Oberlin College's relationship to China between 1900 and 1950 is best understood in two important phases. The first group of missionaries to go to China went, beginning in 1882, under the appointment of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Numbering about thirty, their objective was to win Christian converts and to establish a center of learning modeled after Oberlin College. This was the Shansi Mission. To their Christian education ideal, the missionaries gradually added agricultural reform. This phase ended in the early 1900s. The ABCFM memorialized this phase by placing a Memorial Arch on the campus of Oberlin College in recognition of the missionaries (and family members) who lost their lives in the Boxer Rebellion.
The second phase dates from the founding of the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association in 1908. In the following decades, Oberlin's main emphasis in China became educational. Shansi representatives provided support to the mission and directed the consolidation of educational efforts at the Ming Hsien Schools in Taigu, Shanxi Province, China. In 1918, the tradition of dispatching young Oberlin graduates to Ming Hsien started. Over the next three decades, Shansi expanded the curriculum, added an industrial arts section, and asked students to work in rural reconstruction. The outbreak of the Korean War in the early 1950s led to the severing of connections between Oberlin and Shanxi Province.
The Oberlin College Archives holds the institutional records of Oberlin College as well as personal papers and records of Oberlin (Ohio) community organizations. Included among these holdings are the records of the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association, as well as the personal papers of a large number of missionaries to China. Researchers can find the hours of operation, as well as additional information about our holdings, on the Archives' web site. Researchers are advised to contact the Archives prior to scheduling a visit.
Potential researchers should use the message submission form that is available on our website; the Oberlin College Archives can also be contacted by e-mail at Archives.Office@oberlin.edu; mail to Oberlin College Archives, 420 Mudd Center, 148 West College Street, Oberlin, Ohio 44074-1532; or by telephone at (440) 775-8014.
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Context of China's Christian Colleges project is based at Wesleyan
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