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Minority Student Records at Oberlin College



The records of minority students at Oberlin College, located at the College Archives in the Records of the Office of the Secretary (RG 5) (Subgroup IV: Alumni Records, Series 3), contain statistics about Oberlin students from 1834 to 1972. "The Catalogue and Record of Colored Students" [note: both black and white students and others at Oberlin used the term "colored" in the 19th to mid-20th centuries] was assembled in 1972 to record and summarize the minority students who had attended Oberlin College from 1844 to 1972. This included black, Asian, American Indian, and Middle Eastern students. In 2001 an addendum to the catalogue, filling in the information for the years 1862-1899, was completed.

Available here are those sections of the catalogue that pertain to black students and graduates, 1835-1972. We have also provided a key to the abbreviations used in the records.

To explain the history and contents of the Catalogue, former Archivist Roland M. Baumann wrote an introduction: "A History of Recording Black Students at Oberlin College and the Story of the Missing Record." Below is the earlier 1972 introduction by Rachel Powers.

Introduction by Rachel Powers, 1972

"This list was not kept from year to year but was constructed in 1862 by Henry Cowles with the help of others. For this reason it cannot be considered strictly accurate.

There are no names from that date to 1880 because no lists were kept. Mr. Bigglestone [first Oberlin College Archivist] says that the college felt in the early years that negroes should be considered the same as other students and not as individuals in a minority group and so there was no reason to keep a separate listing of them.

When George Jones became secretary he started to keep accurate lists of negroes his notes indicate that the federal government requested such information and this may have been the reason. We can assume, therefore, that the lists beginning in the year 1899-1900 are accurate."

Rachel Powers, August 18, 1972