175th Anniversary of Oberlin College and the City of Oberlin: 1833 - 2008

Commemorating Oberlin: 175 Years of History, Intellectual Acheivement, and Social Heritage

In 2008, Oberlin College and the City of Oberlin celebrate the 175th anniversary of their joint founding in 1833. Oberlin’s fascinating history, intellectual achievements, and rich social heritage will be featured in events throughout the year commemorating this remarkable partnership. The high point of the celebration will be a series of Community+College events in October.

Inspired by the determination of Oberlin’s founders, who ventured west in order to realize their progressive vision, the College and City today continue to build on a shared legacy of social commitment, dedication to academic and artistic excellence, and willingness to challenge conventions. We have never stopped being pioneers, and never stopped learning, inventing, and innovating. In our 175th year, we join in celebrating the extraordinary achievements of our past, the opportunities of our present, and the promise of our future.

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Photo of the Week

1893 Varsity Football Game

Did You Know?


Freedom and Education

While the narrative of the revolt on the slave ship Amistad has been widely described in film and books, there remains a rarely told story: One of the schooner’s surviving passengers attended Oberlin College and became the first female international student in America.

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Timeline of College Presidents

The role of an Oberlin College president has been one to provide both academic and civic leadership to a community and college ripe for development, eager for change, and driven by a noble desire to make a difference. From Henry Brown (1834), the first although acting president, to Henry Churchill King (1902-1927), the longest serving, to Nancy Schrom Dye (1994-2007), the first woman, each offered reasoned initiatives and a unique style of leadership to address the demands of the time.

Oberlin at 175: A History Preserved


The all-campus photo taken on September 5, 2008, is now available as a poster at the Oberlin College Bookstore, 37 West College St. Priced at $7 each, the posters make great, affordable keepsake gifts for yourself as well as family and friends.

Photographer Kevin Reeves snapped the image atop a bucket lift as part of an all-campus photograph to commemorate the College's 175th anniversary this year. The last time that an all-campus photo took place occurred in 1951. The result is a framed print that hangs in the Office of the President. This image was the impetus for trying to capture the Oberlin campus community as it appears in 2008.

Oberlin 175th Anniversary project manager Leah Gage '08 organized the event, which took place on a light rainy September afternoon. An estimated 2,000 Oberlin faculty, staff, and students came to Wilder Bowl to help make history. Using a megaphone to shout out directions, the eager and compliant group listened as Reeves instructed them on positions and when to smile for the camera.

Check out the photo.

In addition to the poster, the Oberlin News-Tribune published a special commemorative booklet, Oberlin College: Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Future, as part of the College and community’s celebration of the 175th anniversary of the founding of Oberlin. The booklet includes a sampling of events which occurred over the past 175 years, with accompanying historic photographs.

The booklet is free. Pick up a copy from the Oberlin Heritage Center’s Museum Store, open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Call (440) 774-1700 for more information.

The Heritage Center is offering Historic Oberlin Playing Cards, a deck of 55 regular playing cards featuring historic photographs from Oberlin’s first century (1833-1933), along with educational and entertaining facts about the community. Proceeds benefit the Heritage Center’s Endowment Fund for History Education. Learn more by sending e-mail to the Oberlin Heritage Center.

175 Words or Less

Oberlin today contains greater religious diversity than Finney could ever have dreamed or imagined; yet within his heartfelt assurance, we find a common faith that “Whatever the Lord requires we can do.”

Read the full commentary of
The Rev. David T. Hill
Pastor, First Church in Oberlin, United Church of Christ