy hillside. In College students would spend time there and take the dining hall trays to slide down the hillside. He remembers that the Arb [Arboretum] was a big deal, not the Creek.
As for improvements, he mentions that he would like the walkway along the creek to go further, to extend to the bike path at Hamilton Street and to the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. He recommends that a map of the green areas showing how the Creek relates to the Black River be placed, along with an historical sign that explains the role the Creek played in the development of Oberlin. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Plum Creek Greenway: Ian Yarber
An Interview of Ian P. Yarber, Oberlin Recreation Superintendent, conducted at the Oberlin Recreation Office, Old City Hall, 69 South Main Street by Rachael Hood on March 14, 2017 jointly for the Oberlin College Environmental Studies Community Engagement Project and the Oberlin Heritage Center Oral History Project.
The interview covers Ian Yarber’s recollections of Plum Creek as he grew up in Oberlin, and his thoughts of how it might be improved for community use at the present time. He recalls that as a child it formed a part of his and his companions’ world as a place that they would visit in the course of playing together. He feels that it needs more attention from the City and the College to make it to a welcoming feature, with clean-up and the addition of a creek-side walkway. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Constance (Connie) Ponder
An interview of Connie Ponder (Constance Marie Campbell Ellington Ponder) conducted at the Oberlin Public Library by Ann L. Fuller and Priscilla S. Steinberg on 13, 18, and 25 April 2011 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Karyn Norwood and Pat Holsworth.
Connie Campbell Ponder was born in Allen Memorial Hospital on 14 February 1950 and has been a life-long resident of Oberlin. She is a direct descendant of John Wall, whose sister, Caroline, married John Mercer Langston. The oldest of a family of seven children, Connie graduated from Oberlin High School in 1968. After high school, she got married and had a son. Later divorced and remarried, she worked for a variety of employers in the Oberlin area including Oberlin College, the Oberlin Public Schools, the Coop Bookstore, and the City of Oberlin. Connie became Recreation Coordinator for the City of Oberlin in 1990 and was later promoted to Recreation Superintendant. She was a board member of the Oberlin Cable Co-Op and Oberlin Community Services.
In this 43-page interview Connie Ponder reflects on her life in Oberlin from the 1950s onward sharing her experience of growing up in Oberlin, attending the Oberlin Schools, and navigating the work world as an African-American woman. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center.
Eugene (Gene) Presti
An interview of Eugene (Gene) Presti conducted in the dining room of Presti’s Restaurant by Nancy Gray on 19 August 2008 and transcribed by Asha Hannah.
Gene Presti was born on 29 May 1934. At 3 years old, Presti moved to Oberlin with his family when they bought a Sohio gas station. The gas station served as a truck stop and included a small lunch counter and bar area. Soon, Presti’s father had turned it into a small Italian restaurant that was open seven days a week. The family lived in a house attached to the building. In this interview, Presti talks about how the restaurant would have been sold if not for his father’s death in 1944. He also discusses the early years of the restaurant and his involvement in its operation. He shares how they were able to obtain a liquor license in 1956 and the upset it caused in the town. Presti covers how the restaurant business and clientele has changed over the years. Previous restaurants in Oberlin are also discussed. Finally, Presti talks a little about his involvement in the Community Players group. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Alice Fair Quinn
An interview of Alice Fair Quinn conducted at 95 E. Vine Street by Eva Schlesinger on 15 April 1985 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Alice Fair Quinn was born in South Carolina on 1 September 1901 and died in Oberlin on 9 September 1998. She came to Oberlin at the age of 23 with her mother and sister at the invitation of an aunt. In 1924, she married Albert Quinn and they had ten children over the years. The interview covers her life and education in South Carolina and her move to Oberlin. She talks about working for the Oberlin Inn, cleaning at Oberlin College, and her husband’s job as a painter for the college. Quinn also mentions her involvement with the American Legion, Mount Zion Baptist Church, and her feelings on race relations throughout her life. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Harriet Decker Reynolds
An interview of Harriet Decker Reynolds conducted at 284 Oak Street by Ruth Strassburg on 23, 27 January 1987 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Harriet Decker Reynolds was born in Rochester, New York on 26 December 1912 and died in Oberlin on 23 August 2000. About 3/4ths of the interview concerns her family and early life in New York State and elsewhere. She and her husband, Russell Reynolds, moved to Oberlin in 1945 with two small children. The transcript includes her view on living on Oak Street, town/college relations, the public schools, and students who lived with them. Also her work at the Oberlin School of Theology for Drs. May and Keppler both of whom are described as well as recounting some of the issues around the closing of the Theology School and its move to Nashville. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Barry Richard / Chalk Walk
An interview of Barry Richard conducted at the Monroe House of the Oberlin Heritage Center by Liz Schultz on 18 February 2015 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Kaitlyn Goss.
Barry Richard was born on 26 July 1954 in Elyria, Ohio. After living in the western part of the United States for several years, he and his family left Seattle in 2000 to settle in Oberlin. He has served on the JVS board and the Oberlin school board, as well as volunteered with Main Street Oberlin. In his interview, Mr. Richard discusses the origin of Oberlin Chalk Walk, the people involved in making it a reality, and the ways in which the Chalk Walk has changed over the past ten years. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Ronnie Rimbert, conducted at his residence at 331 South Pleasant Street by Carl Jacobson and Jean Foggo Simon on 22 April 2018 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Ronnie Rimbert’s family moved from Kentucky to Oberlin before his birth as the seventh child to Eddie and Eva Rimbert. His first memory of Oberlin was his father’s campaign for Smith Street, then a dirt road, to be paved, and the addition of sidewalks. He described how train tracks separated north and south Oberlin and that black families like his own all lived in south Oberlin. His mother sewed a quilt that was displayed at slavery exhibits at different Oberlin establishments, including the Oberlin Heritage Center. He discusses his upbringing in Oberlin, playing sports, joining the Marine Corps, delivering mail in Europe for the Marine Corps, returning to Oberlin, and working in insurance and car sales and operating a car service. He married Renetta Green and they had three sons and one daughter. He joined the Recreation Commission after serving as a baseball coach for many years. At the time of the interview he had served nine terms on Oberlin City Council, some of them as President of Council / Mayor. During his terms he saw the development of ball fields and Splash Zone and an agreement for shared revenue between the city and Pittsfield Township, among other political achievements. Ronnie provided insight and opinions on contemporary national and Oberlin politics, including the relationship between the town and college. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Kenneth (Ken) Roose
An interview of Kenneth (Ken) Roose conducted in Oberlin and transcribed by Dina Schoonmaker on 8 April 2008 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Ken Roose was born in 5 November 1919 in Argonia, Kansas. After refusing to sign the loyalty anti-communist oath at the University of California at Los Angeles, Ken was invited by Oberlin College to come as an assistant professor of economics in 1950. He left Oberlin in 1961 to work at various colleges and then moved to Florida to play tennis. He returned to Oberlin in 1992. During this interview, Ken speaks about his involvement in town affairs. This includes the food co-op he opened with Bill Long in 1951, and the Oberlin Development Company they formed with David Anderson in order to revitalize the downtown business area. He talks about their idea to establish an industrial park to improve the tax base and their plan to invite the FAA to locate in Oberlin. This interview also contains information on the various boards that Kenneth served on including the Allen Memorial Hospital board and the school building committee among others. Ken also speaks about his involvement in founding the Oberlin chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union with Shirley Johnson. He concludes with anecdotes about his life after he left Oberlin, his return to Oberlin in 1992, and his love of tennis. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
This is a transcript of an interview Lee Ross done on 27 February 1984 by Ann Elder at the home of Lee Ross at 38 North Prospect Street.
He was born in 1891 in Wakeman, married a fellow Wakeman student in 1915. He describes life on the farm as a boy and young man making maple syrup, doing chores, eating cornbread and, at Christmas, oysters. He describes how his father and he provided wood using horse carts for heating college dorms.
He went to school mostly in Wakeman but had two years of high school in Oberlin graduating in 1911. He came from a family of farmers, added to the farm he inherited where he lived until moving to King Street in Oberlin in the 30s. He was very handy and worked as a carpenter and contractor as well. His family was comparatively well off for farmers at that time thanks to being bigger by working together plus shrewd selling of wheat during WW I when the price was high. There are some tangential comments on race relations at school.
He lists shops, businesses, buildings on north Main St including a watering trough for horses, the fire house and its horses, street car tracks, businesses on E. College and south Main Street including that housing the monuments works that he was hired to destroy for the new Post Office. After moving to Oberlin he ran a lumberyard and contracting business and built many houses in Oberlin on King, Morgan, Lincoln, and Pleasant Streets. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Minnie Taylor Rucker
An interview of Minnie Rucker conducted at 93 East Vine Street by Marlene D. Merrill and Ellen Henle (Lawson) on 8 May 1979 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Minnie Louise Taylor Rucker, an African-American woman, was born in Oberlin on 15 May 1909 and died on 14 December 1986. She worked as a practical nurse. The tape is very unclear but is mostly about her family who came to Oberlin in the mid 19th century on the Underground Railway. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Minnie Rucker, Marguerite King, Herman Hudnell
An interview of Minnie Rucker by Betty Thomas at 93 East Vine St. on 8 March 1983 for the Oberlin Oral History Project. Mrs. Rucker’s relatives, Marguerite Huston King and Herman Hudnell, were also interviewed.
Minnie Louise Taylor Rucker, an African-American woman, was born in Oberlin on 15 May 1909 and died on 14 December 1986. Miss Frances Hosford for whom her mother worked until her death in 1918 provided her with money for clothes, etc., until Minnie’s marriage. She talked about working after school as a cook for faculty families and about playing baseball for recreation. She seems to have married George Rucker around 1926. During World War II and after, she worked at General Industries in Elyria as a plastic molder. Many family members are mentioned in a disjointed way. There is minimum information about Marguerite King and Herman Hudnell. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Edward J. Sable
An interview of Edward J. Sable conducted at 364 S. Professor Street by Kay Champney on 8 October 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Edward J. Sable was born on 16 September 1900 and died in Oberlin on 23 February 1986. Mr. Sable moved to Oberlin in 1923 when he bought stock in and joined the T. O. Murphy Company, a plumbing, heating and air conditioning firm, as Secretary and Treasurer. He described long time downtown businesses, the formation of the Oberlin municipal power plant, the Community Foundation, City Council, and success of the T.O. Murphy Company. He also described the non-smoking policies of Oberlin College and many townspeople in the 1920s when he was not allowed to smoke a cigar in any public places of the Oberlin Inn, and had a hard time finding a rooming house that allowed it. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Mildred Clark Salo
An interview of Mildred Salo by Kay Champney on 17 October 1988 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Mildred Clark Salo was born in Mount Pleasant, Ohio on 16 October 1913 and died in Olmsted Falls on 29 December 1999. Her Quaker family came to Oberlin in 1916 for the music. Her father became a dairyman and Mildred helped deliver milk. She married Art Salo in 1937 and together ran a tree service in Oberlin. The information in this short interview is primarily about her family. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Margaret Schauffler conducted by Ellen Enslow on 27 January and 14 March 1986 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Margaret Schauffler was born in Cleveland on 4 June 1896 and died in Oberlin on 23 February 1994. Her widowed mother moved to Oberlin in 1909 to ensure her three children got a college education and opened a rooming house. Margaret graduated from Oberlin College in 1918 with a major in music, studied at the Institute of Art in Cleveland, eventually getting a Master’s degree from Western Reserve University in 1931. She taught Art at Oberlin College on and off from 1923 to her retirement in 1961. This interview focuses on her time as a student and teacher at Oberlin College, including information about salaries, the classes she taught, the building of the Art Museum and then additions to it, and other faculty members. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Margaret Schauffler conducted by Betty Gabrielli on 19 February 1983 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Margaret Schauffler was born in Cleveland on 4 June 1896 and died in Oberlin on 23 February 1994. Her widowed mother moved to Oberlin in 1909 to ensure her three children got a college education and opened a rooming house. Margaret graduated from Oberlin College in 1918 with a major in music, studied at the Institute of Art in Cleveland, eventually getting a Master’s degree from Western Reserve University in 1931. She taught Art at Oberlin College on off from 1923 to her retirement in 1961. She describes high school and college life, church activities, her pacifist sympathies during World War II and the consequences thereof, and her work with the Temperance movement. After retirement she continued to teach art at Ashland College and privately. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Susan Schubert conducted by Nancy Gray on 26 February 2004 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Susan Smith Schubert was born in Oberlin in 1959, went through the Oberlin school system, got an associate degree at Lorain County Community College in nursing and married Woody Schubert in 1982. She talks about growing up in Oberlin in the ‘60s and ‘70s including recreational activities and race relations. There is also a section about their and their sons’ experiences with community and high school sports and booster clubs in the ‘90s and 2000’s. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Gerald Scott conducted at Welcome Nursing Home by Mildred Chapin on 14 November 1986 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Amy Zeigle.
Gerald Scott was an African-American man born in McKeesport, PA in 1902 and died in Oberlin on 4 October 1987. He lived in New York City, and after service in WWII moved to Oberlin with his wife in 1946. He ran an integrated barber shop and his wife was a cook at the Oberlin Inn. There is information about barbering, shops and housing in town and racial problems in the Army during the war. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Janie Mundy Scott
An interview of Janie Mundy Scott conducted at 126 South Pleasant Street by Eva Schlesinger on 12 March 1985 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Janie Mundy Scott, an African-American woman, was born in South Carolina on 3 July 1903 and died in Oberlin on 9 October 1992. She married Alvin Scott in 1926 and came to Oberlin in 1929, had 7 children of whom 6 survived, and separated from her husband in 1947. Alvin Scott and his father were carpenters. Janie Scott worked at the laundry and in a nursing home. She talks about her church activities and her long involvement in the Progressive Club, and how race relations changed over time. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Eugene (Jean) Foggo Simon
An interview of Eugene (Jean) Foggo Simon conducted at the Oberlin Heritage Center by Eugenia (Geni) Vanek on 7 July 2014 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Jean Foggo Simon was born in 1938 on Saint David’s Island, a very small island off the east coast of Bermuda. She lived there until 1955, when she left to attend Wilberforce University near Xenia, Ohio. She moved to Oberlin when she married her first husband, Walter Champe, Jr. Beginning in 1969, with the exception of the years she lived overseas working at Bermuda College (1980-1996), Simon worked for the City of Oberlin until her retirement in 2007. In her interview, Simon discusses the history of her family and her memories of growing up on Saint David’s Island. She also reflects on her experiences at Ford Motor Company, Gilford Instrument Labs, and the years that she served as Oberlin’s City Clerk. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Dorothy Smith conducted at 145 Hollywood Street by Dina Schoonmaker on 1 November 2001 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Dorothy Smith was born in Yankton, South Dakota on 9 April 1908 and died in Oberlin on 5 February 2008. She came to Oberlin to study at the college in 1925, graduated in 1929 and after a year of secretarial study returned to work at the college where she remained until her retirement as Director of Placement. Her memory was poor but she talked about living in a rooming house, hiring minorities at the college, church groups and some college activities. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Margaret Smith conducted at 526 West College Street by Carla Poindexter on 27 January 1987 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Margaret Smith, an African-American woman, was born in Oberlin on 6 September 1930 and died on 27 January 1989. She graduated from the high school in 1948 and attended Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas for two years. She talks about the effect of the Depression on her family and others, about her mother’s work as a laundress and cook, some of the foods they ate, her father’s work, how WWII improved their standard of living, being in Girl Scouts and shaking Mrs. Roosevelt’s hand. She taught in the Oberlin schools and describes in a very disjointed way some of the civil rights activities of the 1960s and ‘70s in which she and her children participated. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Sharon Fairchild Soucy
An interview of Sharon Soucy, conducted at her home at College Park Manor by Marly Merrill on 4 October 2018 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Sharon Soucy, the daughter of two school teachers, grew up on Morgan Street in Oberlin across from the cemetery. There were several other families nearby with children around her age with whom she was friends. She described her parents’ upbringings in Northeast Ohio and the beginning of their relationship as Baldwin Wallace college students. Her father was fired from a teaching job for his advocacy for unions, which developed into a legal case her father won. Sharon described her experience in the Oberlin school system, her athleticism, popular teen hang outs, and racial attitudes during her adolescence. After her graduation from Ohio Wesleyan University she began teaching language arts and literature at Firelands High School and later Elyria High School. She later taught adults to help them acquire better jobs or a GED. Sharon discussed contemporary details of her life and family in Oberlin and local and national politics. She was elected and served for twelve years on Oberlin City Council and discussed some of the issues and accomplishments of her service. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Alice E. Robinson Spotts
An interview of Alice E. Spotts conducted at 95 East Vine Street by Eva Schlesinger on 15 April 1985 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Alice Robinson Spotts, an African-American woman, was born in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania on 18 October 1915 and died in Oberlin on 24 January 2004. She graduated from a High School run by West Virginia State College and obtained a two year degree from Bluefield State College. She came to Oberlin when she married Robert Spotts, had 5 children, worked in various places including the schools and Green Acres Children’s Home, was a member of Rust Methodist Church and some of its organizations, and volunteered with other groups. There is some information about growing up in Lewisburg but not much about Oberlin. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Elizabeth Duvall Spurlock
An interview of Elizabeth Spurlock conducted at 270 N. Pleasant Street by Stanley Garfinkel on 7 January and 10 May 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Betty Duvall Spurlock, an African-American woman, was born in Virginia on 12 January 1918 and died on 9 May 1990 at the age of 72. She lived in Oberlin from the time she was 2 until high school when she moved to Richmond, Virginia. She attended Virginia Union University. She briefly talked about her schooling in Oberlin, marriage to Delbert Spurlock and how he became head of Conservation at the Cleveland Museum of Art, even though he never went to college, after training with Richard Buck, a well-known Oberlin conservator. She continued her education as an adult at Kent State University and taught school. She also touched on issues of race and class in Oberlin. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Ursula Hoff Stechow
An interview of Ursula Stechow conducted at 21 Robin Park by Syd Holodnick on 17 February 1985 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Ursula Hoff Stechow was born in Germany on 15 February 1911 and died at Kendal at Oberlin on 16 January 2008. She married Wolfgang Stechow, and came to the United States in 1938 and to Oberlin in 1940 when her husband was appointed professor in the Department of Art History. The first half of the interview is about her life in Germany, the second half has much about friends in Oberlin especially at the College, and about the family’s musical connections all over the world. There are extensive memories of her connection with conductor Christoph von Eschenbach and countertenor Derek Lee Ragin, Oberlin class of ’80 and a protégé of Mrs. Stechow. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Bill and Arlene Marx Steel
An interview of Bill and Arlene Marx Steel conducted by Dina Schoonmaker on 27 September 2006 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
William Steel was born in 1930 and died in Oberlin on 27 January 2012. Arlene Marx Steel was born on 13 June 1939 and died in Oberlin on 19 October 2011. This 14-page interview covers the history of the Apollo Theater and Bill and Arlene Steel’s involvement with it. Bill’s father bought the building and started the theater in 1930, introducing the first talking picture to Oberlin. After his father’s death in 1959, Bill and his twin brother, Sandy, took over the business. Arlene began working there with Bill as soon as they got married and they discuss the workers they’ve hired including high school and college students along with their own children. They talk about the failure of other movie theaters and discuss how their low prices and old-fashioned theater have kept them in business. They go over the theater business: the film schedule, how films are obtained, advertising, and the technical aspects. They talk about the change in the film business and how they have adapted to it, including updating the theater. They discuss the most popular films they’ve shown and how they showed foreign films in the fifties and sixties until they became too pricey. Lastly, Bill speaks about his experience growing up as one of the only Jews in Oberlin. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Patricia Bailey Stetson
An interview of Patty Stetson conducted at 309 Edgemeer Place by Lisa Goodman on 18 and 24 January 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Patricia Bailey Stetson was born in Oberlin in 1928. Her father was a businessman and farmer who lived just outside of town and built several buildings including the Bailey Building on East College Street and one on the east side of South Main Street. She attended Baldwin Wallace and Ursuline Colleges and graduated from Ohio State University and married Bill Stetson. The interview includes information about bicycles in Oberlin, the Gayters skating rink, how the college helped townspeople in many different ways, race relations, history of Westervelt Hall (now the New Union Center for the Arts), Saturday evening band concerts, businesses, and anecdotes about Oberlin residents. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Sherry Suttles conducted by Dina Schoonmaker on 13 July 2012 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Sherry Suttles was born in Chicago, Illinois on 18 July 1947. Suttles graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University with a degree in government and went on to receive a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan. In 1979, she moved to Oberlin and became the first black female city manager in the country.
In this 17-page interview, Sherry Suttles describes her greatest achievements as city manager. During her time in Oberlin, Suttles established the Oberlin Youth Council, introduced new business to Oberlin, and worked with the local business to improve Oberlin’s downtown area.
Suttles talks about difficult decisions she made as the city manager, how race and gender affected her work, college/town relations, and social life in Oberlin. Suttles left her position as Oberlin’s city manager in May of 1981. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Joseph Ransom "Ran" Taylor and Thomas William Taylor
An interview of the Taylor brothers conducted at their home 227 South Professor Street by Liz Schultz on 25 February 2016 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Ran and Tom Taylor were born in Oberlin (1938 and 1943) to Warren and Bertha Taylor. Their father was a professor of English at Oberlin College. They grew up in the house in which they were interviewed, which was once owned by the Dascomb family. Located near the train tracks and the Depot, their young lives centered on that section of town. They share remembrances of the steam engines passing and occasionally getting rides on the train. They attended Centennial School, located on South Main by the tracks, where Betty Thomas, the first African-American teacher in Oberlin, taught first grade. They recall childhood fun, including all-day baseball, a nearby skating rink, sledding, and playing in the arboretum and among the industries by the railroad. They remember the station masters, picking up the mail, the smell of cigar smoke, and the excitement of college students coming and going with their baggage. They have many reminiscences about the businesses that are now gone including: Van Ausdale and Kelly, Kaisers, Standard Drug, Pen and Pencil restaurant, Hallauer’s Radio, BeVier’s Women’s Dry Goods, Perry’s, Scotty’s and Ray’s barbershops, Rainbow’s Sunoco Station, Goerner Auto Plymouth Dealer, the Queue and Cue, and Oberlin Lumber Supplies. They talk about their days at Oberlin High School and their love of cars. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Lillie Faye Willis Taylor
An interview of Lillie Faye Taylor conducted at her home, 180 North Park Street, Oberlin, Ohio on 8 August 2017 by Carl W. Jacobson for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Lucy Haskell.
Lillie Faye (Willis) Taylor was born 25 June 1936 in El Dorado, Arkansas. After graduating from high school she earned a cosmetology certificate in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She moved to Lorain, Ohio to marry a young man from El Dorado who was working at the US Steel mill. Six months later he died. Subsequently she married another employee at US Steel, Jesse Taylor, and they moved to Oberlin to be closer to his family. For 12 years she worked in food service at Oberlin College. She raised her husband’s two nephews. She took her Ohio State Cosmetology Exam and opened her own beauty shop in the basement of her home in 1974. She has been an active member of numerous organizations and clubs, often serving in multiple leadership roles, notably Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club (NBPWC), Ohio Association of Beauticians, Northern Ohio Baptist District Association, Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Church Women United, and the Oberlin Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She was also active in the Oberlin Host Family Program for Africana college students. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Elizabeth (Betty) Glenn Thomas
An interview of Elizabeth (Betty) Glenn Thomas by Stanley Garfinkel on 27 February 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Elizabeth (Betty) Glenn Thomas was born at 195 North Professor Street on 2 July 1913 and died in the same house on 3 October 1989. She graduated from Oberlin College in 1936. She describes her early life at home and in school, being hired as the first black teacher in Oberlin, and some racial problems she encountered over the years. There are several sections that are not clear. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Elizabeth (Betty) Glenn Thomas
An interview of Elizabeth (Betty) Glenn Thomas conducted at 195 North Professor Street by Eva Schlesinger on 25 April 1985 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Elizabeth (Betty) Glenn Thomas was born at 195 North Professor Street on 2 July 1913 and died in the same house on 3 October 1989. Both her parents were half white and half black. She graduated from Oberlin College in 1936 and was married in 1942 to Phillip M. Thomas. She talks about her teaching career, racial problems, her neighborhood, and clubs she joined. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Robert (Bob) Thomas, George Jones, Elizabeth (Betty) Thomas, et al.
An interview by Allan Patterson of George Jones, Betty Thomas and Bob Thomas (with comments by Betty Spurlock, Maurice Ives, and Millie Arthrell) on 17 November 1984 at the Community Center for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Only the information given by Betty Thomas is summarized in this preface. Elizabeth (Betty) Glenn Thomas was born at 195 North Professor Street on 2 July 1913 and died in the same house on 3 October 1989. Both her parents were bi-racial. She graduated from Oberlin College in 1936 and was married in 1942 to Phillip M. Thomas. She describes patriotic meetings after World War I, transportation by train, trolley and car, being hired to teach in Oberlin and stores and livery stables in Oberlin. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Robert S. (Bob) Thomas
An interview of Robert S. (Bob) Thomas conducted at 171 East Lorain Street by Dina Schoonmaker on 23 September 1982 and 11 April 1983 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Bob. Thomas was born in Oberlin on 30 September 1901 to an African-American father and white mother and was an activist until his death on 30 March 1993. He describes his youth, and starting work at age 8, all black informal sports teams, schooling, ice skating, Emancipation Day picnics in Cleveland, dating his future wife, high school team practices at the college, and his aborted Oberlin College career. He worked as a painter until the Depression, became a college janitor and in 1933 got a job at the post office where he faced discrimination. He also worked as a stringer on a newspaper and eventually got a full time job at the Lorain Journal. He describes the assignments he was given there and his admiration for the owner and publisher of the paper, discrimination he faced on out of town trips with the High School sports teams, his political work, integration of community activities, Oberlin clubs, older black town leaders, and his work at the Post Office. Bob Thomas was an important citizen and there is much of interest in this interview. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Robert S. (Bob) Thomas
An interview of Robert S. (Bob) Thomas conducted at 171 East Lorain Street by Peter Way on 19 April 1979 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Bob Thomas was born in Oberlin on 30 September 1901 to an African-American father and white mother and was an activist until his death on 30 March 1993. He talks about the effect on the town of the College changing its policies about buying food for the students in town and going to out-of-town distributors, integrating the barbershops, getting the first black teacher to teach in an integrated classroom, and the Fair Housing Ordinance. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Robert (Bob) Thomas, George Jones, Elizabeth (Betty) Thomas, et al.
An interview of George Jones, Betty Thomas and Bob Thomas (with comments by Betty Spurlock, Maurice Ives, and Millie Arthrell) conducted by Allan Patterson on 17 November 1984 at the Oberlin Community Center for the Oberlin Oral History Project. Only the information given by Robert Thomas is summarized in this preface.
Bob Thomas was born in Oberlin on 30 September 1901 to an African-American father and white mother and was an activist until his death on 30 March 1993. He talks about segregation more by class than color, his early work, trying to get a loan from banks in Oberlin to start a printing company, getting a loan to buy a grocery, racial discrimination against his brother, getting a home mortgage despite discrimination thanks to 2 banker friends, discrimination against sports teams on the road, and other instances of discrimination. Integrating the barbershops in town, blacks living on campus, the interurban, the day Oberlin College beat Ohio State in football, the practice of charging at grocery stores and the coming of skilled trade unions. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Francine Toss conducted at 36 Colony Drive, Oberlin by Carl W. Jacobson on 19 June 2017 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Eileen Telegdy.
Francine Toss was born in Cleveland, Ohio. After receiving the BA at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio in 1968, she entered the MAT program at Oberlin College, and commenced teaching, under the supervision of that program, at Eastwood School in 1970. After completing her degree she was hired as an elementary teacher at Eastwood and quickly became engaged in the pioneering Open Room concept. At the start of the 1977 school year she became head teacher and then officially Principal of Eastwood School, a role in which she served until 1991. Thereafter, she was named Director of Pupil Services for the district. In 2002 she retired to work at the Carlyle Shop that she owns with her sister. The same year she became the librarian of Eastwood School, a capacity in which she is employed at the time of this interview.
In the interview she covers a range of Oberlin organizations, individuals, businesses and developments from the late 1960s to the present time. The discussion includes: school teachers, administrators and volunteers, the beginnings of the Eastwood Open Room and ORBIT (Organizing Resources By Instructional Teams), changes in school facilities, buildings and government mandates, differing administrative styles, special projects, pupil services, and the Eastwood library. She also considers her roles in the community: as a business woman, with Friends of Oberlin (predecessor to the Chamber), the Halloween Parade, Boys and Girls Club, her Distinguished Community Service Award, work with the Oberlin Community Services Council, Friends of the Oberlin Public Library, American Association of University Women (AAUW), and the Negro Business and Professional Women’s Club (NBPWC). Toss also discusses town/gown relations over time and has a few observations on college students. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Interviews of Eugene Tresch conducted at Welcome Nursing Home by Mildred Chapin from 29 October 1987 to 25 January 1988 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Eugene Tresch was born in Henrietta, Ohio on 9 May 1931, lived with his family on various farms in Lorain County some near Oberlin. He describes games, food, keeping the house warm, threshing and baling, farming in general, moving a house onto a cellar, breaking his neck at age 17 in a riding accident and the years he spent in a hospital, followed by 30 or more years in nursing homes as a quadriplegic, getting electric wheelchairs, becoming an amateur radio operator, his religious beliefs, and changes in Oberlin during his lifetime. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Archibald Tuck conducted by Peter Way on 21 April 1979 in Oberlin for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Archibald Tuck was born on 4 October 1892 and died in Virginia on 30 July 1986. This 26-page interview covers his early life in Oberlin, his grandfather’s work as a shoemaker, his father’s work as a wallpaper hanger, attendance at the Oberlin Academy, college at Fisk University, military service in WW I, his employment, trade unions, Oberlin College during the Wilkins presidency, First Church, Oberlin businesses. This interview is hard to follow without some background. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Jennie Tucker conducted at 82 South Cedar Street by Dina Schoonmaker on 1 September 1982 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Jennie Tucker was born in Oberlin on 10 July 1906 and died in Oberlin on 11 January 1986. She talks about her school and Oberlin college days, helping her father deliver milk, transportation to Cleveland, racial issues, her work at Burroughs Book Store, the Catholic Church in Oberlin, the Depression and the prevalence of bikes in town. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Bill Van Ausdale
An interview of Bill Van Ausdale conducted by Bill Bigglestone on 5 July 1984 at the Oberlin College Archives in Oberlin for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Bill Van Ausdale was born on 29 February 1908 and died on 30 May 2006. This 9-page interview covers his work for the City as a building inspector and in the Oberlin Fire Department as driver and then Chief, the payment issue for fire fighters, and comments on various city managers, There is much of interest in this interview. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Rosamond S. Paris Watson
An interview of Rosamond Paris Watson conducted by Eva Schlesinger on 7 May 1985 in Oberlin for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Rosamond Paris Watson was born on 28 February 1908 and died on 30 May 2006. This 7-page interview covers her parentage and move to Lorain, her children, move to Oberlin, involvement in volunteer activities, racial tolerance in Oberlin, Mt. Zion Church membership, segregated housing in Oberlin, Eva Mae Crosby. There is much of interest in this interview. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Frankell White conducted at 36 South Pleasant St. by Barbara Wilson on 15 March 1984 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Nancy Schwarzwalder.
Frankell White was born in Oberlin on 22 January 1890 and died in Sarasota, Florida on 17 March 1987. This 7-page interview briefly covers her parents, Cook’s Bicycle Shop, her home on North Professor, Oberlin schools, Oberlin College, gas lighting, teaching in northern Minnesota, and returning to Oberlin. It does not cover her work in the Oberlin College Library. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Two interviews of Richard Williams conducted by Dina Schoonmaker on 11 November 2011 and 18 April 2013 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Richard Donegan and Linda Gates.
Richard Williams was born in 1931 in New London, Ohio. In 1956, after experiencing difficulties finding housing in Northeastern Ohio as an African American, Mr. Williams settled in downtown Oberlin. Mr. Williams then moved to nearby Butternut Ridge Road, where he has resided for the past fifty years. In his two interviews, Mr. Williams discusses his career in the Air Force, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and Federal Aviation Administration. Williams also talks about the local school system, his involvement with the Ohio Township Association as a New Russia Township Trustee, the Ohio High School Athletic Association, and his work for environmental causes in Oberlin, specifically legislative and economic victories with Oberlin’s landfill. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Wallace Dean Wolfe
An interview of Wallace Dean Wolfe conducted in Wolfe’s home at 94 South Cedar by Allan Patterson on 7 July 2005 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Mary Moroney.
Wallace Dean Wolfe was born in Indiana on 22 June 1930. In this interview, Wolfe talks about his years growing up in Indiana. He talks about the consequences of moving often due to his father’s job, his education, and their life during the Great Depression. He also gives details about his mother’s background and talks about his first wife and his second wife, as well as his children from both marriages. Wolfe discusses his passion for traveling, his experience with religion, and his time in the Army. In 1964, Wolfe was hired as an Oberlin College professor, working with both school and college students. He covers his teaching job at Oberlin College, his involvement with the Oberlin Teacher’s Academy, and his time as a member of the School Board in the 1970s. Throughout the interview, Wolfe describes his love for Oberlin and how the outside world views Oberlin. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Dudley Wood conducted by Dina Schoonmaker and Jeanne McKibben on 26 July 2007 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Dudley Wood was born at 21 S. Cedar on 27 March 1919. This 23-page interview covers his life in Oberlin, his family, friends, neighbors, doctors, and race relations. He was born in the same house his father was. His father owned a flower shop where Dudley began working when his father became ill. He often used artistic abilities in making flower arrangements—many for Oberlin College. He remembers how the school board had wanted his house for offices when Eastwood was built. He doesn’t recall witnessing any race problems and asserts that his father didn’t tolerate prejudice. He describes Vic Rodriguez, an African-Cuban who was passing through Oberlin one day and ended up staying and becoming the first black barber in town. He also talks about the “east/west” rivalry in Oberlin. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of Florene Worcester conducted at 73 South Professor Street by Allan Patterson on 17 February 1983 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Florene Worcester was born on 4 August 1911 and died on 20 June 1997. This 28-page interview covers her family background, her education, the Kindergarten Training School, the accident that injured her arm, teaching in Columbus. There is a long section on her work as Principal of Prospect School. There is much interesting material in this interview. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Frank Henry Zavodsky
An interview of Frank Zavodsky conducted 429 Morgan Street by Rob McLean on 19, 29 January 1987 at for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Frank Zavodsky was born on 23 April 1917 and died on 19 January 1997. This 21-page interview covers his early life in Oberlin, his work with the City as waterworks helper, cemetery chief and public works director, the Depression, service in World War II, relations between Oberlin College and the City, and development of the area around the cemetery. There is much of interest in this interview. Oral History Series I, Oberlin Heritage Center
Apollo Theatre Memories
This transcript is of interviews conducted for the Oberlin Oral History Project during the Family Fun Fair on August 1, 2009. Dina Schoonmaker was the moderator for all of the conversations, which were conducted on the porch of Jewett House. Eight individuals were interviewed and discussion centered on memories of the Apollo Theatre, which was closed for renovation at the time. Participants: Leslie Simonson, Tim Simonson, Monica Smith, Elaine Smith Hill, Liz Schultz, Jeanne McKibben, Dina Schoonmaker, Brittany Mittler, Herbert Weinberg.
The individuals interviewed speak to a wide range of experiences with the Apollo, spanning a fairly long period of the theatre’s history. Some long term Oberlin residents remember their first movies and first dates there. Others speak to architectural details, current and past, including the old balcony and the clock. A hope that the Apollo will not be altered too drastically during its remodeling is expressed by many of the interviewees. A conversation between Dina Schoonmaker and Jeanne McKibben, in which they share memories of Susan and John Harvith and their relationship to the Apollo, is also included. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center.
Community Peace Builders, Remembering Al Carroll – Story Circle
An interview of members of Community Peace Builders remembering Al Carroll, conducted at First Church of Oberlin by Liz Schultz on 2 July 2019 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
This Story Circle discusses the life and legacy of Al Carroll, a prominent member of the Community Peace Builders in Oberlin. Community Peace Builder members Linda Rothaker, Don Hultquist, Nancy Hultquist, Carla Van Dale, Ann Francis, Nancy Finke, David Finke, Joyce Parker, and David Ashenhurst each share memories of their friendships and peace work with Al. Memories shared include his work creating the Peace and Conflict Studies at Oberlin College, his physics research at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, his work to prevent war in Iran and other nuclear wars, voter registration, activism, and his feelings and writings about his blood transfusions. Linda Rothaker reads a letter from Professor Jafar Mahallati about his memories of Al. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
An interview of the Community Players conducted at the Oberlin Public Library by Dina Schoonmaker on 22 June 2008 for the Oberlin Oral History Project and transcribed by Mary Moroney. Members of the Community Players who participated in the interview were: Peter Crowell, Daniel Goulding, Elizabeth Goulding, Michael Henle, Molly Johnson, Ray Kneisel, and Gene Presti.
The original Community Players was founded in 1953 and then reformed in July 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial and to provide a community center open to the diversity of the community. The seven members interviewed were part of the reformed group. The interview covers the history of the Players from its reformation to when it folded in 1981. The group discusses their backgrounds prior to joining, how they were recruited, and the appeal of their performances to all age groups and other communities outside of Oberlin. They also talk about all the people who helped them with costumes and the technical aspects of the productions as well as which plays were their favorites. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Downtown Business Story Circle
This Downtown Business Story Circle interview was moderated by Rachel Barber, statewide coordinator of the Wallpaper Project, on 20 October 2003 at the Oberlin Public Library. Participants include Jack Cochrane, Marianne Cochrane, Bert Locke, Herbert Billington, Pat Stetson, and Allyn Gibson. The group begins with introductions and how long they have lived in Oberlin. Next, they discuss how their business began, with information on the Ben Franklin store, Gibson's, and the Sport Shop, among others. The group discusses businesses that came and went, and which ones were their favorites.
The interview also covers various individuals in Oberlin, women and African-Americans in business, and town promotions like Lucky Bucks, the October Fall Festival, and the Moonlight Madness Sale. Lastly, the group discusses how businesses in the past differ from the present and what they think lies ahead for the city of Oberlin. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Ninde Scholars Program Beginnings Story Circle
This is a transcript of a group interview of Demaris (Demmie) Carrell, Eleanor Devereux and Jessie Reeder by Ann L. Fuller and Priscilla Steinberg on May 19, 2015 and transcribed by Emily Innes.
In 2002 Richard C. Ninde (1917-2007) established a fund at the Community Foundation of Lorain County to support Oberlin school students who had the potential but were not seeking a college education. He issued a $450,000 challenge grant that he would match if the community could raise an equal sum. By 2004 the challenge was met, but the Lorain County Access Program, which had been designated to receive the funds, had announced that it was disbanding due to financial difficulties.
In 2005 the Community Foundation repurposed the Richard and Nan Ninde Fund and created the Ninde Collaborative. It consists of the Oberlin City School District, Oberlin College and the Lorain County Urban League. This in turn created the Ninde Scholars Program that provides college access services to high school students (grades 11-12) who are enrolled in the Oberlin City School District. These are students who may be the first in their family to attend college, are low-income, and may be from a group that is underrepresented in higher education. In 2010, a program for Aspiring Ninde Scholars (grades 7-10) was added. The Ninde Program trains and pays Oberlin College students to serve in a tutor/mentor relationship with participants. It also provides college access workshops, summer programs, college tours and financial aid filing assistance to any student in the Oberlin system.
The interview covers the beginnings of the Ninde Scholars Program from 2002 to 2006. It references earlier efforts to assist Oberlin students, notably Dollars for Scholars and the Lorain County Access Program. It also covers the Oberlin City School District, Oberlin College, the Lorain County Urban League, the Nord Family Foundation, Oberlin Community Services, and Kendal at Oberlin.
Demaris (Demmie) Carrell was the spouse of Jeptha Carrell, retired director of the Lorain County Community Foundation and the Nord Family Foundation. Eleanor Devereaux was companion to founder Richard Ninde. Jessie Reeder is a retired educator who taught in the Oberlin schools from 1971 to 1995. She worked with the Access Program until it folded in 2004 and has served on the Ninde Advisory Board. Interviewer Ann Fuller participated in the project as the Director of Oberlin Community Services. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Oberlin Oral History Project Story Circle
This is an interview of founding participants Marlene “Marly” Merrill, Dina Schoonmaker and Priscilla Steinberg conducted by Ann Fuller, herself an early participant in the project, on May 29, 2013 at Kendal at Oberlin, for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
The group discusses the origins of the project when O.H.I.O (now Oberlin Heritage Center) inherited some interviews of African-American residents of Oberlin from Youth Service, Inc. of Elyria in 1979 and added some others done between 1982 and 1989 from the City of Oberlin Historic Preservation Commission. Merrill was a member of that Commission. Merrill felt that in addition to buildings, the Commission should focus on people. Potential interviewers met in 1981 and selected Allan Patterson and Millie Arthrell to chair. Stanley Garfinkel from Kent State provided some training in interview technique. Materials were eventually collected in Monroe House where, in 1993 OHC Director Pat Murphy attempted to organize them. Merrill, Steinberg and Schoonmaker carried on the project. In 1999 a formal process was outlined and census taken. Over the years, several volunteers joined the efforts, including Fran Baumann, Jean Simon, and Pat Holsworth, among others.Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
OHIO to OHC #1 Story Circle
A Story Circle interview about the professionalization of the Oberlin Historical and Improvement Organization (O.H.I.O) and its transition into the Oberlin Heritage Center. Interviewees include Paul Arnold, Howard Broadwell, Demmie Carrell, Dave Clark, Marianne Cochrane, and Dick Gilbert. The interview was conducted at Kendal at Oberlin by Dina Schoonmaker on 3 December 2010 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Members of the O.H.I.O. board discussed how they joined the board, their role in the project, and the leaders at the time. They detailed the process through which O.H.I.O. formed and grew as well as how they preserved the Monroe House and gathered community support for their first large events, including a Christmas open house. Board members described Pat Murphy’s leadership and influence and how the preservation efforts in Oberlin inspired neighboring communities.Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
OHIO to OHC #2 – Story Circle
An interview of Cathe Radabaugh, Robin Jindra, and Jan DeMarinis, conducted at the Oberlin Public Library by Dina Schoonmaker on 6 June 2011 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
Cathe Radabaugh, Robin Jindra, and Jan DeMarinis all served on the board of the Oberlin Historical and Improvement Organization (now Oberlin Heritage Center) in the early 1990s. They described how O.H.I.O. began to organize itself with paid staff and projects such as sorting and cataloging items and hosting musical performances and other fundraisers. The group discussed the work done by Florene Worcester, one of the first paid staff members, as well as Pat Murphy’s arrival to the organization and her emphasis on open houses, tours, and other public events. The group describes how O.H.I.O. began accepting money from individuals to become members of the organization, which helped the organization generate revenue and establish community involvement.
An addendum to this interview includes information about fundraising events, maintenance, and the role of Burrell-King House as described by Jan, a 22-year resident of the house. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Story Circle – OHS Marching Band, Class of 1969
An interview of the Class of 1969 Oberlin High School Marching Band, conducted at the Oberlin Public Library by Stephen Johnson and Carl Jacobson on 22 June 2019 for the Oberlin Oral History Project.
This Story Circle of the Oberlin High School Marching Band members of the class of 1969 features Bob Clark, Barbara Hiscox King, Pat Gorske Price, Randy McMickens, and Julia Brady. This marching band was directed by James Billingsley and earned superior ratings at state level concert band events. Members discuss their motivations in joining band and choosing their instruments, the band’s accomplishments, marching band pride, life lessons they learned from band, and the leadership of Billingsley. They also discuss their performances outside of Oberlin, such as Avon Lake and an all-expenses paid trip to Chicago to play for an All Star football game of a championship winning college team against the Green Bay Packers. Members express feelings of equality and familial bonds among their fellow band members that helped them to process political events of their time.Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Retired Teachers’ Story Circle
This transcript is of a Story Circle consisting of seven women teachers who had retired from the Oberlin school system held on 14 October 2003 for the Oberlin Oral History Project. Rachel Barber of Wapakoneta, Ohio was the moderator. Participants include Jane Blodgett, Marty Gibson, Lee Wood, Ann Craig, Fran Baumann, Jeanne Bay, and Sue Brady.
The teachers spoke of their work in the school system from the 1950s to 1990s, why they went into teaching, changes they observed in education and psychological counseling over their long careers, the influence of the teachers’ union, and problems Oberlin has had keeping administrators. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center
Vietnam Story Circle
This Vietnam Story Circle interview was moderated by Dina Schoonmaker on 30 June 2012 at the Oberlin Public Library. Participants include Barney Hartman, Bert Latran, Jr., and Jean Shannon, three people who were in the Oberlin area during the Vietnam Era (1964-74). The group begins with introductions and discusses how long they have been in Oberlin. Next, they talk about the Vietnam War years.
Barney Hartman and Bert Latran, Jr. discuss their experiences in the service and on their return to the United States, while Jean Shannon covers the time period as an Oberlin resident who was involved in an organization that sent care packages to servicemen. The interview also covers topics such as student movements in Ohio, media coverage and reactions to the war, and communication between the homefront and warfront. Oral History Series II, Oberlin Heritage Center