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Teaching about Oberlin Sanctuary

This guide is intended to assist with the teaching and research of materials in the Oberlin College Archives related to Oberlin’s history of providing safe haven, comfort, and support for those individuals who have been displaced, undocumented, or in difficult situations due to war, social unrest, or other uncertain circumstances.

The College Archives provides instructional sessions for courses in both the College and Conservatory.  Faculty members are welcome to contact the College Archives for more information:

Archives email: archive@oberlin.edu

Ken Grossi, College Archivist: ken.grossi@oberlin.edu

The overview on the Oberlin College Archives website provides information about access to holdings and the structure of a finding guide.


Relevant Collections in the Oberlin College Archives:

Alumni Records (RG 28)

Contain biographical information about graduates and former students of Oberlin College.

Joe Blitman Papers (30/90)

These papers reflect Joe Blitman’s participation and interest in student politics and activism, 1967-71, while a student at Oberlin College. 

Toby J. McIntosh Papers (30/149)

The Toby J. McIntosh Papers comprise copies of documents from Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) files kept on Oberlin College student political activities in the 1960s and 1970s, and related materials including an article on government surveillance at Oberlin written by McIntosh for the March/April 1978 issue of the Oberlin Alumni Magazine.

Nat Brandt Papers (RG 30/367)

This collection contains research materials compiled by Nat Brandt related to his book The Town That Started The Civil War.  Included are materials related Oberlin’s antislavery activity of the 1840s and 1850s and the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue of 1858.

Robert S. Fletcher Papers (RG 30/24)

This collection consists of the materials that Robert S. Fletcher compiled for the research and writing of his book The History of Oberlin College: From Its Foundation to the Civil War.

Ernest Hatch Wilkins Presidential Papers (RG 2/7)

Ernest Hatch Wilkins was president of Oberlin College during World War II.   The collection contains letters and other materials documenting the efforts by Wilkins and Oberlin College to relocate Japanese American students to the College during the war.  

Robert K. Carr Presidential Papers (RG 2/9)

Robert Kenneth Carr was president of Oberlin College from 1960 until he was forced to resign in November 1970.  During the Vietnam years, Carr clashed with students as he tried to provide an "institutional definition of the proper role and tactics of social protest and dissent in the academic community." 

Office of Communications Records (RG 18)

In addition to paper records, this group holds sound recordings of speeches and events at Oberlin College.

Sound Recordings (RG 37)

Includes recordings of campus events and speakers.

Moving Images Collection (RG 57)

Holds films and videos of campus events as well as some student productions. 


Oberlin News Sources, Town and College:

The College and local papers contain articles related to antislavery activity and the Japanese American Students at Oberlin during World War II. 

Oberlin Evangelist - The newspaper of Oberlin from 1838 to 1862 

Oberlin Review - Oberlin College newspaper from 1870 to the present

Oberlin News-Tribune - Newspaper of the town of Oberlin from 1930 to the present

Issues of the Oberlin News-Tribune during World War II



Nisei Memories: My Parents Talk about the War Years by Paul Takemoto ((Seattle, WA & London: University of Washington Press, 2006).

The History of Oberlin College: From Its Foundation to the Civil War by Robert S. Fletcher (Oberlin College, 1943)

The Hi-O-Hi yearbook, 1890-2001, 2006 contains photos and information about Oberlin College and student life.

Issues of the Oberlin Alumni Magazine contain articles related to student life, campus events, alumni, and other subjects.


Websites and Online Sources:

Oberlin College Archives

Our website contains digital collections and virtual exhibits that feature photos and documents related to Oberlin’s antislavery activity.  Also included are finding guides to collections that contain materials related to the antislavery activity and the Japanese American students. 

Oberlin-Wellington Rescue online exhibit and related materials 

This virtual exhibit includes materials related to the 1858 Oberlin-Wellington Rescue and provides links to resources related to Oberlin’s antislavery acitivity.

Electronic Oberlin Group 

Includes photos, documents, and articles related to Oberlin people, events, and causes.

Oberlin Heritage Center

Contains information about the history of the community of Oberlin.

Cassie Guevara's blog

During the spring of 2013, Cassie Guevara, Oberlin Class of 2013, researched the stories of the Japanese American students at Oberlin during World War II. Cassie used materials from the Oberlin College Archives, as well as other sources and individual accounts. Her blog contains biographical information and stories related to the Japanese American at Oberlin College during World War II

May 4 Collection, Kent State University

The May 4 Collection, established by the Kent State University Libraries in 1970, includes over 300 cubic feet of primary sources related to the Kent State shootings and their aftermath.