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Oberlin History Bibliography

Oberlin has a lot of history for such a small and young town! If you can't make it to the Oberlin Heritage Center for a visit, or if you want more information on a selected topic, check out some of the books on this list. Have you recently read a good book about a topic related to Oberlin history that you think we should include in this list? Let us know about it.

 
 

General Oberlin History

 

  • Oberlin History Bibliography, Prepared by Roland. M. Baumann (Oberlin: Oberlin College Archives, 1992)
  • Essays & Sketches, Oberlin, 1904-1934, by Kemper Fullerton (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1938).
  • Oberlin Architecture, College and Town: A Guide to its Social History, by Geoffrey Blodgett (Oberlin: Oberlin College, 1985).
    Contains brief entries about many of the buildings in Oberlin, both the college and the town: when they were built, their architectural style, who lived in them, and their significance in Oberlin's history. Available for purchase in our museum shop or online!
  • Oberlin College Library: Anti-Slavery Collection, Major portions of the Oberlin Anti-Slavery Collection are now available online through the Internet Archive.
  • Oberlin College Archives: Digital Resources, Includes popular images, views of Oberlin College campus, historic portraits, study collections, a John Frederick Oberlin feature, and more. 
  • Oberlin: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow..., edited by Jan DeMarinis, Jean Ebosh, and Gail Wood (Oberlin School District, 1996).
    This workbook was written to be a part of the Oberlin Public Schools' third grade curriculum. It includes information and activities about local geography, the pioneers of Oberlin, the Underground Railroad, transportation, women in Oberlin, Oberlin's connection to the rest of the world, and the future.
  • Oberlin: The Colony and College 1833-1883, by James Fairchild (Oberlin: E.J., 1883). History of the first fifty years of the college as written by James Fairchild, the College's third president.
  • Oberlin: It's Origin, Progress, and Results, by James Fairchild (Oberlin: Shankland and Harmon, 1860).
  • The Story of Oberlin: the institution, the community, the idea, the movement, by Delavan L. Leonard (Boston: Boston Press, 1898) 
  • A History of Oberlin by Delazon Smith (Cleveland: S. Underhill & Son, 1837).
  • The Oberlin Colony: The Story of a Century, by Wilbur H. Phillips (Oberlin: Press of Oberlin, 1933).
    This book is a chronicle of Oberlin's first hundred years. Phillips narrates the most important events of each year.
  • Oberlin Community History, edited by Allan Patterson (State College, PA: Josten's Publications, 1981).
    This brief volume was written to be a part of the Oberlin Public Schools' seventh grade curriculum. It includes chapters about the founding of Oberlin, history of African-Americans in Oberlin, businesses, transportation, utilities, government, and architecture in Oberlin.
  • Oberliniana: A Jubilee Volume of Semi-historical Anecdotes Connected with the Past and Present of Oberlin College, 1833-1883, A.L. Shumway and C. DeW. Brower (Cleveland: Home Publishing Co., 1883). 
  • The Oberlin Jubilee, edited by W. G. Ballantine (Oberlin: E. J. Goodrichm 1883). Includes a schedule of jubilee celebrations and miscellaneous essays related to Oberlin's early years.
  • Leadership in a Small Town, by Aaron Wildavsky (Totowa, NJ: Bedminster Press, 1964).
    A history of the government of Oberlin, examining how the leaders of Oberlin dealt with the issues the small town faced. Wildavsky draws conclusions about leadership in small towns based on his case-study of Oberlin.
  • Pictorial Memories of Oberlin, by the Rotary Club of Oberlin (Oberlin, 1976).
    This spiral-bound volume has many pictures of Oberlin throughout the years, from the first buildings of the pioneers up to war protests in the 1960s.

 

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Oberlin and African-American History

 

  • The 'Colored Hero' of Harper's Ferry: John Anthony Copeland, by Steven Lubet (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
  • Elusive Utopia, by Gary Kornblith and Carol Lasser (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2018). An exploration of Oberlin's historic egalitarian ideals and analysis of how local racial and economic divisions grew and solidified after the Civil War.
  • Five for Freedom: The African American Soldiers in John Brown's Army, by Eugene Meyer (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2018). Two of the five men, John Copeland and Lewis Leary, were residents of Oberlin.
  • Fleet Walker's Divided Heart: The Life of Baseball's First Black Major Leaguer, by David W. Zang (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995). Moses Fleetwood Walker, the first African-American major league baseball player, graduated from Oberlin College in 1881. He struggled throughout his life to overcome the racism and bigotry that hindered his career.
  • History of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, by Jacob R. Shipherd (Boston: J. P. Jewett & Co., 1859).  Compiled notes, speeches, and trial records relating to the 1858 rescue of John Price from slave catchers.
  • Oberlin's Black History: Clubs and Organizations, by the Oberlin African-American Genealogy and History Group, edited by Carol Lasser (2006).
  • Oberlin's Sacred Heritage: The African American Tradition, by the Oberlin African-American Genealogy and History Group, edited by Carol Lasser (2003).
  • Sarah Margru Kinson: The Two Worlds of an Amistad Captive by Marlene Merrill (Oberlin: Oberlin Historical and Improvement Organization, 2003).This fascinating book by scholar Marlene D. Merrill tells the story of Sarah Margru Kinson's journey on the Amistad slave ship, her years in Oberlin, and her return to Africa.  Available for purchase in our museum shop or online!
  • They Stopped in Oberlin: Black Residents and Visitors in the Nineteenth Century, by William E. Bigglestone (Scottsdale, Arizona: Innovation Group Inc., 1981). Contains brief biographical sketches about African-Americans who traveled through or settled in Oberlin. This book is not only an interesting look at the town's population, but is also very useful for genealogists. Available for purchase in our museum shop or online!
  • The Town that Started the Civil War, by Nat Brandt (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1990). The first few chapters of this book by popular historian Nat Brandt give a good overview of the early history of the College and the atmosphere of the town, and the remaining chapters tell the story of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue in great detail, focusing on the event's national significance. Available for purchase in our museum shop or online!
  • When Owing a Shilling Costs a Dollar: The Saga of Lewis G. Clarke, Born a "White" Slave, by Carver Clark Gayton (Xlibris, 2014).

 

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Oberlin and Abolition

 

 

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Oberlin in the Civil War

 

 

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Oberlin and Women's History

 
  • Friends and Sisters: Letters between Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown Blackwell, 1846- 93, edited by Carol Lasser and Marlene Deahl Merrill (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987).
  • Soul Mates: The Oberlin Correspondence of Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown 1846-1850, edited by Carol Lasser and Marlene Deahl Merrill (Oberlin: Oberlin College, 1983). Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown were two of Oberlin's most distinguished alumnae. Both were prominent advocates of women's rights. Antoinette Brown was the first woman to be an ordained Protestant minister in the United States. The two of them began a lifelong friendship in Oberlin, and wrote many eloquent letters to each other over the years.
  • Bonnets to Boardrooms: Women's Stories from a Historic College Town, compiled and edited by Eugenia Poporad Vanek (Oberlin: Oberlin Heritage Center, 2014). This book features the recollections of fifty-two Oberlin women from a great variety of backgrounds and experiences. All were born between 1895 and 1959. Most were longtime residents of the community. Available for purchase in our museum shop or online!
  • Lucy Stone: Speaking Out for Equality by Andrea Moore Kerr (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1992)
  • Lucy Stone: Pioneer of Woman's Rights by Alice Stone Blackwell (Boston: Little, Brown, 1930). 
  • Woman's Voice, Woman's Place: Lucy Stone and the Birth of the Woman's Rights Movement by Joelle Million (Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2003). 
  • Father Shipherd's Magna Charta: A Century of Coeducation in Oberlin College, by Frances Juliette Hosford (Boston: Marshall Jones Co., 1937).

 

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Oberlin and Religion

 
  • Oberlin Social & Sabbath School Hymn Book, compiled by Geo N. Allen (Oberlin, OH: James M. Fitch, 1846). 
  • History of the First Church, by James Brand (Oberlin, OH: News Job Room, 1877). Brand's address details the founding of First Church by Rev. John J. Shipherd, Philo Stewart, and Peter Pindar Pease, the Church's statistics, and other notable information. 
  • Massacre in Shansi, by Nat Brandt (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1994). Brandt tells the story of the Shansi Association, an Oberlin missionary organization, and the Oberlin missionaries who died in the Boxer Rebellion.
  • Oberlin Evangelist (1838-1862), The Oberlin College library has digitized copies of the Oberlin Evangelist newspaper from 1838-1862. Articles in the newspaper covered topics such as theology, abolition and moral reform and included sermons by Charles Grandison Finney among others.

 

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Oberlin and Temperance

 

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Oberlin College & Conservatory History

 

 

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Biographical Sketches

 
  • Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass (Boston: The Anti-Slavery Office, 1845).
  • The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass (Harford: Park Publishing, 1882).
  • "Gray Matters" (Elisha Gray) by Roderic Knight, Oberlin Alumni Magazine (Fall 2018): 36-39.
  • The Memoirs of Charles G. Finney, The Complete Restored Text, by Charles Grandison Finney, edited by Garth Rosell and Richard A. G. DuPuis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1989). Finney's memoirs deal primarily with his religious and evangelistic activities, and do not tell the complete story of his life.
  • Charles Grandison Finney, 1792-1875, Revivalist and Reformer, by Keith J. Hardman (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1987). This definitive biography of Charles Grandison Finney, the second president of Oberlin College, tells the story of an important piece of Oberlin's history and the religious history of the United States. Finney was a nationally known revivalist and Christian perfectionist.
  • Reminiscences of Rev. Charles G. Finney. Speeches and sketches at the gathering of his friends and pupils in Oberlin, July 28th, 1876. Together with President Fairchild's memorial sermon, delivered before the graduating classes July 30, 1876, by James H. Fairchild (Oberlin: E.J. Goodrich, 1876).
  • Charles Grandison Finney; memorial address delivered at the dedication of the Finney memorial chapel, Oberlin, June 21, 1908 by William C. Cochran (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippencott, 1908).
  • John Mercer Langston and the Fight for Black Freedom, by William F. Cheek and Aimee Lee Cheek (Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989).
    This biography focuses on John Mercer Langston's life up to the Emancipation Proclamation, focusing on his efforts to abolish slavery. Available for purchase in our museum shop or online!
  • From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capital, by John Mercer Langston (Hartford: American Publishing Company, 1894). Later reprint editions available.
    An autobiography of John Mercer Langston, the son of a Virginia slave owner and a freed slave, one of Oberlin's first black graduates, Ohio's first black lawyer, and the first African-American elected to a public office. In addition to these achievements, he fought hard for abolition and the rights of African-Americans.
  • James Monroe: Oberlin's Christian Statesman and Reformer, 1821-1898, by Catherine Rokicky (Kent: Kent State University Press, 2002). Catherine M. Rokicky explores this abolitionist politician's years at Oberlin during the antebellum period, as well as his travels that would put him in contact with men such as Frederick Douglass and James Garfield. During his long career as a political reformer, Monroe served in the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio Senate, and United States Congress and was also U.S. consul at Rio de Janeiro and a professor at Oberlin College. Available for purchase in our museum shop or online! 
  • Loving warriors: selected letters of Lucy Stone and Henry B. Blackwell, 1853 to 1893. Compiled by Leslie Wheeler (New York City: Dial Press, 1981).
  • Henry Thomas. 15 minute video feature on the history of Henry Thomas and "Henry's Barn," now owned by the Lorain County Metro Parks.

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Published Works by Sarah Frances Gulick Jewett

 

Sarah Frances Gulick Jewett, known as Frances, was the co-author of a series of hygiene books that were often used as school text books. Her brother Luther Gulick, M.D., was the other author of this series of publications. She lived in Oberlin with her husband, Professor Frank Jewett, in what is now known as the Jewett House, 73 Professor St. Oberlin, OH. 

 

The Gulick Hygiene Series:

 

 

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