It’s hard to believe that 26 years before the outbreak of the American Civil War, 28 years before the Emancipation Proclamation, and 35 years before African Americans were allowed to vote, Oberlin College opened its doors to both white and black students alike to get a high quality, equal education. In 1835, It became the first University to regularly admit black students and hold a policy that it would accept any qualified student regardless of race. Oberlin was home to many ardent abolitionists and played a significant role in the Underground Railroad. Oberlin was a key stop and offered shelter to fugitive slaves on their escape to other northern states or Canadian territory. Not only was Oberlin the first college to regularly admit African-Americans but it became the first coeducational university in the country. In 1837, four female students enrolled with the rest of the male student body and 3 of them received their Bachelor of Arts degree in 1841. They are the first women ever to receive this type of degree. Oberlin College is truly a path setter in the way it laid the foundation for blacks and women to receive a higher education. It’s also appropriate that the first African-American woman to receive a Bachelor’s degree graduated from Oberlin in 1862.
Photo via Oberlin.edu