Oberlin Academy

Oberlin Academy Preparatory School, originally Oberlin Institute and then Preparatory Department of Oberlin College, was a private preparatory school in Oberlin, Ohio which operated from 1833 until 1916.[1] It opened as Oberlin Institute which became Oberlin College in 1850. The secondary school serving local and boarding students continued as a department of the college. The school and college admitted African Americans and women.[2] This was very unusual and controversial.[3] It was located on the Oberlin College campus for much of its history and many of its students continued on to study at Oberlin College.[citation needed] Various alumni and staff went on to notable careers.

Oberlin Academy Preparatory School

United States
Coordinates41°17′35″N 82°13′07″W / 41.292929°N 82.218576°W / 41.292929; -82.218576Coordinates: 41°17′35″N 82°13′07″W / 41.292929°N 82.218576°W / 41.292929; -82.218576
Other namesOberlin Institute, Preparatory Department of Oberlin College, Oberlin Academy
School typeCollege preparatory


Class of 1892

Oberlin Institute, a private secondary school, was established in 1832 or 1833,[note 1] 27 years before Oberlin High School.[4][5][6] Public high schools were uncommon at the time, and as a result, many colleges found that their incoming students were poorly prepared for their academic studies. This led some colleges to establish their own high schools, organized as preparatory departments of the college.[7]

Oberlin Institute faced opposition from Democrats in Ohio who opposed its admittance of African Americans.[8] Nevertheless, in 1850 the school was granted a charter and became Oberlin College.[8] The undergraduate education program continued afterwards as a preparatory school sometimes referred to as "prep".[8]:index

The Preparatory Department was the only primary education in Oberlin until the community organized a school district and eventually launched public schools.[5] The Preparatory Department had an enrollment of 690 students in 1890.[9]

Sarah Watson, the first African American woman to attend Oberlin, enrolled in the Preparatory Department in 1842.[10] Between 1833 and 1865, at least 140 black women studied at Oberlin, most of them in the Preparatory Department.[3]

In 1887, the school moved into French Hall and part of Society Hall.[11] From 1892 the secondary school was called Oberlin Academy. The school's mission was to prepare students for college.[3]

Classified ad for Oberlin Academy from the Saturday Evening Post, July 29, 1911

Edward Henry Fairchild was the school's principal from 1853 until 1869. An abolitionist, he went on to become president of Berea College, a coeducational and integrated institution in Kentucky.[12] John Fisher Peck also served as the school's principal.[13] His daughter, Emily Peck, tutored Latin and Greek at the preparatory department and was an artist who depicted fellow Oberlin alums in sculpture.[14]

Booker T. Washington, who had close ties to Oberlin College and hired teachers from the school at Tuskegee Institute, sent his son Ernst to Oberlin Academy in 1904 and 1905.[15]

By 1905, the school's enrollment was declining. One of the factors for the decline was that public high schools were becoming widely available by that time.[4] In January 1910, the Oberlin Alumni Magazine published an entry on the school, its significance, and the need for continued support of it.[6][better source needed] In 1912 a new building opened for the academy and the Oberlin Academy Alumni Association was organized.[16]

The school was removed from campus from 1912 to 1916 and occupied the Johnson mansion (now known as Johnson House)[11] on South Professor Street in Oberlin.[5][17] The Johnson House is now the Hebrew Heritage House, a College residence for Jewish students.[11]

In 1915, the College announced that it would close the Preparatory Academy.[18] In that same year, the Academy was listed in A Handbook of the Best Private Schools of the United States and Canada, which stated:[19]

It is a co-educational school with an attendance of over three hundred, largely from the region round about, but in all representing thirty states. For many years during its history the teachers of the Academy were students at the College who thus earned their support. The Academy has however for many years had its own independent faculty and developed a life of its own.


Alumni include:


Teachers included:


  1. ^ Most sources list 1833 as the establishment date. However, an item in the January 1910 Oberlin Alumni Magazine (third, unnumbered, page after title page) signed by John Fisher Peck, Principal, states that the school was founded in 1832.


  1. ^ "Oberlin Academy Records, 1850-1916 | Oberlin College Archives". oberlinarchives.libraryhost.com.
  2. ^ Butchart, Ronald E. (2002). "Mission Matters: Mount Holyoke, Oberlin, and the Schooling of Southern Blacks, 1861-1917". History of Education Quarterly. 42 (1): 1–17. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5959.2002.tb00098.x. JSTOR 3218165.
  3. ^ a b c Henle, Ellen; Merrill, Marlene (Spring 1979). "Antebellum Black Coeds at Oberlin College". Women's Studies Quarterly: 8–11. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b Dill-Varga, Barbara (2011). "Keeping True to the Cathedral Within: A Case Study of Wheaton Academy and the Initiation, Development, and Fulfillment of Its Christian Saga of Social Justice". Dissertations. Loyola University Chicago (EdD thesis). Chapter II: Review of Historical Background: Oberlin Academy, 1833-1916.
  5. ^ a b c "A Brief History of Oberlin High School". www.oberlin-high.org.
  6. ^ a b Oberlin Alumni Magazine. 6. Oberlin College. January 1910.
  7. ^ Baumann, Roland M. (July 31, 2014). Constructing Black Education at Oberlin College: A Documentary History. Ohio University Press. See "Introduction: Oberlin -- A College and a Cause". ISBN 9780821443637 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ a b c 1950-, Kornblith, Gary J. (Gary John) (2018-12-05). Elusive utopia : the struggle for racial equality in Oberlin, Ohio. Lasser, Carol. Baton Rouge. ISBN 9780807169568. OCLC 1023084688.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "Oberlin's Catalogue: A New Two Years's Course Has Just Been Established". The New York Times. 27 December 1890. p. 8. Retrieved 11 February 2019. Seventeen hundred and nine persons received instruction at Oberlin in 1890, of whom 940 were women. These persons were assigned as follows: ... preparatory department, 690 ...
  10. ^ Hine, Darlene Clark (2005). Black Women in America. Oxford University Press. p. 451. ISBN 9780195156775.
  11. ^ a b c "Johnson House · Oberlin College Archives". www.oberlinlibstaff.com.
  12. ^ "E. H. Fairchild Papers, 1860-1973 | Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog". berea.libraryhost.com.
  13. ^ Washington, Booker T.; Harlan, Louis R.; Harlan, Louis R. (1 October 1972). Booker T. Washington Papers Volume 2: 1860-89. Assistant Editors, Pete Daniel, Stuart B. Kaufman, Raymond W. Smock, and William M. Welty. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 9780252002434 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ "Oberlin College Archives - Projects from History 213: First Wave Feminisms, Spring 2013". www2.oberlin.edu.
  15. ^ Baumann, Roland M. (July 31, 2014). "Constructing Black Education at Oberlin College: A Documentary History". Ohio University Press. See "Introduction: Oberlin -- A College and a Cause" – via Google Books.
  16. ^ "Oberlin Alumni Magazine". Oberlin College for the Alumni Association. February 3, 1912 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ "Historic Preservation -- Johnson House". www2.oberlin.edu.
  18. ^ "Oberlin Academy to Close". Christian Science Monitor. 20 November 1915. ProQuest 509442752.
  19. ^ Sargent, Porter E (1915). A Handbook of the Best Private Schools of the United States and Canada. Boston: Porter Sargent Pub., Incorporated. p. 77 – via Google Books.
  20. ^ "Oberlin College | 175th Anniversary". www2.oberlin.edu.
  21. ^ "Education in Action". The Journal of Education. 109 (19): 541–543. 1929. doi:10.1177/002205742910901913. JSTOR 42837681.
  22. ^ Shannon, Ronald (June 3, 2008). ProfilesOhio History: A Legacy of African American Achievement. iUniverse. ISBN 9780595477166 – via Google Books.
  23. ^ Blodgett, Geoffrey (July 1968). "John Mercer Langston and the Case of Edmonia Lewis: Oberlin, 1862". The Journal of Negro History. The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. 53 (3): 201–218. doi:10.2307/2716216. JSTOR 2716216.
  24. ^ Lewis, Sinclair (February 2, 1924). Main Street. Lulu.com. ISBN 9781105992056 – via Google Books.
  25. ^ "george herbert mead". umhistory.dc.umich.edu.
  26. ^ Libraries, Oberlin College. "Oberlin College Libraries - Documenting the Wright brothers through the..." Oberlin College Libraries.
  27. ^ Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. Infobase Publishing. February 3, 2003. ISBN 9781438130170 – via Google Books.
  28. ^ Gittin, Adam (April 29, 2016). "Feature Photo: The Wright Side of History".
  29. ^ Rasmussen, Frederick (10 February 2001). "She achieved her goals Educator: Fannie Jackson Coppin made a name for herself by teaching and job-training African-Americans in the late 19th century. Baltimore's college is named for her". Baltimore Sun. ProQuest 406497668.

Further readingEdit