The Oberlin Review

Book Nook Reviews: Lasser and Kornblith’s “Elusive Utopia”

Book Nook Reviews: Lasser and Kornblith’s “Elusive Utopia”

December 6, 2019

In the third grade I, like every other elementary-school student in Oberlin’s public schools, received a copy of an Oberlin history textbook. The book portrayed Oberlin as a utopian community that had transcended issues of gender and race from its inception. Yet my lived experiences and the stories I heard growing up as an Oberlin resident often contradicted this idealistic narrative. I was introduced to the monograph Elusive Utopia: The Struggle for Racial Equality in Oberlin, Ohio last semest...

Outward-Facing Philosophy Deeply Rooted in Oberlin’s History

Nathan Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief

November 22, 2019

 Editor’s note: This column is part of a series that will focus on Oberlin’s history as a town and an institution. The series will be published regularly throughout the fall semester. When then-First Lady Michelle Obama spoke at Oberlin’s commencement ceremonies in 2015, she had the institution’s social justice reputation in mind. “If you truly wish to carry on the Oberlin legacy of service and social justice, then you need to run to, and not away from, the noise,” Obama said. “Today, I want to urge you to actively seek out the most contentious, polarized, gridlocked places you can find. Because so often, throughout our history, those have been the places where progress really happens — the pl...

Oberlin in Late ’60s, Early ’70s Leaves Lessons for Today

Oberlin in Late ’60s, Early ’70s Leaves Lessons for Today

November 8, 2019

 Editor’s note: This column is part of a series that will focus on Oberlin’s history as a town and an institution. The series will be published regularly throughout the fall semester. Over the course of just a couple weeks in the spring of 1970, Oberlin students heralded the first Earth Day with a series of campus speakers and workshops, held an anti-war protest following a national address by President Richard Nixon, and mourned the traumatic deaths of four Kent State University students at ...

Campus Cornerstones: The History Buried in Our Walls

Nathan Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief

October 11, 2019

 Editor’s note: This column is part of a series that will focus on Oberlin’s history as a town and an institution. The series will be published regularly throughout the fall semester.  In January 1886, just over two decades after it was built, Oberlin’s second Ladies’ Hall burned down. After the smoke of Oberlin’s first major fire cleared, the building’s cornerstone was opened, revealing a collection of documents placed inside when it was originally laid in 1861. It was common practice in early Oberlin to fill cornerstones with mementos of the time, not to be viewed again until the building they supported came down. Among the second Ladies’ Hall collection was the town’s charter; Oberlin Colleg...

Carmen Ambar and Bobby Fuller: Contrasting Two Presidencies

Nathan Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief

October 4, 2019

 Editor’s note: This column is part of a series that will focus on Oberlin’s history as a town and an institution. The series will be published regularly throughout the fall semester. “The time is ripe for a new look at the fundamental propositions and the fundamental building blocks that underlie a liberal arts college education.”  So said Robert Fuller, Oberlin’s 10th president, in his 1970 opening address to the Oberlin community held in Finney Chapel. But it could have been said just as easily by President Carmen Twillie Ambar, Oberlin’s 15th president, who came to Oberlin in 2017 with a similar vision — to respond to broader shifts in higher education by reforming the Oberlin experience.  ...

Oberlin College’s History Still Deeply Relevant

Del Spurlock, OC ’63

September 27, 2019

 Congratulations, Oberlin, on your remarkable history as a town and institution. I believe that Editor-in-Chief Nathan Carpenter’s “hope to fully understand our present-day challenges” should remain a driving force of his series (“Oberlin’s Early History Rooted in Religious Convictions,” The Oberlin Review, Sept. 20, 2019). Oberlin’s last 100 years provide a testament to the sources of your generation’s acute challenges now and in the years ahead. And Henry Churchill King, Oberlin’s longest serving president — and a former Review editor — will prove to be the prophet of the age.  On Sept. 27, 1919, King, the internationally-honored mathematician, ethicist, theologian, orator, and founding mem...

Oberlin’s Early History Rooted in Religious Convictions

Nathan Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief

September 20, 2019

 Editor’s note: This column is part of a series that will focus on Oberlin’s history as a town and an institution. The series will be published regularly throughout the fall semester. In the winter of 1858, John Price, a formerly enslaved person, was captured by slave catchers traveling through Oberlin and taken to Wellington, ostensibly under the authority of the Fugitive Slave Law. A group of Oberlin residents followed Price and his captors, ultimately bringing him back to Oberlin after a prolonged standoff. Now known as the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, the event is widely regarded as one of the key incidents precipitating the Civil War, and continues to hold an important place in Oberlin’s collective hist...

Examining Oberlin’s History Rewarding, Provides Insight

Nathan Carpenter, Editor-in-Chief

September 6, 2019

Editor’s note: This column is the first in a series that will focus on Oberlin’s history as a town and an institution. The series will be published regularly throughout the fall semester. Through the decades, Oberlin has demonstrated a strong commitment to documenting and preserving its own history. Mudd Center boasts extensive archival collections; for a town and college of modest size, a surprising number of books and essays have been written about Oberlin. While many Oberlin historians have had some connection with the college or town, many journalists and scholars from outside of this community have also taken an interest in Oberlin’s historical impact on the broader trajectory of American history. This past W...

Walking Tours Highlight Oberlin’s History

Jaimie Yue

May 3, 2019

For those interested in learning more about Oberlin and its rich history, new walking tours are now available through the izi.Travel app or website. The free app can detect a user’s location and allows the user to listen to a tour while visiting a site at their own pace. On May 11 from 2–3:30 p.m., the Oberlin Public Library will host a formal launch and introduction to the virtual tours. The event is an opportunity for the public to learn how to use the app and give feedback to the Coalition for Oberlin History, the original designers of the virtual tours. A reception will be held later that day at 4 p.m. at The Feve. Emeritus Professor of History Gary Kornblith and other faculty members founded the Coalition f...

Strange Acquisitions: How We Got The Carnegie Building

Isabelle Smith, Contributing Writer

April 19, 2019

 Many Oberlin students are aware of Oberlin’s rich history. Some even first heard about Oberlin in their high school history books. However, few students are aware of the captivating stories that Oberlin’s physical buildings themselves hold.  In a previous Review article, College senior Kameron Dunbar detailed the interesting history behind Langston Hall and urged readers to discover not only the stories of how Oberlin acquired these buildings, but also the reasoning behind the names of certain buildings (“Community Should Reflect Upon History of College Spaces,” March 9, 2018). Another example of a building with a very interesting, yet mostly forgotten history is the Carnegie Building at the corner of W...

OTC: Kirsten Pai Buick, Art History Professor

OTC: Kirsten Pai Buick, Art History Professor

March 9, 2018

Kirsten Pai Buick has been a professor of Art History at the University of New Mexico since 2001. She focuses on African-American art, western art, and representations of the human body. She has been researching Mary Edmonia Lewis, a sculptor who attended Oberlin College from 1859 to 1863, since 1991 and gave a talk last Thursday about the final years of Lewis’ life. At her talk, Buick discussed some of Oberlin’s historical figures such as Marianne Dascomb, John Mercer Langston, and the Keep fam...

Community Should Reflect Upon History of College Spaces

Kameron Dunbar, Columnist

March 9, 2018

Editor’s Note: This article contains mentions of sexual assault. I walk into North Hall every day. Most days, I forget that the official building name is “Langston Hall,” in honor of John Mercer Langston. That name may not be familiar to many, but this one may be: James Mercer Langston Hughes. Yes, that Langston Hughes. Langston Hughes was the grandson of Charles Henry Langston. Charles Henry Langston and his brother Gideon were the first two Black students admitted to Oberlin College. Charles and Gideon were John’s older brothers. John Mercer Langston was Langston Hughes’ great uncle. While John Mercer Langston’s name may not carry much global recognition, his life is a vital piece of Oberlin College’s ...

Established 1874.