Document 10: Records of the Proceedings of the Ladies Board, 21 July 1851, Women's Department, Record Group 42, Oberlin College Archives.

Introduction

        The Female Board of Managers in the Oberlin Collegiate Institute was established in 1836 with power to regulate & control the internal affairs of the female department of this institute.[17] Disciplinary cases involving female students at Oberlin College came before the Ladies Board of Managers for review and disposition. The board consisted of the "Lady Principal" and the wives of professors. Throughout the antebellum years, it played an important role in determining the lives and liberties of female students. For their first six months at Oberlin, all students were on probation, and subject to dismissal if any undesirable character or behavioral traits surfaced. The Ladies Board encouraged members of the teaching staff and students to report any unusual or unwarranted behavior in their fellow students. The accused stood before the Board for questioning. Additional students might be called to testify, and those who refused would themselves be subject to expulsion. In 1851, the Ladies Board heard an unusual case involving animosity between female students of different races. Its deliberation and decision reflected the care taken to maintain a self-consciously interracial community.

        July 21st [1851] Regular Meeting. The case of several young ladies who had been guilty of improper conduct was examined. Three white ladies Miss Caroline Heldman[A] Ameline Rodgus+ Martha Hall / the two last not members of the Institution; met two colored ladies Miss Josephine Darnes[B] + Penelope Lloyd.[C] Neither party would give the walk.[D] Miss Heldman was pushed off + fell the distance of two or three feet. Miss Heldman retaliated by applying several vile epithets to the colored ladies. Miss Lloyd with Miss Caroline Wall[E] then write + red before the composition class of which they are members an article said to be quite personal + giving an account of the whole affair. Decided that all the young ladies connected with the institution be rebuked by Mis Hopkins[F] before the composition class that Miss Heldman be required to apologise to Miss Wall acknowledge the impropriety of their conduct in writing a composition of the character they did.

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A. Caroline Heldman, attended the Preparatory Department, 1850-51, and then studied in the Ladies Literary Course, 1851-53.
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B. Josephine Darnes, enrolled in the Preparatory Department, 1851-52, and continued in the Ladies Literary Course, 1852-55.
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C. Penelope Lloyd, enrolled in the Preparatory Department, 1851-52.
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D. At this time, the town of Oberlin had raised plank sidewalks to keep pedestrians out of the mud of the unpaved streets.
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E. Caroline Matilda Wall (1833-1915) attended Oberlin College, 1851-1855, and was part of a large Oberlin family of leaders in the local African-American community; she later married John Mercer Langston (1829-1897), abolitionist and civil rights leader.
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F. Catherine Hopkins, enrolled in the Preparatory Department, 1849-1850.
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