Oberlin’s Historic Elm on Tappan Square

Oberlin’s Historic Elm on Tappan Square


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In 1833, in an Ohio forest, two men knelt to pray under the shade of an elm tree. They prayed that the seeds of their dreams of a Christian colony and an accompanying school would take root and grow in that very spot. Those seeds were planted that very day and in harmony with each other. One would not exist without the other.

Reverend John Jay Shipherd and fellow dreamer Philo Penfield Stewart ordained that this would be the place to establish the Oberlin Colony and the Oberlin Collegiate Institute.

While Oberlin is renowned for its admission of women from its inception and arguably one of the first colleges to admit people of color; the college and the community have not always lived up to the founders’ dreams. Over their histories there have been issues based on race, town versus college, which remain to this day.

It is our intention to present Oberlin’s rich history and explore its successes and its missteps. we invite you to share your views with us.

Oberlin Revisited

“I can never come to this campus without a deep sense of appreciation and gratitude for all that this great institution has done for the cultural, political, and social life of our nation and the world.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.